Category Archives: Penny Jordan

lovers touch

Category Romance Review: Lovers Touch by Penny Jordan

category romance
Lovers Touch by Penny Jordan
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #1216
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 192
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Lovers Touch by Penny Jordan


The Book

Penny Jordan is a Harlequin Presents writer who’s all over the place for me. One book can be great, another full of crazy sauce, and others on the blah side. Sadly, her Lovers Touch is kind of blah.

The two protagonists are kept apart by big misunderstandings and lack of communication, which is never fun.

Whenever I see an “Award of Excellence” ribbon on a Harlequin-published romance, I know I’m in for a mediocre read. I think they handed those accolades out simply to massage the egos of their big-name authors. It was never about the quality of the story.

The Characters

Lady Eleonor de Tressail–or Nell as she is called–inherits a huge, impoverished estate. It’s a home she cherishes. Unfortunately, she has no money for the upkeep. But it must remain in the family. Selling it is out of the question. What is she to do?

Enter Joss Wycliffe. Joss was a working-class boy who grew up near the de Tressail estate. He had great aspirations for wealth. So he built himself from the bottom up to become a wealthy millionaire.

Before his passing, Nell’s grandfather devised an arrangement to keep the family’s home: a marriage between Nell and Joss.

The Plot

An Arranged Marriage of Convenience

In Lovers Touch, Nell has harbored feelings for Joss for years. However, she is painfully shy, which Joss mistakes for haughtiness.

He brutally informs Nell that he’s only marrying her for her family name and status. Of course, any romance reader worth his or her salt knows this frank declaration means Joss is in love with Nell. Silly Nelly, with her insecurities, takes him at his word.

A couple of “other women” characters vie for Joss’s attention, and he doesn’t seem to be pushing them away. If only that silly Nelly would open her eyes!

Nell is not a bad person, though she’s sort of self-centered. She’s not very empathetic, spending much time wallowing in her own misery.

Joss is contemptuous of her, lashing out cruelly at her. Nell shallowly believes that he resents her because of their class differences.

But although she is very reserved, Nell can steel her will. She always keeps her dignity intact, giving as good as she gets, especially to the nasty other women.

Nell spends time preparing for her wedding, finding a way to do it using her limited budget. Pride demands she not depend upon Joss’ charity. Joss thinks his bride-to-be is attempting to belittle him by refusing his money.

The two get married, and their good sexual chemistry is incredible. Despite this, their lack of communication and internal insecurities keep them apart.

Big Misunderstandings

More misunderstandings ensue in Lovers Touch.

Somehow, the misunderstandings prove useful in the end. Nell believes that Joss’ business is going under.

He needs funds to put him into the black. Nell would do anything for the man she loves, so she’s willing to sell her estate to help him out.

That is when Joss realizes they’ve both been fools. He reveals his true feelings to Nell, and she melts in his arms, happy and loving.

Final Analysis of Lovers Touch

For me, Lover’s Touch failed to achieve the excellence it advertised.

Penny Jordan‘s heroines tend to have these irrational insecurities that cause them never to speak up and express the truth. This leads to major misunderstandings, which drive the plots.

If the plot is chock full of nuttiness, I don’t mind. When it’s a simple lack of communication in a basic story that could be resolved in under 100 pages, I feel like throttling the characters.

In Lovers Touch, both the hero and the heroine are tight-lipped about their true feelings, making it doubly frustrating.

This wasn’t one of Jordan’s worst books. Despite my complaints, it had some interesting attributes. Nor was this one of her best.

Lovers Touch is middling fare, meant to be read over a couple of hours and then forgotten.

2.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.7


Lady Eleanor de Tressail was simply mortified.

Bad enough that before his death, her old-fashioned grandfather had ensured that their impoverished estate wouldn’t have to be sold–by arranging her marriage. But to Joss Wycliffe of all people–the self-made millionaire who despised her!

Mistaking Nell’s shyness for aristocratic disdain, Joss contemptuously told her that he was marrying her only for her social status. He never suspected that icily untouchable Nell loved him desperately.

Her wounded pride kept her from revealing her true feelings. Particularly when Joss’s jealous secretary did her best to widen the rift between them…

Penny Jordan pic

Author Spotlight: Penny Jordan

Penny Jordan pic
“Penny Jordan” (real name Penny Jones-Halsall)

More Than Just Penny Jordan

Penny Jordan was an immensely popular author for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin. She wrote romantic love stories that readers have enjoyed for 40 years. However, Penny Jordan was not her real identity but one of her many pseudonyms. Let’s take a look back at the career of this talented author.

Life Before Writing

Born on November 24, 1946, Penelope “Penny” Jones came into the world in a nursing home in Preston, Lancashire, England. Like many future writers, Penny had a vivid imagination as a child and was an active reader. Starting at age 10 or 11, her mother introduced Penny to the romantic serials in the Woman’s Weekly magazines. She became hooked on reading Mills & Boon and was a devoted fan. In those days, private lending libraries were the only source to obtain those books. Not until years later would the books go on sale in shops so Penny could have her keep of them.

She had met the love of her life, Steve Halsall, as a teenager, whom she married after her graduation. Steve was supportive of Penny’s burgeoning ambitions to write and purchased a typewriter for her to create romantic fiction.

Enter Caroline Courtney, Penny Jordan, and Annie Groves

The Early Years of Her Career

Penny entered a competition run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA), which brought her to the attention of an agent, and in 1979 she published Duchess in Disguise, the first of her 25 Regency romances written under the name Caroline Courtney.

 Duchess in Disguise, Caroline Courtney, Warner 1979, Walter Popp cover art

Around the time that Duchess in Disguise was published, Penny read in a magazine that Mills & Boon were looking for new authors.

“I was still an avid reader of Mills & Boon romances – on publication day I used to rush out of work to get to the local book store to grab my favourites before they all disappeared. I chose to write the kind of romance I love best – one with a sheikh hero.”


The editor who discovered Penny’s work in the slush pile in 1980 described her as “a raw talent-–a born storyteller with a unique, intense and passionate voice.” Her first book for Mills & Boon was Falcon’s Prey (1981).

Falcon’s Prey, Penny Jordan, Mills & Boon, 1981, cover artist unknown

In the early 1980’s Penny also wrote several contemporary romances as Melinda Wright and Lydia Hitchcock. She also wrote for Mills & Boon/ Harlequins under the pseudonym Frances Roding.

The Next Phase

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Penny would be one of Mills & Boon/ Harlequin’s most successful writers. Her heroines were often shy, insecure, or misguided-but-well-meaning. Penny’s heroes could range from cruel and passionate to tender and loving. In the end, they always fell forever in love with their heroines.

In the 2000s, Penny found a new focus in her career, writing a series of novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves. The inspiration for these books came from Penny’s mother’s experiences during World War II. Set Liverpool and London, these novels focused on the home front and the changing role of women during wartime. This series would introduce a new generation of fans to Penny Jones-Halsall’s works.

London Belles, Annie Groves, Harper Collins UK, 2011

The End of an Era

Sadly, Penny’s husband Steve passed away in 2002. She would continue thriving in the career that he had so lovingly encouraged her to pursue.

In 2011 Penny was presented with the RNA’s lifetime achievement award. During her 30 year career, Penny Halsall was one of the world’s best-selling romance writers, selling 90-100 million copies of her 200 books. Her works were translated into 25 languages worldwide.

Unfortunately, Penny died too young on December 31, 2011, at age 65, from cancer. She left behind many loving nieces, nephews, and godchildren, not to mention her millions of fans.

An Annie Groves novel, My Sweet Valentine, along with two further volumes for Mills & Boon, The Price of Royal Duty and A Secret Disgrace, would be published before her passing. More books would be released in the decade following her death, with a final Annie Groves book to be published in 2022.

Book Reviews:

Beyond compare
Beyond Compare, Penny Jordan, Harlequin, 1990, Ted Sizemore cover art
Escape From Desire, Penny Jordan, Harlequin, 1983, Tom Bjarnason cover art

More Penny Jordan Information

For more information on Penelope Jones Halsall and her numerous writing identities, visit our Penny Jones Author Page. You can go to the Menu at the top of every page to search for other authors’ biographies, links, and backlists.

Have you read Penny Jordan, Caroline Courtney, or Annie Groves’ books? If so, what are your favorite reads? Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

Beyond compare

Category Romance Review: Beyond Compare by Penny Jordan

category romance
Beyond Compare, Penny Jordan, Harlequin 1990, Ted Sizemore cover art

Harlequin Presents #1282

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Book

Holly Witchell, the heroine of Penny Jordan’s Beyond Compare, suffers a bit from an overinflated ego combined with an oblivious nature. Thankfully, Drew, the wonderful hero of this book, sorts matters all out for her.

The Plot

Holly was ignominiously dumped by her boyfriend Howard for the more sophisticated, Rosamund. That’s not something Holly will accept laying down, so she concocts a plan to get him back. Hadn’t Rosamund been dating old, reliable Drew Hammond before she’d gotten together with Howard? Well, who better than he to help Holly break up the new couple than Rosamund’s old former flame?

Holly approaches Drew, a farmer, whose the salt-of-the-earth type, with her plan. They’ll pretend to be a couple and make Howard and Rosamund jealous.

Drew isn’t exactly chomping at the bit at her plan to get Rosamund back, and Holly assumes it’s because Drew’s insecure. Holly assures him he has nothing to be insecure about. He’s handsome, even if–OMG–he wears glasses of all things, has a steady income from his farm, and any woman would want him.

But that silly fool, Holly, doesn’t realize that the only woman Drew wants is her, not Rosamund. In fact, he hadn’t even been serious with Rosamund; that was all in Holly’s head.

I love the scene on the cover where Holly is in her white suit and heels, and Drew carries her off in his arms. Only minutes earlier, she’d been almost attacked by Drew’s Angus Bull, and Drew swept in to save her. It perfectly captures the essence of Drew: he may seem like Clark Kent, but in reality, he’s Superman.

Final Analysis on Beyond Compare

All through Beyond Compare, it was fairly evident to me that Drew was crazy for Holly, but she was so focused on her plan to get her old boyfriend back, she hardly noticed what was right in front of her until it was almost too late!

For me, I loved the hero and Angus the bull; eventually, I warmed up to Holly, as she was a nice gal, even if she was blind to what even people with 20/400 vision can see.

Beyond Compare was a pleasant Harlequin Presents with a although lacked in heat was high in sweet.

Escape From Desire

Category Romance Review: Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan

category romance
Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan
Rating: three-half-stars
Published: 1982
Illustrator: Tom Bjarnason
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Presents #569
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 186
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance Review: Escape From Desire by Penny Jordan


The Book

Penny Jordan’s Escape from Desire was a very satisfying yet silly read.

A Tropical Vacation

Tamara is on vacation on the island of St. Stephen, all by herself, as her stuffy fiancé has no time for frivolities like lounging in the sun.

Tamara is typical of Penny Jordan‘s heroines, slightly repressed due to an overbearing aunt who raised her. But as she sunbathes on the beach, Tamara’s doubts about her engagement come to a head.

While Malcolm is everything Tamara thought she wanted in a husband–staid, unemotional, professional–she recalls her parents’ happy, loving marriage and ponders if she can go through a loveless union so different from her deceased parents.

Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger on the beach admires her bikini-clad body with his eyes. When he notices her engagement ring, he’s cruel to her, thinking she’s just out in the Caribbean for one last hurrah.

A Jungle Nightmare

Tamara signs up for a jungle trek to take her mind off her worries when who should show up, but the mysterious stranger from the beach, our hero Zach Fletcher. However, what should have been a three-hour tour turns into a nightmare when the guide lures them into a trap.

Rebels armed with Ak-47s take the group hostage for the usual political reasons. Zach manages to convince the terrorists to release all the hostages except himself. Unfortunately, the terrorists, thinking Tamara is Zach’s woman, demand Tamara stay as well.

Days pass, and eventually, when the terrorists make a supply run, leaving behind just one man to guard the pair, Zach makes his move.

It appears that Zach is no run-of-the-mill Harlequin Present m/billionaire hero. He’s a member of the Special Air Service of the British Army and was recently scarred in a melee in Africa. As their captor attempts to force himself on Tamara, Zach stabs him dead, and the couple flees through the jungle.

The near-death/near-rape experience is traumatizing for Tamara and Zach, and they make love. Zach is shocked to find that she’s a virgin. Rather than handling the situation with normal, human-like emotions (this is, after all, a Penny Jordan Harlequin Presents), he accuses her of having held on to her virginity to tease her fiancé.

Tamara gets bitten by a lethal spider on their march through the rainforest. She awakens in a hospital, safe and sound, but dismayed to hear that Zach hightailed it back to England.

escape from desire penny jordan
Escape From Desire, Penny Jordan, Harlequin, 2017 re-issue

A Bunch of Silly Coincidences

The life-and-death trauma awakens something in Tamara, and she vows to change her repressed ways, first by getting a makeover and then by dumping her stuffed-shirt fiancé.

But as I said, this being a Penny Jordan Harlequin Presents, normal human-like behavior is not be expected. So instead of breaking up with her boyfriend ASAP, Tamara waits until they’re on a weekend trip at his parents’ home in the Cotswolds. Then, Malcolm asks Tamara to pretend their engagement is still on to save face temporarily.

Who should show up but Malcolm’s parents’ new neighbor… Zach!

Zach is disgusted with Tamara and accuses her of being a slut. Sure, she was a virgin when she slept with Zach, but now that she’s not a virgin, indeed, she’s sharing all her newfound sexuality with her fiancé. (None of this sounds like standard human thinking, but something like Tommy Wiseau would come up with.)

Tamara goes on with her life as an assistant to an editor when she finds out she is pregnant. She’s delighted by the fact but vows never to let Zach know the truth. Why? I don’t know, Zach was mean to her, and that’s reason enough to hide her child’s parentage.

But Zach is still not out of her life because, in coincidence number #2, who should be the secret client her boss has been trying to lure? Why it’s Zach, of course! Zach’s writing a book demands Tamara as his secretary.

Unfortunately, Tamara’s morning sickness is of the virulent type, and Zach realizes she’s pregnant. With her fiancé’s child, of course, the slut!

How Will They Ever Get Together?

Sure, she was a virgin until she met Zach, but virginity was only a tool to get her fiancé. Then after Zach initiated Tamara in the ways of love, she used that knowledge to dig her claws into her fiancé some more. And now she’s utilizing the oldest trick in the book to keep her fiancé. The tramp!

Despite it all, Zach can’t keep his hands off Tamara, who he believes is engaged and pregnant with another man’s child. And Tamara loves Zach, although she can’t let him know. Why not?

Will these two crazy kids ever get over their hang-ups and just be honest with each other?

Sure, they could, but it’s more dramatic when a letter reveals all the truths because communication is for human adults on Planet Earth, not for our heroes and heroines of Harlequin-Presentslandia.

Final Analysis of Escape From Desire

What a crazy, unforgettable read was Escape From Desire! Penny Jordan really upped the zaniness in this romance.

It’s not her best, although it’s definitely a memorable one.

3.75 Stars

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 3.8


When Tamara’s Caribbean holiday turned into a nightmare, there was only one man shecould turn to—Zach Fletcher! With their lives in jeopardy, in the heat of the jungle, Zach took Tamara’s innocence for his own. They escaped from danger—but not from the consequences of their passion!

Neither of them could know that their heated fling would leave Tamara pregnant. Reunited in London, Tamara is reminded of the claim Zach has on her body. And he’ll doanything to prove their chemistry means more than just an affair…