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Historical Romance novels from the 1980's

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Initial post: Sep 29, 2007 6:28:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2014 7:49:10 AM PST
Book was Solved. The title of the book Passion's Slave by Kay McMahon. Thank you to everyone for all your comments and suggestions.

Hello Everyone,

I have been reading historical romance novels for over 25 years, and I feel the novels that were published in the 1980's and early 1990's were much better than today's historical romance novels. I think the characters were more stronger, and the plot lines were better.

I am looking for a particular novel that I read in the 1980's and I would greatly appreciate it if anyone can provide me with the title and author of the book. The plot of the novel is about a servant/slave that is working on a plantation and the hero is the plantation owner and one day he either knocks her down, says something unkind or something like that, but whatever it is that he does angers her so much that she turns around and hits him (socks him good) not knowing that he is the owner of the plantation, and she does this in front of the other workers. Of course the plantation owner becomes enraged and has to save face so he mulls over her punishment and decides to have her stripped (top part only) naked and whipped in front of everyone. Of course, he is so enamored of her beauty and spirit, and he feels bad about having her whipped that he decides to move her to the house to work as a maid. In one scene, she is cleaning his room and he walks in on her and proceeds to have his way with her against her wishes. He does this several times troughout the novel. I wish I could remember more about the plot but I can't put hopefully, I've given enough information to spark a memory in someone about the title and author of this story.

Also, I'm looking for recommendations of other novels written in the 1980's and early 1990's. I have ready so many novels during that time but I can't remember a lot of the titles only plot lines. All of my books were passed down to other family members to read never to be seen or read by me again. (I did learn my lesson about giving books to family members, I just don't give them the ones I really love anymore because I never get them back), and like everyone else, I do like to reread the books I love.

Lately, I have been disappointed in the historical romance novels that are written today. I feel that they are very predictable and typical and I haven't read anything that I have really liked that has been published this year, I've just been incredibly disappointed. I find myself now shopping for books in used bookstores, thrift stores, and online looking for books written during the 1980's and early 90's.

I am very thankful to anyone that can provide any information on the novel and give me any book recommendations.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2007 8:40:07 AM PDT
P Tupper says:
I know what you mean. If you are looking at out of print books, I recommend the "Daughters" series by Aola Vandergriff. The earliest ones are best, as the last few got rather tired, but they still have some wonderful plotlines and characters.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2007 10:00:29 AM PDT

I'm sorry to say that I'm not familiar with the book you're trying to remember, so I can't help there. But I do have a couple of comments / ideas for you.

1) The Amazon community is very knowledgeable and helpful, so you've come to the right place to ask your question. I hope someone remembers your book. Or, even if they don't remember, you're likely to get some great recommendations for other reading material.

2) If you don't find the name of the book you're trying to remember here, you may want to post your question on the book sleuth board. To do that, go to, then choose message boards, then book sleuth. You'll need to register (which is free) to post your question.

3) If you have lots and lots of books you're trying to rediscover, you may want to join a site that offers a searchable database. There are a few out there, but the one I've heard about from the ladies on book sleuth is There is a cost to join (I think it's $30) but then you can search for all your old favorites that you're trying to find at your leisure by plot key word, time period, publisher, theme, etc.

Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2007 1:17:41 PM PDT
J.W. says:
They're not really "romance" but John Jakes 'North & South' series is fantastic- very detailed (about the years leading up to, during, and after the Civil War) and in my opinion, not predictable or typical.

If you haven't read them ('North and South', 'Love and War' and 'Heaven and Hell') you should definitely give them a try. These books are the reason that I started reading historical romance.

Hope you find what you're looking for.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2007 10:25:37 PM PDT

Is this book "Caress & Conquer" by Connie Mason? I haven't read it yet, just browsed it, but you description sounds a lot like what I read while browsing.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2007 7:33:13 PM PDT
Alphalover says:
Tracey, that sounds a whole lot like the beginning of THE BLACK SWAN by Day Taylor.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2007 10:09:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2007 10:11:34 PM PDT
Reader10 says:
I totally agree with your post, Tracy.. I also have a hard time enjoying hist romance written these days due to lack of character development, authors trying too hard to be funny/witty ... On the other hand, I find sex scenes done better these days, but...... good sex scenes does not a good book make, eh? *grin*

I just ordered the "To Love a Rogue" by Valerie Sherwood ( 1987 ) and the plot sounds a lot like what you described. Would this be it? The heroine was sold into indentured servitude. Either case, if you find out the title, please post and let us know ... I would be interested in reading something like this from the 80s. :)

Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
Shirlee Busbee
Susan Wiggs ( from 80s )
Laurie McBain "Tears of Gold"
Brenda Joyce older novels from the 80s... erm The Darkest Heart

There are just so many GREAT romance novels from the past, Oh la la...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2007 1:02:58 AM PDT
BB says:
Anita Mills wrote some excellent historicals in the late 80's-early 90's. Great stories, unusual plots and settings. I went on a major glom after reading Autumn Rain and gathered up her backlist.
Secret Nights
Autumn Rain
Falling Stars
The Fire and The Fury
Lady of Fire
are some favorites

Also, Candace Camp's older historicals are very good. She used to write under the name Lisa Gregory (Rainbow Season & Bitterleaf are exceptional)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2007 7:14:24 AM PDT
FizzySmile says:
I began reading the historicals in the early 80's while babysitting my nieces and pilfering my MUCH older sisters romance collection. Certain authors clearly stood out for me, and I have my own copies of these books that for me, as historicals, have stood the test of time.

Love Only Once by Johanna Lindsey ( can't find the orig pub date)
Scandalous Love by Brenda Joyce (1992)
Gypsy Lady by Shirlee Busbee (1977)
Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers (1982)
A Rose In Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss (1982)

All of these are on my keeper shelf, and are in my opinion, excellent historicals. I do not read many historicals these days, as I have developed a fondness for Paranormals/Romantica but these are ones that on occasion when I just want to read a book I know I will love, I often grab one of these.

As for the one you're looking for, it sounds familiar but I can't think of who it might be, and my sister also was unable to narrow it down to one particular book. She thought it sounded like an old Julia Quinn tho.
Good luck and happy reading!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2007 7:34:33 AM PDT
M. Childers says:
loved Laurie McBain, she wrote some great historicals.
Devils Desire and Moonstruck Madness are both on my keeper shelf. Both from late 1970's early 80s.

I loved Victoria Holts books, although I'm not sure they were called historical romance, more regency maybe?
My fav's. Legend of the Seventh Virgin, Night of the Seven Moons, Bride of Pendorric, and Mistress of Mellyn.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2007 9:05:26 AM PDT
Misfit says:
Kathleen Woodiwiss
Julie Garwood's Historicals
Judith McNaught's historicals
Marsha Canham. She's got a two part series about Scotland, The Blood of Lions I think is one of them. Also, she has a wonderful trilogy that is a great take-off on the Robin Hood legend. Very toungue in cheek, campy over the top villains and all around good fun. Through a Dark Mist, In the Shadow of Midnight and The Last Arrow.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 7:13:38 PM PST
D. Johnson says:
Tracy, I agree with you 100%. The novels back then, let you escape, to become one with the book; and not want to put the book down. I remember one book, Love, Cherish Me by Rebecca Brendewyn. I read it over 15 years ago, I still remembered bits and pieces of it. My mother bought the book for me this Christmas and I could take my eyes out of the book. It made me laugh, excited me with it's action and detail, and it bought me to tears, the big crocodile tears. It is a very emotional book that I will love forever. If anyone was interested in reading, I would recommend this book to be their first. There would be no turning back from that point on.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 8:24:54 PM PST

I know what you mean. The historical romances written today lack....something. I go to the used book store in my area a lot just for that reason! To search out out-of-print historical romance books!=)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2008 9:26:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2008 8:59:40 AM PDT
D. Sailor, Love, Cherish Me by Rebecca Brandewyne was my first romance novel. That was five years ago, and to me, it will always be my favorite. I too, laughed, and I cried hard. I found the hero, I can't remember his name, to be a very sexy, possessive, alpha male.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2008 11:12:24 AM PST
G. Dear says:
My all time favorite historical is The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2008 11:32:30 AM PST
Isobel says:
My two favorites from the 80's are Rage to Love & Emerald Rain by Maggie Osborne. Her older works are incredible.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2008 5:38:53 PM PST


I think the hero's name was Wolf and the heroine was Storm. He was a pure-blood Spanish man who was raised by Commanche Indians. There was a sort of sequel called AND GOLD WAS OURS that deals with his cousin Salvador. Excellent books which I will now have to re-read!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2008 10:40:08 PM PDT
L. Lietzke says:
It's not To Love a Rogue-- though Valerie Sherwood's heroine, Lorraine, does start out as an indentured servant, she never works on a plantation (though she eventually owns one--her stepfather invested in a crazy venture that supposedly lost money, but eventually her ship came in... with enough wealth to set her up for life). Lorraine's indentured service was to a innkeeper and his wife, and she ran off with the hero after learning that her then-love interest bedded her and took her virginity to win a bet with his buddies.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 7:24:50 AM PDT
Rick Henry says:
Can't say whether this is the 70's or the 80's -- anybody remember M.M.Kaye?
She wrote The Shadow of the Moon, and The Far Pavilions, the latter a terrifically engrossing book on colonial-era India, which was made into a tv film, starring Amy Irving (of all people) as the princess. But it was quite well done; and the book was mesmerizing. Prior to that -- some old Frank Yerby novels might appeal: Mandingo, The Vixens, The Foxes of Harrow (all old South). Just
an idea -- .

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 4:59:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2008 7:13:20 PM PDT
A. Kunz says:
Rick, I believe M.M. Kaye is a guy.

Edit: Esperanza brings it to my attention that M.M. Kaye is, in fact, a woman.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 5:20:48 PM PDT
Unless there's more than one older romance titled The BLack Swan, it's not it. That one I remember as the heroine's parents owned a plantation and uh, the father "bred" (not personally mind you) slaves. Funny how some things stick with you...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 5:34:30 PM PDT
Why are some of the books better from the 80s and 90s? No one worried about a book being PC. I hate to say it, but there it is!!! Give me Laurie McBain, Shirlee Busbee, Rebecca Brandywine to name a few!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 6:00:12 PM PDT
Earth Witch says:
I'm fairly sure the book Tracy Johnson is looking for is Jennifer Wilde's "Love's Tender Fury". The heroine is an indentured servant to the plantation owner hero. IMHO he has anger issues. He whips her, rapes her and then sells her off to another man. I've always thought the second man was the better of the two, but she ends up with the plantation owner. Jennifer Wilde was the pen name of a male author and I always thought that was why the book skid off the well trod path of most romance novels.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 7:01:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2008 7:04:03 PM PDT
N. says:
Earth Witch, thanks for your post; very illuminating.

Here's my problem: I too was introduced to Romance in the 80s (at a young age, like many), and at the time, I too thoroughly enjoyed the rollicking good reads--filled with sex, violence, and larger-than-life drama--that the 80s novels delivered.

BUT, now that I look back at my favorites of the era, I'm crestfallen and more than bit disturbed to recall that a lot of the stories I loved were also chock-full of nasty attitudes and actions--that were either committed or that went uncommented on by the characters who were supposed to be my heroes and my heroines. (Funny thing is, at age 12, I was hopping mad at the antics pulled by the so-called heroes. I remember swearing I would never let a man treat me thus. But sometime in my teens, I lost the "fire" and resigned myself to this type of hero, so common were they in the 80s).

Unlike perhaps some readers (perhaps Melissa Daley?), I think politically correct sometimes just means "correct." Racism, sexism, and other negatives certainly should be protrayed in fiction; they are a fact of life. But having a hero or heroine or other protag either initiate or not object to these things and having the story end "happily" without contesting these things is NOT my idea of a HEA (which I and most romance readers look for in a "Romance.")

If I can read a romance novel that has a larger-than-life set of leads with dramatic conflict and hot sex and good dialogue but that doesn't have the heroine marrying the man who forced intercourse on her, or a heroine who fantasizes in a fetishistic and unhealthy fashion about "savage" or "brutal" Arabs or Native Americans, or any other enjoyment-killer, why not? Why are these unsavory elements--which in real life most of you might agree are unacceptable-- necessary to telling a good Romance story? I'd argue they're not.

I pose a question to those who long for a return to the norms 80s Romances: was it really the "un-PC"--aka--hurtful--and--damaging elements that made the book so good? Or was it something else? For me, my fave books of the 80s would shine even brighter without these elements, because what made them so good was the fire and wit of the heroine, the sharp dialogue between the two leads, and the well-developed sexual tension I find lacking in some of today's books.

So, yes, I still do read and value my faves from the 80s and early 90s. But I don't recommend them to others without serious caveats, and I still cringe a little when I read something that, if removed, would catapult the book to 5-star status.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2008 7:17:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2008 7:31:43 PM PDT
T214T1987 says:
The 80's books I loved were the KEW or Kathleen E. Woodiwiess (probably spelled it wrong ). Her first 5 were the best

1.) Flame and the Flower-
2.) The Wolf and the Dove
3.) Shanna
4.) Ashes in the Wind
5.) A Rose in Winter

I like Rebecca Brandywine also- her gothic , Upon a Moon Dark Moor is a very good historical and actually has a Wuthering Heights "feel" to it. The hero is not politically correct in many ways, so brace yourself. The second part of this series is Across a Starlit Sea and not nearly as good as UaMDM.

I saw a reference to John Jakes books in an earlier post, they are all very good , and so is the TV miniseries North and South w/ Patrick Swayze. His relationship w/ Leslie Ann Down in this movie is like something you would read about in a good historical romance of the Civil War genre.

Last, Victoria Holt is also very good (older post too)-

I dare say you can't get much better than that. I agree w/ you about the newer historicals being so pale in comparison to the older historicals written. They almost seem like insipid copies of the older novels.
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Initial post:  Sep 29, 2007
Latest post:  May 14, 2015

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