Asian or Pacific Islander Heroines in Retro Romances

Heroines of Asian, Sub-Continent Indian, & Polynesian Descent in Romance

Last week we posted a list of Asian-descended heroes in old-school or retro romances. Here, were have a more comprehensive collection of pre-2000s romances with heroines of Oriental/ Asian heritage.

We noticed the prevalence of the words or names Jade, Lotus, Blossom, Jasmine, and Dragon in these books. Even to this day–when there are many more heroines of Eurasian, Indian, Asian, or Pacific Island ancestries–these terms or names show up frequently.

Writers of romance, it’s time to expand lexicons!

As we usually do, we divide our compilation of Asian heroines in romance novels into two sections: historical and category (series).

Asian Heroines in Historical Romances

Wicked Is My Flesh by Stephanie Blake

  • Heroine: Andria (Chinese & European)
  • Tropes & Settings: Bodice Ripper, Sold into Slavery, Multiple Partners, China, United States
  • Published: Playboy Press, 1980
asian heroines romance novels
Wicked Is My Flesh, Stephanie Blake, Playboy Press, 1980, cover artist San Julian

Jasmine Passion by Paula Fairman

  • Heroine: Le’ Sing (Chinese & Anglo-American)
  • Tropes & Settings: Bodice Ripper, Multiple Lovers, Heroine Priestess, China & California
  • Published: Pinnacle Books, 1981
asian heroines
Jasmine Passion, Paula Fairman, Pinnacle, 1981, John Solie cover art

Fandora’s Story by Betty Hale Hyatt

  • Heroine: Fandora Wu (Chinese & English)
  • Tropes & Settings: Love Triangle, Regency, China, Macao
  • Published: Playboy Press, 1981
asian heroines romance
Fandora’s Story, Betty Hale Hyatt, Playboy Press, 1981, cover artist unknown

Winter Blossom by Cynthia Sinclair

  • Heroine: Suzanne Rutledge (Japanese & British)
  • Tropes & Settings: Translator, Heroine Mixed Heritage, Japan 17th Century,
  • Published: Tapestry #23, Pocket Books, 1983
asian heroines romance
Winter Blossom, Cynthia Sinclair, Pocket Books, 1983, Robert Maguire cover art

The Immortals by Natasha Peters

  • Heroine: Amalie Berenger (Chinese & European)
  • Tropes & Settings: Revenge, Love Triangle, Forbidden Love, World War II, Shanghai
  • Published: Fawcett Crest, 1983
the immortals asian heroines romance
The Immortals, Natasha Peters, Fawcett Crest, 1983, Jim Barkley cover art

Flora by Anne Weale

  • Heroine: Flora (Chinese & English)
  • Tropes & Settings: Heroine Orphan, Marriage of Convenience, Cheating, 20th Century Historical, Shanghai, England
  • Published: Worldwide (Harlequin) 1983
asian heroines romance
Flora, Anne Weale, Worldwide, 1983, Pino cover art

Jade Moon by Erica Mitchell

  • Heroine: Shan T’u (Chinese)
  • Tropes & Setting: Forbidden Love, Heroine Engaged to Another Man, Mongolian Empire
  • Published: Tapestry #32, Pocket Books, 1984
asian heroines romance novels
Jade Moon, Erica Mitchell, Pocket Books, 1984, Robert Maguire cover art

China Star by Karen Keast

  • Heroine: Trinity Lee (Chinese & Anglo-American)
  • Tropes & Settings: Revenge, California
  • Published: Harlequin Historical #13, 1988
asian heroines romance novels
China Star, Karen Keast, Harlequin, 1990, Max Ginsburg cover art

Ketti by Donna Anders

  • Heroine: Ketti (Hawaiian & European-American)
  • Tropes & Settings: Different Worlds, Plantation, Hawaii 1890s
  • Published: Harlequin Historical #81, 1991
Ketti, Donna Anders, Harlequin,1991, Max Ginsburg cover art

Paradise Moon by Donna Anders

  • Heroine: Leilani Jauwe (Hawaiian)
  • Tropes & Setting: Heroine Nurse, Hero Doctor, Hero Widower, Hawaii
  • Published: Harlequin Historical #113, 1992
Paradise Moon, Donna Anders, Harlequin, 1992, Judy York cover art

Wild Jasmine by Bertrice Small

  • Heroine: Princess Yasaman/Jasmine (Indian & English)
  • Tropes & Settings: Erotic Romance, Multiple Husbands & Lovers, Mughal India & Tudor England
  • Published: Ballantine, 1990
Wild Jasmine, Bertrice Small, Ballantine,1990, Elaine Duillo cover art

Darling Jasmine by Bertrice Small

  • Heroine: Jasmine (Indian & English)
  • Tropes & Settings: Erotic Romance, British Isles, France, Arranged Marriage, Tudor Era
  • Published: Kensington, 1997
Darling Jasmine, Bertrice Small, Kensington, 1997, Elaine Duillo cover art

Jade by Ruth Langan

  • Heroine: Jade Jewel
  • Tropes & Settings: Western, Heroine Courtesan, Hero Preacher, Enemies to Lovers, Texas
  • Published: Harlequin Historical, 1997
Jade, Ruth Langan, Harlequin, 1993

Asian Heroines in Category/Contemporary Romances

More Than Words by Elizabeth Glenn

  • Heroine: Lee Ann Chung (Chinese-American)
  • Tropes & Settings: Dogs, Mute Hero, Texas
  • Published: Harlequin Temptation #195, 1987
More Than Words, Elizabeth Glenn, Harlequin, 1987, Ron Lesser cover art

Another Time by Susan Napier

  • Heroine: Helen Smith (Chinese & European)
  • Tropes & Settings: Amnesia, Revenge, Second Chance at Love, Love Triangle, Two Brothers & One Woman, Hong Kong, New Zealand, New York
  • Published: Harlequin Presents #1211, 1989
Another Time, Susan Napier, Harlequin, 1989, cover artist unknown

The Cinderella Coach by Roz Denny Fox

  • Heroine: Jade Han (Chinese-American)
  • Tropes & Settings: Boss & Employee, Sweet Romance, California
  • Published: Harlequin Romance #3169, 1992
The Cinderella Coach, Roz Denny, Harlequin, 1992, cover artist unknown

Wedding? Impossible! by Karen Templeton

  • Heroine: Zoe Chan (Chinese-American)
  • Tropes: Matchmaker, Enemies to Lovers, Weddings
  • Published: Silhouette Yours Truly #85, Weddings, Inc. #8, 1998
Wedding? Impossible!, Karen Templeton, Silhouette, 1998

Jade Island by Elizabeth Lowell

  • Heroine: Lianne Blakely (Chinese & Anglo-American)
  • Tropes & Setting: Romantic Suspense, Jewel Thief, Hong Kong,
  • Published: William & Morrow & Avon, 1998
Jade Island, Elizabeth Lowell, Avon, 1998

Your Opinion

Have you read any of these old-school or vintage romance novels featuring Asian or Pacific Islander heroines? If so, what did you think of them? Have we missed any books published before 2000? Let us know, and we’ll make a more comprehensive list.

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

This entry was posted in Discussion, Lists, Romance and tagged , , , on by .

About Jacqueline Diaz

Old-School, retro, and vintage romance reads are my jam, baby! The good, the bad, the cheesy, and the sleazy! I have no shame about it; I love ’em! An auto-didact, amateur historian, and reader of romance novels since 1990, I hope to offer a unique perspective on the genre. As a blogger, you may know me by several names; here, I’m Jacqueline Diaz. I’m also the aspiring author of two works-in-progress, historical romances, The Savage Noble and What She Says with Her Eyes, which hopefully will be released in 2023.

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