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vintage harlequin romances

Updated on August 8, 2011

my Favorite Vintage romances

have moved the Harlequin Presents reviews to Vintage Harlequin Presents Book Reviews and will be adding reviews to both sites soon. I have also started a site for Harlequins I really dislike

I like reading a good romance and Harlequins are my favorites. There are good new authors but I prefer some of the older titles. They have more character development, realistic relationships and are set in interesting locations. I would rather read about New Zealand or Scotland, then the United States. I also think that books that have virgin or mistress in the title or just plain tacky. I have read some and they are better than their titles would suggest , but still I cringe when I see some of those newer covers. I like books with titles like Shadows on Bali, Outback Runaway or Trust in Tomorrow.

This site will have reviews of some of my favorite vintage romances, my comments are in bold. I hope you enjoy learning about these older titles. I also have a website dedicated to Harlequins at vintageromances.com. It is a searchable database of all Harlequin romance and Harlequin Presents titles.

494 Love is My Reason by Mary Burchell

HARLEQUIN ROMANCE

Anya, is a 'displaced person'; a young girl who for most of her life had known nothing but the ugliness and hardship of various refugee camps. Then came the day when her life was strangely linked with an English party visiting Bavaria. David Manworth was the first to wish to help her; his cousin Bertram's professional eye saw in her possibilities for a stage career; kind Mrs. Preston wanted to make her one of the family; only Celia Preston, with an eye on David, was unwelcoming.

Returning to England with them, Anya found that even in a secure and prosperous world there can be doubts and anxieties; but in the end she was to attain a happiness greater than she had ever dared to imagine.

David meets Anya, a Russian girl, in the woods once day. She tells him about her life very matter of factly; her Russian parents fled before the war to Czechoslovakia, then the Russians entered that country and they have been moving ever since.They now leave in a single room in a run down building in a refugee camp. They can't go back to Russia and are not citizens of Germany, so they belong nowhere. Later, Anya, comes to his hotel with a problem. Her father is very sick and he refuses to see a German doctor.

David knows an English doctor vacationing in Bavaria so her gets him to come to the camp but it is too late, the father dies just before the doctor gets there. David had talked to the father earlier and promised to care for Anya . The sick man confesses that Anya is just his stepdaughter and that her real father was Engish. Anya doesn't know anything about it.

Now that Anya is alone in the world, David takes her back to the hotel. A member of the party has a son, Martin, who disappeared in Bavaria years ago. Everyone assumes he is dead but his mother won't give up hope. Anya has a picture of him ,along with another man. Her father is probably someone in that photo. So it looks like she could be related to Celia, which doesn't please Celia at all. David's aunt takes Anya to make a home with her until they know for sure about her parentage.

They later find that Martin is not dead and he knows who the other man in the photo is. So Anya finds out her father was an actor and she has a living relative, an uncle, who is quite famous in the theater. But this doesn't make her happy because it seems to take her further from David. Anya is one of the sweetest, bravest heroines I have ever encountered in a romance. Celia made her life very difficult, she was very cruel.Later, when, she is happy with David, she could tells him all the nasty things Celia said and did. Celia said that David loved her and not Anya. But she doesn't tell on Celia, for the first time she has power over someone and she won't use it.

560 WINTERSBRIDE BY SARA SEALE

Adam Chantry no longer particularly desired a wife, but he needed a mistress for his home and a companion for his child. Miranda was young and alone in the world, and she wanted a home and protection, so she naively agreed to his proposal of marriage - a marriage which must remain a business arrangement. But Wintersbride, Adam's lonely house on the moors, held a life of its own, she was to discover - and how could any man or woman keep to such a dispassionate bargain without breaking the rules?

Adam meets Miranda at a cheap carnival. She is in a hypnotist act and collapses from hunger. She is from France with English relatives. She is 19 and had come to England to trace these relatives. But they have left the country and she had no money. Adam has a 12 year old daughter who is rather odd. He thinks a new wife will help. The house is creepy, the servants are rude and there are secrets in the house. The first Mrs. Chantry died and no one will talk about her, but there are mementos of her everywhere. The governess is very odd and Miranda soon had doubts about her.

Miranda is a breath of fresh air for this house. The governess is more than just odd , she is dangerous. The little girl isn't really odd, but the governess fills her head with ideas. Miranda is able to win over the servants and establish a relationship with her new daughter. This is an interesting book , Adam isn't necessarily around that much. It is more about Miranda's relationships with people in the house. There is an air of danger in that place. Not that romantic, but a good read.

1970 COBWEB MORNING BY BETTY NEELS

Alexandra Dobbs knew just how she felt about the inscrutable doctor, Taro van Dresselhuys --but their young patient, Penny, seemed to feel that way about him too. Unfortunately, all the cards were stacked in Penny's favor.

Alexandra is working in the hospital when Penny is brought in from a car accident. Taro and his aunt were near the accident so bring her in. She is unconscious for days and has to have an operation. Nurse had said she was pretty as a bright penny, so when Penny doesn't know who she is, they name her Penny Bright. Alexandra has a fight with her boyfriend so impulsively resigns. Taro's aunt agrees to take Penny into her home to convalesce and Alexandra comes too, as her nurse. Penny still doesn't know who she is, the car she was driving was stolen and she had no ID. Alexandra soon thinks Penny doesn't want to remember.

Taro comes to visit and goes with Alexandra on a walk, there is mist so Taro calls it a cobweb morning. He first kisses her on that walk. Penny is attracted to Taro and acts irrationally. She is in a car with Alexandra and tries to grab the steering wheel. Alexandra had to hit her to get her to let go. Then Penny says Alexandra attacked her. But later says she doesn't remember anything about it. Eventually Taro's aunt takes her to Holland and the truth comes out. Penny had a fight with her boyfriend and had run away. There is no amnesia at all. Penny wants to make doctor pay so tries to kill his cats and dog. Alexandra has to dive into a canal to save the cats from drowning. Alexandra and Taro become close but she goes home to nurse her mom through measles. She meets up with old boyfriend. Penny sees them together and writes to Taro.

This is overall a satisfying romance, but why did Taro believe anything that Penny said? She is a liar and he knows it. I can only think that he is very insecure about Alexandra so it was easy for him to think the worst. But he did dump a nice girl on the word of a very nasty girl. Eventually he comes to his senses and makes up with Alexandra and, of course, there is a happy ending.

1685 The Impossible Dream by Hilary Wilde

HARLEQUIN ROMANCE

The island of Seychelles was everything Megan had dreamed it would be. But soon she found herself caught up in the long-standing feud that racked the island and the magic disappeared. Torn between loyalty to her brother, who'd used her, and Craig Lambert, her employer, Megan could only be hurt!

Megan comes from a family of dancers. Her brother owns a dance studio on the island with his wife. Craig's family used to own all the island, but his father gambled and lost some of it. There is a resort on this land, with the dance studio. Megan needed a job because her father sold the house. He sold it because her brother, Patrick , was in desperate need of money. But when she gets there he seems to be doing very well.

She had put her own career on hold to care for her father, but he only cares about her brother. She was teaching dance class in England and Craig observed her secretly and hired her for the school on the island. The school was founded by his grandfather. Gaston Duval owns the part of the island his father lost and the resort on it. They feud over the land. Patrick is friends with Gaston Duval, who is very charming and handsome.

The title of the book comes from Megan's impossible dream: she wished to one day live on a tropical island in a beautiful house. Craig's house and island seem to be part of her dream. Craig tells her he is "erasing" people he doesn't want on the island and implies her brother is one of them. There is a mystery of how Megan got the job. The last dance teacher was popular and didn't seem to deserve getting fired. Megan tries to help her brother and he uses her to continue the feud.

There is a lot of tension in the book for poor Megan. She has a hard time making friends because she is blamed for the old dance instructor leaving. She also doesn't know how to act toward her brother and his wife. They are pretty nasty to her, but she is loyal. She also tries to be loyal to Craig and his school. This is a good story, I like Megan. She is a good person and she wants to help everybody, even if they don't deserve it.

1735 Temptations of the Moon by Hilary Wilde

HARLEQUIN ROMANCE

The Hindus say, "No medicine avails against the temptation of the moon", as Claire, who had fallen in love with Peter Mottram by moonlight, knew only too well. But Peter saw her as nothing but a useful Girl Friday. Why should he think of her as anything else, as long as the glamorous Deidre Ellis was around?

Claire is from England, her sister and her family came to Australia a while ago and she came out to be with her. She had met Peter once when she was 15. Peter was in a car accident with a drunk man, that killed the man and his wife. They had a 17 year old daughter ,Diedre, in the car she survived and was left in poverty. So Peter takes her in, he wants Claire to teach her and live in as chaperone. Peter seems to be very interested in Deidre, who is a brat. She treats everyone but Peter horribly. Claire spends a lot of time biting her tongue, Peter will not hear a word against her.

When Claire was 15, Peter visited her father on business. She came home on a moonlit night and saw him leaving the house with her father. And she immediately fell in love, she was so shocked she ran into the house without speaking to him. But she kept track of him, since he was a very successful businessman, he was in the news. She read an interview in which he said what he wanted in an employee; calm, efficient and well groomed. She changed herself to fit this and when she got to Australia got a job with him. Her sister is an artist and doesn't like the change in her, eventually Claire tells her the truth. She is a favorite subject of her sister anyway, and she paints what she thinks the meeting was like. I thought this book was about a girl who fell in love when a child and when she was an adult he then fell in love with her. But that is not what the book is like.

Peter has a habit of seeming to look through Claire and not seeing her. This hurts her and makes him think he doesn't feel anything for her. Later his mother tells her Peter has always been like that, even with her. I had to read this book over again when I got to the end. It turned out Peter was never interested in Deidre, he just pretended to be to shake up Claire. He does a lot of things just because of Claire, he even invented a job for her. She thought she was the only one affected by that night in the moonlight, but he was just as affected. Peter eventually buys all Claire's sisters portraits of her.

Titles on Amazon

2019 Summer Rainfall by Kerry Allyne

Classic Harlequin Romance set in the Australian Outback

A 20 acre farm in New South Wales wasn't a very large legacy, but it meant a lot to Kim, and she was determined to go and live there. She was certainly not going to sell the pace to the local big landowner-however attractive he might be!

Set in Australia. Kim's friend sees an ad in the newspaper from a lawyer looking for Kim's mother. Kim goes to the lawyer and finds out her mother's uncle has died and left her a farm. Kim's parents are dead, so the farm is hers. However, the lawyer tells her that there is a later will which doesn't include her mom. But the will can't be found, so the farm is hers. She meets a man in the lawyer office, Rafe Sullivan, who is the one named in the later will. He wants to buy the land, it is in the middle of his family's property. Kim doesn't want to sell, her family has never owned a home before. A big reason is also that Rafe annoyed her when she met him. He said she doesn't know about farming, would be a mistake to go, etc.

. Rafe lives with 3 brothers and a sister , eventually Kim has to move in when her land floods. While moving things to get out of way of the flood, she finds the old will. She gives it to Rafe right away and he says "Thank God". This really hurts Kim. Rafe's brothers and sisters are pretty funny. They tease each other and soon are teasing Kim. She fits in very well, but she is very ignorant of everything country. She can't light a fire, milk a cow, ride a horse or take care of chickens. And she ends up with a cow, chickens and a puppy she names Bounty. The titles comes from Kim being told she lives in Summer Rainfall country.

Kim is a nice girl, but when she gets upset she will say or do just about anything. For example, when she was trying to milk her cow, Rafe teased her, so she threw a bucket at him. She is pretty stubborn, but I like the character. She tries really hard but sometimes her pride won't let her ask for help. Well, she will let Rafe's brothers help her, but she is reluctant to ask Rafe.

Rafe doesn't help the situation. He was rightly upset at her so he said she won't get any help from him unless she asks. But her pride won't let her ask him. This is an excellent romance. I will admit I am somewhat prejudiced, I am inclined to like Outback stories. But this is definitely a good one.

2156 LURE OF THE FALCON BY SUE PETERS

“Send her packing!” Wyn heard Diane say. Wyn knew it wasn’t just lack of confidence in her expertise that prompted Diane’s suggestion. She was also guarding her favorite possession---the masterful Russell Tylar, Wyn’s employer. Wyn’s heart sank as she realized Diane considered herself the future Mrs. Tylar. Did Russell share her feelings? Well, she told herself firmly, she must content herself with setting up the happiness of a man she adored, with a woman other than herself!

Russell has inherited an estate and all its contents. He needs the furniture valued immediately for insurance purposes and there is a missing will that needs to be found. Wyn comes from an antique shop to do the valuation and help find the will. Diane is a very bitchy neighbor who makes Wyn's life difficult from the beginning. Which is pretty stupid, Russell needs Wyn's help and she is a highly skilled professional.

Diane tries to hurt her by getting the horse Wyn was riding to bolt. Now, Wyn doesn't talk about this because she figures that Russell won't believe her. But when Diana implies that Wyn might be trying to cheat Russell it is a different story. Diane ,Russell and Wyn are looking at some family silver and Wyn discovers that one item is fake. Diane implies that Wyn is just saying that to get the item cheap. Now Wyn will not take this, she tells Diane that she could sue her for that and will not back down. Russell tries to calm it down, but Wyn scares both him and Diane. Wyn will allow no one to question her integrity. It ends up with Russell restricting Diane's access to the house. He never really dated Diane, she is just a pushy neighbor. Diane eventually destroys Russell's horse and is a very nasty brat.

I like this book because in most romances where there is a nasty woman after the hero, the heroine is too passive. She just takes the abuse and Wyn does take some, but she will not allow Diane to get away with her accusation. She destroys her verbally, I do like stories where people get what they deserve.

2205 The Wool King by Kerry Allyne

another great Outback romance by Kerry Allyne

"If you defy me, girl, there'll be trouble!" Tracey shrugged off Ryan's warning indignantly. As far as she was concerned the precious Alexanders could keep their precious money, and their guardianship. She was her own mistress, and she planned to stay that way! But Ryan wasn't about to let Tracey rule her own life. She would spend the next 2 years on his Outback sheep station, and that's all there was to it. There was no way, however, that Tracey would accept Ryan's domination meekly!

Tracey and her younger half-sister do go to the sheep station, which is very large. She was involved with her boss ,who was supposedly getting a divorce, so she doesn't want to go. But the will states that both girls have to go and Lyn, the half-sister wants to go. There is a lot of conflict, Ryan gets mad when Tracey doesn't wear a hat when out riding. It turns out Tracy lived there before when she was a little girl, and she had been crazy about Ryan. He was very fond of her, but there was a family fight and her parents left.

Her stepfather was an Alexander, but she inherited the same as her sister. There is an annoying neighbor, Lana, who is after Ryan. She is nasty to Tracey and eventually tells her she is illegitimate, which is true, and some lies to hurt her. Tracey ends up going away and living in a hotel, but Ryan comes to see her on her birthday. She finds out that her grandfather arranged the hotel and the job she had and she feels humiliated.

I enjoyed this story very much. Tracey and Ryan are both very stubborn, but compelling characters. The book has lots of details about what goes on at a sheep station, which I found interesting.

2273 SWEET COMPULSION BY VICTORIA WOOLF

Description from book cover

Kids need play space not office towers! That's what the protest banners proclaimed. And Marcy Campion intended to see that they got it. She was determined to turn Aunt Thomasina's old Victorian house into a community center and playground, even if it meant fighting the powerful developers, Saxton and Company, every inch of the way. Annoyed by the opposition of a mere girl, Randal Saxton decided to handle the situation himself, and Marcy soon found herself involved in another battle--this time with her unruly heart!

This book is the only title that Charlotte Lamb wrote for Mills and Boon using a pseudonym, and it is a gem. Marcy is a sweet 18 year old girl who is determined to develop a community center. Randal Saxton owns all of the neighboring land and wants to build a business center there. That's the set up for the story; Marcy fighting with the big, bad tycoon over the land. But that situation resolves itself quickly. Randal meets her, almost instantly adores her and gives in, helping her to build the site the way she wants.

Randal falls hard and is somewhat up happy about it, at least at first. Randall's thoughts

He suspected passion was unknown to her. The soft lines of those features said as much, and his body shook with sudden urgency as he contemplated the change in her which passion would make. I must be insane, he told himself. She's amost half my age, a schoolgirl, a tomboy with wild, radical attitudes which will upset my whole way of life. But his blue eyes continued to move over her restlessly as he attempted to get a grip on his usual self control.

Randall wants to seduce her, but can't really bring himself to do it. She is so sweet and trusting, besides his servants fall in love with her very quickly and are immediately protective of her. Randall obeys an impulse and announces their engagement at the press conference about the community center. Marcy is stunned but Randal won't take it back. Randal is not a bully, he is rather forceful and used to getting his own way. But it is obvious that Marcy can wrap him around her finger and that Randal is happy to let her.

This is not one of those romances where you have to wait to the end of the book for any "I love you's" from the male character.

"Marcy, I'm in a painful dilemma, Help me."

Puzzled alarm filed her face. "of course," she said quickly. "What do you want me to do?"

"I'm a man of 32 who's fallen madly in love with a child." He said softly watching her. "You're so good at crusading, Marcy. Crusade for me. What am I going to do about it?"

Her eyes grew very bright, her face flushing. "Randall, don't make jokes about things like that."

"I'm not joking." He said. "I'm in deadly earnest. I fell in love with you at first sight. You dropped down on me like a ton of bricks from that tree, knocking all the breath out of me, and I've felt the impact ever since.

This is just a nice sweet romance. There is one woman that works for Randal and is after him, and usually in a romance she could cause quite a problem. But Randal will not allow anyone to be rude to his Marcy and he puts the woman in her place.

This book is one of my absolute favorite romances and a real keeper for me.

3185 The Most Marvelous Summer by Betty Neels

HARLEQUIN ROMANCE

Matilda, despite her beauty, charm and wit, has never met a man who touched her heart. Until eminent surgeon James Scott-Thurlow walks into her life. It's love at first sight for her. Unfortunately he's already engaged!

.Matilda sees James in church and is immediately in love. This is unusual for a Betty Neels book, usually they don't realize they are in love until halfway through the book. Her father is the rector and to make a little money for the family, she works for Lady Fox. Lady Fox has an awkward, eligible daughter who she sends to London to stay with her godmother. Matilda goes as companion.

Matilda meets up again with James when they rescue an injured dog. James is engaged but sufficiently interested in Matilda to get her a temporary job as companion to his grandfather. (his grandmother is in the hospital) Her next temporary job is as a school matron, James's godchild is in the school. She goes to stay with him when the child gets ill. James calls it the most marvelous summer of his life.

The Wool King
The Wool King

"If you defy me, girl, there'll be trouble!" Tracey shrugged off Ryan's warning indignantly. As far as she was concerned the precious Alexanders could keep their precious money, and their guardianship. She was her own mistress, and she planned to stay that way! But Ryan wasn't about to let Tracey rule her own life. She would spend the next 2 years on his Outback sheep station, and that's all there was to it. There was no way, however, that Tracey would accept Ryan's domination meekly….

 

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    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 7 years ago

      They're worth collecting just for the covers! I've never read one of these (or the newer ones) but I love this idea for a lens - and a website!