Monday, August 29, 2005

Rediscovering Johanna Lindsey

Well things have been crazy this summer, thus I am very behind on my blog entries. After discovering the wonderful local library, I was happy to find that they had a copy of the newest JL book, Marriage Most Scandalous. As of late I have not been reading this author as much because I was a little underwhelmed with the last books I read by her: The Present, Joining, Say You Love Me. I have still been collecting her books except for the last two but they have been very far at the bottom of my tbr pile. This definitely saddens me as she was my favorite author for many years. I would use my meager funds to buy her paperbacks right when they came out. And I would read them over and over again. But when I heard about Marriage Most Scandalous I was intrigued. The hero was described as a mercenary which made my ears perk up. I love dangerous romance heroes. What can I say? I was tempted, despite my limited financial funds to buy the book when it came out (from Walmart at a considerable discount), but since money wasn't good I elected to wait. And lo and behold, my patience was rewarded when I found it at the library. I finished the book in 2 days (because I saw three movies also in that time period), and I was totally satisfied.
Sebastian Townshend is in a word, a fantastic hero, despite his flaws: broody, rude, short-tempered. But also principled, vulnerable, and heroic. I pictured Christian Bale with a ponytail: tall, brawny, beautiful, brownish eyes, brooding. Perfection. Although I could not find an actress who fit Maggie's description, I had a very good picture of her in my head. This book definitely had elements that I love in my romance novels: dark, brooding hero, with an air of danger, who is disgraced for a past event that isn't totally his fault. A strong-willed, intelligent heroine who can handle him. And loads of chemistry. Sebastian's sexuality fairly erupted off the page. He makes such a very determined assault on Maggie's virtue that I know if I were in her shoes I would find very hard to resist, especially since their pretend marriage puts them in very close quarters. I felt the need to fan myself as I read the book. Lovely in a word. The secondary characters were also quite interesting and well-drawn. Of course there's never enough time to delve too deeply but JL tantalized the reader enough to wish that the book was 300 pages longer. As I finished this book I knew that my Johanna Lindsey slump was broken.
As a matter of fact, my love of JL was so reenergized I found A Loving Scoundrel at the library and quickly proceeded to check this one out too. I started this one Sunday morning and finished it late, and I do mean late, Sunday night (say around 3 am). This reminded me of many a time in my past where I stayed up far too late reading and re-reading the latest Johanna Lindsey novel. Jeremy Malory continues the tradition of thoroughly, mild-numbingly hot heroes. He would definitely be hard to resist if I was Danny, his amazing, enjoyable heroine. This book did have the rakish element that I don't always enjoy but the thing that made the book sing for me was that Danny played the game by her own rules. Sure Jeremy wanted an affair with her, and after resisting his advances at first and failing, she decides to enjoy their time together and move on. And she refuses to be his mistress. That saved the book for me because I really really don't like mistress books. Danny is probably one of the best, most interesting heroines I have encountered in my years of romance novel reading. She is very philosophical about life, doesn't shed unnecessary tears, and does what has to be done. She is a survivor with the character that hardship brings to a person. And the icing on the cake is that she doesn't take crap from her hero. When he deserves a punch in the face she gives him one. Jeremy fell hard for her and I must say that I did too. She's up there with Cristabel Gaines from Lawless in my book. Jeremy continues the tradition of rakish Malory males very well, and I found it interesting how his rakish ways were tolerated and condoned by his family. On a philosophical level, I felt like there was perhaps a commentary made by JL about women and their status in society. A woman with the protection of a man is respected and her innocence is preserved and cherished. But Danny doesn't have family and no protection so she is considered fair game by the Malories (as Jeremy's mistress). As a matter of fact, she is forced to dress as a boy for fifteen years to avoid becoming a prostitute in her live on the streets of London. I wasn't terribly happy about that attitude but I suppose it's realistic for the time period and even today in some ways. I felt that despite the fact that she was a maid in his household she shouldn't have been thought of as a "prime piece" who could be used and thrown away. The Malory men seem to have very sexist attitudes towards women: those which can be used and those who should be protected. It was interesting and somewhat annoying to me but nevertheless it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book, probably because when Jeremy came to fall in love with Danny he was willing to do everything and anything for her protection and her love. I would say that Jeremy was probably my favorite Malory easily. As far as favorite Malory books, I'm still a fan of Love Only Once with Regina and Nicholas and The Magic of You with Warren and Amy, but this one's up there too. Which brings up a good point: I also enjoyed the appearance of the members of the Malory clan. It was a joy to reacquaint myself with them after so many years, and I haven't read those books in some time. In closing, I had a very happy Johanna Lindsey reading weeking, breaking a years long slump. I need to pull out those other Johanna Lindsey books and fast. Happiness!

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