Short Book Reviews: Dangerous Passions, Lion's Bride & Petals On The River

Hello everyone,

today I'm reviewing three old historical romance novels, two of which are actually quite enjoyable. Ready? Let's get started:

Dangerous Passions by Kat Martin
It doesn't happen often that I come across a historical romance novel that I like, but I did like Dangerous Passions by Kat Martin. A lot. The story takes place at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Elissa's brother has been murdered while trying to capture a spy and so she decides to go to Austria, pretending to be a young widow so she would enjoy more freedom of movement, and discover the culprit, thus avenging his death and saving her country. Her brother in a letter sent before his death had mentioned the names of those he suspected and so Elissa tries to get close to them, but as a spy, she's a complete disaster. She clearly doesn't have a plan and almost gets caught more than once. In addition, she is distracted from her mission by dashing Colonel Adrian Kingsland, a man that seems interested only in soldiering and bedding women, but he behaves like that because he's been badly scarred in the past. Despite the blurb of the book that leads you to believe that Elissa can't get too close to him because she thinks he could be the spy, she actually only suspects him for 10 minutes or so. And despite her own faults as a detective, what really made me enjoy the book was the relationship between Adrian and Elissa and how she helps him heal the scars his childhood left him. There was also a sudden twist at the end. I thought I knew who the spy was, but turns out that I was wrong and the revelation of the true culprit completely caught me by surprise. Overall, Dangerous Passions is a well-paced novel full of danger, passion, twists and turns that you won't be able to put down.
Available at: amazon.com
Rating: 4/5

Lion's Bride by Iris Johansen
What attracted me to this book was its locations and time period: the Middle East and Scotland at the time of the crusades. Thea, a slave and accomplished needlewoman, steals some silk worms and escapes to start a new life in Damascus, where she plans to open a silk shop. But the caravan she travels with gets attacked and all are killed but Thea who is saved by a gloomy warrior, Wren, a former Knight Templar hunted by the members of the order for the secrets he knows about them. Wren is a gloomy man who seems to be interested only in bedding women. He has a deeper side, but he rarely shows it. His main fault is that he's not very communicative. He doesn't explain his actions and orders but expects everyone to obey them. Despite this, Thea and Wren fall in love and she even convinces him to save her sister Selene, who's still at slave back home. This mission is entrusted to his friend Kadar, who, together with Selene, are the most interesting characters in the book. They certainly display more depth and are slightly more developed, while Thea and especially Wren remain kinda flat. However, the course of true love never runs smooth, and Wren's enemies are still determined to kill him, and now Thea too, and the two will have to face lots of obstacles before they can be happily reunited. The book is well-written, full of action, violence and love. It also accurately portrays the awful situation of women at the time. Overall, a very enjoyable read.
Available at: amazon.com
Rating: 3.5/5

Petals On The River by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
I have really tried to like Woodiwiss books but I just can't. The stories aren't that bad, just unnecessarily long (usually have more than 400 pages) and several times, throughout her books, I stop and wonder: "what now? why aren't you finished already?!". Petals On The River was no exception. Everything is minutely described and even the dialogues are at times unnecessary and pointless really. And although they are well-done, they slow down the book a lot. I guess this I-have-to-decribe-and-explain-absolutely-everything style is better than the too-concise-straightforward-and-rushed style that gives the impression the author couldn't care less about writing the book in the first place but the style I like is in between: explain what needs explaining, describe what needs describing, but don't bog down the book with unnecessary details and scenes that don't add anything to it. But what about the story? Shemaine O’Hearn, an half Irish and rich young woman, is mistakenly imprisoned and condemned to be shipped to the colonies where she will be sold as an indentured servant. Luckily for her, she is bought by Gage Thornton, a lovely widower with a young son. The two soon fall in love, but Shemaine has already made lots of enemies that constantly try to kill her throughout the book. And while at first I felt sorry and worried for her, after a while it just gets too repetitive, predictable and boring. The only thing I enjoyed about the book was the relationship between Gage and Shemaine. Although they are kinda flat and two dimensional characters, I like that they don't hate each other nor have big fights or misunderstandings. They are just happily in love and live (when noone tries to kill Shemaine) a simple life in a cabin near a river in the woods. Overall, a nice story that's spoilt by the repetitive incidents and unnecessarily descriptive and boring writing style.
Available at: amazon.com
Rating: 2/5

Have you read these books? What do you think of them?