Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Ride ‘Em Cowgirl

Bitchery Reader Elizabeth writes:

This was the first romance novel I read and enjoyed. I was in middle school, I think—maybe 6th grade. That would be the early 90’s, but the book might have been earlier. My mom volunteered at our local library, which had a wall of romance novels. I was just waking up to sex and would flip through different books to read the sex scenes (I know, naughty!). Most of them I hated—even at that age, I knew I didn’t want to read rape scenarios. So this book was the first one that I thought was hot AND not downright offensive in its portrayal of the heroine/hero relationship. I went back to it over and over when I needed a jolt of sexy. I can see where the spine was on the library shelf, but I can’t remember a thing about the author or title, and not much about the plot. I’d be interested to reread it now and see how it measures up to my memory.

Okay—the cover was definitely a bodice-ripper, and I want to say that the heroine was blonde. It takes place in a port city (San Francisco?) in the Old West, but not the too-Old West (turn of the century?). The heroine wakes up in a brothel—she has amnesia and has been sold to the brothel by somebody because she is (duh) super-hot. She escapes by tying the bedsheets together and going out the window. On her way down, she slips and falls on top of the hero, who catches her. He is a ship captain and he assumes, since she came out a brothel window, that she’s a prostitute. They go to his boat, he gives her wine, and they have steamy sex (On the first date! I know, right?).

Then it all gets fuzzy in my head. She is upset (?) that they had sex because she knows she isn’t a prostitute. She doesn’t know who she is, but she knows that. Maybe he agrees to take her on board his ship? Somehow, later in the book, she gets her memory back—she’s part of a ranching family or something because I remember her riding a horse around her land. She got conked on the head by someone trying to take over her family’s land (?)—a cousin? a brother?—something about the land deal meant she needed to be out of the way. Really, the only other thing I remember is that later in the book, after she regains her memory but before the HEA, she and the hero have sex again, in a big bed (her family house? a hotel?)—it’s a little risque because they aren’t married, but also because SHE’S ON TOP! She kneels over him and it drives him crazy.

Well, it was hot stuff to my 12-year-old self.

Any takers?

I love the nostalgic “OMG” of looking back on the sex that totally blew your mind when you were younger but seems so tame now (My ‘omg!’ was in Blaze Wyndham when Blaze and her first husband are getting it on in the stable in the tack room. *fans self* Oh my.)

Anyone know what book Elizabeth is looking for?


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  1. 1
    Meg says:

    I think you’re looking for “No Sweeter Ecstasy” by Phoebe Conn.

    You can find a summary on this site:

    …and I’ve misplaced my member name.  Damn it.

  2. 2
    Meg says:

    Alright, found the member name—and you’ll find 89 copies for sale on Amazon (and several more on eBay).

    Hope this helps!

  3. 3
    LizC says:

    Meg, the description for that book you linked to sounds hilarious. She could kiss so obviously she really was a prostitute.

    I think it might be a sign of my advancing years that reading the description for Apache Caress, also by Phoebe Conn, I’m thinking “pick the nice Southern gentleman who loves you” when, obviously, she’s going to go with the “renegade” Apache who “sears her heart”.

  4. 4
    hollygee says:

    “No Sweeter Ecstasy” is also available at Paperback Swap.

    At first I thought you were describing an old Gwen Bristow epic, “Jubilee Trail”, which has a lot of Olde California as well as wagon train fun.

  5. 5
    Tibbles says:

    Reminds me of No Other Love by Shannon Drake but it can’t be that.  Not a port city and she doesn’t fall out a window.  You might still enjoy.  The heroines story starts in her sister’s book No Other Man and continues through No Other Woman.

  6. 6
    SonomaLass says:

    Wow, Meg, that has to be it.  HaBO always puts me in awe of the Bitchery!  This one sounds like one that would have had my eyes gogglin’ in the 6th grade, too.  (Sadly, by 1990, I was in grad school with two kids and pregnant with number three—and no time to read romance novels.)

    LizC, I’m with you on the “nice Southern gentleman”—call it age, or call it wisdom.

  7. 7
    TracyS says:

    The problem I have with the “nice southern gentleman” in that book blurb is it says he’s her cousin. Squick.

  8. 8
    Marta Acosta says:

    “So he made her a proposition that would be mutually beneficial—he would be her protector.. if she would be his lover!”

    Yes, that’s what they do at the Greyhound station, too, with 13-year-old runaways and guys named Flytrap.


  9. 9
    LizC says:

    The problem I have with the “nice southern gentleman” in that book blurb is it says he’s her cousin. Squick.

    Eh, that doesn’t bother me. But I recently read The Grand Sophy and Charles and Sophy were first cousins and I loved them to bits.

    I’m not saying I’d marry my cousins but it doesn’t bother me in fiction. Although I probably would’ve been a bit more squicked if Charles and Sophy had grown up together going on family vacations, but they barely even knew each other’s names at first.

  10. 10
    Lizzie (greeneyed fem) says:

    Yay! I love the Bitchery!!

    Meg, that has to be it—you’re amazing! Amazon doesn’t have an image of the cover, but the description is dead on. Thank you!! I can’t wait to see how it reads now.

    And yeah, the setup is not great in terms of the give-and-take, but I remember the heroine was not a blushing, helpless rose/victim, either—and that was good, compared to some of the other books I’d browsed at the time. But who knows, it could be a big pile of alpha-male doo-doo for all I remember.

    Off to Amazon!

  11. 11
    Meg says:

    Glad to be of service!

    Good luck with the re-read—I’ve helped a few friends find old favorites recently and, inevitably, what we once found incredibly hot we now find mostly offensive.  The early 90’s was certainly an…interesting time to be a romance novel.

  12. 12
    sallahdog says:

    Isn’t that the truth… I remember reading Ann MacCaffreys book “Restoree” as a preteen and almost wearing the book out because it was soooo hot… I reread it finally last year and it was sooo tame..  I think my fevered preteen imagination filled in a lot of gaps..

  13. 13
    Pisafe says:

    I remember when the epiphany happened for me, that coersion really counts as rape.  It was when I noticed in a couple favorite authors that the first time was often unsatisfactory for the woman and done under some sort of duress/chemical substance/social or familial pressure.  When a woman is “convinced” or “seduced” in a story line now, I’m usually less replete vs. when she decides she really wants to do X.  And in historical romance that just doesn’t happen all that often!  Enlightenment of the female gender apparently doesn’t fit as well with virginal 18 year old debutantes.  I may have to read this one, though, as the female character obviously is going with what her gut tells her (instead of the morals hidden in her amnesiatic brain) and the guy actually has a valid excuse for thinking she is on the make.  A woman exiting a brothel is kinda easy to misconstrue.

  14. 14
    May says:

    I think it could be “Sweet Fire” by Jo Goodman. The location on the first part was in San Francisco then the captain took her to Australia.

  15. 15
    Isha says:

    I think the book could be a Jude Deveraux novel (not sure of the title), and the not-prostitute’s name was Regan.

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