Author Spotlight: Charlotte Lamb

My Charlotte Lamb Experience

Sheila Holland née Coates, known to most readers of romance as Harlequin/ Mills & Boon author Charlotte Lamb is one of my favorite writers, period. Although she created seemingly simple category romances, her books were much more than that. She wrote like few others in her field could: fully inhabiting her characters’ minds and giving them larger-than-life personalities.

Her heroes could be fiercely chauvinistic and cruel with deep-seated psychological issues; others kind, understanding guys who still were emotionally intense. Lamb’s heroines ran the gamut from sheltered teenaged virgins, competent working women struggling to make it in their fields, and sophisticated, mature ladies who’d been around the block once or twice.

Lamb’s Harlequin Presents Seduction has been seared into my memory as one of the earliest romances I read. It was so chock-full of insanity and fantastic writing; I couldn’t get enough. I’ve reviewed it before, so I won’t go into details. If you hate it, read another Charlotte Lamb. She might have revisited similar tropes and characters, but she never wrote the same book twice!


More than anything, what made Lamb’s writing stand out from most other authors in her genre was her insightfulness and superb characterization.

Most of the time, anyway.

I have given numerous five stars to Charlotte Lamb’s books. But I’ve 1-starred quite a few as well. Like a power hitter in baseball, Lamb would swing for the crowds yet sometimes came up short. That’s alright. Babe Ruth once held the record for most home runs, although he also struck out more than other batters. She’s written many books I love and quite a few I downright hate, such as Dark Fever and A Naked Flame. However, I’ll take the good with the bad any day.

Shelia Coates-Holland, a Multi-Facted Author

Sheila Coates was born in 1937, right outside of London. As a child, the bombings by the Germans on England would take their toll on the young Sheila. She would move around from place to place to avoid the attacks. Eventually, Sheila would be educated in a convent run by Ursuline nuns. She would work several jobs before landing a job at the BBC. It was there where she met Richard Holland, a reporter, whom she’d soon marry.

Sheila led a busy married life with five children. Still, with toddlers running about, she found the time to quickly pen her first novel, which was entitled Prisoner of the Heart, a contemporary romance, and written under her married name.

Prisoner of the Heart, Sheila Holland, Robert Hale Ltd, 1972

Shadows at Dawn, published by Playboy Press was her first historical romance, released in 1975.

shadows at dawn
Shadows at Dawn, Sheila Holland, Playboy Press, 1975, cover artist TBD

However, it was under her pseudonym of Charlotte Lamb where Holland would find the most success. She would submit a romance to Mills & Boon in 1973 which was published later that year as a Harlequin Romance. It was quickly followed by many other books.

Follow a Stranger, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1973, Bern Smith cover art

It would be within the Harlequin Presents line that Lamb would gain the most acclaim, becoming one of their many powerhouse authors. Her first Harlequin Presents, Call Back Yesterday, would provide just a sample of the incredible emotional power play between the sexes that would a hallmark of her work. She was a prolific writer for Mills & Boon/ Harlequin. Most of her 160 romances would be published by that company, selling about 200 million books worldwide.

call back yesterday
Call Back Yesterday, Charlotte Lamb, Harlequin, 1978, Will Davies cover art

More than just category romance author, Charlotte Lamb would create stories about relevant contemporary issues. Her 1983 full-length novel A Violation, would focus on the issue of rape and how it affected a woman and her circle of friends and family.

Then with 1995’s In the Still of the Night, Lamb would produce works of Romantic Suspense, a genre she’d write until her death.

In the Still of the Night, Charlotte Lamb, Signet, 1995

Sheila Holland wrote under several pseudonyms besides Charlotte Lamb. She also wrote under her maiden name, released several books for Harlequin’s competitor Silhouette as Laura Hardy, and penned a few other romances as Victoria Woolf.

Sheila Holland died in 2000 at the age of 62. Her books Seduction Business and The Boss’s Virgin were published as Harlequin Presents after her death, but had been previously released as Mills & Boon Romances. Sheila’s last novel, a romantic thriller published posthumously in 2000 with Hodder & Stoughton, was entitled The Angel of Death.

Angel of Death, Charlotte Lamb, Hodder & Stoughton, 2000

More About Charlotte Lamb

To read more about Charlotte Lamb/ Sheila Holland, check out our AUTHOR PAGE to view a DEDICATED PAGE for her works.

Are you interested in reading some Charlotte Lamb works? There are well over 100 of her books available at INTERNET ARCHIVE FREE CHARLOTTE LAMB BOOKS TO BORROW & READ.

Some novels I’d recommend are:

Have you heard about Sheila Holland and her many pseudonyms? If so, are you are a reader of any of her works? Who are your favorite category romance authors? Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

This entry was posted in Authors, Charlotte Lamb, Discussion, 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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