Terri emailed me recently about author Nicole Jordan’s backlist, which has recently been released digitally. Terri is a longtime fan of Jordan’s books, and she wrote up a very comprehensive guide to the older novels, which I really wanted to share with you. So thank you, Terri, and apologies in advance to your book budgets, y’all.
Here are some recommendations/thoughts on Nicole Jordan’s backlist, many of which were just reissued as ebooks for the bargain price of $2.99 each (the only book below that is not $2.99 is The Warrior)
A quick caveat about these books: Nicole Jordan’s backlist tends to be very old school. Alpha hero with a tortured past – check! Feisty heroine – check! Purple prose – check!
Here are some of my favorites from Nicole Jordan (pre-Notorious series):
The Warrior - [AMZ | Kobo | BN] I’m almost ashamed to admit how much I like this medieval romance. It is inexplicably enjoyable. The plot revolves around Ariane, a young woman whose father has been branded a traitor. She tries to defend her keep against Ranulf, the knight who was once her betrothed. She fails, and hi-jinks ensue when she tries to get Ranulf to reinstate their betrothal (at one point, she gets her half-brother to steal fresh meat from the kitchen so she can stain the bed clothes with blood so that the church will force the marriage).
Ranulf is the typical Jordan hero. He’s domineering and is distrustful of women because of past betrayals. He believes that Ariane, like others of her sex and rank, is without honor, but she slowly but surely manages to get through his defenses. Ariane is feisty (and falls into TSTL territory once in a while), but she’s also smart, savvy, and very loyal to her family.
The original cover is exactly what you would expect, complete with long hair waving in the breeze, unnatural poses (why is she clinging to his leg like that?), heaving bosoms, and a big sword.
Wildstar [ AMZ | BN] - Jessica Sommers needs to find a hired gun willing to help her protect her family’s silver mine, and in a fit of desperation, she hires Garrett Devlin, whom she takes to be a poor gambler. Devlin, of course, isn’t poor. He’s obscenely rich, but he’s trying to track down some people who have been robbing his business. Working for Jess gives him the opportunity to do some covert snooping.
This Western is interesting because of the role reversal with the hero and heroine. While Devlin has been betrayed by a woman before, he doesn’t seem preoccupied with the idea that all women are scheming gold diggers. Jessica, the heroine, hates the wealthy, and she is the one who has the bigger emotional journey. When she discovers Devlin’s fortune (after he has agreed to partner with her father in order to help the mine get back on its feet), she feels betrayed. However, Jordan shows us how Jessica became the way she is. Although she seems irrational, it is also understandable why she distrusts all people with money.
The original cover isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but it does feature a ghost horse in the background, a huge gun (not a euphemism), sex on the prairie, and weird lighting on the hero and the heroine (this bothers me more than I can say).
The Heart Breaker [AMZ | BN]- This tropetastic book manages to be a Western with a Marriage of Convenience plot and a Perfect Dead Spouse thrown in for good measure. In it, rancher and aspiring politician (I know, just go with it) Sloan McCord needs to find a wife to help him take care of his young daughter. At the suggestion of his sister-in-law, he marries her friend, Heather, and in doing so, must pay off Heather’s father’s debts.
While there is definitely external strife (usually in the form of random snowstorms and cliched villains), most of conflict is internal. Sloan is not the prosperous rancher Heather was led to believe, and paying off her father’s debts puts his already rocky financial state in more jeopardy. It also doesn’t help that Sloan is unwillingly attracted to Heather because he feels like he’s being untrue to the memory of his first wife, Doe, who was brutally murdered. Because of his guilt over Doe’s death and his second marriage, he is Angsty McAngsterson, and he acts like a total ass to Heather for a great deal of the book.
Heather, for her part, is a bit of a doormat and can be a little too perfect. She’s a good cook! Children love her! She can birth babies and run a successful political campaign! However, when Sloan does something pretty unforgivable in the last third of the book (it is a bit of a doozy), she doesn’t cave and forgive him immediately.
So why am I recommending this book? There are a few reasons:
– I appreciated that (unlike many of Jordan’s other heroes) Sloan’s angst wasn’t because some woman did him wrong. He really seemed to love his first wife and is genuinely conflicted about his fascination to Heather, who is Doe’s antithesis.
– The prose is. So. Very. Purple. Seriously, there’s a love scene that involves the term “stiffened teats.” It is hilarious.
As a side note, you should check out the book’s original cover. It combines so many romance cover clichés, including the mullet and the unnatural/uncomfortable clinch pose.
Tender Feud [AMZ | BN] – This Scottish historical was a Harlequin Historical, so the sex isn’t nearly as graphic as the first three books I recommended. In this book, Katrine Campell goes to the Highlands and gets kidnapped for her trouble. Her abductor is Raith MacLean, and he is the laird of a clan that considers the Campbells the enemy. He holds Katrine hostage and is upset to discover that she is not biddable or meek. They clash constantly, but beneath this enmity is a mutual attraction.
This book is a lot lighter in tone than The Warrior or The Heart Breaker, and the characters are surprisingly likable. Katrine is a strong heroine without falling into TSTL territory, and she and Raith seem equally matched.
Moonwitch [AMZ | BN] – This is another Harlequin Historical, and it features another surprisingly interesting heroine. Selena is forced to marry Kyle because they are found in a compromising position. Neither wants marriage, and numerous misunderstandings and secrets complicate the situation.
The most interesting facet of this story is that Kyle has fathered a child with Danielle, who is another man’s wife, and he wants to do right by his son. The awkward situation between Kyle, Selena, and Danielle is surprisingly well handled, and I appreciated that Jordan doesn’t make Danielle the typical “other woman.”
Thank you, Terri! Honestly, the fact that older romances are being re-introduced into the marketplace, and that there are readers who love and remember them well is SO AWESOME.
Have you read any of these? Which did you love? Which backlist title have you enjoyed rediscovering lately?