Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Two Requests Driving Her Crazy

This pair of requests is from Jo, who remembers a good bit, except the title (and that's why it's a HaBO, of course): 

I have two HaBO request which have been driving me insane for slightly separate reasons.

1- This one was some sort of Harlequin Romance. I would have read it in 1986 so it may have been published then or earlier. Main things that stick in my memory- the heroine runs a (cafe? restaurant?) called the Salt Cellar. She has a hobby of collecting salt cellars and displays them in her business, but I didn't actually know what a salt cellar was when I was 12 so maybe there was some greater significance there that I am missing. Her father keeps trying to hook her up with dudes because NO WAY could a woman be happy running a business so when she hears off the latest Hey There Marry My Daughter attempt she boldly strides into her proposed suitor's office announcing that she is his fiancee to try get his agreement to run off her dad.

Memorable bits include some pre-marital sex on a BEARSKIN in front of a fire, the morning after where he mysteriously disappears to take care of business after putting some heavy bracelets on her wrists that remind her explicitly of slave bracelets and telling her sternly to not remove them, oh and the ending where he declares that he'd known she was “passionate” at their first meeting because despite her grey business suit, she was wearing a red blouse under it (saucy!). I mostly want to know the title because 1- it was one of my earliest intros to Romance- bearskins! sex! secret passions! and 2- we shared it around at a school camp and couldn't sleep for giggling at it.

2- My second HaBO request was a really lovely book set in the English Civil War. In fact I liked it so much I nicked it and kept it to re-read multiple times before returning it to the library so other people could read it. This would have been in 1987. Premise is some town where the Civil War is raging. Heroine comes from a Puritan family, her older brother is a draper and his wife generally disapproves of the heroine on the basis that she's not married and is living with them and providing unpaid labour at both shop and home but still sucking up resources and also maybe likes the pretty cloth Too Much to be Godly. Hero is a captain with the Royalists, stationed at the nearby castle.

There is no initial romance whatsoever, he comes to the shop to buy ribbons for a flirt. At any rate at some point she gets booted out of home for being a filthy Royalist-sympathising HARLOT (nothing had actually happened yet) and she ends up at the Royalist castle. There is a pivotal dinner party scene where she is finally dressed up pretty and the hero is all OMG she's bee-you-tee-ful! at the sight of her in a violet silk dress and ringletted hair. Again, there may have been a kissing in front of a fire scene but I'm pretty sure there wasn't any pre-marital sex. The end result is there is a siege of the castle which ends up falling and they get to leave and go back to his family manor which has somehow escaped being caught up in the Civil War confiscations. I think her name was Abigail? He had fancy hats, with feathers, and maybe also dashing facial hair.
I just really want to re-read this because it was so darn sweet.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Bearskin rugs! Restaurant names! Liking the ungodly cloth! You'd think Google-fu would nail this one, but alas, my Google-fu is weak at this time. Anyone recognize these books? 


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  1. 1

    Wow, I actually think I know a HaBO!

    I’m pretty sure the second one is “A Splendid Defiance” by Stella Riley!

  2. 2
    Michelle R. says:

    I remember the first one—unfortunately, you remember it much better than I do, rendering me useless.

  3. 3
    OhSayNow says:

    I think the first one may be Stephanie James (Jayne Ann Krentz), “Passionate Business”…

    This appears to be the first chapter or so…complete with mention of the salt cellar collection.

  4. 4
    Michelle R. says:

    I remember that cover, specifically, as belonging to a book I owned. I bet that’s it.

  5. 5
    cleo says:

    Ooh, I want to read that now.  That excerpt whet my appetite for some good old vintage JAK.

  6. 6
    kkw says:

    I’m in the same boat as Michelle.  For what it’s worth, my mother-in-law has all the JAKs, so that’s probably why I’ve read this one.  And it seems somehow like JAK to contemplate slave bracelets when given jewelry, although I have zero recollection of that scene.

  7. 7
    FD says:

    The second one is absolutely A Splendid Defiance by Stella Riley, and it is a lovely, lovely book. As are pretty much all of hers (she also wrote as Anna Marsh and Juliet Blyth.)  I’m sorry to tell the OP that her books are all out of print, not in ebook, and sell for ridiculous prices second-hand, although you get the odd bargain and Defiance is on the cheaper end if you want a paperback. 

  8. 8
    Susan says:

    @OhSayNow—I started reading the snippet and, despite knowing better, found myself interested.  Until I got to the point right before the end where our “hero” demanded that Hillary apologize to her father.  Reminded me that all those Stephanie James books made me seethe with rage sooner or later, usually sooner.  They’re the type of books that made me quit reading romances for many years.  Too bad, because the SJ/JAK setups were usually really interesting.

  9. 9
    Sofia Harper says:

    “… at their first meeting because despite her grey business suit, she was wearing a red blouse under it (saucy!)”

    Best line in the HABO. Lmao! I haven’t read this particular story but I love JAK. Will track it down.

  10. 10
    cleo says:

    Yes, that’s the problem with SJ/JAK from the 80s.  I discovered her in the 90s, and I loved her smart, quirky heroines and non asshole heroes. And every once in a while I’d accidentally buy a re-release of her 80s stuff, and omg was it dated.  I’d flip to the copyright page saying “WHEN was this written?! Oh. 1983.  Figures”  All that battle of the sexes stuff and attitudes about gender roles really didn’t age well.

  11. 11
    Karin says:

    Well, I just went over to Amazon and snatched up a copy of “A Splendid Defiance”, in ‘acceptable’ condition for $3.54 + shipping! And I’m hoping the hero also has the ringletted hair and high heels as well as feathers. 

  12. 12
    Jo says:

    And once more I am IN AWE of the collective power of HaBO. Both titles in under 5 comments! Thank you! Icm off to find me some Stella Riley.

  13. 13
    Natalie says:

    Thanks! Just read the 1st chapter and now I’m hooked.

  14. 14
    Dancing_Angel says:

    I loathe early Krentz.  I bought a dual-book reprint some years after it was first issued as a “travel book” and I hated it so much, I left it on the airplane.  I remember it had a revolting curse, that involved rape, a super-steely businesswoman who just needed LURVE to find her place in the world, an arrogant jerk of a hero – and a nice younger brother.  I wanted the heroine to fall in love with him and leave the jerk hero at the altar.

  15. 15
    Elr says:

    It is Stephanie James – and I believe it is the first series romance she published. 

  16. 16
    Kagama says:

    I loved “The Parfait Knight” and would have loved to get my hands on “Mesalliance” by the same author writing as Anna Marsh. The heros friend,the duke was so entertaining…

    But it cant be found anywhere,not even my trusty abebooks is any help.

    I even went so far as to contact the British Library to get a printed copy and they were amenable to it,BUT first I should have to get a written consent from the copyright holder.

    Wich I assume is the publisher-who refuses to answer my emails.

    So here we have a book that people would like to read but that is out of print but not even available as an e-book.

    Maybe if more people kept nagging them about e-books……

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