Sweet Rocket

Romance Reviews, Author Profiles and More…


5 Comments

Wish List Wednesday: The Phantom Lover

 

1339268352-500x500

 

Fiery young “Nell” Belden went to Thorndene Castle to escape a lover, not to find one. She was bound by the strict conventions of England’s Regency to a man she could never love, then bound by the ties of passion to a man she could never marry! For at Thorndene, she discovered a new and startling love, a love that was as intense as it was doomed…

“You must leave Thorndene!” said the ghost. Then he added, more gently, “I come to warn you, not to harm you. I may never touch you, any more than a shadow may..”

“What does that signify?” Nell asked. “Since you are dead, you can have no need or inclination to touch me anyway.”

“You can’t know much about men-or ghosts-or how delightful you look in that nightdress, if you believe that,” he said with disturbing sincerity.

Nell blushed and pulled the bedclothes over her. For a long moment, neither of them spoke. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the ghostly figure was gone…

 

You know what’s like Christmas coming early? Finding an out-of-print book that I’ve been searching for for years has come out in e-book! Celebrate with me the reprinting of Elizabeth Mansfield’s 1979 Regency The Phantom Lover.

I’m imagining a sort of Ghost and Mrs. Muir situation, only I’m sure Nell’s ghost will end up being a little more substantial than Mrs. Muir’s.

The Phantom Lover by Elizabeth Mansfield, Open Road Romance, 2015.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Wish List Wednesday: New Life by Bonnie Dee

WishListWednesdaySweetRocket

Today’s Wish List Wednesday pick is a contemporary that I’ve been meaning to buy after trying a sample. Maybe today’s the day I’ll break down and buy it already!

 

Here’s the synopsis:

Since the car accident that caused traumatic brain injury, Jason has fought to regain his memories and the ability to organize thoughts and control emotions. His promising future shattered, he works as a night janitor in an office building and clings to routine to make it through his days. 

New lawyer Anna breaks down one evening after fumbling her first court case. Self-doubt brings her to tears in a deserted stairwell where Jason finds her and offers comforting words. From this unexpected meeting an unlikely romance begins. 

A casual coffee date soon leads to a deeper connection and eventually a steamy affair. But are Jason and Anna’s growing feelings for each other strong enough to overcome the social chasm that divides them and the very real issues of Jason’s disability?

I discovered New Life after reading another of Bonnie Dee’s books, Bone Deep. Bone Deep was so different from any other historical romance that I’d ever read that I couldn’t help but be interested in seeing what else Dee had written. She’s a writer with an astounding range, certainly — in addition to historical and contemporary romance, she also writes erotica, male/male romance and fantasy romance. 

According to Amazon, this book has been on my Wish List since November 30, 2013, which is not long after the book was released.

Why do I want this book? Like I said, Bone Deep was enough to pique my interest, so I downloaded a sample of New Life shortly after reading Bone Deep. To be honest, I have no idea why I haven’t bought this book yet. I went back and read the sample again before writing this, and I was surprised that I hadn’t already bought the book. While Anna comes off as sort of whiny in the sample, it’s clear she has potential, but Jason is, as we say in these here parts, a pure-old doll baby.  Here’s a snippet from the book to prove it:

The first thing you need to know about me is I’m not retarded. Or mentally handicapped I guess is the polite term these days. But whatever you call it, I’m not that. I have a mental disability, but I wasn’t born this way. It took extra stupidity for me to get this way– driving drunk, shooting through the windshield, landing on my noggin, and scrambling my brains permanently. I don’t babble and I don’t drool, except sometimes on my pillow when I’m sleeping, but everybody does that.

You know what? I think I’m going to mosey on back to Amazon and make a purchase. Later, alligator.

New Life by Bonnie Dee

Self Published/2013

Available At Amazon 


2 Comments

Wish List Wednesday: The Heir of Starvelings by Evelyn Berckman

I was so inspired by the Teaser Tuesday idea that I decided to do Wish List Wednesdays! Yes, I know, someone is probably doing it, too, but if I stole the idea I repent forthwith.

At any rate, every reader has a mile-long wish list of books she can’t wait to get her grubby little hands on. So, on Wish List Wednesdays, we’ll share the following:

  • The title of a random book from our wish list,
  • How or where we found out about the book,
  • How long the book has been on our wish list,
  • And why we want it so badly!

Post your Wish List Wednesday book to your blog/Twitter feed and link to it in the comments. If you have neither, just share your info in the comments. I can’t wait to see what’s on your wish lists!

Happy Halloween (or Hallowe’en, if you’re particular), precious ones!

In honor of the holiday, today’s Wish List Wednesday title is a creepy Gothic from the way back machine. It’s Evelyn Berckman’s The Heir of Starvelings (isn’t that a deliciously Gothic title?), and here be the book’s synopsis, courtesy of Fiction DB:

Lovely Davina Milne refused to stay away from Starvelings because of its sinister reputation. Village talk about the evil Lord Stanyon and his reclusive wife could not keep her from the youthful heir of the manor who so clearly and painfully needed her. But when the lovely young girl entered the bleak mansion, she found herself moving ever deeper into a labyrinth of fearful secrets. And when suddenly she could no longer ignore the dark chasm opening before her unbelieving eyes, she realized escape had become impossible…

Now doesn’t that just give you the creeps in a very good way?

I can’t remember where I heard of The Heir of Starvelings, but I strongly suspect it was from browsing the huge archives of vintage paperback covers over at Book Scans Database. Please visit Book Scans, by the way — the good people there are not getting nearly enough credit for the wonderful work they do!

I put the book on my Wish List on April 26th of this year.

As to why I haven’t made the purchase yet, I’m embarrassed to say I stuck this on my Wish List and promptly started wishing for 1000000000 other things. For once, the problem is not lack of copies to choose from; unlike most Gothics, there are more than just a few raggedy paperback copies to choose from. The Heir of Starvelings, which was first published in 1967,  has gone through more than one printing, and was even published in hardback. That says more about the author, Evelyn Berckman, than about the Gothic genre, which was, unfortunately, infamous for churning out forgettable books by forgettable authors during the genre’s 1960s-1970s heyday.

In fact, it’s the story of the author as much as this book that intrigues me. While The Heir of Starvelings most certainly hews to almost all Gothic conventions, as do many of Berckman’s books, Berckman is rarely identified as a Gothic author, but instead as a mystery/thriller author. This, however, may be a case of a rose by any other name; according to her Goodreads bio, Berckman wrote “post-war detective fiction, horror and naval history, with a gift for engaging titles, featuring no one detective but a series of independent young women.” Hmm. That sounds strangely like the premise of many a Gothic to me.

The gift for engaging titles was strong with this one; in addition to the delightfully creepy The Heir of Starvelings, Berckman’s Gothic (or not) titles also include A Finger to Her Lips, No Known Grave, Wait, Just You Wait and the evocative The Victorian Album.

At any rate, Kirkus Reviews had no doubt that Berckman was writing Gothics, as summed up by this pithy 1967 review of The Heir of Starvelings:

True Gothicism. Complete with ragged innocent heir, a little boy entombed in the blackness of his home–nicknamed “”Starvelings”” by frightened villagers, a lovely governess who comes to take care of him having lost her true love, and the evil that his father and his father’s manservant represented. Miss Berckman can impart an air of doom to the sound of a broom. She’s almost too clever but it’s for the ladies who will thrill along.

I’ll just bet Ms. Berckman put a hex on that reviewer.


3 Comments

Wish List Wednesday/ Hideous Romance Novel Covers: Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram

I was so inspired by the Teaser Tuesday idea that I decided to do Wish List Wednesdays! Yes, I know, someone is probably doing it, too, but if I stole the idea I repent forthwith.

At any rate, every reader has a mile-long wish list of books she can’t wait to get her grubby little hands on. So, on Wish List Wednesdays, we’ll share the following:

  • The title of a random book from our wish list,
  • How or where we found out about the book,
  • How long the book has been on our wish list,
  • And why we want it so badly!

Post your Wish List Wednesday book to your blog/Twitter feed and link to it in the comments. If you have neither, just share your info in the comments. I can’t wait to see what’s on your wish lists!

Today and today only at Le Sweet Rocket, it’s two categories for the price of one — a Wish List Wednesday post that doubles as a little bitty Hideous Romance Novel Covers post, as well!

For your consideration is Grace Ingram’s Red Adam’s Lady, lauded as a classic by many romance readers:

Unfortunately, classic status does not guarantee a great cover. That one above is an abomination. What is going on there? Is Red Adam squeezing the life out of his lady? Or is that supposed to be an approximation of the throes of ecstasy? And is it just me, or does old Red Adam look like Gordon Lightfoot?

Gordon Lightfoot should have starred in the movie version of “Red Adam’s Lady,” right?

Here’s a slightly less crazy edition:

Nothing much to see there, so we’ll move on to another that’s quite frankly bizarre:

It would appear that Red Adam’s Lady is about to beat his brains out. And maybe choke him to boot. He looks worried, and I’m worried for him.

At some point, someone took mercy on this book and gave it a cover that’s actually quite nice:

So now that you’ve had a little tour through the many covers of Red Adam’s Lady, here’s a little about the book itself.

Red Adam’s Lady, a medieval,was first published in 1973. And is, naturally, now out-of-print. I went to Goodreads and found this synopsis:

The redhead hooted gleefully and grappled Julitta to him, spinning her round adroitly so that she could only kick back at his legs. He heaved her from her feet and slung her over his shoulder. He tried to kiss her, but she ducked her head into the cloak so that her crown caught his chin and made his teeth clack.

“Let me go!” she gasped. “Indeed I am no harlot! My uncle is lord of Chivingham-”

He did not heed her. The girl cried out to the waiting crowd.

“In God’s name -help me!”

Lady Julitta, mistaken for a strumpet by Red Adam, the impetuous, scandalous young lord of Brentborough, suddenly found herself married to the very man who tried to ravish her.

She promised herself she would always despise him -but Red Adam was determined to win her love.

That highly entertaining synopsis explains, I suppose, why Julitta looks like she’s in the process of clawing Red Adam’s eyeballs out in several of the book covers.

I discovered Red Adam’s Lady on AAR boards and on Goodreads back in July, and promptly added it to my huge wish list. On both AAR and Goodreads, readers just can’t stop gushing about how wonderful this book is.  Here are a few of the more memorable comments and raves from Goodreads:

…Red Adam, who is actually a nice man when he is not drunk and being a nuisance and a rake, decides to reform and make amends and that is how Julitta ends up married to her abuser. What follows is Julitta and Red Adam getting to know each other, dealing with some villains in the form of Julitta’s uncle and his friends and the wife of their steward while at the same time trying to discover what really happened to the wife of Red Adam’s uncle from whom he inherited his estate…. via Ana T.

What a wonderful, wonderful book. I laughed, I cried and I didn’t want to put it down. Someone should definitely reissue this book. I would love to own a copy but current prices are too prohibitive. Thank goodness to get the chance to read it through library ILL! via Terry

A fast paced bawdy romp through 12C England. Lady Julitta is mistaken for a peasant and is accosted by a drunken “Red” Adam de Lorismond, the new lord of Brentborough. Adam takes Julitta back to his keep bent on rape, but the ever resourceful Julitta knocks him out with a stool and when he’s sober Adam marries her to assuage her damaged honor. Julitta is none too thrilled with the match, but sparks soon fly between the two as Julitta’s uncle Lord William and his cronies conspire to support young Henry in his plan to oust his father Henry II and rule England instead. Julitta also soon finds her hands full with a castle and mutinous servants allowed to run to ruin by the previous lord of Brentborough (Adam’s uncle), a thieving seneschal, invading armies of Scots, a perilous climb down ocean cliffs, a mysterious death or two and more as “Red” Adam and his lady banter their way through it all to find true love in the end… via Misfit

I find it fascinating that a romance novel that ostensibly begins with an attempted rape could become as beloved as Red Adam’s Lady evidently is to readers. For that reason alone, I’d be intrigued by the book, but the fact that I’ve never seen a less than favorable, if not outright gushing, review of the book makes it even more interesting. On Amazon, 22 of the 23 reviews are five-star; the other is a four-star. Also, who wouldn’t love a book with a hero who is, to quote Ana T., actually a nice man when he is not drunk and being a nuisance and a rake?