My first exposure to Johanna Lindsey was A Gentle Feuding,which I chose because it had a 16th-century Scottish setting. I dove into the author’s backlist after that, skipping through eras and across continents, even into new worlds of the author’s own imagining, in search of more alpha heroes and the spirited heroines in whom they found their match.
Since her debut in 1977 with Captive Bride, Johanna Lindsey has written no fewer than ten different series to date, as well as standalone novels. Though Ms. Lindsey may be most famous for her Regency era Malory series, she’s also employed such diverse settings as: Viking, Hawaiian, Victorian, western, medieval, fantasy worlds, countries of her own creation and even did a stint in modern-day America with her lone—so far—time travel.
Recalling Johanna Lindsey always reminds me of when I was a student at Vermont College back in the ’80s, sitting in class and counting the minutes until I could hike down the hill to the bookstore in town and snatch her then-newest, Love Only Once, from the shelves and devour it like the rabid wildebeest I was. I remember as well, a few years later, when Tender Rebel, Uncle Tony’s book, came out, fulfilling my desire for Tony to take center stage and with a Scottish heroine, no less.
The phrase “everybody loves a Lindsey” appeared on many of her covers in the ’80s, and even her covers span as wide a variety as her settings. She’s had Robert McGinnis and Elaine Duillo for cover artists, as well as numerous reprint: Clinches, pastels, landscapes, it’s all appeared on a Lindsey at some point. Current titles such as When Passion Rules reflect modern cover sensibilities with a more photographic look, though astute viewers will note the hero’s sword is on the wrong side.
Astute readers will also notice we don’t meet the hero, Christoph, in When Passion Rules, until almost eighty pages in, but as with many Lindsay titles, the heroine’s journey is what keeps readers coming back for more. In this story, heroine Alana learns that she is a secret princess who must return to her embattled homeland to help prevent a civil war. Accompanied by the retired assassin who raised her, and a spunky orphan boy, Alana’s training in self-defense and critical thinking look to serve her well with the political issues ahead of her, but Christoph is another issue altogether. Enter trademark Lindsey fireworks between hero and heroine. Lindsey stories make for quick reads, the interplay between hero and heroine—once they meet—often carrying the story.
Readers who prefer a stronger grounding in the historical world may wish for more specific details than Lindsey provides. When Passion Rules, for example, doesn’t place the story in a specific year, rather going for a more encompassing general nineteenth century feel.
The Lindseyverse has more of a fairytale feel. Sometimes all we get is long ago and far away, keeping the setting in soft focus, which allows for the romance to shine. So it doesn’t matter if the heroine’s one and only is a pirate, knight, cowboy, gentleman or out of this world; it’s all pure romance.
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing With Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.