Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Lowell’

Harlequin Presents Class Reunion

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With very little effort on my part (the best kind), I found several of my old Harlequin Present favorites from when I was young.  Wow, what a revelation to read them now.  I want to say that it’s a coincidence that the males are overbearing, arrogant, abusive, and violent, but that was de rigeur in 1970s romance.  So not so coincidental after all. 

The other element that ties these books to their times is that the men are wealthy owners of corporations.  The only variety that you see is with the female characters.  I hesitate to call them heroines because they are not heroic.  They are trying to not be bullied.  It’s easy to fight back when you are arguing with a hot guy.  Not so easy when hot guy starts kissing you.  How sad that the authors had so little sense of what makes a man.  The men are all little better than paper dolls, whereas the women undergo psychological overhauls of Shakespearean proportions.

 

Pagan Encounter
Charlotte Lamb
Pagan Encounter

Wilder Shore

Daphne Clair

A Wilder Shore

Portrait of Bethany (Castle, Bk 1) (Harlequin Presents, No 541)

Anne Weale

Portrait of Bethany

The Loving Trap (Harlequin Presents, No 506)

Daphne Clair

The Loving Trap


Rachel Lindsay
Forgotten Marriage

Mortimer, Carole - Lifelong Affair - Harlequin Presents - # 627

Carole Mortimer

Lifelong Affair

 

The Sea Master (Harlequin Presents, #512)
Sally Wentworth
The Sea Master

A Frozen Fire (Harlequin Presents, No 380)

Charlotte Lamb

A Frozen Fire

Charlotte Lamb
Sensation

Velvet Touch (Silhouette Desire, No 11)

Stephanie James

Velvet Touch

Make No Promises (Silhouette Desire, No 8)

Sherry Dee

Make No Promises

 

A Land Called Deseret (Harlequin Presents, No 326)

Janet Dailey

A Land Called Deseret

 

 

The one thing that ties the Presents together that I never could grasp is how the women could fall in love with men with whom they exchanged maybe a half dozen words and most of those barked by the men while the women were stunned into silence.  Even now, a couple of decades later, the logic of it still escapes me.  The guy is in absentia for a hundred pages but she falls in love with him.  He’s mean and judgmental, but he’s nice to his mom, so she falls in love with him.  How is that romantic???

And yet, these books are the ones I remembered 30-40 years later.  The “happiest” one has to be FROZEN FIRE.  A man and woman fall in love, but the woman’s married.  She sees how her husband is awful and the man she loves is wonderful.  It’s the most logical one of the bunch.  Everything in the plot makes sense and has a logical continuity.  A WILDER SHORE is #2 in the logical plot winners list.  It takes place over several years, but everything that happens is logical and even the problems make sense.

Sometimes it’s not the plot.  Sometimes I learn something.  I learned about Meissen porcelain from PAGAN ENCOUNTER.  When people were leaving Germany in 1939, they converted money to Meissen porcelain because it’s valuable and could easily be converted to cash outside the country. SENSATION would never have caught my interest if it had been set anywhere but Paris.  Seriously, that’s the only thing this story has going for it.  The story has a romantic plot – a man decides that he wants his wife to live with him after years of living apart.  But he was a bitch most of the time.  No innovation there.

THE SEA MASTER is older guy with older teen.  No big deal according to the writer’s logic.  Nowadays, it’s just icky.  The girl gets a hard lesson in growing up and not being so self-absorbed.  But not in a fun way.  There’s an unusual amount of housework.  The only reason I stuck with it is because it happens on a boat in the ocean.  It was super unusual for a commonwealth author to write anything about America.  A LAND CALLED DESERET is in the same vein as SEA MASTER – where the heroine learns to be a useful person instead of a pampered hothouse flower.  The hero is an inconceivable departure from the norm.  He’s a rancher, not wealthy, no luxury to speak of.  He’s more Elizabeth Lowell than Harlequin Presents.

I’ve mentioned before, I think, how Janet Dailey changed the playing field.  Most of the men in her Americana novels were not wealthy, but they were men of power or consequence.  She also introduced a more human, more gentle gentleman without the aristocratic arrogance that goes hand-in-hand with old money.  And let’s face it, you’re more likely to meet a Janet Dailey-type man than an Violet Winspear-type man or Carole Mortimer-type man.

It’s funny how I can get through the book in a few hours.  I spent way too much time as a teen reading these.  And now, it still takes me 3 or 4 hours to get through one.  I don’t rush. I like to enjoy certain scenes, the banter (such as it is).  For example, in A LAND CALLED DESERET, I like to read the references to the heroine’s “nice” cousin from A DANGEROUS MASQUERADE.  In fact, LaRaine Evans shows up an unprecedented 3! times in Dailey novels:  A DANGEROUS MASQUERADE, SONORA SUNDOWN, and DESERET.  Funny, though, when she showed up in SS, there was no indication that she would get her own novel.  Series were not the thing in the late 70s/early 80s.  And yet, again Dailey was at the forefront.  Her first Americana novel NO QUARTER ASKED had a sequel: FOR BITTER OR WORSE.  Then 1978’s THE MATCHMAKERS had a sequel – THAT CAROLINA SUMMER (1982).  Dailey was the queen!

No Quarter Asked (Harlequin Presents #124)         For Bitter or Worse (Harlequin Presents, No 267)

The Matchmakers (Harlequin Presents #264)       That Carolina Summer (Harlequin Presents, No 488)

LaRaine Evans Trio ~~~

      sonora sundown  (Harlequin Presents # 239)     A Land Called Deseret (Harlequin Presents, No 326)

Other scenes I liked:

In LIFELONG AFFAIR, I love the hero! He’s awesome.  Thank you to Carole Mortimer for keeping his arrogance tangible but not overwhelming, so that when Glenna fell in love with him, it was logical.  Suspension of disbelief is all well and good, but jeezy kreezy, you know what I mean!  A really good scene was when he and Glenna were in the honeymoon suite and he felt sheepish at being caught out – you know – in the “honeymoon” suite. Wink, wink, nudge. nudge!

THE LOVING TRAP reminds me of early Elizabeth Lowell Silhouette Desire novels – the heroine was psychologically scarred from a prior event and the insensitive man tries to get her past it – with mixed results.  A good scene from that one was when the hero gives the heroine a “Mr. Darcy”-style shite marriage proposal.  After he gets through explaining all the ways that she annoys him and confuses him, he’s all “marry me.”  And she’s all “okay.”  It’s kind of WTF, but I had gotten to like him by that time.

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Dara Joy/MoD: Rejar

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RejarTHIS IS THE COVER FOR THE AUDIO VERSION.

Rejar is actually the second book of the Matrix of Destiny series.  It’s arguably the most fully realized, best developed story of the three.  Knight of A Trillion Stars was a bit too “Basil Exposition”, and Mine to Take was extremely good, but did not invest in a lot of back story.  Rejar has just enough back story to lift and separate but not smother.

Here’s the original cover. Nice!  If you click on this cover, it will take you to www.paperbackswap.com.  It’s worth hunting down the original Rejar (Timeswept, Bk 2)edition because of this droolicious cover that is NOT Fabio.  He makes “Lorgin” seem almost pretty in comparison. 

The story picks up where KoATS left off – with Rejar jumping into a black hole of sorts to get rid of a gemstone that bends time. Releasing the stone into space creates kind of a chemical reaction and new space is created.  Like when you read something you’ve never read before and the experience creates new neural paths in your brain.  That’s what the “matrix” is – outer space neural pathways.  Cool!

When I read M2T, I wondered about the phrase Ree Gen Cee Ing Land.  I kept coming back to it, running it over in my head.  When it hit me, I was all, like, DUH!!! YOU ONLY READ A THOUSAND BARBARA CARTLANDS!”  Regency England! The Prince Regent.  The pronunciation threw me off.  The native “Aviaran” language is spoken with occlusives and nasal stops in multi-syllabic words: “Lee Oh Nah” (Leona).  Hence the segmentation of the phrase “Regency England”.  Also, I don’t know if it’s a hearing thing or what, but there’s a case of syllable reversal when Lorgin calls Deana “Adeean”.  I’m not sure what the linguistic precedence is for that is, but it’s interesting.

I felt the same as some other people who wrote reviews at Amazon – “Lilac” was too wimpy, too immature, to handle a mansteak like Rejar.  She was book smart, but life stupid.  It’s not her fault, but as I went through the story, Rejar liked her simple, good heart. She taught him to read. How could I not love that?  They did something very special with The Tempest! Genius! LOL.  While he was trying to shag her, she was trying to make a friend of him.  Respect. 

Lorgin and Deana made a cameo and “Traed” (“Mister Tray Ed”) almost ran away with the story.  His part was written in perfectly. The construction of the character arcs are logically fused and interesting.  This is why it hurts so much that Joy has lost her mojo.  It’s also this kind of great writing that turns readers into fans and fans into obsessives.  Fourteen years later and we are still panting for Traed’s novel.  Don’t freak out if it doesn’t happen.  See Gail Faulkner and Elizabeth Lowell below.

Be careful what you wish for…

Acheron (Dark-Hunter, Book 12)The way Joy is writing now, I don’t want her to even touch Traed. Remember when Kenyon fans were nigh unto screaming for Acheron?  When it finally came out, it was so full of all sorts of awfulness that you were totally depressed by the time you go to the part where he met Tori.  Then…it wasn’t particularly romantic.  Relentless sturm und drang.  Little chemistry between them.  But you know what, we hammered poor Kenyon for an Acheron book and she delivered a big-ass book. For that, I am grateful. 

  • Previous Posts:
  •  Acheron: The Man, The God, The Fiance, The Book
  • Acheron: Half-man, Half-god, Twice-born, All-cursed Bengal's Heart (Breeds, No 7)Lora Leigh fans are possibly even more obsessed.  They want a novel for any man who pokes his head into the storyline.  She gives her fans pretty much whatever they want! God bless her.  So many of us are complaining that we don’t like the current stories from the last year or so.  Again – be careful what you bitch for. (I myself am guilty of said complaining, but I have faith that things will get better.)

    Previous Post: Cabal – The PMS Breed| Heatseeker

    Say No to Joe? (Visitation, Book 1)Lori Foster fans wanted a story for Joe Winston.  She gave us one.  And it was awesome! The chemistry between Joe and “Luna” was believable and fun.  Just a Hint, Clint – not so much.  We made noise that we wanted a book for “Julie Rose”.  We got it; it’s wasn’t good. To me, it was a book just to tide us over until we got a book for “Jamie”.  Oh, the wails and squeals!  The breathless panting!  I think, after ACHERON, JAMIE seemed to be one of the most demanded books from a series, with the added bonus that it was fun and interesting.

    Previous Post: Visitation, Welcome Cty

    (This cover is from a reprint.) 

    Here’s another series that started out firing on all pistons then slowly ran down.  Every story weaker than the last, but with glimpses of fascinating threads of possibilities.  Most of those, like the Khan-Gor arc, will most probably never be realized because writers, like musicians, move on.  They get interested in other things and let older things go. Jude Deveraux started weaning us off the Montgomerys and Taggerts by writing books about other people that included maybe one or two of them, but they were secondary or tertiary characters.  It’s natural. 

    By the time Never a Slave was published, it had been over.  That short story should have been added in to another story because, even as a short, it was insultingly bad.  However, it was probably done because fans were nagging for a story for Julian.

    Previous Post:  Trek Mi Q’an – It’s Like, Out There, Man

    Oh my God! It actually hurts that this series has gone dormant.  Faulkner teased us with a short excerpt from a “new” story for the last member of the “Ghost Unit”, but never got it to the point of publication.  She has moved on and has not been publishing for about three years now.  This was a kick-ass series!  The guys are a blast! But alas, no “Tammy” and “Miguel”.  No “Jackson”.  Waaaaaaaahhhh!!!

    The only thing to do is to start writing fanfiction to fill in the gaps we may not ever get from Faulkner herself.  I don’t hold it against her that she’s stepped away from this.  Maybe it’s just what she needed to do. Again, it’s a writer thing.

    Previous Post:  Gail Faulkner’s “Ghost Unit”

    (Funny how this post morphed into an essay about series that fizzled from talking about  Rejar. LOL)

    Outlaw (MacKenzie-Blackthorn, Book 3)This is one series that is making romance readers – specifically, lovers of EL’s western romances —  nuts!  Elizabeth Lowell wrote this series in the early 90s – then stopped just short of giving us “Utah”.  Series were not the norm during the early part of this decade.  They were special, not like now with our gossip-addicted, privacy-invading habits.  Readers almost expect a sequel or two these days.  I don’t think it has made anything better; it’s just a phase that maybe will (I hope) peter out.  I’ve had enough.  As much as I would ADORE a book about Utah, I’ve let it go.  But judging by my daily stats, where it shows search engine terms, every day someone is looking for Utah’s book.  Is he the most famous “non-character” in romance? I believe so.  All “Tennessee” and “Nevada” ever did was mention him in passing.  The reason we are so fascinated with him is because he’s fair-haired with a dark tan where his brothers are dark-haired and swarthy.  Respect to EL for creating such a crying demand for a character with so few words.  Utah is like the writer’s equivalent to the first two notes of the JAWS theme or the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. They make you hungry for more.  (By the way, she’s so totally moved on and will not be writing a book for Utah.)

    Previous Post:  EL’s Mac-Black Series

    Now getting back to Rejar…

    Some of the bits I liked best – in no particular order — were (1) any scene with Traed; (2) the sewing circle where Lilac spills about how good Rejar is; (3) the bit with “The Tempest”; (4) the bit where Lorgin and Deana come to visit – very short, but cute; (5) when Lilac is teaching Rejar his letters.  Again, she starts out dull and wimpy, but she improves over the course of the book somewhat.  Not everyone is a fan of Lilac, but she needed to be the opposite of Rejar in order for him to experience his psychological overhaul. If they were both exactly the same temperament, you would have DANGEROUS GAMES or LIVE WIRE.

    Don’t bother conjecturing about the threads suggesting a future in the Old West for Traed, and his attraction to Leona.  They will most probably come to nowt.  Do read the series in order if at all possible.  This series of three is one of the best in a medium that’s grown stale.

  • THE TEMPEST entire play online

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