Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Wild West Time Travel

Erin asks for your help with a book featuring time travel, and fake virginity loss!

I’ve been a lurker on the site for a while and have seen the
ladies of SBTB help many a bitch out. I’m hoping they can help me too. The
book I’m looking for is about 10 years old (published before 2001 for
sure). I think its by an author who was/is fairly popular because I believe
I came across the book several years after reading it and was all “wow, I
didn’t know that was by


What I remember is this.. the heroine starts off running away from her
wedding (can’t remember why), then ends up driving through the desert in
her wedding gown. She somehow ends up traveling through time back to the old
west (may have something to do with a magical person she met at a dusty
roadside stop?). Once she gets sucked through time, she staggers in the
desert for a while until she sees a lone rider, who picks her up and takes
her back to a small town, where he cuts her loose because she’s not his
problem. She somehow gets auctioned off in a whore house because she’s a
virgin. Surprise of all surprises, the lone rider ends up buying her cause
he feels bad or something. They spend the night together but don’t do
anything, so he cuts his hand and bleeds on the sheets to make it look like
they did. That’s about all I can remember, but I think at the end he comes
forward to modern times and meets her in a library where she’s reading the
story of his life thinking he’s dead – though this ending could be ripped
from another book altogether?

I really hope you can help! This is the first romance I ever read and I’m
feeling nostalgic.. :)

I love that so many people can recall their first romance ever. There used to be so many time travel romances, too – anyone recall this one?


Help a Bitch Out

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  1. 1
    LizC says:

    I’m baffled that more people can’t remember their first romance ever. Or that they can recall plot points but don’t remember the title or the author. I still remember that Jewels by Danielle Steel was the first ever adult novel I read and I first read it when I was 10 or 11 which was, uh, approximately a high school senior ago.

  2. 2
    Rachel says:

    Darn, I don’t know this, but I kind of want to read it now!  I like time travel…if he was a Highlander I’d be set.  :-)

    moral74 – his 74th moral wouldn’t let him allow a virgin he rescued to be auctioned off as a prostitute (seems low on the list)?

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  5. 5
    lustyreader says:

    this is an unhelpful hopefully sorta helpful comment:
    the first wild west time travel that lept to my mind was Legend by Jude Deveraux, the heroine puts on an old wedding dress and veil which cause her to time travel and see a man about to be killed by outlaws and she rescues him, and he marries her. there is some multigenerational coverage for their happy ending i think.

    no whorehouse auction at all. so i don’t think it’s the book you were talking about, but it was an OK old school romance time travel if you ask me.

    second: I just read Marlys Millhiser’s The Mirror and while it is not a romance AT ALL I highly recommend it for wild west time travel fans!

  6. 6
    Erin says:

    Caty, you got it in one!  It’s definitely Desperado’s Gold :D
    I’m almost hesitant to read it again for fear that it may not be as good as I remember, but this is the book that converted skeptical me into a romance lover!
    Thanks so much!!

  7. 7
    Silver James says:

    Caty and Erin, I’ve downloaded a preview of this book on my Kindle. Some of the reviews mentioned humor and a feisty heroine so I’m willing to give it a chance.

    LOL—spam word: spring98 Yes. Hope springs eternal…or at least 98 times.

  8. 8
    Ana says:

    My first romance ever was “Silver Angel” by Johanna Lindsey. I still remember some of the dialogue like -“I’m so clean he could eat on me. – Good idea, be sure to suggest it to him” It had everything: twins, lords, mean relatives, a harem… but my favorite part was that she had to be waxed… because in historicals, heroines are always “smooth” but they never really explain how so.
    Anyway, happy for you, Erin, enjoy your book

  9. 9
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    @ LizC

    I don’t remember my first romance maybe because I was too young to realize that it was a separate genre.  I read anything I could get my hands on from childhood, not all age appropriate, so it is possible that some of them were classic romance, but I just thought they were good books.  I do remember reading Mary Stewart in high school, does that count?  I don’t remember ever specifically seeking out a romance novel, but have read more than a few because they looked like a good read.

    On the other hand, I distinctly remember my first science fiction book.  It was The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree, and I was in 3rd grade.

  10. 10
    LizC says:


    I guess for me it made such a distinct impression that I can’t forget it. I remember pulling it off my mom’s shelf and I remember her telling me that it was ok to read it but to ask her if I didn’t understand anything. I remember specific scenes. I of course now don’t remember every romance novel I’ve read or every book I’ve read because I’ve read so many, but I do remember the first romance novel, the first Star Wars book, and well that’s it because they made an impression on me.

  11. 11
    Kilian Metcalf says:


    We moved at least once a year, so books didn’t accumulate in our house.  My books all came from the library, and I was horse mad from from age 8 up.  It was in high school that I started pulling books off the rack in the drugstores and reading a larger variety.  Wish I had kept a book log like I do now.  It’s fun to go back over the year and see what books I have read – good, bad, and indifferent – and whether I can remember any part of any of them.

  12. 12
    Lorelie says:

    I don’t remember the first rom I read – only that the heroine lost her virginity on the floor of a cabin, with the door open. And she didn’t dig it. She’d wanted the sex, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t *ahem* achieve completion or some such.

    Oh, and it was a western.

    I’d “stolen” it from a friend’s mom. (Did return it once I was done.) That must have been the end of 1993.

    I’m rather surprised I don’t remember it either – it marked a distinct changing point in my reading. I went from Ann Rice and SciFi to blowing through every single book that was remotely a romance in our tiny library.

    But maybe that’s the problem. Immediate glomming lead to those first books blending together.

  13. 13
    JamiSings says:

    @LizC – I read so many books sometimes they just blend together.

    I can’t remember my first romance – or if it really was a romance. I remember parts of it – this big huge book I got at a garage sale. He was a cowboy (outlaw?) who married an Indian girl then she was killed. The book flash forward to when their child was older – a preteen, I think – and living with his mother’s family. A woman comes to town – I think she was the school teacher – and helps the hero defeat the men who killed his wife, kidnap his son from his aunt & uncle by pretending to be a ghost, and eventually they all live happily ever after.

    I’ll be doggone if I can remember the name. I do remember the dead-wife saying (when she was still alive) that girls in her tribe whom lose their virginity before marriage get a chunk cut out of their nose and are chased away and that she learned english from a man with “skin as dark as night.”

  14. 14
    Carrie says:

    Actually, I don’t remember the title of my first romance.  My bestie, Wendy, loaned it to me in seventh grade.  It had a crazy twin with some sort of OCD problem involving china shepherdesses, and a tragic ending with a “far better thing than I have ever done” type speech as the hero allowed himself to be hung to save the crazy twin.  Also, it had a lot of sex.  Maybe that’s why we don’t remember the titles – in seventh grade the sex sure overshadowed everything else!

  15. 15
    Kitiwiti says:

    My first historical romance was Jude deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor… time travel in there too. And then johanna lindsey’s Prisoner of My Desire is just awesome and racy, where the girl rapes the guy.

  16. 16
    orangehands says:

    LizC: I don’t remember the name of my first romance, though I remember who gave it to me. But I was about ten (maybe younger), read it once, and now I’m 22, which means there’s been thousands of books in between. I’d like to find it but like others I barely remember anything about it. (Girl gets pregnant, goes to the country, meets nice family, falls in love with their son and gives the baby to the parents. Published before the mid-90s.)

    Can’t help with the HaBO; I’m not a fan of time travel so I tend to only read ones by authors I already adore. Good luck though.

  17. 17
    Jennifer says:

    I totally remember my first romance—-it was a serial called Pink Satin. I must have been 12 or 13, and *my grandmother*!!! had a bag of books without covers in her basement. I have no idea how she got them, clearly someone who worked at a bookstore must have shuffled them off to her after they were remaindered.

    Pink Satin was the story of a woman who was maybe a lingerie designer or something, and she had an average face but a kick-ass body. All the men were only after her for her body…until the hero came along ;-)

    I spent a good few months smuggling those books, one at a time out of Grandma’s basement. For sure, there were a few Elzabeth Lowell’s in there, too. All of my romance reading ways I owe to that bag of remaindered books in my Grandmother’s basement.

  18. 18
    Tikaanidog says:

    I wish I could remember the name of my first romance. It was a silhouette romance from ~1983, and the only part I really to this day remember is the hero (who didn’t handle crowds well, can’t remember why now) coming to the airport to convince the heroine (someone famous or something) to not leave him, and bellowing how he loved her infront of the entire crowd. Very emotionally touching story, and I wish I could remember what it was called!!

  19. 19
    Jewel says:

    Does Scruples by Judith Krantz count as a romance? That was the first book I remember reading with teh sex in it, that was back in the early 80’s (was raised strict baptist, and you know how baptists are about worldly things…) but boy it changed my whole outlook. After that I could sort of understand why people didn’t always wait until they were married, at least theoretically. I guess I could probably credit that book with starting my critical thinking processes as applied to what was taught in church. Huh, that just occurred to me. Hmmm. Well, happy reading everyone, and I’m so glad Erin found her book!

    out29 – yup, I know at least 29 people who are out, and I love them all.

  20. 20
    zinemama says:

    I totally remember my first: Adora by Bertrice Small, back in 1982. I was an innocent young thing (just like the heroine, ha ha), who mostly read Louisa May Alcott. So this…harems, maidenheads, throbbing manhood(s), waxing, lecherous old husband, convents, drugged kinky three-ways, nasty raping evil brother…well it was another world, all right. I was shocked – shocked! – that books with this sort of thing existed. I honestly could not believe my eyes. I knew it was wrong, wrong, wrong to be reading this stuff. But I couldn’t help it. I will never forget that pink cover.

  21. 21
    Aura Lee says:

    My first romance was Vice by Jane Feather. A friend gave it to me as an ironic birthday present. It wasn’t really awful or anything but it also didn’t interest me that much. I only found romances that I liked once I started buying them off the book rack at CVS.

  22. 22
    AgTigress says:

    As some of the comments here have shown, the definition of ‘romance’ (and, indeed, its use as applied to a type of novel) has been changing continually over the last 50 years, and is still evolving, so it is not surprising that many people cannot call to mind the first ‘romance’ they read. 
    Both Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart simply wrote ‘novels’:  we didn’t call either of them ‘romances’ in the 1950s (or at least, not in the UK).  But in today’s more rigid genre classifications, Heyer wrote historical romance and Stewart romantic suspense.  Fiction that featured the supernatural, including time-travel, were virtually confined to literature for children, while any book that included any overt description of sexual activity was classed as ‘pornography’, and was, moreover, illegal…  Even Mills & Boon’s novels were not called ‘romance’, as far as I recall:  they were just novels, or, if one wanted to be very precise, women’s novels.

  23. 23
    Francesca says:

    I was reading Jean Plaidy and Margaret Campbell Barnes when I was 11, followed closely by Angelique. The first book I read that might be considered an actual romance was Captive Passions by Fern Michaels.

  24. 24
    PK says:

    The first rom I read was THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER by Kathleen Woodiweis.  5th grade. Yeah, mom didn’t know I had taken it.

    reason87—the number of reasons I could give for why I don’t want to go to work today (sigh)

  25. 25
    Andee says:

    Two things that I avoid like the plague in romance novels?  Wild west and time travel.

  26. 26
    Deb says:

    I’m with Francesca—Jean Plaidy & Margaret Campbell Barnes, along with Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt (another of Jean Plaidy’s pen names) were some of my favorite reading as a young thing in the 1970s.  I read SWEET SAVAGE LOVE when it was first published (1976?).  It’s considered a watershed event in romance publishing because of its explicit sex, but I thought the heroine was an idiot and the “hero” (soi-disant) was just awful.  I was glad when the genre “stabilized” a bit and heroines became feistier and heroes became less rape-y and stuff.

  27. 27
    Deb says:

    Another good time-travel western romance is GIVE ME TONIGHT by Lisa Kleypas.  It starts off in the Depression and then the heroine time-travels back to the late 1800s.  I’m usually not a time-travel fan (I find it too hard to suspend disbelief), but this one worked for me.

  28. 28
    Ladybug says:

    The first romance I read was The Wolf and the Dove…8th grade.  Had no idea that there were books out there like that, because I had been an SF and Mystery reader up to that point.

    And, the Norman Invasion history part of the book didn’t hurt…I got bonus points on a test in high school because I knew the name of some real historical personage’s wife, who appeared in that book.

  29. 29
    Donna says:

    The year was 1972, the gateway book was The Green Darkness by Anya Seton (which I still have) & Grandma was my dealer. After that came Mary Stewart’s Merlin books & then the crack, Rosemary Rogers’ The Wildest Heart. I’ve been mainlining ever since.

  30. 30
    SB Sarah says:

    I totally read Silver Angel recently to see if it held up (hur hur) and I don’t know WHAT-the-EVER-LIVING-HEY-NOW Lindsay put in her books but OH THE CRACK. Harems and waxing and jealousy and intrigue and twins and I couldn’t stop reading.

    CRACK I tell you.

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