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Romantic Times Rewind: May 1994 Reviews


Smart Podcast Trashy Books Romantic Times RewindIn this week’s podcast episode, we’re looking at the book reviews for the May 1994 issue of RT Magazine.

Thank you to Mari, the Romance Girl for this issue!

You can also find all the RTRW content at our category page for Romantic Times Rewind. 

And, most importantly, if you want to listen and follow along with this entry, we have more detail in the audio, but you can click play and listen and read and absorb all the visual goodness:

Ok, let’s get started!

We’ll discuss the cover in the next episode, and there’s hardly anything to say about it.

A truly epic cover. On the left is David Alan Johnson in HEAVEN with a full John Oates mullet shirtless and hairy chested wearing low slung black pants and a gun. There's a mustache. There's smoldering. Then a crown at the top on top of purple fabric, and on the right another cover model this time a photograph of another white dude with a mustache, leading a horse with a sleeveless chambray shirt open over a bare chest and with jeans and a massive belt buckle. It's just glorious.

Really, nothing going on with this cover, right? Yeah, sorry about that.

Historical Romance

I selected Dreaming of You which got four stars?

DREAMING OF YOU Lisa Kleypas Avon 4 (Excellent) SETTING: Regency England PREVIOUS TITLES: Then Came You, Only In Your Arms While on a research trip into London's underworld, novelist Sara Fielding saves gambling club owner Derek Craven's life. All Sara wants is a chance to gather information for her next novel in Derek's club. Having risen from poverty to wealth, Derek is a hardened man who deliberately keeps a wall of ice around his heart. He has no desire to allow a country innocent like Sara into his infamous club or his life. But the intrepid miss charms Derek's employees, until he has no choice but to allow her free run of the place. Tired of being a simple country girl, Sara casts off her inhibitions, and attends one of Derek's notorious assemblies. Behind a mask, she becomes her own book's heroine and finds herself in Derek's arms. Learning his mistake, Derek sends Sara away, and she eventually returns home, dreaming, not of her long-time fiancé, but of Derek.

With some judicious match making by Lady Lily, Derek and Sara are forced to confront true feelings for one another, while they are just discovering happiness, another plots their downfall. Readers will be enchanted this refreshing, yet poignant romace Lisa Kleypas has created three dimensional characters and a plot will keep you entertained from beginning to end. SENSUAL (325 pp., $4.99)

The rubric is VERY interesting especially regarding this book:

RATINGS KEY ***** Classic ****½ (4½ stars) Exceptional **** (4 stars) Excellent *** (3 stars) Very Good ** (2 stars) Good * (1 star) Acceptable

When 5 stars means “Classic,” and Dreaming of You gets 4 stars, it is indeed a strange time!

Amanda selected Prince of Thieves, and the greatest thing about discovering books in this issue is discovering the covers, which aren’t included in the magazine (we imagine because black and white would not be attractive, and full color for the whole magazine was not possible).

PRINCE OF THIEVES Melinda McRae Topaz 4 (Excellent) SETTING: Regency England PREVIOUS TITLES: An Unlikely Attraction, Country Wedding Honoria must reclaim her neck-lace, even if it means saving notorious thief Gentleman Jack Derry from the hangman's noose and hiring him to steal her inheritance back from her uncle. The charming, roguish thief can hardly believe that he is not to hang, but is to masquerade as the lovely young lady's fiance while purloining her pearl and ruby necklace. Jack knows the ways of the gentry and can easily fit into Honoria's plan, but he does not expect to be enchanted with his innocent--yet sensual-partner in crime. On her uncle's estate, Honoria and Jack become entangled in a desperate gambit. While trying to fool others, they find themselves falling in love and awakening a deep and dangerous passion. In order to save Honoria and regain what is rightfully hers, Jack is forced to stop hiding from his painful past, and to learn to trust in the power of love.

Melinda McRae's PRINCE OF THIEVES is a delightful, fast-paced, playful, sensual romp. Melinda McRae moves into the world of longer historical romance with ease, and her latest tale will garner her many new and adoring fans. SENSUAL (May, 368 pp., $4.99)

Y’all, there are very few images of this cover, but I found one:

Prince of Thieves - an illustration of a man pressing a woman against a wall. He's shirtless but his pants are VERY SHINY and VERY TIGHT and the brightest thing on the page is the upper curve of his buttcheek

Look at that shiny tight buttock!

I may have to haunt used book stores looking for some of these books.

Series

There were several 1-star reviews inside this section, which to recap means “Acceptable.” (Fabio’s historical romance got 2 stars in this issue.)

Amanda selected Dancing in the Dark by Lynn Erickson:

in Lynn Erickson's DANCING IN THE DARK (2), a steely, cynical mercenary finds his tough-guy image shattered when he agrees to help a naive and vulnerable socialite kidnap her son from his wealthy Greek father. While the story is unevenly paced and the relational development is not always convincing, the uplifting ending is heartwarming indeed.

Dancing in the Dark by Lynn Erickson - a man in a white tshirt and jeans sitting on a wall with a blonde woman in a white dress. She's leaning into him with her hand on his shoulder.

Harlequin Superromance had gold leaf borders and big illustrations on the covers back in the early 90s!

Also, everything about that picture says mercenary with a tough-guy image. All the details: tough. Guy.

I picked The Best is Yet to Be by Tracy Sinclair, which got 1 star:

Tracy Sinclair winds up the month with THE BEST IS YET TO BE (1). A lovely biographer's plan towed a much older electronics tycoon. goes awry when she falls under the spell of his young-er best friend and colleague. Very classic in approach, this nicely written romance will definitely please Ms. Sinclair's longtime fans.

Today in nothingburger reviews…and the cover is very of its time, too!

The cover is mostly stripes with an illustration of a woman with big blowy wavy hair embracing a guy with every white guy's 90s hair cut

 

Regency

My pick: Old Lover’s Ghost by Joan Smith sounds VERY GOOD. Get a load of this:

OLD LOVER'S GHOST Joan Smith Fawcett 3 (Very Good) The venerable Joan Smith takes us on a wild and wacky ghost hunt -Regency style. Miss Charity Wainwright is rather tired of accompanying her father from one noble mansion to another soothing some of England's most troubled spirits. Still, a chance to deal with a famous Cavalier ghost, as well as a disturbing new shade, is almost irresis-tible. And, for a young lady interested in matrimony, the estate's handsome owner is a definite bonus. John, Earl of Merton, does not believe in supernatural nonsense and greets his mother's special guests with considerable skeptic-ism. It soon becomes clear that, however real the Cavalier may be, the more recent apparitions are the result of a very human effort to

extort a large sum of money from the family coffers. Can Charity and Merton discover the identity of the dastardly villain behind this nefarious plot? Readers will revel in the supernatural delights of this merry romp. (May, 188 pp., $3.99)

She’s a Regency ghost hunter with her dad, there’s a famous and troublesome ghost called the Cavalier, and the Earl of Merton is like, ‘This is bogus, but I’m humouring my mom.’

SUPERNATURAL MERRY ROMP! I am here for this subgenre. The cover gives very little away as to the ghost hunting romp-ness, but again, this sounds nifty.

Old Lover's Ghost with two cutout illustrations of a man and woman in Regency winter garb with hats, scarves and she's carrying a GIANT Muff. It looks like a sheep. The cutouts are against a photograph of some old buildings I Presume of the era

I found a teeny tiny version of the original cover:

a tiny image of the cover showing a figure in white gesturing with one arm out toward a white man and woman in Regency garb. he's holding a candle, and has his arm around her, and they both look concernedCreepy!

Amanda selected Sweet Fancy, which led us to a side trip into  Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, and this performance: 

The book is not about the “Fancy” from the song:

SWEET FANCY Sally Martin • Avon 2 (Good) Rising star Sally Martin takes another step forward on the road to Regency excellence. She is the toast of the London stage, beguiling her mostly male audience with the lyric beauty of her voice and the tantalizing mystery of her identity. Always appearing

with her face hidden behind an elaborate costume mask, Miss Merrythought is an enigma that the handsome Viscount Rossiter is determined to solve. To his astonishment, the lady not only refuses his proposition but ends up a guest in his home as the protegee of his matchmaking grandmother. Is the young woman really the long lost heiress she claims to be? More to the point, is his wounded heart safe in her care? Although there are still rough spots here and there, Ms. Martin has made considerable progress in her command of Regency verisimilitude in this stylish period piece. (May, 224 pp., $3.99)

Get a load of the cover! MOST PASTORAL:

Sweet Fancy by Sally martin - a watercolor style illustration of two people sitting by a canal in period clothing in the background with a heron in the water in the front

That’s really beautiful, isn’t it?

Mainstream and New Reality

The codes for this section are a journey for us:

The list of of May Ratings has two-letter codes without explanation until you get into the reviews: CS FU RM C VR CS F TT

They aren’t explained until you read the reviews, but without the answers, what would you guess that they mean?

Amanda also noticed that there is an Over 45 category, but it doesn’t get a letter abbreviation.

My pick: A Love Beyond Time by Flora Speer:

A Love Beyond Time - Flora Speer - a woman in a purple off the shoulder gown and a flower crown lunges into the surf being caught by a naked possibly man who is waist deep in the waves

THAT is the MATTER about which I AM TALKING.

Look at that glorious cover art. It’s so fuchsia. It’s so aquatic. There’s a FLOWER CROWN. Is he a merman? It’s perfect.

Not only that, that possibly naked ocean man time traveled through a computer!

Time-Travel A LOVE BEYOND TIME Flora Speer Leisure Love Spell 3 (Very Good) Whisked into Hank Marshes computer while trying to retrieve some valuable disks and notebooks for India Brant, Michael Bailey finds himself following in India's footsteps back to 779 Francia. When a strange, unusually dressed man falls from a tree at Lady Danise's feet she is intrigued and bewildered by the wounded man and her reaction to him. Nursing him back to health with the assistance of Charlemange's royal physician, Danise is inexplicably drawn to the stranger who has no memory of his past. Michael finds himself at home in Charlemange's he is enchanted by the beautiful angel who saved his life and is determined win her love. Confused by her feelings for Michael, Danise believes she is betraying her precious love Hugo. who has been dead but a year. In a magical and startling ter with Michael in the midst of a storm she finds peace and the miraculous answer to a prayer. Alas, there are those plotting to overthrow Charlemange, and Danise becomes a pawn in their vicious game of FOX and hound And to add to her heartache, Michael has mysteriously disappeared and Danise fears she may have lost him forever. A LOVE BEYOND TIME is a warm, touching tale of a powerful love that transcends the boundaries of time to unite two souls destined to be together throughout eternity. (May, 439 рр., $4.99) Lizabelle Cox

In case that’s too small to read, this is A RIDE.

Time-Travel
A LOVE BEYOND TIME
Flora Speer
Leisure Love Spell
3 (Very Good)
Whisked into Hank Marshes’ computer while trying to retrieve some valuable disks and notebooks for India Brant, Michael Bailey finds himself following in
India’s footsteps back to 779 Francia.

When a strange, unusually dressed man falls from a tree at Lady Danise’s feet she is intrigued and bewildered by the wounded man and her reaction to him. Nursing him back to health with the assistance of Charlemange’s royal physician, Danise is inexplicably drawn to the stranger who has no memory of his past.
Michael finds himself at home in Charlemange’s time.  He is
enchanted by the beautiful angel who saved his life and is determined win her love.

Confused by her feelings for Michael, Danise believes she is betraying her precious love Hugo. who has been dead but a year.

In a magical and startling ter with Michael in the midst of a storm she finds peace and the miraculous answer to a prayer. Alas, there are those plotting to overthrow Charlemange, and Danise becomes a pawn in their vicious game of
fox and hound. And to add to her heartache, Michael has mysteriously disappeared and Danise fears she may have lost him forever.

A LOVE BEYOND TIME is a warm, touching tale of a powerful love that transcends the boundaries of time to unite two souls destined to be together throughout eternity.
(May, 439 рр., $4.99)

Time traveled back to 779, hanging out with Charlemange. As you do.

Amanda selected Cat on a Blue Monday by Carole Nelson Douglas, which has a cat solving crimes at a Vegas cat show:

CATANI A BELUÉ MONDAY Carole Nelson Douglas TOR 4½ (Exceptional) Supersleuth Midnight Louie struts his snazzy stuff with superlative style in this saucy and splendiferous sally into spine-tingling suspense. Miss Temple Barr, publicist extra-

ordinaire, is fast becoming an expert on murder. Every time she gets involved with a convention, she ends up stumbling across a corpse. So it is with great relief that the only strange body she discovers at the annual Las Vegas Cat Show is that of an oddly shorn, but still live feline champion. The next cat attack, however, is infinitely more disturbing and leads to the suspicious death of a wealthy eccentric. Only the intrepid Midnight Louie can foil this fiendish plot against the cats of Las Vegas and save his lady from a very human killer in the process. A dazzling storyteller, Ms. Douglas provides a veritable feast of delight for connoisseurs of sparkling wit, engaging characterization, and imaginative invention. It's no mystery at all why this remarkable author's audience grows by leaps and bounds with every new book. (May, 384 pp., $21.95)

But wow, WOW did that review bury the biggest lede, which is in the book description:

As Louie, aided by a telepathic Birman cat named Karma, follows the scent of the killer, Temple is delving into the past of Matt Devine, the handsome young hotline counselor who’s captured her heart. 

A TELEPATHIC CAT. There’s a telepathic cat!

How do you not start every conversation without mentioning the telepathic cat? At the dry cleaners? Telepathic cat. Checking out at the grocery store? Telepathic cat! Honestly. I’d talk about that all day, and all night.

And now you know why I have managed a blog about romance for almost 20 years.

TELEPATHIC CAT.

Science Fiction

Amanda has found more time travel, and a very of-the-time cover for The Unknown Soldier by Mickey Zucher Reichert:

DAW: Mickey Zucker Reichert takes a break from her Bifrost Guardians series to bring us THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER (2), a standalone time-travel adventure, in which a soldier from the future is thrown back to the year 1985, where he ends up with severe injuries that land him in the Emergency Room of a hospital in Iowa. Although his two doctors at first believe him to be utterly demented, they see the light when terrorists from his timeframe make a murderous appearance at his bedside. Now, it is up to the three of them to find a way to destroy the time-travel device that could devastate the whole continuum. Ms. Reichert maintains a lively pace and introduces interesting characters to keep our attention fully engaged.The Unknown Solider - an illustration in a very 70s style with a guy in a sportcoat pointing some kind of ray gun while an ER and a futuristic city loom behind him. the illustration is mostly purple blue yellow and red

This time, the time traveler ends up in an ER in Iowa.

I selected Pigs Don’t Fly by Mary Brown:

The ilustrated cover for Pigs Don'T Fly which features a blonder person in a green gown leading a horse, a pig with pings, and a man with a blindfold and doublet on who is holding onto the horse's tail for guidance

That’s a photo courtesy of a person on Reddit,  which gives you an indication of how few of these covers are easy to find online.

That poor guy in the blindfold. He’s going to have a bit of a day.

BAEN BOOKS: Baen Books has two wonderful offerings for discerning fans to savor this month, beginning with PIGS DON'T FLY (4½), the long-awaited second fantasy adventure by Mary Brown, who made a big splash in the genre with the earlier Unlikely Ones. A young woman is thrust out of her quiet existence and onto the traveller's road, where she collects a gaggle of wounded creatures, including a blind knight, a lost homing pigeon, and a most curious piglet with wings. While this odyssey appears to develop along conventional lines, albeit with an uncommonly rich texture, Ms. Brown deftly pulls the carpet right out from under our feet in a marvelously surprising fashion. Don't miss this brilliantly conceived, superbly crafted and eminently beguiling fantasy foray.

There are sections of that review that read like the start of a joke with a VERY pun-tastic punchline.

Mystery and Intrigue

Amanda picked Dead in the Cellar by Connie Feddersen:

ZEBRA: Connie Feddersen (AKA Carol Finch) brings back Amanda Hazard, Nick Thorn, and the entire town of Vamoose, Oklahoma, in DEAD IN THE CELLAR (4). CPA Amanda Hazard is going to the farm of Elmer Jolly to help him figure out his tax forms. When she gets to the farm, a storm breaks out. When it subsides, Amanda finds Jolly, but he's dead. Sheriff Nick Thor comes out to the farm, and it is his conclusion that Jolly is, indeed, a tornado victim. Amanda thinks Jolly was murdered. Although Nick and Amanda are lovers (try to keep that a secret from the regulars at Velma's!), it takes quite a bit of convincing for Amanda to get Nick to agree with her. As she works her hardest trying to help Nick solve the killing of Jolly, an old flame of Nick's lights her way into town, making things a tad too uncomfortable for Amanda. DEAD IN THE CELLAR is a gently humorous, intriguing romantic mystery. The suspense element is very strong here, and readers will equally enjoy the fiery relationship between Nick and Amanda. Readers will be delighted with Ms. Feddersen's quick wit and fine style of writing in this story that's a treat for both romance and mystery fans.

Hiding a murder behind a tornado outbreak in Vamoose, Oklahoma?

Dead in the Cellar - Connie Feddersen - an illustration of a man's jeans-clad ass falling into a storm shelter while in the distance trees are being blown sideways on a farm, though the sky is blue

The cover is very eye catching, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, I win the “wait, what was that character name again?” contest this month with the review for Tickled to Death by Joan Hess:

DUTTON: The ever-intrepid Claire Malloy returns in Joan Hess's newest hardcover, TICKLED TO DEATH (2). Ever-sympathetic bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy is always willing to help out a friend, so she agrees to listen to her good friend Luanne's difficulties. It seems Luanne has gotten herself engaged to a fantastic guy named Dick Cissi. The only problem is that Dick's first two wives died under mysterious cir-cumstances, and the county sheriff is beginning to go through the motions of arresting Dick. Although this mess sounds less than thrilling to Claire, she agrees to investigate, for she knows that this is the only way she can get Luanne to stop whining. Much to Claire's sur-prise, she finds that there are some unusual circumstances behind the spectacular deaths, but she's not quite sure that the good dentist is innocent! TICKLED TO DEATH is the newest enjoyable outing in the popular Claire Malloy series. There are nice, comedic touches, and the ending, which is surprising, contains a touch more tragedy than is customary in this series.

“Luanne has gotten herself engaged to a fantastic guy named Dick Cissi…[whose] first two wives died under mysterious circumstances.”

WOW.

Tickled to Death - an illustration of a mostly sunken rowboat with red trim in a marshland with smooth light blue water

I feel so bad for that character’s time in middle school. And Dick, according to the cover copy, is a dentist!

What does “ticked to death” refer to? Is Dick Cissi the dentist murdering his former wives by tickling them?

NO idea. Couldn’t tell you.

That’s the reviews for this month! This was a journey, wasn’t it?

Our next episode will examine the advertisements and features in this issue, and that’ll air on May 17. There are so many, and they are so good.

And remember, if you join the Patreon, you’ll get access to the entire issue as a PDF.

What do you think? Have you read any of these? Do you remember some of these titles? Have you time traveled through your computer this week? 



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