Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Bull!

Elizabeth has a HaBO request that’s full of bull:

I have a request that I hope the bitchery can help with.  I’m trying to find the name of a Harlequin contemporary romance that I remember from sometime in the early- to mid-1980s.  At the outset of the book, the heroine’s husband has been killed by being gored by a bull.  She is trying to save the company he ran.  His brother arrives on the scene, and begins a corporate war to wrest the company away from her.  During the course of the book, the two become more attracted to each other while fighting for control in the boardroom. 

At the end, the brother ends up winning the corporate battle, and he then takes the heroine away to some remote cabin to let her sleep and generally recover from having exhausted herself over the last several months.  He then confesses his love.

WOW. What a guy. I won, bully for you, you’re tired, sorry my brother got gored by a bull. Does anyone remember this book?



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  1. 1
    Anika says:

    ooohhhh, ooooh, I know that one! It’s an old Linda Howard “Tears of the Renegade” and it’s not the brother but the cousin who returns to his family’s home in order to have revenge for something that happened to him way back when…. the heroine sacrifices her own happiness and health to save her late husband’s family’s business (another one of those early Linda Howard heroines who must be saved from their self sacrifices by the hero who’s causing the problems in the first place)…of course she got herself in that state only because she wouldn’t listen to him and he’s gotta take over because he knows best…
    But all in all, I gotta confess that I still sometimes enjoy reading those old Linda Howards, if only for those priceless gems like

    Deep inside her, welling up from the bottomless reservoir of her love, was the inborn need to belong to him. She was was woman, and he was man. She was hiswoman, in any way he wanted her.

  2. 2
    Kate Jones says:

    Totally Tears of the Renegade.

  3. 3

    Definitely sounds like Tears of the Renegade by Linda Howard. But was the late husband gored by a bull? Can’t remember that at all.

  4. 4
    Cheryl Pangolin says:

    No help, but I totally misread this as being HER brother not her late husbands and was then waiting for the sentence mentioning they weren’t biologically related.  Good to know Harlequin hasn’t branched out into incest stories.

  5. 5
    AgTigress says:

    Well, damn.  First time I knew the answer to one of these, three other people get in before me!
    Yes, Susan Blackstone’s husband, Vance, had been killed by being gored in the thigh by a bull.  It’s only mentioned once, as far as I recall. The family black sheep, Cord Blackstone (the cousin, not the brother of Susan’s deceased husband), has many excellent reasons for putting the screws on the rest of his less-than-virtuous family, and one rather cheers him on (not at all like the hero of the ‘Prodigal Son’ novel discussed a couple of days ago!) 
    However, Susan is one of Linda Howard’s exasperating Patient Griselda-type heroines, and she takes on all the problems and financial stresses caused by Cord’s machinations.  It all ends happily, because, after all, it’s a Romance.  :)
    The book has some pretty powerful sex scenes, a lot more detailed than was common when it was published (1985).  I think it’s also the one in which there is memorable sex in a vehicle immediately after a tornado, but I may be confusing it with another early LH.  I still have my copy, so I could check if I had time.

  6. 6
    Las says:

    However, Susan is one of Linda Howard’s exasperating Patient Griselda-type heroines

    Does she write any other kind? Seriously, I tried three of her books maybe 8 years ago and I’ve refused to touch anything of hers ever since.

  7. 7
    MaryK says:

    @AgTigress – I’d forgotten about the bull. Didn’t he go running with the bulls in Spain?  Or am I thinking of another book?  It’s been ages. It’s probably time for a reread.

  8. 8
    AgTigress says:

    Didn’t he go running with the bulls in Spain?

    No:  he was a rancher, so the bull-goring incident was a work-related fatal accident.
    The character who ran with the bulls at Pamplona and did not live to tell the tale was an artist, Logan Dane, the husband of Olivia Chantry, who is the heroine of Jayne Ann Krentz’s Flash (1998), a book that I heartily recommend.  There may be other bull-running characters in Romancelandia, of course, but I suspect it is the JAK one you have in mind. 

  9. 9
    AgTigress says:

    Does she write any other kind?

    Oh yes, Las, she most certainly did and does!  Many LH heroines are tough and assertive, and not in the least bit downtrodden by the men around them.  It isn’t even a simple change over time:  although I think that the saintly doormat heroines all occur in her earlier books (at the time when the abusively arrogant hero was fashionable in category romance), there are also early category romances of hers that feature genuinely strong and independent women: for example, while the heroines of The Cutting Edge and Sarah’s Child (1985) are insupportably passive and patient, Mary, the heroine of Mackenzie’s Mountain, a 1989 category romance, is calmly competent and determined, while Grace, the heroine of her time-travel historical Son of the Morning (1997) just about defines the incredibly courageous and resourceful woman who beats truly terrifying odds.  The situation she deals with changes her from a slightly timid academic into a no-holds-barred streetfighter, literally, as well as metaphorically.  There are plenty of other tough and confident heroines in Howard’s oeuvre.  It is really the Patient Griseldas who are the exceptions, but they are so very annoying that they stick in the mind.  And then there is her more recent line in vulgar, self-obsessed and idiotic heroines (Blair Mallory), about which the less said, the better.
    Howard has always puzzled me because she is so uneven.  She can be outstandingly good, but also absolutely infuriatingly bad.  To be fair to her, I think that she was trying to do something with the doormat heroines that she saw as a form of female strength and determination, because they all do eventually out-manoeuvre the abusive ‘alpha’ heroes, but I don’t think it really comes off.  She was not the only major romance novelist who wrote that kind of plot in the mid-1980s:  Elizabeth Lowell wrote some absolute stinkers with unjustly put-upon heroines.

  10. 10
    Elizabeth says:

    Wow!  “Tears of the Renegade” has got to be the one I remember!  Thanks for all your help.

  11. 11
    Patricia says:

    I just recently read this book.  It was re-released in a 2 for one with another of her early books a year or two ago and I took it out of the library.  So you should be able to find it pretty easily.
    P.S. he took her to the beach to recover.

  12. 12
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    he took her to the beach to recover.

    I’m glad to hear it; a cabin in the woods just has too many possibilities for body-stashing.

  13. 13
    dick says:

    I like most things Howard wrote, myself, and I’ve got to disagree about the estimation of Sarah in “Sarah’s Child,” who, in my estimation had cajones of steel.  There is as much strength in quiet resistance as in aggressive attack, often more.

  14. 14
    AgTigress says:

    There is as much strength in quiet resistance as in aggressive attack, often more.

    Yes, I am sure that is just the point that Howard was trying to make in many of the books where the heroine puts up with relentless ill-treatment from the hero.  Sarah in Sarah’s Child is undoubtedly tough and determined in many ways, so perhaps she is not a good example, though her patience and tolerance frustrate me, because I think she could and should have broken the impasse by more proactive means — like Madelyne in Duncan’s Bride, for example.  It certainly does take a certain kind of courage and determination to survive a long period of being ill-treated, falsely accused and insulted, but I can’t help feeling that in most cases, forcing a showdown is probably going to be better for all concerned, including the abusive partner, than simply hanging on until the abuser realises what a jerk he is being, and relents.  It is the passivity and the long-suffering element that I find unbearable, the patient waiting for the abuser to come to his senses, rather than making him confront his own shortcomings. The Patient Griselda archetype is not a paradigm of weakness, but of a particular type of strength, but I still think that it is one that is insulting to both men and women;  to women, because nobody should have to put up with unfair accusations, and to men because adults should be mature enough to trust and understand those around them, and not feel it necessary to keep testing them.

    What do you think of the relationship between Brett and Tessa in The Cutting Edge?  I find that one unbearable, because she puts up with a level of sustained abuse and contempt from the ‘hero’ that no person with any self-respect should stand, but in the end, simply accepts Brett’s admission that he was wrong and takes him back.  His behaviour is both despicable and unintelligent.  I put that novel in the same class as Lowell’s Too Hot to Handle, because the heroes in both cases are totally detestable human beings; arrogant, selfish and none too bright, with no valid excuse for the treatment they mete out to perfectly innocent women.  In Sarah’s Child, we are at least given a psychological basis for Rome’s fear of deep emotional bonds and his resolve to have no more children, though I still do not see his state of mind as an excuse for his anger against his wife.

    We are getting a bit off the point here, maybe, but analysis of the more extreme ‘alpha hero’ plots of the mid-1980s by successful and highly skilled writers is always fascinating.

  15. 15
    Amitatuq says:

    I finally know a HaBO and everyone beat me to the punch!

  16. 16
    Liz says:

    @Cheryl, that’s how I read it too.  I had to go back and read it again.

  17. 17
    FD says:

    AgTigress – can’t agree more about Cutting Edge. Also An Independent Wife – oh and Almost Forever – Max Conroy revolted me.  Just no. Ugh.

  18. 18
    Las says:

    There is as much strength in quiet resistance as in aggressive attack, often more.

    For me that depends on the cause. When that “quiet resistance” is due to a pathetic need to keep an undeserving asshole by your side, it’s not strength, and it’s problematic to suggest that if a woman just quietly endures and serves she can change a man. Not to mention the fact that at every single turn Sarah buried all her needs and desires so that she could pamper that man. And let’s also not mention that she was so “in love” with him for so long despite never having had a romantic relationship with him that she was still a virgin at 30. Yeah, I really loathed Sarah.

    And I think I’m one of a very few who didn’t think the hero of Sarah’s Child (Roman?) was that bad. I think Howard did an excellent job showing us his motivations, and I actually really sympathized with what he went through. And that was my problem with the Howard books that I read. Howard can make assholes sympathetic and forgivable, and she’s great at telling a story…she clearly knows how to write. Why is it so difficult to write a heroine with a spine?

  19. 19
    Kelly C. says:

    Ugghhh…..Rome Matthews puts the prick in prick.  Self-absorbed douche.

    If he was SO adamant about NO kids, he would have gotten the snip.  Period.  Of course then there’d be no conflict and therefore no book.

  20. 20
    Cait says:

    I so agree about Linda HOward.  She had been an auto buy up until the last couple of years.  I believe my drop dead fav (after the Mackenzies,,…WOW, that Wolfe)  is OPEN SEASON.  And nobody’s mentioned it.  Her name was Daisy, His, I can’t remember.  There was even going to be secondary pair up, which was a bit weird as it was between the Mayor’s abused wife, and a reformed baddy.  What I appreciated was Daisy was not some dummy who went into the basement with a candle.  When the Sheriff says stay, she does..but she has to keep her puppy, Midas.  Also , I really like the audio version, which is almost impossible to find, but worth it as it’s very well read.  Also, Mr PERFECT,  I want that car, or the other car, or the cop!  Also I need to give a mention to DYING TO PLEASE.
        I will need to dig out my copy of SON OF THE MORNING.  He was a sadist SOB as I recall, and she had to bring him around while hopping back and forth in time.  But that is an old impression, and I was upset by the murders and betrayals at the beginning.

  21. 21
    Susan/DC says:

    There is as much strength in quiet resistance as in aggressive attack, often more.

    Yes, but it must actually be resistance.  What incentive does someone like Roman have to change if he always gets his way?  Gandhi exemplified quiet resistance, Sarah was just a doormat who got a lucky break.

  22. 22
    AfroQueen says:

    Mr Perfect was my first foray into Linda Howard and I loved it.  I actually recommended it to a patron at the library and she came back after she read it and gave me the “Oh, I know why you liked that book!” look.  I think I read Open Season and Dying to Please but nothing from her after that.  My favorite “scene” from that book was when Jaine accidentally spied Sam bare-ass nekkid in his kitchen! 

    I have that book somewhere in my house…I need to re-read it!

  23. 23
    AgTigress says:

    Kelly C.

    Rome Matthews puts the prick in prick.  Self-absorbed douche.

    Well, not quite.  His life had been shattered by the loss of his wife and children, and he was emotionally deeply wounded.  That is how LH explains his state of mind, and there is some logic in it.  However, it is still not nearly enough to justify his gratuitous cruelty towards Sarah — one’s own pain is not an excuse to inflict pain on others —  and I totally agree with you about the obvious solution to his ‘no children’ rule.

  24. 24
    AgTigress says:


    SON OF THE MORNING.  He was a sadist SOB as I recall, and she had to bring him around while hopping back and forth in time.  But that is an old impression, and I was upset by the murders and betrayals at the beginning.

    No, Niall was not a sadist SOB!  He is a very interesting character indeed, and he does not ill-treat Grace;  they are a singularly well-matched and balanced couple.  The murders/betrayal at the beginning of the book is deeply upsetting:  that’s the point.  It sets in train the process whereby Grace has to change not only her present, but the past.  It is such an upheaval that she has to become a different person, literally going into hiding and learning all sorts of skills, many of them illegal, that are most emphatically not part of the job-description of your average academic linguist.  Grace’s journey is one of the most memorable character arcs in popular fiction, and the brilliant thing is, it is convincing and believable.

    I read Son of the Morning when it was published only because I had enjoyed many Linda Howard books and was still reading all her new issues at that time, but I really didn’t expect to like it because I normally dislike medieval Scottish settings, and I loathe and detest anything that involves time-travel or the Knights Templar.  With that attitude at the start, the fact that I not only finished the book, but also regard it as one of Howard’s finest novels, is quite a tribute.  She even handles the time-travel and the language problems with panache, making the time-travel a scientific process rather than some silly magic nonsense.

  25. 25
    dick says:

    Yeah, Rome’s something of a shit, no doubt about it.  And he has only pyrrhic victories; Sarah wins the war.

  26. 26
    TracyP says:

    Does anyone remember this book?

    No offense to the seeker, but who would want to?  Of course, mid-80s, a lot of the heroines seemed to be doormats as the norm.  I definitely preferred the late 90s with women starting to stand on their own two feet and stand up for themselves.

  27. 27
    Ros says:

    No offense to the seeker, but who would want to?

    Seriously?  You’re gonna start calling people out for their choice of reading matter here?  The lady read the book, liked it and has forgotten the title.  She has every right to ask fellow-romance readers to help her find it again.

  28. 28
    AgTigress says:

    No offense to the seeker, but who would want to?

    (remember the book, that is)

    TracyP: because there is more to a novel than the character of the heroine, and sometimes other elements in the book will give a lot of pleasure to the reader even when she is irritated by one character’s behaviour.  Linda Howard writes very well.  In particular, she is a master at conveying sexual attraction, tension and gratification.  In this particular book, the hero, Cord, is a genuinely attractive person, and we are plunged into the middle of intense first-meeting attraction literally in the first few pages.  I challenge anyone to read the first chapter and not continue.  Susan’s reasons for taking the brunt of Cord’s (wholly justified) attack on her in-laws, in particular the other cousin, Preston, are understandable, if unwise.  She also does not know exactly what is going on, and Cord, not yet knowing her well enough, has no idea that she, rather than Preston, will be the one to suffer most.

    I can’t give you a full review here (I haven’t re-read the book for several years), but I assure you it is a good novel, very readable, and, unlike the others we have been discussing (The Cutting Edge, Sarah’s Child, An Independent Wife and Almost Forever), the hero is far from being an unpleasant person. On the contrary.  He is tough and ruthless, but he is NOT an arrogant egoist who treats other people with disdain or contempt on principle.

  29. 29
    TracyP says:

    AgTigress: I have read Linda Howard also, but not for awhile.  My tastes have evolved quite a bit since I was in my twenties, and I find that I look for strong females who do not put up with being treated poorly.  It seriously offends me, and I have a hard time getting past that because it’s hard for me to “watch” any female who doesn’t stand up for herself.

    I meant no offense to anyone.  Seriously.  I was just pointing out my distate in female leads with no backbone (which is how I read it based on the description given).  I apologize if it was taken to be insensitive.  I’ll shut up now.

  30. 30
    AgTigress says:

    My tastes have evolved quite a bit since I was in my twenties, and I find that I look for strong females who do not put up with being treated poorly.

    That’s fair enough, TracyP, and I think just about all of us would agree about a preference for ‘strong’ heroines —  though sometimes in modern work, I find that authors seem to be unaware of the dividing line between ‘strong’ and ‘ruthless, bossy, self-obsessed bitch’.  There is a difference!  In this particular case, the heroine certainly does not lack backbone anyway;  she is merely unselfish, very generous and loyal to her family, and prepared to do more than many of us would regard as sensible to help them.

    We all have different deal-breakers in a story.  To me, an unsatisfactory heroine is not nearly enough as a single factor to make the book automatically unacceptable.  The hero, the supporting characters, the plot, the emotion between the h/h, and the actual quality of the writing can all be enough to compensate for a heroine who does not behave in quite the way I would consider best, but for you, that element would be insurmountable even if everything else about the book were good.  That’s fine:  we are all different!  :-)  And I have to reiterate that many of Howard’s heroines are extremely strong women, in the very best sort of ways.

    For me, the chief deal-breakers in a romance novel are the presence of magic of any kind, shape-shifters or vampires, and sado-masochistic sex.  Time-travel, ‘Celtic’ settings and invented mythologies also send me running in the opposite direction.  All are things that many other readers actively enjoy.  Yet, as I said above, I found LH’s Son of the Morning good enough as a novel to transcend several elements that I normally abhor.

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