Was this tepid, dull romance actually penned by Johanna Lindsey? The Heir was Lindsey’s first book where I noticed a weird change. Previously, if there was a Lindsey I didn’t like, it was due to a meandering plot or excessive fighting between the leads. There is friendship for sure in this one, but romantic isn’t what I’d call the relationship between Duncan and Sabrina.
The Plot: Friends to Lovers
Duncan, a Highland Scot, is the newly made heir to an English Marquess. Everyone in the county is eager to meet this young laird–er lord–especially the unmarried ladies. Our heroine Sabrina, however, has no designs on Duncan. She’s plump, plain, and orphaned. Sabrina’s not anyone’s ideal candidate for a wife. Certainly not for an heir to a Marquessate.
One of the ladies with eyes on Duncan is the beautiful Miss Ophelia. Ophelia desperately wants to be a Marchioness. She will connive to do whatever it takes to move up the social ladder.
When Duncan and Sabrina meet, there are no sparks. They are cordial to one another, though. A friendship forms between the two outsiders. They meet on walks and talk.
Then, one night–totally out of the blue–Sabrina and Duncan’s relationship turns physical. The pair make love. Boring, boring, love.
Thus, by doing so, Duncan has ruined his dear friend Sabrina.
A Weak Hero With No Backbone
In a shocking twist (not really), Ophelia schemes to make it appear as if Duncan ruined her. So the red-haired idiot decides to do the honorable thing: marry Ophelia, the woman he hates. If Duncan truly had any honor, he would have done right by Sabrina. Instead, he cowardly leaves her in the dust. At only 21, Duncan flounders in areas where a more mature man would have acted differently. I can’t imagine previous Lindsay heroes going along with this stupidity.
Of course, Sabrina says nothing for her part, as she wants no part in a scandal. Plus, boo-hoo, she wasn’t cut out for marriage anyway. She’s so fat! Who in his right mind would want a 140-pound schlub like her? (Yes, folks, that’s sarcasm.)
If it weren’t for the only person in this book with any charisma, Raphael, twisting Ophelia’s arm to break the engagement, Duncan would have married a woman he didn’t have to. A woman he didn’t love but despised! As it is, I wasn’t even sure if Duncan loved Sabrina. They were pals. Yes, they conversed with one another without resorting to bickering, like so many Lindsey leads tended to do. Nevertheless, they lacked chemistry.
I wasn’t fond of most of the characters. Raphael was the lone exception. Sabrina was spineless. Duncan was a squish with an annoying brogue. Ophelia was just a nasty witch who didn’t deserve her own book. Oh yes, she gets paired off with Raphael in The Devil Who Tamed Her.
Final Analysis of The Heir
When I saw Duncan’s mullet hairstyle on the inside of the stepback edition of this book, I cringed. Gone were the halcyon days of Fabio. Even sadder, this was one of Elaine Duillo‘s last covers for Johanna Lindsey. An era was over.
I listened to The Heir on audio cassette while I drove to and from work. That’s the only way I could have consumed this story. Reading it would have been a chore. As it was, that daily one-hour round trip should have passed easily with an audiobook to listen to. But it didn’t, because The Heir was not an engaging romance.
It just was. (Does that make sense?)
After The Heir, I’ve only read one “newer” Lindsey I enjoyed: When Passion Rules. That was a mildly better version of Once A Princess, another book I wasn’t crazy about.
Oh well, Johanna Lindsey had a long run as a writer of wonderful novels that made the historical romance genre exciting. She’s now gone to the great beyond to be with her beloved husband. Lindsey leaves behind a legacy of entertaining romances that made tens of millions of readers giddy with joy. Too bad, for me, The Heir wasn’t one of them.