**spoiler alert** So, after a couple of decades of reading romance, I finally got around to Stormfire. Whew! They do not write them like this anymore....more**spoiler alert** So, after a couple of decades of reading romance, I finally got around to Stormfire. Whew! They do not write them like this anymore. The ultimate in bodice ripping, Stormfire is a tale of two mentally unstable people and their violent, intense love. And it's great!
The main attraction about Stormfire is its writing. If it was a poorly written book no one would still be talking about it 20-plus years after it was published. The chapters each have their own titles such as "Silken Irons," "Into Eden," or "The Nadir." When the heroine meets the hero her first thoughts are of Milton's poetry: "His form had not yet lost/All his original brightness, nor appeared/Less than Archangel ruined..." The prose is evocative and compelling, but not purple. We agonize with Catherine's enslavement, we feel the angry passion between the lovers, we grieve with Catherine's loss, and suffer with Sean's torture...how much misery can two people take? Then there is that intense love/hate. I wish writers of historical romances today wrote like this, deeply and intensely, if not necessarily the same plot.
But then, maybe I'm a sicko, but I like the plot. Yes, it's epic and melodramatic: everything but the kitchen sink is in the plot including SPOILERS***: kidnapping, rape, starvation, forced slavery, multiple marriages, miscarriage, insanity, beatings, brothers fighting for the same woman, incest, castration, forcible sodomy, murder.... To be honest, I wasn't comfortable with a lot of things in the book. Even so, Stormfire is enthralling. Even those who hate this book can't say it's boring.
There are a lot of detractors of Stormfire, so in its defense, I'll say this: this isn't a sweet romance; it's a historical romance novel, a bodice ripper, and I use the term with great affection. It's a fantasy. A dark one, definitely, but then some might say so are the vampire, werewolf, bestiality, BDSM, menage fantasies of today. This is a different kind of fantasy, where the greatest hate in the world can be turned into love. Would this relationship work in real life? Probably not. That's why it's a fantasy. Stormfire is very entertaining, emotional and unforgettable. It falters a bit towards the end, so it's not perfect. It's not the best romance novel ever written, but for me, it's up there. I'd give it 5 stars or an A- rating. (less)
(I have long ago put this book in storage, and it’s too much of a pain to dig out, but before I forget it all, here’s a review):
Anne Carsley’s “This Triumphant Fire” is an ok bodice ripper with a more interesting villain than hero. The heroine is a beautiful French girl living off the charity of her English guardians. If I recall correctly, the hero is a rakish fellow who is having a romance with one the daughters in the family. He also has a secret life as a highwayman. After a brutal rape attempt by one of the sons, the heroine kills her attacker and flees in to the night. The h & H meet again, and he takes her to his cabin in the woods. They make passionate love and spend an idyllic time together before the hero abandons her. The heroine catches him cheating on her with another woman. She confronts him, and in typical jerky-hero style he is unrepentant.
They are separated and she finds her the way on a ship to the American south, where she enters in a marriage of convenience with a suave, attractive, older man. Her husband is virile in the bedroom but only needs her for her womb, as he prefers hot voodoo lovemaking sessions with his male lover. The heroine is eventually taken to the harsh jungles of Haiti where she is saved by the hero who shows up out of the blue. While Carsely’s prose was very poignant and romantic, I remember enjoying this book for everything EXCEPT the love story. The villain was magnetic, and the action-packed pacing combined with the author’s style of writing were strong points, but not enough to make this one a favorite.
One pet-peeve/minor factoid: the cover portrays the heroine with the wrong hair color--she’s got reddish hair not black; Carsely also had the same issue with her lovely cover of “This Ravished Rose.”
**spoiler alert** "You will travel far to find love, only to find that love has traveled with you."
Dangerous Obsession is the sequel to Natasha Peters...more**spoiler alert** "You will travel far to find love, only to find that love has traveled with you."
Dangerous Obsession is the sequel to Natasha Peters' first book, "Savage Surrender," although the relation between the books is not revealed until midway through this 630 page epic.
Like so many great bodice rippers of epic scope, Dangerous Obsession takes us through various years and continents. It spans 12 years in the life of Rhawnie, the blonde daughter of a gypsy and a Russian noblewoman. Rhawnie is not a simpering, treacly-sweet girl or spunky, foot-stamping heroine. She lies for the hell of it: to strangers, to the people she loves, she lies to herself, she even lies on her (near) deathbed! She is an unrepentant thief. Early on Rhawnie is caught stealing from an innkeeper and Seth, the hero, is forced to remove the purloined items hidden under her petticoats: a bottle of vodka, a wheel of cheese, a large loaf of bread, several sausages, a large knife and a whole chicken! When caught red handed she denies ever touching the stuff and accuses the innkeeper of framing her. In this Rhawnie reminds me a bit of my daughter who lives by the motto: "Admit nothing, deny everything and make counter accusations."
Rhawnie is not just a mere mortal...she is beautiful, a professional thief, a fortune-teller, a gambler, a card cheat, men duel and die over her, she is mistress to a king, a threat to a nobleman's power, a baroness, a world-famous singer, a saloon owner, savior of an orphan and a wronged woman, and the love-object of two brothers, who are as opposite as day and night.
The male protagonist, Seth Garrett, is a piece of work and it took me a long time to warm up to him. He’s no Sean Culhane or Domenico, but he's both cruel and vicious and unfeeling and cold. He wins the right to Rhawnie's virginity in a card game, but passes on the offer, as she is only 14 or 15. In angry retaliation, Rhawnie gets beaten and kicked by her lecherous older uncle and Seth just sort of stands there. Then when her uncle rapes her a few pages later, Seth is too late to save her--even though he's in the next room and can hear what's going on. He destroys any chance Rhawnie has for legitimacy in Paris society by publicly claiming her as his mistress. And what Seth does in Chapter 10 simply calls for a karmic justice which never occurs. But he does properly declare himself at the end and gives himself completely to Rhawnie. Seth is not perfect; but neither is Rhawnie, so together they are perfect.
Dangerous Obsession is written in first person, but as Rhawnie is a great narrator, with so many wonderful quips and observations, this did not detract. There was an appropriate blend of action and introspection, but no excessive self-absorption of feeling too often found in modern romances. However, the action does get a bit too much at the end. The book is a hefty door-stopper and could have been 50 pages shorter. Rhawnie and Seth embark on a search for Seth's missing sister that takes them through the American west. They get on TWO different boats that explode and sink into the river, Seth gets injured and Rhawnie nurses him back to life, Rhawnie gets cholera, so Seth has to nurse her back to life (on a regiment on camphor, cannabis and caviar, no less). They travel for months through the mountains and have many misadventures, she survives a great fire, gets kidnapped, addicted to laudanum, gets rescued...and before you know it--whew!--it's over.
This book was so close to perfect, but like so many bodice rippers, at the end it falters under its own hefty weight. It's a 4 1/2 star read, but I'm rounding it up to a 5 solely on the basis of the heroine, Rhawnie, who is all kinds of awesome. A-.
This book review has been provided by the No Book Left Behind Campaign! A Bodice Ripper Readers Anonymous group initiative to review the un-reviewed! (less)
**spoiler alert** “Tara’s Song” by Barbara Ferry Johnson is yet another middling Viking romance that disappoints. Written in the late 70’s at the heig...more**spoiler alert** “Tara’s Song” by Barbara Ferry Johnson is yet another middling Viking romance that disappoints. Written in the late 70’s at the height of the bodice ripper era, you’d expect this Viking Romance to rapacious and fun, but I found it rather ho-hum.
Having been betrayed by love (the h is not a virgin), stunning blonde Tara enters into a convent. Despite what the book burb claims, Tara is actually not a novice, but a full-fledged nun who has taken all her religious vows. For some mysterious reason, some of her fellow nuns ensure that Tara study the pagan Nordic runes. Obviously the elder sisters knew their convent would be overtaken by a horde of ravenous Vikings and runic readings would come in handy for protection later on.
Tara's new life begins when she is captured by Rorik. He, of the long, curly reddish-blond hair and two long mustaches that reach past his chin, but no beard. I imagine him as a young metal god like a cross between Dave Mustaine & James Hetfield, only with lots of muscles. But alas, even though Rorik is a marauder, he’s BORING. As in so many Viking books I‘ve read, the hero is a bad ass warrior who kills and slays hundreds… But we rarely see Rorik do any of this (as it’s told in constrictive first person perspective.)
The first person POV is really a hindrance here. Tara tells rather than shows and there’s a lot of info dumping and information overload, some so very inaccurate, like eating potatoes in Norway in the 900’s. (Reminded me of the chocolate-colored eyes of the OW in Johanna Lindsey’s “Hearts of Fire.” Research people. It’s a basic thing.) The Vikings were also portrayed as dirty and unkempt, never bathed, with un-groomed beards and wore clichéd two-horned helmets in battle.
Anyway, Rorik doesn’t force himself on Tara like a pillaging Viking would; at first he romantically seduces her into his bed. Meh. Give me a Viking who’s a pillager FIRST, then learns to be romantic and civilized later on (to a certain extent). Where’s the fun in the fantasy if the hunky Viking doesn’t take me--er, I mean, the heroine--over his shoulder and have his wickedly erotic way with her on sight? Why does he have to charm her into bed? That’s for Regency rakes, not Vikings.
At least there is a naughty twist: Rorik is a polygamist and he takes Tara home to his harem of wives. That’s right, Rorik has not one but two wives and Tara is number three. As a pious Christian former nun, she resents this. So she prays for the day that Rorik will cast off his other wives, divorce them and be with only her, because that that would the honorable thing. For her. When Tara won’t give into Rorik’s lust, he just goes to the other wives to satisfy him. But it’s Tara he loves!
Eventually, one of Rorik’s wives plots against them, and Rorik and Tara are kidnapped and separately sold into slavery into the east.
When the hero is boring, and the h/H are parted for a long time in the book, I don’t mind as long as the heroine is up to fun adventures. Regrettably, Tara’s adventures fall a bit flat.
At least with lesser-known bodice ripper authors like Melissa Hepburn or Janette Seymour there were some amusing exploits... Here Tara’s escapades consist of getting the flu during the worst winter ever, or getting her first taste of eating oranges... There’s Tara in Norway shopping; now there’s Tara in Constantinople shopping!
The most interesting character in the book is Olav, an older Viking who has also been captured, as well as castrated, and is Tara’s faithful companion. He could have been a complex character, but alas, Ferry takes his personality, heart and emotions away with his balls, and his sole devotion to Tara is that of a slavish, dog-like protector, not a man who can ever physically or even emotionally love. It would have been intriguing to see, just for the WTF factor (like Bertrice Small’s “Enchantress Mine”) but no, nothing special in this book.
Actually, that’s not 100% true, as there is one mildly engaging scenario when Tara gets kidnapped, and then is willingly seduced by a handsome and haughty overbearing lord. Although she enjoys his lovemaking, she finds him so arrogant; how dare he lust for her body so! Just days later, she is dismayed to see a sexy young male slave dance his way into her lover’s bed. Guess Tara’s not as hot as she thinks! (Again, a faintly similar situation was portrayed in “Enchantress Mine,” although in a much more shocking and entertaining fashion--and I wasn’t crazy about "EM" because I hated the heroine--so to me, “Tara’s Song” is the lesser book.)
O, ancient gods of the Norse! At times this book was as dry as the turkey from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
However…It does get good in the last few pages where Rorik once and for all displays his brutal warrior skills, instead of us just being told about it. He cruelly dispatches his enemies in a slaughter, demonstrating his true awesome Nordic might. Too bad; too late. Where was that Rorik 400 pages ago?
So I started reading Silver Storm, and then putting it down; it was sweet, but sometimes too sweet and I have enough cavities. Then halfway through it...moreSo I started reading Silver Storm, and then putting it down; it was sweet, but sometimes too sweet and I have enough cavities. Then halfway through it changes in tone. Our previously gentleman hero does a 180 and turns into a lecherous jerk. It was great and I wanted more!
The first half involves a sensuous French privateer Andre Raveneau escorting orphaned Devon Lindsay to her fiance in Virginia at the end of the American Revolution. The girl is obviously not in love with her missing man, but devoted to him out a weird sense of commitment. All the while this tall, gorgeous gray-eyed Frenchman plays nice and Devon stomps her foot and plays hard to get. Andre was such a gentleman, I wondered where this was going. But oh, he has a plan--a cunning plan--to trap his strawberry-haired prey and when he finally gets what he wants, he plans just as cruelly to be rid of her, eagerly awaiting his next new lay.
In one scene Andre attempts to seduce his ex-mistress while her brother and new husband play cards downstairs and Devon, his current mistress, naps. But poor Devon wakes up, and witnesses the dog's hounding:
"It had been so long. He pulled her gown open and her breast spilled out like ripe, round melons..."
He's jerk all right, but he's French, so it evens out. I enjoyed the break from the English heroes that dominate Historical Romancelandia. There's something about a Frenchman that's so sexy. I can listen to Eric Ripert recite recipes all day...
Years ago I read a book that designated romance novels, specifically bodice rippers into two genres: "Sweet" or "Savage". (Even though it was Kathleen Woodiwiss who started the bodice ripper genre it was Rosemary Rogers that gave it a name.) Sweet defined a story with a hero who may be a cruel, callous, forceful or cheat, but he is the heroine's one and only. In a "Savage" styled-romance anything and everything goes. In Silver Storm's case although we have the heroine almost-raped, her bodice ripped, she is abandoned and cheated on, it's still sweet. But it's very spicy too!
One nit to pick: a reference to "Empire"-styled gowns in the early 1780's when Napoleon wasn't crowned Emperor until 20 years later.
This book would have excellent if not for the slow start. But once it gets there...oh my.
**spoiler alert** Uneven book that desperately needs the hand of a skilled editor…
I usually rate my books on the enjoyment factor, not on how well the...more**spoiler alert** Uneven book that desperately needs the hand of a skilled editor…
I usually rate my books on the enjoyment factor, not on how well they are written.
I rate The Viking’s Love at 2 ½ stars, smack in the middle, neither terrible nor great, which means while I enjoyed many parts, but overall I was left feeling that it could have been much better with some major editing. On this rare occassion, the poor editing really took me out of the story.
This novel is faintly reminiscent of the much superior Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey (yes, I know that book is flawed, but it is my favorite Viking romance), with a beautiful black-haired maiden named Allisande who dresses like a boy and fights like a man and is kidnapped by Vikings who slaughter her people. She vows revenge on her captors, particularly the hero’s father, who was responsible for the raid on her home, and seeks to escape the Northlands and return to England. The hero, Joran, the Stone-Hearted has been betrayed by love in the past and is a wild Berserker warrior (only we don’t really see his much bad-assery until later on). And there are lots of tankards of milk, LOL.
However there are numerous flaws, typos, formatting issues and repetitive language, but a big problem in this book is that The Viking’s Love suffers a bit from identity crisis; is it an homage to old-style bodice rippers with a macho alpha hero, or is it a first in a yet another trilogy of historical-paranormal eroticas?
This novel felt like three different books in one. The first third is your basic master-slave story where a barbarian kidnaps a beautiful woman and takes her to his home, she fights him off, he punishes her in various cruel ways, then ravishes (or rapes/forced seduces) her. I liked that Joran (bad name for a hero, kept thinking of that Dutch kid who killed Natalee Holloway) wasn’t a sensitive, caring type, but a brute of a man who ruled as he pleased and took what he wanted. I don’t always look for those traits in romance heroes, but as far as Vikings go, they shouldn’t be the “sensitive pony-tailed guys” that I disappointingly and quite often find so many Viking heroes to be in post 1995 romances.
The second section is filled with steamy love scenes as Joran and Allisande come to know each other. The middle part was wonderful; I stayed up late into the wee hours reading. When the sexy mercenary Viking Rowan was introduced, I was totally smitten with him. He’s far more captivating than Joran; so very, very hot, and surprisingly Allisande thinks so too, as she is almost seduced by him.
I was excited about reading Rowan’s story one day. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to wait long, as we got to see a lot of Rowan’s story in the last part of the book, until I was sick of his and another character’s man-slut ways.
The author spent the last third of the book heavily dealing with two other couples, Viking mercenary Rowan & his British captive Lady Ambryn, and Allisande's brother, Collin, & his 13-year-old bride of convenience, Meghera
When Meghera is introduced as a witch with flames shooting out of her fingers, I rolled my eyes, but went with it. When she harnessed the power to move water, quake the earth, and throw people through the air, I was still there, but barely. Then she grew freaking wings. Plus, she was able to heal the wounded and see into the future. And it was eventually revealed that she was part of an ancient fairy race or some crap like that. I’m not a fan of paranormal romances, so that seemed out of place to me.
Somewhere along the way Allisande got pushed to the background, even though many horrible events happen to her. Despite the many tragedies that Allisande went through, the heroine seemed like just another character in her own book. The set up for a future trilogy became overwhelming. This reminded me a bit of a football player who does celebratory dance before completing the touchdown, only to fumble the ball at the ten yard line. Focus on completing the play, not what comes after.
After such a promising start, the last third was disappointing. Allisande experienced so much misfortune, but I hardly ever felt her misery; it was just stuff that happened to move the story along. (view spoiler)[ Allisande escapes from Joran a few times, there is a scheming other woman who really adds nothing to the plot, Allisande is forced into marriage with a sadistic British lord, Joran kidnaps her back, she gives birth, her husband kidnaps her, beats her and rapes her, Joran saves Allisande, then Joran’s brother vows revenge and more killing and raping occurs…and more! (hide spoiler)]
At the end of the book, five years later, Allisande has 8-10 kids (some natural born, others adopted). So much happened, but it felt like I was reading a summary of events, not actually experiencing them. I read this on my Kindle, and saw that if printed the book would run well over 400 pages. 30-40 pages could have easily been cut.
Now, as for those errors. I realize the book was self-published and I admire the author for going out and producing her work on her own, but if you can’t afford an editor, at least print out the manuscript and edit it yourself with a bright red pen. Verb tenses were often incorrect. Semicolons were used in place of commas. There were spelling mistakes that would not have been picked up by auto-correct that were quite jarring (e.g., “threw” instead of “through,” “absolutions” instead of “ablutions,” “too” instead of “to”). Wounds heal, then scab, then heal, then mysteriously scab up again. There are contradictory statements in the same paragraph (Joran thinks it would be repugnant to force Allisande to his bed, then sentences later he says he will force her anyway; in one chapter Joran claims he’s never hit a woman, but in the previous chapter he had smacked Allisande). Then there was the constant repetition of words or sentences (e.g. “She avoided looking directly at his nakedness. He felt himself growing aroused despite his weariness. Allisande avoided looking at his nudity” or “…He reasoned the man had his reasons”). And I can’t count how many times words like furious, glared, chuckled, scowled were used again and again.
The worst was when the heroine “stamped her tiny foot in outrage.” Seriously, are there any heroines in Romancelandia with size 9 feet like me, who stomp around like a draft horse?
But I did round my rating up to a three stars, so there were obviously parts that I enjoyed.
What I liked:
1) This book is definitely written in old-skool bodice ripper style with no apologies. There are forced seduction, rapes, kidnapping, cruel murders and gory violence. I love bodice rippers and the uber-alpha males that come with them. Glad to see that some authors aren’t making their books bland and PC. The first two thirds of the book showed Joran to be the chauvinist Viking pig I love to read about. (view spoiler)[ Unfortunately, later on, Joran ends up looking like a weak punk because his enemy comes onto his land, killing off servants one by one, even going as far as entering his house when Joran’s away and doing some very bad things to the heroine. (hide spoiler)]
3) The ultra-steamy sex scenes, the great romance between Joran and Allisande and the violent, no-holds-barred Viking battles.
Now because of those positives, I am still looking forward to picking up another book by this author, mostly because of the old-style appeal. The cave-man hero who reforms his bad ways due to the heroine’s love is something I find lacking on so many of these “nu-romance crap-fests” as I call them.
So all in all, if you are a patient, forgiving reader who doesn’t mind imperfect writing as long as the overall story is entertaining, “The Viking’s Love" by Karolyn Cairns is a good read.
But please, with the money made from the sales of this book, I beg the author to buy a thesaurus! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)