Johanna Lindsey: Which One First?

Book CoverMore ebooks have been released from Avon, including Hearts Aflame, which is their current .99c offering (Amazon | BN | WORD | Kobo). This book is a classic medieval Lindsay.

While I am not as big a fan of medieval -set romances, I know this book has some fans.

ESPECIALLY since the original cover looked like THIS:


A Viking lass named Kristen who hides warships in her hair, battling Royce, Thane of Wyndhurst, and his cheekbones? How can you resist? 

Now that much of Johanna Lindsey’s backlist has been digitized and is now in most retailers, including Amazon, BN, WORD Brooklyn’s eBookstore and Kobo, I have a question for you, and the start of a new feature I hope to continue over the coming months: Classic Romances: Which One First?

For those of you who haven’t read Johanna Lindsey, or another famous name in romance, this thread might help. Which book should a curious reader staring at a mountain of backlist start with? We’ll go author-by-author – so if you have a big name in romance you’ve always been curious about and you want to know “Which One First?”, please feel free to email me your suggestion at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom with “Classic Romances” in the subject line.

So, for someone who hasn’t read Johanna Lindsey and now has their choice of old skool cover, new skool cover, or digital, which one do you recommend someone read first?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Christy says:

    Ah I remember devouring this book when I was in high school.  Loved it at the time.  Maybe I should re-read.

  2. 2

    Hey, I posed for that cover.

    Okay, maybe in my dreams.  Did have long blonde hair back when I read it, though I could never persuade my hair to do the artfully blowing back thing.  Prolly because I did not have hair people and a big electric fan making it appear just so.

    Perhaps someday I will pick up the old school romance novels I used to read, as ebooks, but for now there are too many great new books I want to read.

  3. 3
    Ken Houghton says:

    Warrior’s Woman, of course. Large cult following in the sf field.

    (Captcha: you’re 24, which I was much older than even the first time the book came out.)

  4. 4
    Noelinya says:

    The “old” books I recommand by Lindsay :
    -Hearts Aflame,
    -Fires of winter,
    -Surrender my love, (all 3 above are part of the same series)
    -Prisoner of my desire,
    -Once a princess

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    @Beverly: When I have long hair, if I let it blow around like that, it’s a guarantee that I’ll spend many unhappy hours combing all the tangles out! Seeing hair blow like that makes me wince!

    @Ken: Did you read it?

  6. 6
    CindyK says:

    Well, the 1990 Warrior’s Woman was the first book of JL’s that I read, remember, bought the book.  I have read all – or almost all of her books, but that one has special memories for me.

    It falls under historical -futuristic category, if there is such a thing.

  7. 7
    Deb G. says:

    Defy Not the Heart. I think it may have been the first romance novel I ever read (courtesy of my then-friend Sabrina), and I *hearted* it ever so much.

    Also, seconds to Surrender My Love and Warrior’s Woman (even though it is actually quite awful, it was sci-fi-ish well before paranormal romance was the norm).

    captcha – nature 32. It’s in my nature to have read 32 of JL’s books? Absolutely!

  8. 8
    Therese says:

    I am partial to Once A Princess and The Heir, myself.

  9. 9
    Amber says:

    I wish I could ask that, but I don’t even know famous names in romance. I’ve just been reading books based on those reviewed here. Which author first, maybe?

    I miss having access to a library. I used to be able to judge which authors and books I wanted by borrowing first. Going by other people’s recommendations is fine now and then, but i’m seriously ten kinds of picky about what books I like.

  10. 10
    Cät von J says:

    THE MALORY SERIES!!! ??? that´s where to start and end Johanna Lindsey!

  11. 11
    Laurie says:

    Gentle Rogue – I can still read it and love it.

  12. 12
    AJ says:

    I read “Secret Fire” first, which I don’t necessarily recommend as your first Lindsey, but I DO recommend if you’re in the mood to marvel at home she fit every trope into one book. Ugly duckling sister, kidnapping (to RUSSIA), dubious consent and a heavy use of mythical aphrodisiacs? Fifteen year old me was enthralled.

    I preferred Fires of Winter to Hearts Aflame, but I loved Brenna a lot more than Kirsten, who admittedly spent Fires of Winter annoying the crap out of me.

  13. 13
    Vick says:

    My first and last Johanna Lindsey book was Silver Angel.  It was originally published in 1988, and I picked it up a couple years ago while visiting the in-laws over christmas.  It. Was. Horrible.  I only finished it out of morbid curiosity.  I remember reading a post about rape in romance about a year or so ago, and it definitely called to mind this book.  Maybe I would enjoy some of her other novels, but I would really NOT recommend this as a first time Lindsey.

  14. 14
    kara-karina says:

    Prisoner of My Desire! It was my first romance, and it blew me away :))) You didn’t get many medieval romances with bondage and the heroine sexually assaulting the hero in those days.

  15. 15

    Savage Thunder was one of my all-time favorite Johanna Lindsey books, as well as Prisoner of My Desire and Warrior’s Woman.  All are on my keeper shelf!

  16. 16
    Las says:

    Johanna Lindsey is the first romance author who’s name I remembered. Until her I’d just pick up whatever looked good on the supermarket shelf without noticing names. I’ve tried reading some of her newer works and I can’t get through them, but I still love a lot of her old stuff.

    My recommendations:
    Prisoner of My Desire – Rape-y as all hell, but, um, at least it goes both ways?

    Secret Fire – Rape-y as well. I was young! Shut up! On the plus side, Russia, which is a nice change.

    Paradise Wild – Rape. And secret baby. And I’ve reread several times and it’s still one of my favorites. I’m sorry.

    Warrior Woman – I’m not embarrassed about this one! Yeah, there’s a lot of “Me man. You woman. You do what I say,” but not to the level of your typical HP. And the heroine gets to put the hero in his place, so it’s all good. This one has two sequels that I enjoyed at the time but I can’t even remember the titles now.

    I like a lot of her Mallory series as well. They can come close to trying-too-hard-to-be-funny, so I wouldn’t read them back-to-back, but still enjoyable.

  17. 17
    Jennifer says:

    I would definitely say the Malory series. I’d start with the first Love Only Once,  then move to Tender Rebel, and Gentle Rogue. The good news is that there are several more after GR (which is one of my all-time favorite classic romances).

  18. 18
    ShellBell says:

    My favourite JL’s are:

    So Speaks The Heart
    Defy Not The Heart
    Warrior’s Woman
    Fire’s of Winter
    Savage Thunder
    A Heart So Wild
    Prisoner of My Desire

    So many good books to choose from! It’s great being able to reread them on my iPad.

  19. 19
    deputman says:

    Ah, Joanna Lindsey, my first romance love. I’m 99% sure that my very first romance was Gentle Rogue (the last 1% accounts for a fuzzy memory of when I first read a category, but I believe it was after). I loved GR so much and my mother (from whom I had snuck the book) didn’t have the first two Mallory books, so one day while my parents were at work I walked a mile to a used book store to buy Love Only Once and Tender Rebel. Man I would have been in trouble if they knew I 1) left the house without permission, 2) went somewhere that no one knew about, or 3) read a romance novel. Of course as an adult I’m just glad nothing happened to the stupid 12-year-old who would have gone missing with no clues left to find her.

    That was the beginning of a summer I spent entirely at my grandparents house several states away. I brough those three books and spent the summer reading them over and over again. I knew them so well that I can still walk myself through them from first page to last in my head, and have actually done so to kill time during MRIs.

    So recommendations…
    The first three Mallory books, as mentioned above (LOO, TR, and GR). I also really love the fourth, The Magic of You, but I say skip five and six, as well as the Andersons.

    Other favorites would be Once a Princess and Deny Not the Heart (both mentioned above), as well as Angel.

    In high school I tracked down and read every one of her books published up until that time (thank you UBS) and there are some I would really recommend modern readers against, unless they are prepared for Old School, hair-pulling misogyny. That list would include Captive Bride, Paradise Wild, Glorious Angel, and A Pirate’s Love. There were definitely others as well but those are titles that stick out for disturbing even my unformed, dysfuctional 12-year-old heart.

  20. 20
    deputman says:

    Ack, that should be Defy Not the Heart. And while posting I’ve seen a recommendation for Angel come up too so I’m seconding (or thirding or fourthing) all of mine.

  21. 21
    Kiersten says:

    Tender Rebel, A Gentle Feuding, and Fires of Winter. FofW was my very 1st Lindsey (honestly, I think I was 11) & I loved it so much, I stole it from my sister’s friend’s treasure chest closet bookcase.

    GF was my first Scottish romance and TR my ab fab Mallory in Anthony. I loved all the series tho they got more and more crazypants. Haven’t gone back to read in years b/c I’m sure they won’t hold up to my memories of them.

  22. 22
    Kerry Allen says:

    I am well prepared for this, as I just recently purged the JoLi shelf, sorting out what I love and what I’ve kept because I couldn’t bear to break up a set.

    The only two Malory books I kept: Tender Rebel (Scottish heiress in need of a husband to protect her fortune from her skeevy cousin, and the manwhore who volunteers to “help” her because the sooner she’s hitched to some impotent slob, the sooner she’ll be coming to him for a good shagging, includes not one but TWO of my go-to ohmagawdhawt scenes) and Gentle Rogue (“gentleman” pirate who knows his cabin boy is a chick in drag, and the crossdressing gal who thinks her boss gets it up for adolescent boys, LOL infinity).

    I stuck with that family saga through all the miscellaneous strays and boring relations just to get to Jeremy, thinking the whelp of a pirate and a whore would be great raucous fun… and I broke up with Johanna Lindsey forever when she neutered him.

    Though I was never a fan of Westerns, I also kept Angel for the hired gun and the PET LEOPARD.

    captcha: placed27—Oh, I placed way more than 27 of these in the donate box.

  23. 23
    Las says:

    @Kerry Allen , now that I think about it, Jeremy’s story was the final nail in the coffin for me as well. She made Jeremy so boring, and then she had to go with the “poor unsuitable girl is actually the long lost daughter of Important Person so it’s cool!” bit.

    Gentle Rouge is my absolute favorite of the Mallory books. Also loved Tender Rebel, and I have a soft spot for Say You Love Me.

  24. 24
    MarieC says:

    Oh! flash to the past! I started with Fires of Winter (Kirsten’s mother) and devoured the remainder.  I would definately recommend the Love only Once or Warrior’s Woman to start.

  25. 25
    deputman says:

    I think Jeremy’s story was the end for lots of people. It was so poorly written, unimaginative and derivative, which would have been bad enough but since it was Jeremy’s book, it was unforgivable.

    @Kerry Allen, I love your plot summaries for TR and GR.

    @Las, I too have a soft spot for Say You Love Me but I figured a new reader wouldn’t have years of good will towards the Malorys to excuse some of the craziness and the Regan ex machina.

  26. 26
    Donna says:

    @ Vick I see your “Silver Angel” & I raise you a “Captive Bride”. Dreckitude even in 1977 when most romances were rapey kick me-beat me-make me write bad checks-but I’ll forgive you if you tell me you love me in the last two pages WTF messes.

  27. 27
    Kristi says:

    One of my favs :) Oh gosh…

    Man of My Dreams, Once a Princess, Love Only Once (Regan and Nicki!! Ahh!), and Secret Fire.

    Man of My Dreams ROCKS – I always love a alpha Duke who is hiding in the stables :)

    Once a Princess – Yea, I love the hidden/gone Princess who must marry the Prince.

    The Mallory’s. Love Regan and Nicki!

    With a Secret Fire, I must admit I love everything Russian. So that was great.

    May I say that pricing all of these at $7.99 is awful. I hate you Agency pricing, I HATE YOU!

    I have all the paperbacks and most of the hardbacks in my library though.

    Secret time… I posed for my Senior portrait in High School in my cheer leading jacket, poms poms, and a hardcover of Johanna Lindsey.  Yea… I can’t remember which one off hand. I’m tempted to publish it. :)

  28. 28
    Nicole says:

    Oh, Angel. Love that one. And Man of my Dreams.

    JL and Julie Garwood and Julia Quinn were the first romance writers I ever read. So many memories. Such awful covers on the JLs.

  29. 29
    Deb G. says:

    @ Nicole: How you can not the fabulous hunk of beefcake that is Fabio?!?!?!

    Fabio with blonde hair…black hair…brown hair…red hair…dressed as a pirate…as a space lord…as a Viking…as an Indian…as a medieval dude!

    I love those covers for their amazing cheesitude!

  30. 30
    ShellBell says:

    Such awful covers on the JLs.
    I never thought I’d say this but the Fabio covers were so much nicer than the ones being used now!

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