Johanna Lindsey: Which One First?

Classic Romance: Which One First?So many of you posted recommendations as to which Johanna Lindsey romance a curious reader should read first. When you’re confronting a hella-backlist, it can be intimidating, so here’s a breakdown of what was recommended, why, and by whom.

The challenge with Lindsey titles is that she was one of the biggest names in old skull romances, and many of her titles are of the “fight then fuck” variety, with a sprinkling of forced seduction and/or rape scenes to be found in some.  As deputman wrote, “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.

Overquoted describes what she sees as “The Two Types of Lindseys:” “One type is the Mallory and Warrior series. These JL books are usually amusing, consensual and filled more with banter than with manhandling. The other type is Prisoner of My Desire, Silver Angel, Fires of Winter, etc. Your standard bodice ripper novels where the hero and heroine spend 90% of the book seething at each other. Also rape.”

So, let’s get to the culled list of top titles for curious readers:

Once a Princess [Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Kobo | WORD Brooklyn]

Recommended by Noelinya, Therese and deputman. Kristi also loves it, saying “I love the hidden/gone Princess who must marry the Prince.”

The Heir [Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Kobo | WORD Brooklyn ]

Recommended by Therese and by Melissandre, who wrote “the way she emphasized friendship over blazing attraction between the hero and heroine was very novel to me.  This one isn’t a classic example of her work, but it might be a better read for those who don’t want to journey back to Old Skool Romancelandia.”

By far the most recommended titles were the first three Malory books. The Malory Series begins with Love Only Once [Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Kobo | WORD Brooklyn  ].

This book featured Regan and Nicki, a protagonist duo that many, including Kristi sighed over.

Second in the Malory Series is Tender Rebel [Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Kobo | WORD Brooklyn].

This book was recommended by many and best described by Kerry Allen: “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 then Gentle Rogue [Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Kobo | WORD Brooklyn].

This is a much beloved Lindsey title. It was recommended by Laurie who says, “I can still read it and love it” and by Jennifer who says it’s “one of my all-time favorite classic romances.” Kerry Allen described it as ““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).”

Deputman has a GREAT story about the first three Malory books: ” 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.”

Finally, a cautious recommendation:

Warrior’s Woman [Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Kobo | WORD Brooklyn].
This book is something of a trendsetter, with a healthy dose of Old Skool. It has a “large cult following in SF” per Ken Houghton. CindyK says “it falls under historical -futuristic category, if there is such a thing.”

But this recommendation comes with a caution. DebG warns that “even though it is actually quite awful, it was sci-fi-ish well before paranormal romance was the norm.” Las says, “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.” Jody W said this book “hurt my soul in a way that has yet to fade.” So be ye warned, if you start with this one!

I’ll be doing future authors with hella-backlists (or, holla-back-lists) and many of you have sent in suggestions – so get your keeper shelves ready.

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