VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉
This review is of Midnight Princess, book #1 in the “Marshall Brothers” series by Jo Goodman, a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski. Published by Zebra/Kensington, November 1989, the book was later reissued as Her Defiant Heart. (This series connects to Ms. Goodman’s “Dennehy Sisters” series). This review is of the original print book.
The Characters & The Set-Up
Heroine: Jenny Holland, 24. Brown hair and eyes. Mystery woman.
Hero: Christian Marshall, 31. Copper hair, aquamarine eyes. Publisher, New York Chronicle newspaper.
Location: New York City, New York. December 1866-May 1867.
Tropes: Historical Romance. Mystery woman. Newspaper publisher. New York City.
The book starts in New York City, December 1866. Christian Marshall, the hero, one of the series’ eponymous titular characters, and publisher of the New York Chronicle newspaper is at a hospital for people experiencing emotional distress. He’s watching one of the “patients,” a woman known as Jane Doe, being treated. He feels sympathy for her and decides to help her.
Later, she shows up at his home.
“Jane Doe” has a real name; it’s Jenny Holland, the heroine. As the book continues we learn more about the traumas she’s suffered in her life. We also learn about Christian’s trauma and that Jenny has three people who want her dead.
In the end, Christian rescues Jenny from a perilous situation. The villains trying to kill her are stopped. Christian gets a major—but very pleasant–Christmas surprise. Jenny and Christian marry and have their Happily Ever After.
Ms. Goodman is a licensed therapist, and this imbues her writing. Many of her heroes and heroines have significant trauma that they are trying to work through, and Jenny and Christian are in that category. This makes Midnight Princess an interesting, compelling book, and Jenny and Christian are interesting developed characters.
Even though I found the book compelling, I can’t say that I truly liked either Jenny or Christian. This is an issue I have with Ms. Goodman’s work. I find it interesting, but I can’t say I like her characters. The supporting characters only exist to advance Jenny and Christian.
Ms. Goodman writes good love scenes. They don’t get anywhere near erotica, but they do explore what the characters in the scenes are feeling, and can be very emotional and romantic.
Assault, attempted rape, battery, sodomy, and murder all occur in the book. The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line on Midnight Princess
Midnight Princess, aka Her Defiant Heart, is a very dark book by the late, great Jo Goodman and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
However, readers who like books with solid character depth and interesting storylines may like it.