Johanna Lindsey: My First Historical Romance Author

The first historical romance book I ever was The Heir by Johanna Lindsey, almost 6 years ago. After that I quickly devoured all Johanna Lindsey romances. Not all her novels are historical romances, but most are. The exceptions: Warrior’s Woman, Keeper of the Heart and Heart of a Warrior, in the “Deep Space” trilogy and Until Forever, a time-travel romance (set in both contemporary and medieval England), are wonderful in and of themselves, but it is her historicals that stand out to me. Not just because they are so numberable compared to her other works, but because of the way they’ve changed over-time.

book cover of   The Heir    (Reid Family, book 1)  by  Johanna LindseyAfter I read The Heir, I immediately made a grab for the sequel The Devil Who Tamed Her. The Heir was a Cinderella-esque romance. It had great characters, awesome plotline, huge misunderstandings, a hero I loved and hated and a villainess I loved to hate. The heroine, Sabrina, wasn’t beautiful with the exception of her eyes – violet eyes. Yeah, I know what your thinking, violet eyes, HUGE eye-roll moment there. Some people would have put the book down then and there. I was too young to care about this then and continued reading the story for the romance factor alone.

Boy, am I glad that I did! 🙂

If I hadn’t read this novel, despite the use of violet eyes, I would have missed out on one of the best historical romance novels I have read to date. As a whole, it seems like a deceptively light read but there’s so much more to it than basic plot.

First of all, Sabrina’s eyes play a much larger role than just a unique characteristic to make her stand out – because frankly speaking, after the initial reaction to her eyes, Sabrina returns to the role of wallflower very quickly considering who she hangs out with. The way Lindsey describes her eyes, in a way that makes them both unique and unremarkable is interesting. Sabrina considers them her one redeeming feaure, and is quite realistic in thinking so because the rest of her is quite plain.

Ophelia began to look appeased until Mavis said in supposed innocence, “It looks to me like she’s garnered a few admirers, but then I’m not surprised. She does have remarkably beautiful eyes.”

“Those peculiar eyes of hers are hardly a saving grace, Mavis, when she’s utterly drab otherwise,” Ophelia replied tersely. But she immediately regretted her harsh tone, which might make her sound jealous, which she wasn’t, of course.

Her eyes are important, not because they make the hero notice her but because they make the villainess, Ophelia, notice her. Sabrina eyes are the one characteristic she has that match can level her beauty to Ophelia’s, and the only trait that she possesses that can inspire Ophelia’s jealousy. For most people, it’s not Sabrina’s eyes that are important or make them like her, but instead her personality and sense of humour. She can make them laugh, and this is what draws them to her, just as it draws the hero to her.

The hero, Duncan, is great and very interesting considering his initial reaction to both the Ophelia and Sabrina. You see, my dear readers, Ophelia is Duncan’s betrothed and extremely, classically beautiful. She’s vain and spoiled, but since Duncan knows none of this in the start, he falls for her pretty face. The attraction is short-lived, however, as she opens her mouth seconds after meeting him and insults him. Both Duncan and Ophelia in no way want to be married to each other…but things get complicated in the middle of the novel.

Duncan is a vert realistic character. Yes, he does fall for Ophelia’s pretty face – for all of 5 seconds – but it’s Sabrina’s personality that he falls in LOVE with. I found this the most romantic aspect of the novel. Added to the fact that both Duncan and Sabrina are friends before they realise their mutual love for each other also emphasises the “real” factor. No, no love at first sight here folks.

Cover of The Devil Who Tamed Her EXP by Johanna LindseyOphelia, is another very complicated character in this novel. Here we see her as a villainess, but in The Devil Who Tamed Her, the sequel, she is the heroine. From villain to heroine makes for an interesting dynamic. And though I was not entirely convinced of her good nature, even by the end of her novel, I was convinced she was changing. Ms Lindsey had to work hard to make Ophelia look even remotely good and keep her in character, but somehow she did. Ophelia may not be the greatest heroine ever contrived, but she is the most realistic. Because, to speak bluntly, how many of us are all good? Have never felt jealousy, rational or otherwise? Never manipulated anyone? I know I have, and I can relate to that part of Ophelia in The Devil Who Tamed Her.

That is not to say that all of Ms Lindsey’s novels are masterpieces. In fact, some of her older works can effectively be described as “bodice-rippers” and one of the worst being A Pirate’s Love. Those of you who have read it will know what I’m talking about, and those of who have not read it I have one thing to say: WARNING! EXTREMELY SEXIST HERO AND MOMENTS. This is a much older novel and extremely dated, so I would recommend reading it, if at all, with extreme caution.

On the other hand, I would recommend reading her newer novels, especially the “Mallory” series. This is a wonderful series, funny and charming, with great characters and much stronger heroines than her older novels. The most objectionable thing, at least to some, in this series would have to be the age difference between some of the heroes and heroines. (I didn’t find it too daunting, because the characters were so great that I was rooting for them despite this fact and at times, the age difference was forgettable.)

Another thing I like about Ms Lindsey’s novels is the writing style. Her books range from light-hearted to dark reads. Nice dynamic, because even though I prefer light reads, she makes the darkness in novels work in a way that keeps me turning the page instead of having to put down the book.

For first time Johanna Lindsey, I would recommend starting with The Heir if you’re looking for a light read, or Glorious Angel for a darker read. Warning about Glorious Angel, it was published in 1982, so some parts may seem dated but it’s not untowardly sexist like A Pirate’s Love.

I will leave you with that and the question, “Who was your first historical romance author?”

Rika Ashton (aka The Reminiscent)

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10 responses

  1. My first was Celeste Bradley with “The Pretender” and was quickly followed by the rest of the The Liars Club series and then her connected, but separate The Royal Four series. Would you believe me if I told you I’d didn’t start reading romance novels until three years ago? The summer between my Junior and Senior year of HS (’07) I had nothing to do and a friend who had been into romance novels for a while was talking about this guy named Simon who was soooooo amazing. I ended up picking up the book to find out why 😀

    Although, I haven’t been much of a fan of Bradley’s lastest works :/ idk why, just not my fancy..

    Like

    December 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    • They were obviously a good influence. 🙂 Just think that if you hadn’t read that romance novel, you may never have written your own historical romance novels…

      I’ll definitely have to check out Celeste Bradley. I’ve heard of her, even went as far as to read the summaries of some of her books but never get down to actually reading a full novel.

      Johanna Lindsey’s been on my “favourite authors” since that first novel. I’ve read every novel she’s ever written, but now I’m sad because she only publishes a new one once a year. 😦 This is bad because I adore her novels. Good because it forces me to try out new authors.

      Speaking of which, the second historical romance novelist I read was Amanda Quick. Have you ever read anything by her?

      Like

      December 7, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      • Nope, haven;t read any Amanda Quick…or any or her many aliases (ali-i?) but she’s been on my TBR.

        My second..author was…Suzanne Enoch..Meet Me at Midnight..lol, then I found out that one was 2nd in a series..so naturally I had to get the others in the series…then I found out and THAT series finished…she had a followup one..and yeah..I’ve read every single thing by Enoch and generally like all of it…

        Suzanne Enoch is to me as Johanna Lindsey is to you 😛

        Like

        December 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      • Oh, you should definitely check out Amanda Quick. Her formula for writing romance is different from most. She doesn’t go for the miscommunication/misunderstanding between hero and heroine a lot…most of the drama results from the secondary characters.

        I do like Suzanne Enoch, she’s one of my go-to authors when I need something new to read. I read books one and two of her new series and really liked them, so I can’t wait to get my hands on “Rules of an Engagement.” Time for a Chapters run! 🙂

        Like

        December 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm

  2. Illiana Cruz

    I’ve read some Johanna Lindsey. But one thing that annoyed me about her newer novels – this is not really a problem in her older stuff – is that seems to ignore some of the conventions of the era. Although, her newer stuff is set in the Victorian era instead of the Regency and I do acknowlegde that times were changing…I’m pretty sure people didn’t immediately jump to addressing others by their first name on a short acquaitance…I don’t know, I know this isn’t a hge deal, just my personal pet peeve. Other than that though, I have to say I really like her novels.

    Like

    December 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    • Glad you enjoy her novels! Although, like I said, she’s not perfect…but she is one of the few authors whose novels I’ll buy without bothering to read the reviews. Her, and Lydia Dare, who is fast making that list as well along with a few select others.

      Like

      December 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  3. This is kinda freaaaaky, because ‘The Heir’ was actually the first adult romance novel I ever read too!!!!! It was the book in which my eyes nearly bulged out of when reading the love scene. I was like: HUH?! People can actually WRITE this stuff on paper?!?!?! I didn’t know it was possible, honestly. What was a grade seven-er to think…

    Like

    December 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    • I’m trying to imagine seventh-grade June as she reads her first love scene lol.

      I was actually about nearly 16 when I read it, so not so young. Also since, it was my first HISTORICAL and not my first romance novel in general, I was a little more prepared.

      My first romance novel was “Light and Shadow” by Jayne Ann Krentz and it took me a while to figure out what I was reading was actually a love scene when it came to that part…If anyone had seen me at that moment they would have thought I resembled a tomato.

      But while Jayne Ann Krentz got me to read my first romance, it was Johanna Lindsey that developed my love for historicals, so I owe her a huge debt for that. (Too bad she’s the only author who never does any book signings and doesn’t have a website… 😦 )

      Like

      December 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm

  4. Kerry Matthews

    Johanna Lindsey was my first historical romance author as well. But I guess this isn’t overly surprising considering how popular she is.

    I haven’t read the Devil Who Tamed Her, mostly because I couldn’t understand how Ophelia was a heroine after the way she treated Sabrina and Duncan. (Even Raphael, for that matter, how the hell does he consent to marry her?)

    Like

    December 10, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    • I didn’t like her too much either, since I liked Sabrina so much. But she is very belivable in some instances and you learn why she acts the way she does the more you learn about her childhood. The marriage between Raphael and Ophelia started out with HUGE complications, since Raphael was friends with Sabrina and didn’t like the way she treated her either.

      Like

      December 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

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