Everyone in the world really should have that ONE book, that ONE series, or that ONE absolutely amazing author who inspires them in some way or another. That inspiration can come to you in so many forms, such as:
- to actually go out and write the great American novel yourself (or romance novel in my case),
- to read more books, either by them or by others, and to do it voraciously, as reading really is a passion in and of itself, or
- to journey halfway around the world to visit all the places that the author talks about in the books you treasure so much.
Well in my case, I can say that I got very lucky on that whole deal because all three of my ONES fit very nicely together in one lovely little package by the name of Johanna Lindsey. She is one of the reasons that I finally MADE myself work a second job long enough to save up enough money to fly off to the British Isles, just to see some of those places she described so perfectly for most of my life. We are talking Bath in England, Hyde Park and the horse paths, and all the way up to the Highlands of Scotland. Now all of those things are officially checked off my bucket list of places to go.
Johanna is very much, at least to the yearning heart of that 18 year old girl I used to be (and still feel like sometimes), fresh out of high school and picking up that very first of her novels, the absolute queen and goddess of all things historic romance. It was my graduation trip, and only my second time flying ever, and when we landed I insisted we go to a book store sometime during the trip so I could get more of her books. My love for her work was that instant and my suitcase was packed full with more than just souvenirs coming home.
This love has also lasted longer than all of my other relationships put together. No one will ever top her in my eyes, and none should ever try. It is just that simple. Johanna is and always will be the absolute queen of my reading universe.
That first book by Lindsey that I ever read is, even still, my absolute favorite historic of hers, and possibly of all time. Just for the iconic factor of it alone, it was also Fabio’s first cover. Wanna see it?
And look at him…a brunette!
Believe me, to this day, Johanna is still the one lady he cannot say no to if she requests the honor of his presence for one of her covers. This particular book is the second in one of her many ‘family sagas’ but not the one I want to tell you about today. It’s good, but it is, by far, NOT her most iconic, either book or series.
So, which series do I want to tell you about today? Well, it is Johanna’s longest running, perhaps her most popular. Set throughout England, but mostly in London, and often traveling to the high seas with both pirates and merchant ship owners in the same family. The adventures of the Malory family sweeps through multiple generations of rakes, rogues, and strong, stand up for themselves, heroines. It also sweeps through the fantasies of many a hopeless romantic reader out there, including myself.
Have you ever met one of those families that truly put the fun in dysfunction? Well if you were to set that idea in England, beginning in the early 19th century, you would have the Malory family.
The series begins with the book Love Only Once and is the story of Regina Malory, a most beloved child. She is the niece to the four super-protective Malory brothers who would all be happy if she never married since no one is good enough for her, and who have all contributed to raising her since her parents passed away.
She’s an orphan but has never wanted for familial love as the brothers and her cousins have doted on her, and spoiled her, all in different ways her whole life. The only thing she really wants for is the love of a man who is not related to her by blood. Regina sets her cap quite firmly for one of the biggest rakes in all of London, Nicholas Eden.
She decides this, oddly enough, after he kidnaps her by mistake and, even worse, seduces her and then sends her away. Nicholas doesn’t seem to want anything to do with Reggie (as most of the relatives call her) though. Other than that night passion and seduction, it is unclear whether he’s attracted to her or not.
James Malory (bk 3, Gentle Rogue), the black sheep of the family as well as the infamous pirate Captain Hawke, upon hearing of Reggie’s seduction and shaming in London’s gossiping society, seeks out Nicholas and gives him the worst beating of his life. Talk about bitter blood, and with someone who will, eventually, be part of your family.
James, the epitome of the ne’er-do-well rakehell, has his own drama along the way. One instance of this is when he runs into his 12 year old illegitimate son Jeremy (bk 7, A Loving Scoundrel) at a pub where the boy is working. He’s not really all that surprised by the discovery. But James’ rakish ways are quickly curtailed when he falls hard and fast for a spitfire American shipping heiress by the name of Georgina Anderson.
And have I mentioned Uncle Tony (bk 2, Tender Rebel), the other unapologetic rake in the family? He is one of only three in the whole bunch who take after the long lost gypsies of the family from generations back. Tony falls head over heels in love with Roslynn, the beautiful red-haired Scotswoman who’s on the run from a controlling family member bent on marrying her off (and stealing her rather large inheritance in the process).
Sound a little confusing yet? And this is just the first full ‘generation’ of stories, because Johanna just keeps getting putting out more and more of those juicy details about this ‘family’ to end all families. For crying out loud, it’s like the National Enquirer, only set 200 years ago, there’s so much scandal and drama that runs through this family tree.
To ease any confusion, here is a list of Malory family novels in order:
1. Love Only Once (1986)
2. Tender Rebel (1988)
3. Gentle Rogue (1991)
4. The Magic of You (1994)
5. Say You Love Me (1996)
6. The Present (1998)
7. A Loving Scoundrel (2004)
8. Captive of My Desires (2006)
9. No Choice But Seduction (2008)
10. That Perfect Someone (2010)
11. Stormy Persuasion (2014)
If you do decide to read Lindsey, and I highly recommend that you do, don’t just stop with the Malory clan. There are so many stories she has written. There are so many families to enjoy – ranging from London, up into Scotland, to as far west as the American West, and even a futuristic family on an alien planet. Lindsey is so much more than just a ‘fluffy brain candy’ writer as so many think that romance authors are. She can spin a mean tale of love, sex, and scandal like so very few others really can.
Formats Available: Book (Regular, Large Print), eBook, Audiobook
Reviewed by Tracie, Southwest Branch