- Books, Literature, and Writing
Mary Burchell the Warrender book series
ENGLISH ROMANCE AUTHOR
Mary Burchell's series about her great opera conductor Oscar Warrender and the world of opera was the first book series for Harlequin Romances. This 13 book saga is very famous and beloved. Even if you are not an opera fan, and I am not, Mary Burchell creates a fascinating world.
Mary Burchell herself also had an interesting life. She was born Ida Cook in England. She and her sister were avid opera fans and they started traveling around Europe in the 1930s to attend operas. They befriended many operatic performers including conductor, Clemens Krauss. He got them involved with people fleeing from the Nazis. Mary and her sister saved about 30 Jews from Nazi Germany.
Eventually the author was honored by Israel as a Righteous Gentile for her rescues. Many of her early romances financed this work. It was only in late 1960s that she started writing the Warrender books, using the knowledge gained from her interest in opera. Personally, my absolute favorite book of Mary Burchell is Love Is My Reason which I review at Vintage romance reviews Mary Burchell was also active in helping refugees after the war, and this book's heroine is a refugee rescued from a camp by the hero.
I am slowly reading all the vintage harlequins and as I do, I am adding details to the descriptions in bold.
Vintage Romances.com Searchable list of all vintage Harlequins
980 A SONG BEGINS
Her dreams were coming true at last! When an unknown benefactor arranged for Anthea to train under Oscar Warrender, the celebrated opera conductor, she was ecstatic. But her joy was short-lived when she came face to face with the great man. Cold and forbidding, he proved to be a hard taskmaster. Anthea, however, proved to be a brilliant student….and to Oscar, much , much more!
Anthea is at the point in her training where she needs more intensive work and better teachers, but there is no money. So she enters a talent contest to win the necessary money. Oscar Warrender is a judge and he is the one that decides she will not win the prize. But then she finds out about the benefactor, she does not like Oscar at all. He wants her to train for a few years but does give her a chance to substitute for someone in an opera at the last minute.
1100 THE BROKEN WING
Although blessed with the voice of an angel. Tessa was exceedingly shy. Her outgoing twin sister, the beautiful bewitching Tania, seemed forever to be in the limelight. And now it looked as it Tania would ever rob Tessa of the man she loved -- the temperamental Quentin Otway. Only one person seemed capable of rectifying the situation -- the famous Oscar Warrender!
Tessa is a sweet and lovely girl. She works as a secretary to Quentin, who is organizing a music festival. Her sister, Tania, pressures Tessa to get her an audition. Tania is only a fair singer, but Tessa is very good. Tessa trains as a singer but she knows she will not have stage career, because she has always walked with a limp. Tessa is helping Tania to practice her audition, when Oscar Warrender hears her singing. He is outside the room and when he enters, Tania says it was her singing. He is a little skeptical, but does hire her for a small part in an opera to be performed in the festival. Tania also starts going after Quentin, who is enchanted.
Tessa is helplessly in love with Quentin, who takes her for granted. She starts to stand up for herself, however, when her sister gives him a crystal frog as a mascot. Quentin's mascot and good luck charm has been an angel with a chipped wing, which he later accidentally breaks. Quentin says he has 2 angels helping him with the festival, Tessa being the second one.
The story also mentions Oscar and Anthea Warrender quite a bit. Anthea and Tessa become friends and Oscar starts training her, he was not fooled at the audition. A temperamental diva,Giulia Peroni, walks out of the festival. Oscar is afraid she won't come back so he trains Tessa. Suddenly, Tessa has the hope of career, she cannot perform an opera, but she can certainly stand during a concert and sing.
Oscar Warrender is presented as a very arrogant, somewhat pompous, but ultimately endearing character. The reason he wants Tessa to perform has nothing to do with the festival. He knows his wife is insecure with their relationship, he used to be involved with Peroni. So showing her that Peroni isn't important to him is something Oscar wants to do, he also likes Tessa and thinks she should have a chance.
Another classic Mary Burchell title, I actually like this book a little better than the first. We see how much Oscar adores his wife, which was cut a little short in the first book and Tessa is an appealing new character. I never warmed up to Quentin that much, however, he takes Tessa for granted, until she starts sticking up for herself late in the book.
THE BROKEN WING
TESSA IS UPSET BECAUSE QUENTIN OTWAY HAS REMOVED HIS GOOD LUCK ANGEL FROM HIS DESK AND PUT HER SISTER'S CRYSTAL FROG IN ITS PLACE
"What is it, child?" he said, and suddenly his voice was oddly gentle. "What have I said or done to upset you so much?"
She shook her head wordlessly, so near tears that she dared not attempt a reply. But he refused to be be put off. Instead, he put his arms lightly round her from behind and drew her back against him.
"Come on--I must have an explanation." The tone was still gentle but faintly imperious too.
Instinct told her that only someone very experienced held one just like that, but the moment of contact was so heart-warmingly dear that all the anger left her, and she was hard put to it not to turn and put her arms around him.
"I love that little figure," she said at last. "Well, so do I," He laughed protestingly. "But she's damaged and--"
"She can't help being damaged!" She did turn then and face him, with a fresh spurt of anger. "It's mean not to like her because she's not perfect. People don't like being damaged. But they can't always h-help it."
There was quite a long silence while comprehension slowly dawned in that handsome, slightly arrogant face. Then he drew a long breath and said quietly.
"My God, I'm sorry. Shall we put the angel back again on my desk?"
Tess nodded, and with one arm still around her, he leaned over and ,picking up the figure, replaced it on his own desk. To do so he had to push aside the new mascot and , with a half vexed laugh, he said. "What shall we do about this? Put him on the filing cabinet? We could do with a mascot there sometimes, couldn't we?"
She accorded this small joke a rather shaky laugh, and watched while he gravely installed the glass frog on top of the filing cabinet. The he came back to her and , taking both her hands, said,
"Am I forgiven?"
"There was nothing to forgive," she told him softly.
"Except my stupidity in supposing I could possibly manage without either of my damaged angels," he returned.
She could never have imagined that such a description could seem endearing and delightful to her. Anything which so obviously referred to her disability should, by rights, have hurt and startled her. It did neither. On the contrary, it seemed the loveliest thing that had ever been said to her.
1244 WHEN LOVE IS BLIND
The pianist Lewis Freemont had dashed all Antoinette's hopes of being a professional pianist herself, and she could not forgive him. Then fate cruelly turned the tables when Antoinette herself was the unwitting cause of destroying his career.
1405 THE CURTAIN RISES
Nicola's job as secretary to a world-famous opera singer brought her into contact with a lot of interesting people -- but it also threw her into the company of the one man in the world she had cause to hate!
1508 CHILD OF MUSIC
Felicity had not liked Stephen Tarkman of the Tarkman Musical Foundation when she had once sat next to him at a dinner party. He had the air, she felt, of a man who wields power and enjoys the fact - and she had rather made plain her dislike. Then she found she must go to Stephen and try to persuade him to accept one of her pupils for the Foundation.
1587 MUSIC OF THE HEART
Gail Rostall was a young and ambitious singer, but all the same, when she got to know the famous composer Marc Bannister it was not with the idea of furthering her career; in fact, her feelings for him were far from professional ones ! But how could she convince him of that, when he was still recovering from having been let down in just that way by the last girl who had claimed to love him?Gail is invited by Marc's brother to the family home for the weekend. Marc has written an opera for her voice type, contralto, and he thinks she is angling for the part. But she ends up turning it down and Oscar Warrender gets her a new job.
1767 UNBIDDEN MELODY
Mary loved music, and was thrilled to be working as secretary to a famous impressario -- but it was another matter when she found herself becoming involved with one of his client the celebrated singer Nichol, Brenner.She told herself firmly that she could never really belong in Nicholas's world and that to fall in love with him could only bring her heartbreak. But how could she stop herself?
Mary works for Nicholas's agent and meets him at the airport. Nicholas is a widower, his wife died in a car accident when he was driving. He feels guilty about this. His wife was very jealous and that was ruining their marriage. He sweeps Mary off her feet and they quickly get engaged. Mary tries to not be jealous but she can't help but react when she sees him embracing another woman. When she tells him, he immediately dumps her.
1834 SONG CYCLE
After years of hard training Anna was ready to launch into a career in the world of music. Everything seemed to be going well until family troubles forced her to turn down the chance of a lifetime to join a Canadian tour, organized by the dynamic Jonathan Keyne. When Anna met Jonathan Keyne again, she began to fall in love with him, which brought down the wrath of the rich and glamorous Teresa Delawney, who had earmarked Jonathan for herself! However, with the famous conductor Oscar Warrender acting as fairy godfather, perhaps Anna would find her happy ending after all!
Mother seriously ill, she turns down the job to care for her and her father. Her father is a choir master who writes operas. She meets up with Jonathan again when he comes to help Teresa with her festival. Anna is working as a secretary for Teresa.
1936 REMEMBERED SERENADE
Joanna Ransome was hoping to embark on a singing career--and with the great conductor Oscar Warrender taking an interest in her she could hardly fail! But how could she manage to convince Elliot Cheam that she was not just a cheap little gold digger?
2043 ELUSIVE HARMONY
Lindley Harding was a singer nearing the end of his career; Laurence Morven was a new star—and rival—coming up over the horizon. And Lindley’s daughter Natalie, who loved them both, found herself torn 2 ways as the bitterness grew between the 2 men. Was the situation going to ruin her life?
DIFFICULTIES WERE MEANT TO BE OVERCOME .Little did Amanda realize the full meaning of Jerome Leydon's words, although she had taken the famous composer's advice and sought lessons from the gifted Dr. Lewis Elsworth. Lewis had been patiently training her voice for several years. But Jerome wanted instant success for Amanda -- a course Lewis had firmly forbidden. And Amanda needed money desperately. Should she forsake talent for money -- follow her mind of her heart? Amanda lives with her invalid brother and his wife at their small hotel. Her sister in law had thwarted dreams of being a singer, so Amanda keeps her lessons secret. Lewis is the local choir master. Oscar Warrender eventually comes to stay at the hotel and Amanda's singing ability becomes known. Her sister is law isn't upset but she wants Amanda to take the job offer she got from Jerome because Amanda's brother needs an expensive operation. But Warrender comes to the rescue and pays for the treatment and helps Amanda with her career, while still doing what Lewis wants.
"I forbid you to keep that appointment." Her teacher sounded angry. "You forbid me?" Amanda repeated incredulously. As he leaned back and regarded her, Amanda wanted to know what right Lewis had to forbid her, but she knew. If she was going to be a singer she was partly his creation, and he was fighting for his part in her.
"All Right," she sighed, "i'll cancel the auction." Only then did she realize how tense Lewis had been.
"Good girl." was all he said, but as he passed he bent over to drop a seemingly careless kiss on the top of her head.
She sat motionless after he was gone, suddenly vitally aware of just why she felt so bound to follow any advice--or order--that Lewis cared to give!
2528 MASQUERADE WITH MUSIC
She couldn't reveal her true identity. Nor could Kate reveal it had been her ambition to become an opera star that prompted her to take a job in London with her famous uncle, Oscar Warrender. Two men were prepared to help her: Carlo, a handsome baritone who saw Kate as a way of furthering his own career; and Van, a musical journalist who seemed to want the best for her -- but on his own terms. She needed them both... but her heart could choose only one.
2707 ON WINGS OF SONG
"It's the girl who interest me." Those fateful words spoken by the great conductor Oscar Warrender changed Caroline's life. She'd never considered herself a potential opera singer, but with Warrender's encouragement and an unknown benefactor who'd offered to pay for her training, she knew she could develop her talent. She had second thoughts, though, when that mysterious patron turned out to be a man she knew all too well, and didn't even like!