5 stars

Historical Romance Review: Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey

Gentle Rogue
Gentle Rogue, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1990, Elaine Duillo cover artist, Fabio cover model

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Johanna Lindsey Mania

I first read this book eons ago, when Johanna Lindsey was, for me, the greatest writer on earth. At 12 years old, what did I know? I recall anxiously walking to Woolworth’s daily in November 1990, freaking out for her latest book. Boy, did I annoy the clerks by repeatedly asking when it was coming in!

The day I saw the stocker opening up a new box, I grabbed the first book from the top, not caring that it has a slit in the cover. I was a bit disheartened, because for a DuilloFabioLindsey cover, save for Georgina’s lovely rose-trimmed gown, to me, it was ugly. With its drab green tones and bird-bats flying in front of a huge moon, I was less than impressed. When I saw the cover for Lindsey’s next book, Once a Princess, I was more disheartened about the artwork. No more Fabio (although he’d make a comeback for a few more Lindseys). Plus, that one was a step-back, with a new flowery font on the front. I actually preferred that weird, pointed sci-fi-looking font. The “old” Lindsey era was over with Gentle Rogue, or so I thought.

gentle rogue reissue
Gentle Rogue, Avon re-issue, 2020, Sharon Spiak cover art

The Plot

Gentle Rogue starts hilariously. Georgina Anderson tries to kill a cockroach, fails, but doesn’t care as long as it’s out of her sight. As usual with a Lindsey, this is a wonderfully ridiculous book, so check your brain at the door. Just enjoy the ride.

Stuck in England after travelling there to search for her long-lost love who’d abandoned her years before, the American Georgina and her companion, Mac, are looking for a way back home. Georgina disguises herself as a boy to obtain passage on a ship, The Maiden Anne. Little does she know that the ship’s captain already knows she’s a female because… #1 he’s James Malory and has eyes. And #2 he’d met her before at a tavern when she was in dressed in her masculine garments, and he picked her up, getting a feel of her boobies. Hardly someone you’d forget.

James has the time of his life as he slowly seduces Georgina, or George as he lovingly calls her. But the tables are turned on his love-’em-and-leave-’em rake, as Georgina leaves him when they land in the Caribbean. One of her sea-faring brothers is there at port and whisks her away.

Parts of this book run parallel to its precursor, Tender Rebel (which, for me, wasn’t that great due to a dull-as-dishwater heroine). There is some repetition of previous scenes. However, in Gentle Rogue, all the characters are a blast: James, Georgina, James’ brother Anthony, and especially Georgina’s five belligerent older brothers. They all take turns beating James in a memorable scene. Lindsey and her readers must have loved them too, as three of the Anderson brothers are featured as heroes in books of their own.

My favorite brother was Warren and his book, The Magic of You, is my 2nd favorite in the Malory series. There he meets his match with the much younger and very persistent Amy Malory. Those two romances are the high points for me in the Malory-Anderson series, although Gentle Rogue is a wee better.

Final Analysis of Gentle Rogue

And yes, the title of the book is true. The hard-muscled ex-pirate James Malory is an unrepentant rogue, through and through, taking advantage of Georgina. He thoroughly disgraces her in front of her brothers so that they’re forced to wed. James is such a droll charmer, witty, and very arrogant. The perfect hero.

I enjoyed Gentle Rogue very much when I first read it. I’ve grown to love it so much more, now that I picture James looking like another blond, green-eyed Englishman: a young Sean Bean!

Sean Bean imagined as James Malory. Grrrr…

Nothing against Fabio, he’s a legend, but he can’t be the hero of every book!

If you haven’t read Gentle Rogue, do yourself a favor and pick this one up; it’s a romance classic.

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