My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There were problems with this cultural appropriation wise. First off, this is from the 1960s soap opera Dark Shadows (NOT the Johnny Depp movie) and I'm not sure the words cultural appropriation were even put together back then. The book was written in the early 90s and cultural appropriation still wasn't much of a concern. Back in the 60s Angelique (very blonde and blue eyed, the author of this was the actress who played her) was a witch and the soap opera writers just grabbed any kind of magic they could including giving Josette and Angelique a history of coming from Martinique and Angelique knew some voo doo.
You see where I'm going with this. Parker at least gives Angelique a bit of African blood but this book could have been so much more interesting than it was. One downplaying the whole voo doo thing might have been wiser. Instead we get 200+ pages of Angelique from age 9ish to about 14ish. Where her abusive father makes her something of a living voo doo goddess (and while Living Gods are a thing I'm not sure they are in voo doo) and since this is in the 1700s Colonial period, we have lots and lots of abused slaves. Instead of downplaying the voo doo and slavery it wallows in it.
Finally we see Angelique as Josette's maid, plagued by the devil/dark spirit promising her she was his and she would never love but Angelique has fallen for Barnabas Collins. I'll be honest, I was a wee kid when this was on the TV and I can remember the 1990s remake better. I know there was the whole Barnabas/Angelique/Josette love triangle thing and Angelique being responsible for the curse that made Barnabas a vampire (which really was a cool idea for a soap opera)
THe last 100 or so pages we're at Collinswood in Maine and how it all goes wrong. There are some intercutting with modern day Barnabas now 'human' thanks to Julie's serum and they're reading all about this as Angelique's diary.
It was overly long, very soap opera purple prose but that was fitting the show. I just wish we hadn't had SO much of the young Angelique, voo doo goddess/slavery stuff. It really didn't serve the story well.
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Dark Paradise by Tami Hoag
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I nearly gave this a second. Frankly that it was a romance award nominee I feel like I gave it one star to make a point. We need to stop awarding creepy ass behavior as being 'romantic'. This is what you need to know about this one. Marilee Jennings is an ex-court reporter who goes to Montana to meet up with her best friend only to be told by Mr. Creep that her friend has been murdered and he offers almost immediately to have sex with her since he'd been having sex with her friend (he's trying to drive her away and that would have drove me away). He's verbally abusive and physically intimidating. Marilee is rightfully afraid.
But this isn't the villain. This is the love interest even though at subsequent meetings he's still abusive. They hate each other. THey screw. It's the best sex evah! The author tries to make him have reasons for his bad behavior but really deep down he's a good guy.
No, just no. This has to stop. This isn't romance. This is gas lighting and abuse. Even by the standards of the early 90s when this was written, this should never have been nominated as a romance award winner. It's horrible. I like Hoag normally but this behavior needs to stop being held up as a good man. It's not. It's a red flag and women should run fast and far, not fall into bed with it.
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