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review 2017-05-23 22:28
Lord Johnnie - part 1

Sometimes you have to prepare yourself to be disappointed.  That book you loved, loved, loved years ago just doesn't hold up when you read it again.  You're older and probably a little wiser, and the things that made you love the story and the characters aren't there any more.  Or they're embarrassingly corny, and you wish you had never told anyone how much you loved it.

The first adult historical romance novel I ever read was The Highland Hawk  by Leslie Turner White.  My dad had belonged to one of those subscription book clubs in the 1950s, and this was one of many similar titles he acquired.  It's also one of the very, very few that I haven't found a copy of to replace that original.  Over the years I've found almost all the others, either as paperback reprints or at garage and yard and library book sales.  The Highland Hawk isn't among them.

Old movies on television -- Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Prince of Foxes, The Flame and the Arrow -- had turned me on to historical adventure sagas, but they lacked something.  

First of all, they couldn't be enjoyed in private.  We only had one television in those days (early 1960s) and it was in the living room.  I didn't feel comfortable sharing my enjoyment with family members who would disparage it.

(I still don't.  When I bought a DVD collection of Burt Lancaster movies a year or so ago, I did not want to watch The Flame and the Arrow with anyone.  Eventually I did, but I still felt uncomfortable.)


Second, television wasn't dependable.  Weeks or months could go by without an exciting film scheduled during my available viewing hours, which were limited to after school and week-ends.  And we only had four channels!

Third, television wasn't portable.  So once I found the books, I was hooked.  For life.

I'm not sure how soon after reading The Highland Hawk I found Lord Johnnie, but find it I did.  By my best guess I read both of them the summer before my freshman year in high school.  (Gone with the Wind had to wait until the following summer.)  I was not quite fourteen years old.

What followed can only be described as a feeding/reading frenzy.


I went through everything on my dad's shelves.  When my mother expressly said I couldn't read anything by Frank Yerby, I went immediately to his books.  More about those books in the future, because this post is about Lord Johnnie.  Others would become favorites and have enormous impact, but Lord Johnnie was a book apart.


Over the years, I read it many times.  When I moved out of my parents' house, I somehow managed to grab my dad's copy of Lord Johnnie and a couple other of those book club editions; I have them to this day.  For the most part, they've held up in terms of the writing, the storytelling, the characterization.  In many cases, in fact, the writing is far superior to just about anything being published today.


So when Moonlight Reader came up with this "personal canon" idea, the first book on my list had to be the book that truly launched me into writing historical romance.  I can't even give The Highland Hawk credit for that; it never stirred my imagination, my passion, the way the adventures of Johnnie the Rogue did.  But it's been years and years since I've read the whole thing first page to last, and I knew I had to do that before I could honestly put it on the list.  Given the world's situation last night, I decided to grab one of my three copies (don't ask) and curl up in bed with this old, old favorite.


I was prepared to be disappointed.  I knew there were aspects of the story that I vaguely remembered as problematic.  How would I react to them now, older and wiser and more radical than ever?


The book club edition, its cheap high-acid paper a little brittle after 67 years, is 308 pages.  I reached page 57 before I forced myself to quit, turn out the lights, and get some sleep.


I wasn't disappointed.


The writing is splendid, the characters all fully-fleshed and more than a little Dickensian.  The opening set in Newgate prison the day before the notorious outlaw known as Johnnie the Rogue is to be hanged brings the London lowlife of 1760 into clear focus.  (For perspective, Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones was published in 1749.)  The raucous, bawdy "going away" party is interrupted by the arrival of a young woman dressed all in black, who begs the gaoler to let her wed a condemned felon; as her legal -- though barely -- husband, he will assume her debts and his death will free her of them.  The handsome young highwayman, sometimes called Lord Johnnie for his ability to mimic the nobility, is the only one available, and so the marriage is performed.  And though the young woman does not give her full name, Johnnie picks her pocket and identifies her as Leanna Somerset.


She departs Newgate believing he'll be dead by the next night and she'll be free of both him and her debts.


Johnnie has other plans.



What struck me as one of the most significant aspects of the story, and especially about Johnnie himself, was the awareness of class distinctions.  The London poor are little better than animals, barely surviving while the rich live in splendor.  And while Johnnie has aspirations to the gentry, he also recognizes that there is an innate honesty and humanity about those condemned to wretched poverty through no fault of their own.


I wondered, after I had closed the book for the night, if I might have had a different attitude toward my own writing career if I had read Georgette Heyer Regencies before I read the swashbuckling adventures of Leslie Turner White, Samuel Shellabarger, and (of course!) Frank Yerby.  I read David Copperfield and The Return of the Native before I read Pride and Prejudice.  Glitz and glamour never appealed to me as much as the struggle for justice and fairness.  To this day, I rarely enjoy novels that focus on the wealthy and powerful.


And having no personal experience of being wealthy or powerful, I don't know enough about them to write about them!


The other issue that interested me as I began re-reading was the way Leanna Somerset was portrayed.  These books were written primarily for a male audience, and most of the writers were male.  The emphasis was on male adventure, not romance and not on female characters.


But within this first 57 pages, there are already two female characters, very different from each other and yet with certain common characteristics.  First there's Leanna, the desperate upper-class lady who has gotten herself into debt and needs a way out.  Pretty, delicate, emblem of all Johnnie aspires to and cannot have.


Then there's Moll Coppinger, with her broken nose and straw hat, who carries her own romantic torch for the dashing outlaw.  She is his for the taking, but she's not what he wants.


Unlike the fragile, helpless heroines of silent films perhaps, both Leanna and Moll are quite capable of self-preservation.  Were they products of the era in which they were written?  Lord Johnnie was published in 1949, so written in the immediate aftermath of World War II when women proved themselves capable of just about everything.


But, I'm only 57 pages in.  I remember how the story develops, and of course how it ends, and I know there are some twists and surprises in store for the characters.  Maybe there will be some surprises for my memories, too.

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review 2017-05-18 16:42
Book Review for The Captain's Rebel Irish Heroines Series by C.B. Halverson
The Captain's Rebel
Irish Heroines Series
by C.B. Halverson
  5 stars
Reviewed by: Angels
Published: Entangled: Scorched
Source: ARC Copy
Genre:  Romance,Regency,Historical Romance,Military

Land. Power. Influence. Mary O’Malley knows these are the only things that matter in her war-torn country. Determined to win back her ancestral home, she must embark on a journey across the Atlantic disguised as a cabin boy. But her ruse brings her under the control of a dangerous sea captain who demands from her the one thing she will never give—complete and total submission. Captain Richard Grant runs a tight ship, and he didn’t claw his way up through the ranks of the Royal Navy to be undone by a headstrong Irish girl hell-bent on jeopardizing his mission and his crew. If she insists on dressing like a man, then she can take his punishments. He demands obedience, but his insatiable need for her leads to a complex game of sex, desire, and dominance not even he can control. Awakened by the passion Grant stirs in her, Mary finds herself falling for the stern captain. But when her false identity leads to rumors of her spying for the French, she must choose between her love for Ireland and the man who commands her body—and her heart. 




This is a new author for us and we are glad to announce we loved our first read by her.

What an exciting read from the very first pages.The characters were griping and exciting funny and love-able. A historical romance with an erotic twist and unlike anything I read before and I loved it.
Grant and Mary two opposites that have common ground when it comes to their sexual pleasure.A game that started out to protect Mary turned out to be so much more.This couple had some major chemistry that brought out each others inhibitions that had them playing and acting out some of their most sensual sexual fantasies. 
I always have a favorite character and mine is going to be Grant.I loved how interesting he was,he had a commanding personality, tall dark handsome,had a dangerous aura,was possessive,protective and into sexual kink.I enjoyed the game he played with Mary it was a sensual dance of cat and mouse.I loved how he saw the real Mary and not the Mary she pretended to be.He new she was a strong and determined sensual women who would do whatever it took to get the thing she wanted most.Grants perfect match yet belongs to another.
I admired Mary and her determination to  protect and give a better life to those people she cared about.Found her to be smart ,sexy,open minded,tough enough to protect herself on more than one occasion and just down right love able.I loved how she was willing to experiment sexually and how she demanded what she wanted and needed during herliaisons with Grant.I love how Bold she was for a girl who was raised to be prim and proper but anything but.
I have to say I rooted for this couple from the very beginning to find the love and happiness that they both deserved .To be able to overcome  the odds for them to be together.
 Favorite Scene - When Mary was forced to bring sexualgratification to a couple while pretending to be a  man and how she did the deed with a straight face while I laughed so hard through the entire scenario.
A page turner from beginning to end and I could not put the book down until it was finished.I love reading the normal historical romances but loved even more that the author decided to add a bdsm /erotica element into the mix to change it up a bit for these amazing characters.The story had excitement,intrigue,sexy captains,warfare love,humor,and some major surprises and some omg moments that I did not expect along with secrets and lies coming to life. All the elements I love in a story to make it a amazing and interesting read for me.  
I love when I fall in love and can connect with the characters I read about and I was able to do that with this couple it makes more of an enticing read for me and then I know that I will absolutely love the story I am reading.I have to say that this author was able to make me laugh as well as cry throughout the story.
A recommend read for all and we are very much looking forward to another romance novel in the near future.This story goes into the keeper pile to read again at a later date.The author did an amazing job with her debut novel.
5 stars from us !


As a child, Colleen Halverson used to play in the woods imagining worlds and telling stories to herself. Growing up on military bases, she found solace in her local library and later decided to make a living sharing the wonders of literature to poor, unsuspecting college freshmen. After backpacking through Ireland and singing in a traditional Irish music band, she earned a PhD in English with a specialization in Irish literature. When she’s not making up stories or teaching, she can be found hiking the rolling hills of the Driftless area of Wisconsin with her husband and two children. She also writes as C.B. Halverson.Website |Facebook | Twitter |
 Newsletter |Amazon Author Profile 

You may find us here !

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review 2017-05-18 07:17
Never Game a Gamer
Never Trust a Pirate (Playful Brides) - Valerie Bowman

This is a definite win in a consistently good series. Valerie Bowman writes so charmingly, and I love that the heroine is as roguish as the hero. I like the surprises along the way and Danielle is probably going on my favorite heroines list, not because we share the name. But because she's awesome. I picture Eva Green as Danielle.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine http://affairedecoeurmagazine.com.

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review 2017-05-16 23:09
Arc Review: Jane Grey: A Homage to the Brontë Classics (The Brontë Brothers #1) by Nina Mason
Jane Grey (The Brontë Brothers Book 1) - Nina Mason


I’ll start by saying that Jane Eyre happens to be my least favorite classic historical romance. So when offered the chance to read this story I was truly intrigued and couldn’t pass the opportunity to read it.


Well, Jane Grey was a great romance story indeed! I don’t want anyone to think it wasn’t based on my rating. I did enjoy it from start to finish, true, however I also did have a few issues with the story itself. At any rate, I still recommend it to any fan of the original and to those looking for a worthwhile happy ending.


Matthew and Jane have a lot in common and that’s obviously what drew them together. They were both hopeless romantics to the point they could both recite poems by heart and Matthew was a painter hoping to revive his then-dormant muse.

At the start of the story, Matthew was hurt and vulnerable, thus he gave me the impression of just having fallen in love with the idea of the perfect woman that could possibly be Jane as opposed to the woman herself. As the story progressed and they got to know each other better, his attitude left no doubt in my mind that he had in fact fallen for Jane as a woman so I was happy on that end.


Their relationship was endearing and heart-warming. The story was heart-wrenching at times and hopeful at others. The descriptive settings made me feel I was part of the story itself and the writing was as beautiful as ever when it comes to this author.


As for Jane, she was sweet and considerate, but to an almost maddening point in my opinion. Most of the time she showed strength of character and common sense but when it came to trusting unworthy people or when it came to continue on the path she had already set her mind to follow she was inconstant and mutable. That whiplash attitude was one of the reasons I couldn’t enjoy the story more.

Also, the story is set in a place where propriety is not as strict as it would have been in England at the time but I still thought Jane didn’t come up to scratch as a governess to some extent. I’m not going to give specific examples because I don’t want to give spoilers but suffice to say her pupil would act incredibly unlady-like and Ms. Gray would just stand there and do nothing. I know, I’ve been told I need to let go of certain things when it comes to historicals but I just can’t!


As I said earlier dear reader, it IS a lovely story, full of passion, regrets, ambition, and true love. If this sounds like your cup of tea then I’m sure you are going to love it. 


*** I received this book from the author at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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review 2017-05-14 18:29
Review: A Wedding in Springtime (Marriage Mart #1) by Amanda Forester
A Wedding in Springtime - Amanda Forester

Genie screws up her debut in front of the Queen and is branded an outcast. Genie blames Will Grant for screwing up her big moment. Really, it was Lord Chamberlin's gut distress that is to blame - yep, this Regency romance starts with a prologue dedicated to a fart joke.


Her aunt and mentor decides she needs to marry and quickly. Grant is too much of a rake, so poor Genie has to impress a bunch of dull suitors when she wants adventure with Grant. Grant and his crew (a duke and an earl, aka the heroes in the other two books in the series) are also trying to figure out who is the mole in the British intelligence agency that is feeding Napoleon information regarding the British navy activities. There is matchmaking dowager, a secret marriage, a second chance for a group of London orphans, lots of fun twists and a satisfying HEA for Grant and Genie. And thankfully, there was only two balls in the entire book.


I definitely want to read the other two books in the series.


Read for Booklikes-opoly

Pages: 309 Bank: $4.00

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