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the heir cover

Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

historical romance review
The Heir by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: two-stars
Published: 2000
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Book Series: Reid Family #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Victorian Era Romance, Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooks

Historical Romance Review: The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

The Book

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 about 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.

2 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2
Characters
1.5
Writing
3
Chemistry
2.5
Fun Factor
3.5
Overall: 2.5

Synopsis

Has anyone in London ever taken part in the coming-out Season with less enthusiasm than Sabrina? Luckily, the most sought-after lady in the city has agreed to usher this young, lovely country girl through the perils and pitfalls of her all-important first season.

Dashing highlander Duncan MacTavish is even less keen to be in London. Having recently learned he is the sole heir of an English marquis, Duncan is now required to assume his grandfather’s title and estates—and to marry Sabrina’s ravishing, viper-tongued guide, who has been heard to make scathing statements in public about her “Scottish barbarian” groom-to-be.

His unwanted betrothal, however, has brought Duncan into close proximity with the enchanting Sabrina—a kindred spirit whose wit delights him… and whose essence is the exquisite stuff of dreams. But duty, station, and a secret that dwells in the lady’s past forbid Sabrina’s and Duncan’s desired union—unless true love can somehow miraculously find a way.

The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

storm maiden gilgannon

Historical Romance Review: Storm Maiden by Mary Gilgannon

historical romance review
Storm Maiden by Mary Gilgannon
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1997
Illustrator: Franco Accornero
Published by: Pinnacle
Genres: Medieval Romance, Viking Romance
Pages: 383
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: Storm Maiden by Mary Gilgannon

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Mary Gillgannon’s Storm Maiden was a novel I was excited to pick up. The blurb told of an intriguing Viking historical romance with plenty of conflicts.

The Plot

Fiona, an Irish lord’s daughter, is dreading marriage to a man she hates. In her father’s dungeon is Dag Thorsson, an injured Viking captive. Fiona sneaks in to see him, cares for his wounds, and tries to seduce him so she’ll be ruined for marriage. But Dag is too wounded and delirious and can’t or won’t do the job.

Soon after, Vikings led by Dag’s brother, the chieftain of his people, come to Dag’s rescue. Despite his hindering injury to his sword arm, Dag takes Fiona as his captive.

This seemed to be a primal captor-captive relationship. Too often in Viking historical romance books, the hero speaks the heroine’s language because her people captured him as a youth! Here, they cannot understand one another but can communicate in other ways…

Fiona has to adjust to life as a slave. She cannot communicate with any of the Norse folk except for Dag’s brother, who hates her and all the Irish.

The book starts out well enough, and the early love scenes are erotically charged. Dag and Fiona quickly get along and fall in love.

The main conflict is that Fiona is not well-liked by Dag’s older brother and his people. Her helpful but intrusive ways are looked upon with scorn by most of the men. Fiona helps women with birth control and delivers babies. She gives one female advice on how to please her master sexually.

Fiona’s behavior brings negative attention to her, and she is thought to be a witch.

Fiona’s a full-fleshed character and one to be admired. This was the strongest part of the book, and I appreciated her struggles to become accepted in her new society. She just needed a more challenging hero. After an amazing beginning, things began to fizzle, and the romance wasn’t thrilling.

My Opinion

Their romance is cemented early on, and they only face obstacles from outside forces, as Dag is torn between respecting his brother–his leader–and his love for Fiona. When there is so little inner conflict between the two leads, things get a little bland.

There are villains aplenty in Storm Maiden. Fiona is often in danger, but Dag is never there to save the day. This is the most annoying aspect in the novel as Dag’s sword arm is severely injured throughout the story, so he never gets to show off his warrior prowess, which is so essential in a good Viking hero. It’s Fiona who is more of a fighter. And she had many enemies who would make her life miserable.

Dag’s a nice guy. Too nice. As in boring. Hey, I like nice guys as heroes. They make me melt more them some sadistic jerk that treats the heroine like crap.

I know the early Norse were democratic men and allowed women to divorce their husbands and own their own property, but you expect a little bit of tough-guy persona when you read a Viking romance. I enjoyed some sweet aspects of Dag’s personality, such as his love for his doggy companion.

But when Dag started becoming a mouthpiece for 20th-century beliefs, like concern for women’s rights and access to birth control, it just rang a bit anachronistic, pulling me out of the story.

Final Analysis of Storm Maiden

Storm Maiden by Mary Gilgannon was not a bad book, but not a great one either.

I don’t read historical romances because I want to see modern-minded characters cloaked in historical trappings. If I feel the need for a more modern-minded hero, then I’ll read contemporary romances.

I can count on one hand the number of hard-core Viking warrior heroes I’ve come across. It’s a shame that true, kick-ass Vikings are so rare in historical romance as protagonists. Villains, sure. Heroes? Pfft.

2.75 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
2.5
Characters
3.5
Writing
3.5
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
2
Cover
3
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis

Fiona of Dunsheana, the beautiful daughter of an Irish chieftain, rebelled at the idea of wedding a man she despised. And, trapped in her father’s dark, oppressive dungeon, she found a way to avoid her fate. She would allow a captured Viking to ravish her and render her unmarriageable. But the rugged golden-haired warrior refused to take her body. Instead, he captured her soul.

STORM MAIDEN by MARY GILGANNON