What’s in a Name? Favorite Romance Novel Names

In the comment section of the review of Passion’s Treasure/Just Say Yes by Betina Krahn that I reviewed, our colleague Mary Ann Landers asked about the name of the book’s heroine, Treasure Barrett. That query got me thinking about romance novel names: do I have favorite ones? I certainly do!

Some of My Favorite Romance Novel Names:

Bandit’s Embrace by Georgina Gentry, Zebra, 1989, artist unknown

Amethyst (nee Durango)

Book: Bandit’s Embrace by Georgina Gentry. (March 1989)

This character was named after her beautiful purple eye color. When I read this book, it got me thinking about other “precious gem” names for females, such as Diamond, Emerald, Peridot, and Sapphire.

Audrina (nee Harris)

Book: Dakota Flame by Sonya T. Pelton. (July 1989)

I loved this name when I first saw it. The name Audrina is a contraction of her first and middle names, Audrey Tina. 

Breanna (nee Kenton) Remington

Book: Dakota Dreams by Constance O’Banyon (June 1991).

Breanna is not the most unusual name, but it is one of my favorites. I also loved Breanna Kenton Remington.

The Devil’s Price, Carole Mortimer, Harlequin, 1986, cover artist unknown

Cynara (nee Williams)

Book: The Devil’s Price by Carole Mortimer (January 1986)

This name may be my all-time favorite romance novel name. It is so unusual. It’s a Greek name meaning “thistly plant.” If I had a daughter, I would name her Cynara.

Modern Names for a Modern Age

Although these books weren’t published during the time we focus on here at Sweet Savage Flame, I want to mention another series of books with great heroine names. That is Heather Heyford’s Napa Wine Heiresses series. All of the heroines in the series are named after…wines. The titles of the books all contain the heroine’s names:

A Taste of Chardonnay, Heather Heyford, Lyrical Press, 2014

Do you have any favorite romance novel names (heroines, heroes, or supporting characters)?

By Blue Falcon

This entry was posted in 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.

8 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? Favorite Romance Novel Names

  1. Mary Anne Landers

    Thanks, Blue Falcon. I’m more likely to notice names if there’s something wrong with them.

    Such as anachronistic names in historical romances. Lots of feminine names that are popular nowadays were unknown before the twentieth century. But hist rom authors use them anyhow. And nobody seems to mind, except one reader. Guess who!

    Ashley, Shelby, Shirley, Lesley, Beverly—names that used to be surnames only, but have since been appropriated as names for girls. And romance heroines, no matter when the story takes place.

    The most famous example is probably Judith McNaught’s Recency romance “Whitney, My Love”, 1985. At least it’s the most obvious one that I know of. The anachronism is in the worst possible place. The title!

    Another pet peeve is stories set in the Roman Empire in which the author clearly didn’t bother to look up Roman nomenclature. It just wasn’t like ours, folks!

    And then there are names that fit the period, but not the place. An example: “Highland Velvet” by Jude Deveraux, 1982. It’s set in the sixteenth century in the region indicated by the title. And Bronwyn, the heroine, is a Highlander.

    As I read it, and I couldn’t help so wondering, “What’s a Scottish Highlander doing with a Welsh name?” Probably NOT what the author intended!

    1. jacquelinediaz

      In my attempted previous post, I had mentioned something about not liking “masculine” names for heroines in historicals like Shannon, Kelly, or Ashley. An exception I made was for Jessie from Johanna Lindsey’s Brave the Wild Wind, whose father had named her Kenneth Jesse, thinking his child was a son, not a daughter.

      I can (sort of) answer that one about Highland Velvet. Jude Deveraux had initially written that book set in Wales in the 1200’s, but her publishers told her that era didn’t sell well. So she updated it to the early 1500s and changed Wales to Scotland and made it part of the Velvet series. However… the names of the original characters were Angharard and Dacre from her book, the Black Lyon, so I’m not sure where Bronwyn comes into play.

  2. jacquelinediaz

    I left a super long comment and somehow it got deleted! Let me just bullet point what I wrote:

    I agree the name Cynara is beautiful; Violet Winspear wrote a book called the Sin of Cynara and I have a bodice-ripper to read called Cynara
    I love the names Bronwyn and Brenna for heroines. The heroine of Highland Heather is named Brenna. Her hero is named Morgan a name I’d like for men, but don’t like for heroines.

    -Generally speaking, in historicals I like the names to be true to the time. Not every woman in the past was named Mary, Jane, or Elizabeth, an author just has to do some research. In contemporaries, I do get a kick out of the “soap opera” names like Venetia, Persephone, and Summer.

    -For Heroes I like classic names like James, Richard, Edward, Robert, and Charles. It seems to me that authors prefer names like Jake, Luke, Drake, Alex, Nick, Rand, Wolf, and Lyon.

    Thinking about this, there are probably more names in Romancelandia that I hate than love because they’re so overused. Especially last names. How many people are there actually surnamed named Savage or Wild?

    1. Blue Falcon

      Hi, Jacqueline.

      WordPress is wonky today. It didn’t post my previous comment, so let me try again.

      After seeing your post, I looked up both books, the Violet Winspear Harlequin Presents and the Janis Flores book “Cynara” which definitely sounds like a bodice-ripper book.

      I also love Bronwyn and Brenna. I also love a variation of Brenna, Brynn. I’m in the opposite camp regarding the name Morgan; I love the name for females, and not for males.

      I too love “soap opera” names. Perhaps that is why I was drawn so much to Heather Heyford’s “Napa Wine Heiresses” series.

      I have an affinity for “classic” male names because mine is one of them! So, clearly, I have some bias in that direction.I feel like the names you mention in the latter part of the paragraph are kind of “action-hero” type names, meant to show strength and security.

      One name that hate in Romancelandia which is way overused is Wilde. Whenever an author uses this surname, the books are bound to have titles like “Born to Be Wilde”, “Wilde Thing” and other plays on the name. It may have been cute one time, but over and over again is, in my view, quite annoying.


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