Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review: A Heart So Wild

Title: A Heart So Wild
Author: Johanna Lindsey
Genre: Historical Romance/Texas - 1872
Published: December 1986

Nath's Re-Read Challenge 2009

From the back cover ~

A Heart So Wild

Courtney Harte gasped in disbelief. There, in a Texas newspaper, was a photograph of her beloved father... thought slain several years back in a savage Comanche massacre. The honey-haired beauty vowed to find him - but whom could she trust to accompany her through wild, dangerous Indian territory?

His name was Chandos. Tall and dark, with eyes the most startling shade of blue, he was the best gunslinger around. Courtney put her faith in him... little dreaming of the dark secret that burned in Chandos' soul... little imagining the fires that would ignite under the hot summer sun, driving them together in an ecstatic frenzy that only passion understood... and love could tame.

I have loved Johanna Lindsey books forever. She was one of the first romance authors I read along with the likes of Roberta Gellis, Beatrice Small, Janelle Taylor and Cynthia Wright. Lindsey's regencies, westerns, the sci-fi romances and who could forget the wonderful Malory series were well anticipated and enjoyed. But lately I've fallen off the Lindsey train. The last book of hers I remember reading and enjoying of Lindsey's was A Loving Scoundrel (2004). The adorable Jeremy Malory's story. After that it was if she had lost that spark that we readers hear about. So with some trepidation I decided to choose a Lindsey for the re-read challenge. At first I thought to go with either Tony or James Malory's books (Tender Rebel and Gentle Rogue). Those two always seem to get rave reviews. But I was in the mood for a western. I thought of maybe re-reading Angel, one of my favorites or Savage Thunder (I think that's the one the h/h do it on horseback *grins*) but I decided on A Heart So Wild because of Chandos.

Chandos is a bit of a mystery. He's a gun fighter and bounty hunter but we don't know much else about him. Nothing really about his background. Even Courtney doesn't know much about him when she hires him to take her to Waco, only that she feels she can trust him. Chandos is one of my favorite types of heroes. He's the anti-hero hero. He's definitely got that bad boy attitude but in an old west sort of way. He's a man of few words, gruff and cold with looks that say "keep away" unless you're looking for trouble. So when he does agree to take Courtney to Waco he doesn’t cater to her every need but instead decides to teach her a lesson in survival. Things don’t go as planned and he ends up falling for her which he doesn’t like at all! He feels she deserves better because he has nothing to give her and his secret will keep them apart. I really liked Chandos and the way Lindsey kept his character true to form. She didn't have him change overnight when he fell hard for Courtney. He still maintained his gruffness but showed his care for Courtney in other ways. And the fact that he is tall, dark and handsome doesn't hurt one bit!

Courtney isn't one of my favorite Lindsey heroines but she didn't annoy me so that's a big plus! She’s likable enough but I didn’t fully connect with her. When we first meet her she’s a shy, fifteen year old who’s traveling from Chicago to Waco, Texas with her father and new stepmother. Her father has become withdrawn and depressed and Courtney feels this so strongly she has also become quiet and withdrawn. She can’t seem to please her stepmother and has very little self-confidence, relying on food for comfort. She’s described as “short and chubby” which only adds to her lack of confidence.

After the attack Courtney is left with her stepmother as her only family. Four years later she has become far more self-reliant and hard work has trimmed her figure into one that attracts the attention of men whether Courtney wants it or not. She still maintains some of her shyness and aloofness but it’s directed at the men who want more than to just talk. She works hard but has dreams of moving back east where she feels safer. I did like the way Courtney would choose her battles when it came to dealing with her stepmother, Sarah. They still don’t get along and with Courtney working for Sarah and relying on her for a place to live she has had to learn to keep her opinions to herself.

When Courtney sees Chandos there is a spark between them but there is also a healthy fear on Courtney’s part. She knows he’s dangerous and wants to avoid him at all costs. Until she realizes she needs him and overcomes her fear and asks for his help. Was it a smart thing to do? Nope. But she was desperate and really had nowhere else to turn if she wanted to find her father. Lucky for Courtney, Chandos wasn’t all bad and she ended up falling for him hard. ~

All the next day, Courtney was in love. Nothing bothered her, not the heat and insects, not the monotonous riding. Nothing penetrated her bliss.

Two days later, she wasn’t sure. And three days later she had changed her mind. She couldn’t possibly love an exasperating man like Chandos. She could still want him – and despise herself for it – but couldn’t love him.

What had Courtney fuming was that he returned to his enigmatic self. He had made her his, transported her to the heights of ecstasy, and then treated her with the same old indifference! She was stupefied. Page 175

Chandos is feeling the same aggravation as Courtney. His discomfort when he’s around Courtney has only gotten worse now that he knows exactly what he’s missing. :)

I wasn't sure how the plot would hold up after all these years. It's a fairly standard romance plot: heroine asks hero (anti-hero) for help and while he reluctantly helps she falls for him, he falls for her but he thinks he's not good enough for her and can't be with her even though he wants to. Ugh! These guys can be so stubborn! Then there's the whole Comanche slant and Chandos' relationship with the Comanche that added more drama to the story. And Chandos' background that comes into play when his secret eventually comes out. Courtney and Chandos were together for a large part of the story and their interactions and getting to know each other flowed well within the context of the story. How they dealt with every obstacle and could still find a HEA was a pleasure to read. Overall I thought the story of how these two met and fell in love was well written and their experiences on the trail were an added source of interest for this reader.

So I've conquered my fear of re-reading Johanna Lindsey. Yeah! I still enjoyed Chandos and Courtney's story just as much as before and have every intention of re-reading more of Lindsey's books. Maybe another western? Or a Viking or medieval?

Johanna Lindsey doesn't have an official site that I could find but you can get info on all her books at Fantastic fiction.

Rating: A-


  1. Glad you still enjoy your re-read :D I'm not a big fan of this author... although I've only tried it once.

    It seems to me that some of the really big authors in the 80's and 90's are fading... Many seems to have lost their sparks. Unfortunate, no?

  2. Oh my, Leslie! I used to loooove Johanna Lindsey! I also stopped reading her a while back :(... but boy, I loved her Westerns *g*

    Savage Thunder... *sigh*... I wish you had reviewed that one. But I thank you for bringing back good memories with this one. Great review, glad you still enjoyed it.

  3. nath ~ There's a number of authors from that era that I stopped reading because their books became so similar to the last one.

    Hils ~ Savage Thunder definitely sigh worthy. Colt Thunder as the hero. LOL Love that name!

  4. JL was an author I read a lot of when I first started reading romances. Not so much anymore.

    But I do have some good memories. :P

  5. ames ~ good memories here too. :) For now, I thnk I'll stick with re-reading her old ones.

  6. Zeek ~ It's one of my favorite Lindseys too along with Angel and Savage Thunder. Her western's were always something to look forward to. :)