KISMET by Monica Burns

These are my thoughts on the Monica Burns historical romance novel Kismet. It was published by Berkley in January 2010. Synopsis can be found here. I didn't enjoy this story at all and rate it 2 stars out of 5, or a D.

The story takes place in Morocco and England in 1893 and spans three months. The heroine is Allegra, 30ish with dark red hair and green eyes. She ends up getting abducted. The hero, Shaheen, aka Robert Camden, Viscount of Newcastle, who's got dark hair and brown eyes, goes to find her and buys her from her kidnapper. The rest of the entire novel, to me, is just very boring. There's some serious drama involving Allegra and a whipping. I didn't paticularly like either one of them. After they're back in England towards the end, Shaheen goes to Allegra's home and confesses his love to her. She tells him she feels the same way but it just doesn't seem believeable to me. Then he asks her to marry him and she tells him she's pregnant. That's how the story ends.

My thoughts: This is another newer romance book where I've found myself not really caring about either the heroine or hero. Both are wounded; the heroine was sold into prostitution by her own mother, the hero witnessed the suicide of his brother James years before. The suicide was the only interesting part of the story and I wish it hadn't taken place in the past. I found this story completely uninteresting and unromantic. I never warmed up to it or the setting. I feel as though both the hero and heroine's characters were underdeveloped, especially Allegra's. We know next to nothing about her. 

I've wanted to read this since I'd heard about it earlier this year when there were a few blogs that were having contests for it. I feel the overly-bright, old school book cover doesn't fit the story one bit. I was totally unsatisfied with this story.

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting Old Article and Interview With Male Bodice Ripper Novelists

I came across this old article from the January 1981 edition of Texas Monthly magazine while researching Kerry Newcomb, formerly known as half of the bodice ripper writing duo Christina Savage. I've typed up the article myself and posted it below, and added links.

Even though Parris Afton Bonds is an unqualified sucess in the historical romance field, her sales don't come close to those recked up by Texas writer Christina Savage. Savage's first book, Love's Wildest Fires, sold over a million copies, and Dawn Wind came out last spring with a major advertising campaign and printing of 800,000.

Christina Savage is two guys named Kerry Newcomb and Frank Schaefer. Newcomb lives in Dallas, although on the day I met them they were both in the Dallas office, an upstairs apartment in a run-down Oak Lawn house. There was a cockatiel loose in the apartment, and I noticed a desk lamp with an upended colander for a shade. Schaefer sat at a dilapidated desk quietly trimming his nails while Newcomb stalked about the room.

"I grew up in the Mid-Cities," Newcomb said. "Actually I was born at the Gemini Drive-in during Attack of the Crab Monsters. These crab monsters would not only kill people but they'd steal their brains and switch them around."

Newcomb went on to talk about Inframan, which I agreed was the classic oriental horror film, and he made an impassioned plea for the John Wayne version of The Alamo.

"When that big, ugly guy comes up to this woman and says, 'Ma'am, ah ain't got nobody ta say good-bye ta. Kin ah say good-bye ta yew?' and then she gets up on her tiptoes and kisses him full on the cheek! Oh, goddam, that was beautiful!"

Newcomb and Schaefer first met at the Dallas Theater Center, where they were both actors and directors. They didn't become a writing team until several years later, after both had tried solitary stints at freelance writing. They worked well together, cranking out horror scripts, PBS documentaries, a slide-tape presentation on the Campfire Girls, and one-minute spots for a governors' conference.

Their first book was a Western. No one wanted to buy it, but it impressed a publisher enough to get them a contract for a slave-plantation novel. Schaefer and Newcomb read Mandingo and Sweet Savage Love and then set to work on Rafe. Since then they've produced, besides the Christina Savage books, action-adventure books like Matanza and suspense novels like Pandora Man. They recently finished the first draft of Yellow Rose, a family saga set during the Texas Revolution that will be published under the name Shana Carrol.

"We got into this," Newcomb explained, "not really liking the genre. We worked at it from the angle of what we could do with these books to make us want to read them. With Dawn Wind we felt secure enough to cut out all the silly characters."

"This new book is unique," Schaefer said, "The couple in Yellow Rose don't even argue that much. It's the only historical romance sage in which the hero is a virgin."
Newcomb and Schaefer write their books in a leapfrog fashion, with Newcomb generally writing the first draft of a chapter and then sending it to Schaefer, who reworks it and sends it back. They work hard and resent being classified as genre writers.

"Dawn Wind," Schaefer said, "will hold its own against ninety percent of the hardback books being published." I had read Dawn Wind and tended to agree. Even though its main male character is named Lion McKenna and it has the usual quota of quivering loins, it also has range and bite. There is an impressive account of the Civil War battle of Manassas, some interesting and complex minor characters, and a concern for topics of more consequence than its characters' unslaked lust.

Even as Newcomb and Schaefer grumbled about how their bodice rippers were not taken seriously, they were making plans to move outside the genre. They had a book in the works called The Ghosts of Elkhorn- which fit into no catagory at all- to be published in hardcover by Viking in early 1982. Meanwhile Dawn Wind, by Christina Savage, was just beginning its brief but prominent shelf life on the racks of every paperback outlet in the country. "Forbidden love," its purple cover said, "dark vengeance, and searing Civil War." Dawn Wind would occupy that position for a few weeks, then it would be supplanted by other books promising stories of secret desires, undreamed-of passions, whispered longings, dark and delicious cravings.

Maybe someday a writer will come along and elevate all this into the realm of lieterature, do for the bodice ripper what Dashiell Hammett did for the detective novel. That's probably a long shot, but would be nice to think that at least some of thise squirming and salivating will not be lost to the ages.
See related article.


These are my thoughts on the Cheryl Holt historical romance novel Taste of Temptation. It was published in June 2010 by Berkely. Synopsis can be found here. This is book two in the Sensual Destiny trilogy. I didn't enjoy it at all and rate it 2 stars/D.

The story takes place in London, England in 1814. The hero is 30 year old Captain Tristan Odell, Earl of Hastings, who has dark hair. The heroine is 24 year old Helen Hamilton, who has auburn hair and green eyes. She supports her two younger sisters, 12 year old Ameila and 18 year old Jane. Tristan lives with his younger, legitimate 18 year old brother, Michael, who is heir to the estate. Michael is tall, blond and blue-eyed. He, Tristan and younger sister Rose have the same father.

Helen applies for a job as governess to Tristan's 12 year old sister, Rose. She's not given the job at first but later is hired. Helen's two sisters move in Tristan's home. Jane begins a sexual relationship with Michael and Helen and Tristan begin one. Not much goes on in this book. Lydia is a house maid who likes Michael. She discovers he's got a relationship going on with Jane and becomes very jealous. She tells on them and Jane, Helen and Amelia get thrown out of the house. They're to live somewhere else until they know if Jane is pregnant by Michael. The book was so uninteresting to me that I won't go into details. It's stated many times throughout the story that Helen is 24 years old yet the synopsis says she's 25.

My thoughts: What ties each book in this series together is the man who sells the love potions and his sister. They're in this book much more than in the previous one. This book is too similar to the previous one and just as terrible. Both feature a poor hero or heroine who goes to live with a wealthier person and brings others with them. Both books are two 'love' stories in one. Both books have a jealous female who's out to get revenge on the heroine simply because they're jealous of the heroes affection for them. Both sets of hero and heroine get their unbelievable happily-ever-after at the end. I've decided that I won't be reading any future books by this author. I do have most of her other ones and it'll be interesting to see how her first two historicals, which were published ten years ago, compare to this series. Something tells me they'll be better.

Other books by Cheryl are:

  • The Way of the Heart 2000-01
  • Meg's Secret Admirer(ss) 2000-01
  • My Only Love 2000-04 
  • Mountain Dreams BQ-0071BQ-71 CR 2000-11
  • My True Love 2001-03
  • Love Lessons 2001-10
  • Total Surrender 2002-07
  • Absolute Pleasure 2003-02
  • The Wedding Night(ss) R 2003-07
  • Complete Abandon 2003-09
  • Deeper Than Desire 2004-03
  • More Than Seduction 2004-08
  • Further Than Passion 2005-03
  • Too Hot to Handle 2005-10
  • Too Tempting to Touch 2006-03
  • Too Wicked to Wed 2006-09
  • Secret Fantasy 2007-03
  • Forbidden Fantasy 2007-09
  • Double Fantasy 2008-03
  • Promise of Pleasure 2010-04
  • Taste of Temptation 2010-06
  • Dreams of Desire Dec-2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT by Georgina Spelvin

This is Georgina Spelvin's self-written memoir, published by Georgina's World, Inc. in 2008. Georgina is a former porn star, who got her start in the 'business' in 1972. I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

The book begins on the set of her first adult film, High Preistess of Sexual Witchcraft. Georgina is brutally honest throughout the entire book and doesn't hold back. She takes us, year by year, through her life and some of the films she's done. I really wanted to know more about the two suicide attempts that she briefly mentioned. I found that to be the most interesting part of her story. Maybe she'll talk more about it in a future book. One can only hope.

I think her greatest achievement is surviving alcoholism. I'd have liked to have known when it began and what she thought caused it. I'd also like to know what her brother and extended family thought of her career choice. She's definitely lead an interesting life. She's very humorous and is a great storyteller and I'm glad she's found happiness with her husband. I found this to be an enjoyable read because of her humorous style of writing and her honesty. I love the classy cover too. Great photo.

Her book can be purchased at Amazon, Lulu, Barnes and Noble and from her own site. Her filmography can be found here.

* This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.