This is my 9th Susan Johnson (I will be reading them all) Historical Novel to date. After reading Silver Flame back in high school, I was captivated by her bold, vivid prose and her intense love scenes with characters whose chemistry can only be that of the fictional world. I am being continuously carried away to 17th century boudoirs, harems and deliciously sinful men. For the most part, the women are no wilted flower either. In an age where women thoughts and presence are considered not important, Johnson’s female protagonists defies the rule of society and propriety , they are independent, alluring and oh so sexy, they are forever imprinted in my mind.
But…The Men. Oh the Men.
“His voice like the low thunder of distant artillery.”
“The innocence of his smile couldn’t have been improved on by cherubs on high.”
I’m yet to meet a man in life who even remotely resembles any of Johnson’ characters and I won’t bother looking. They are purely for my mindless indulgence in my make believe world. I guess that’s why we have the Trey and the Hazards and the Johnnie Carres only in books, where only perfection can be conjured and maintained untainted. Could you imagine the distractions, I can barely make it through my 9-5 with these guys on the pages, In real life, it would be unimaginable. However would we operate. However would we get anything done.
Deception and artifice.
So far, I have read Silver Flame(1988), Blaze(1986), When someone loves you (2006), Temporary Mistress(2000), Outlaw(1993), To please a Lady(1999), Sinful (2000), Again and Again (2002), and Seized by Love ((1978). Silver Flame remains my favorite with Blaze and Sinful following closely behind. My favorite Lord/Laird/Duke man in general however is Sinjin St John from Sinful, by far the most memorable of Johnson’s characters. I love him and even more the chemistry that exited between Chelsea and himself from the very first time they were thrown together. I love Empress from Silver Flame but she annoyed me with all that running away and Blaze give of herself too much to Hazard for my liking. I must say I like Elizabeth in Outlaw a lot. In present time she is what you would call a ‘ride or die chick’. I find that if I try to think back to the books and who was where and who ended up where, I start to get my heroes and heroines all mixed up. Wait, was it Sinjin St John and Chelsea who ended up in an African brothel or was it that other girl who ran to a brothel to be ruined. Idk idk. What I’m trying to say is none of her books are forgettable.
The heroines are all stubborn, a common theme I noticed. They butt heads with all the Heroes and refuse to lie down and play dead even in the most trying of circumstances. All of the Heroes end up with some physical almost mortal wound some where or another. Why is that important Susan? Trey was shot almost to death, Sinjin and Johnnie was beaten to a pulp and everybody else was in some war or the other with the physical and emotional scars to prove it. The Heroes are all rich and spoiled beyond comprehension. Her very first book-Seized by love portrayed Prince Kuzan as the epitome of a rich, bored only son. I was sick to my stomach with his behavior towards everyone and especially of his treatment of Alisa and her feelings.
I love how Johnson step outside the norm of historical novels with her heroines been women of the world. All are not simpering virgins waiting to be rescued, instead if a virgin does appear she is always ready and willing to be ravished-consequences be damn. This happened in Temporary mistress/sinful/silver flame/Blaze every body else are all widows or in the case of again and again old flame married to someone else and recently widowed. In To please a lady, the heroine already had 5 kids and the hero is 18. Shocking!! I was reading the book thinking, surely any minute now she is going to die and a younger virginal, gusty heroine will appear to heal Robbie’s heart. never happened. He almost died trying to be with this great beauty that is certainly over the hill (by 17th century standard).
My main bone of contention with Johnson is that while the men are busy ‘wilding out’ and having sex with all and sundry, her heroines always stay celibate or are virgins until the Heroes had their full of other society women or decided that they can live with one vagina after all. Susan Johnson is definitely not forgettable but the same theme run through all her books and one can become quiet confused if like me you take up the task to read one behind the other and then try to write about them at a later date.
Historical romance reader. Read Susan Johnson, she is the best there is in this genre right now.