Review: Bond of Passion by Bertrice Small

Bond Of PassionAlmost nothing worked for me in this book, though there were some promising elements. This is the first book I’ve read by Bertrice Small and it clearly showed me that her books are not for me, as the writing style and tone are very different from any other historical romance I’ve read.

The biggest problem I had with this difference was that it made the book the largest non-stop case of “telling not showing” that I have read in a long, long time. I read all 416 pages and I honestly still do not have a feel for any of the characters. We’re never really shown their emotions or any internal conflicts they may be going through. It’s hard to describe, but I feel if you read an excerpt of her work you will know exactly what I mean. The entire thing was so simple in its delivery, almost immature (though the frequent use of the word “fucking” makes this book one for mature audiences).

Summary. Bond of Passion is the sixth book in The Border Chronicles series, but from what I understand they are only loosely linked (location and time period). The story takes place over several years, which is different from most other romance novels. It centers on Annabella Baird, the daughter of small-time laird, and Angus Ferguson, the Earl of Duin. Angus is admired far and wide for his handsome looks, though he lives a quiet life. He has no interest in involving himself in politics, but instead wants to live peacefully while taking care of his family, people, and land. He was actually quite a refreshing hero, especially since most Scottish heroes are in the gruff and rough-on-the-outside category.

Annabella is also known far and wide, but for being plain-looking, especially with three younger sisters who are all very beautiful. At the grand old age of 20, her parents are worried that she will never make a match, so when her father is advised to make a piece of land Angus has been coveting part of Annabella’s dowry, Angus agrees to marry her. He wants that land, it’s time for him to marry, and he has no need for a beautiful wife who will tempt other men and might betray him. He values respect and obedience, and from what he’s heard Annabella will fit these requirements.

This is the point in the summary when I would tell you what the main conflict between them is … however there wasn’t one. So maybe I would tell you about the single, main subplot that they battled against … but there wasn’t one of those either. We hear constantly—constantly!—about how plain Annabella is, but Angus quickly looks past this and is delighted by her wit, loyalty, affection, and passionate nature. They fall in love with one another quite easily, no muss, no fuss. Neither of them has any flaws, and without any conflict between them it made their story a little boring. The summary incorrectly hints at strife and torn loyalties between them.

Historical Subplots. Bertrice Small does her research and the story is steeped in the volatile time of Mary, Queen of Scot’s rule. All the big players make an appearance: Mary Stuart, Earl of Morton, Lord Darnley, Earl of Bothwell, James VI, etc. Annabella and Angus’ life are deeply woven into those historical events, including a dramatic scene involving Annabella and Darnley. I love the history of that time period, but the focus was sometimes too heavily on trying to give the reader a history lesson for context, as opposed to the romantic relationship and our leading characters. While the book starts off slowly, it quickly picks up speed as new subplots are added at a rapid pace. By the time you reach the last section of the book, it feels like there are five different things still going on that now all needed to be wrapped up.

Other Criticisms. I was extremely annoyed by the fact that Annabella gives birth and then we never see the children again. They are mentioned a few times, but they’re always off-page or only because we’re being told that they’re being removed from the room. That’s it. Nothing else. It didn’t seem like Annabella or Angus had any connection with their children, though their lust for one another is alive and well throughout the book. I don’t even want to count the number of times they have sex and while some of it was hot, Annabella turned into a demanding and expressive little piece very, very quickly and the frequent use of the words “fuck” and “fucking” always jolted me (not used to those in historicals). There was also the way that Small describes climax. *blushing like crazy* I wanted to post it as a Goodreads status update to share my amusement, but was far too embarrassed. *deep sigh, gathering courage* I’ll be brave and include it here:

Angus roared with his own release as his throbbing cock exploded its juices deep into her, flooding her secret garden with his lustful tribute.

Angus roared in reply as his love juices burst forth in a torrent of excess.

Yes, those are direct quotes.

Bottom Line. In the end, the strongest emotion I felt was one of disappointment. There were interesting components to the story that could have been explored further (don’t want to include spoilers), while other distracting additions could have been left out. The characters, both main and supporting, could have been very engaging had they been fleshed out more and given some depth, but we were given one-dimensional paper cut-out figures, instead of complex and compelling people. Bertrice Small’s writing style and tone obviously work for some people, but this book showed me that I am not one of them.

Rating: D
Bond of Passion by Bertrice Small
October 4th 2011 by NAL 
Historical Romance
GoodReads Reviews
Amazon || Barnes & Noble


Recommendations. If you like Scottish historical romances, you might like …
Claimed By a Scottish Lord by Melody Thomas
His Wicked Ways by Samantha James
To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
The Bride by Julie Garwood
The Secret by Julie Garwood
Some Like it Wild by Teresa Medeiros
MacCarrick Brothers series by Kresley Cole
Highland Pleasures series by Jennifer Ashley


  1. says

    Wow I normally like Bertrice Small’s work, though I have not read this series by her. My faves were A Moment in Time, The Kadin, A Memory of Love and Betrayed. Perhaps it was because these are standalones that I liked them that much more. Though I have read the first book in the O’Malley series – Skye O’Malley.

    • says

      You might not agree with me! It wasn’t even the story or characters that bothered me really, just how she writes her books, so if you’ve liked other books by her you might like this one too. The story and characters had potential, but I couldn’t get past her style.

      • says

        Oh I didn’t take any offense to what you wrote. I can see what you mean though as I have started reading different authors that write historical romance novels. I also haven’t read enough of her newer stuff to know what they are like either.

        It’s nice to see people writing “real” reviews though even if they didn’t like something. It’s refreshing!

        • says

          I’m glad you didn’t take offense. Everyone has different tastes and even with some of my friends whom I almost always agree with, there will be a few books that we have completely opposite opinions about.

          I can say for all of FV reviewers that we definitely do write our honest opinions, even if they’re not flattering and the reviews are sometimes uncomfortable to write. … They can also be a little fun, like the quotes I included (which I still cannot get over).

          • says

            My Mom always read Bertrice Small books and still does, so I think that is where I have gotten my taste for them. I was banned from reading them until I turned 19 because of the content. LOL

            • says

              Lol, very understandable!! Honestly, I’ve only seen more explicit language in straight-up eroticas. The language here is downright filthy!!

  2. says

    Great review, Juliana! You brave, brave woman, you.

    Bertrice Smalls gives me nightmares. Her books are full of WTFery involving the heroines getting kidnapped, cheating on their men with their captors, escaping their captors & coming back to their men like they didn’t just make mad, passionate, forced seduction-y love to Sheik Lion King. *shudders* Here’s a hug. You deserve it.

    • says

      LMAO!! 😀
      Luckily there was no cheating like you’re describing, but there was definitely some WTFery going on (and a lot of just F-ery, lol).

      Thanks for the kudos and hugs – they are both much appreciated! At least I know now for the future to avoid her books.

  3. says

    Is it wrong for me to want to read this book after reading your review and LethalLevely’s comment? You have to admit that those quotes are pure gold! I’m laughing so hard after reading them…

    What confuses me is why is she using euphemisms for the lady-parts and not for the man-parts? I want to see the same imagination that came up with “secret garden” in action describing his penis, cock is just boring!

    • says

      Both of them have juices that burst forth quite frequently.

      She also has a “love sheath” and “love bud.”

      He “pistons her” (so romantic-sounding, no?) quite frequently with his “manhood,” “long, thick peg,” or “the length of hard and lustful flesh.”

      And I don’t know how many times Annabelle begs repeatedly to be filled deeply and/or fucked.

      • says

        He pistons her? Lovely! What about her cream? Is there a mention to that? Because lately I keep reading books where the hero can “smell her cream” and she starts “creaming”… I much prefer the “honey grotto of love”, that one doesn’t make me cringe!

        Seriously, I just spent almost 10$ buying the kindle edition of the book, so obviously there’s no such thing as bad publicity!

        • says

          You bought it?! I guess you’re right, there is no such thing as bad publicity. I am a big believer that when it comes to books, movies, etc. expectations play a large part in determining enjoyment – since you know what you’re getting into, you might (hopefully!!) enjoy it more than I did.

    • says


      (Don’t worry, the heroine is not left out – there are scenes when both of their juices are gushing … *shudders* That just sounds so wrong!)

  4. says

    I’ve never read this author but if it is a matter of telling and no showing…no thanks. That really annoys me in books.

  5. says

    Loved this post.

    I read Beatrice Small back in the day and used to love her. I haven’t read her in years. I think I tried to read the first book in the Border Lord series and didn’t make it past the first chapter. Her earlier books were great (of course I was a late teen early twenties when I read them so they might not be the same now).

    • says

      Thanks Lynette! :-)

      I have the same thing with authors that I adored when I first started reading romance and now I don’t read their books anymore – though like you said, part of that is also that their writing does change over the years.

  6. Estella says

    I did not care for this series. I loved her earlier books—–mostly the Skye O’Malley series.

    • says

      Just read your review: first) hysterical!; second) holy wow I’m glad I did not read that book. I think it must be the same one that LethalLovely was talking about (in her first comment above).

      Bond of Passion was not as bad as that and I’m now thinking I might have actually gotten lucky. There would definitely have been ranting and raving on my part as well had I read that book!

      • says

        You did indeed get lucky to pass that stinker by. I sometimes read WTFery books for the LOLs (just ask Katiebabs), so when I saw that RedHeadedGirl over at Smart Bitches couldn’t finish this one, it was like waving a red flag at a bull. Sometimes I can’t help myself and read books or watch movies going in knowing full well that it’s going to be a train wreck.

        And LMAO, I think you’re right–I bet that is the book she was talking about! Sheik Lion King… *dies*