The Real Bodice Rippers
This list is for the dark, edgy, un-PC, envelope-pushing bodice rippers of the 70s and 80s. "Dark, down 'n' dirty" are guidelines. Themes include slavery, rape, incest, abuse, and other stuff you won't find in today's romances.

PLEASE DO NOT ADD BOOKS TO THIS LIST!! If you'd like to see one added, post a comment with the title (bookcover image works fine) and a reason or two why you think it qualifies. A previous list became filled with Johanna Lindsey and Lisa Kleypas titles, rendering it practically useless. I will update it ASAP.

Suggested reasons (and a high or intense quantity of them is encouraged)
--rape
--gang rape
--multiple abuses by hero (a slap doesn't count)
--slavery & the abuses/degradation that come with it
--incest
--child abuse
--random extreme stuff like castration (Hello, Stormfire!)
--very under-aged heroines
--violence and/or gore
--necrophilia
1
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 2,520 ratings
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2
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 11,961 ratings
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3
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 10,519 ratings
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4
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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 844 ratings
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5
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 8,823 ratings
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6
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 2,447 ratings
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7
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 939 ratings
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 1,315 ratings
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9
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 2,553 ratings
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10
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 3,421 ratings
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11
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 793 ratings
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12
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 1,040 ratings
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13
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 255 ratings
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14
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 999 ratings
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15
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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 341 ratings
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16
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 618 ratings
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17
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 430 ratings
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18
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 1,133 ratings
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19
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 641 ratings
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20
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 1,432 ratings
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21
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 435 ratings
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22
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3.37 of 5 stars 3.37 avg rating — 596 ratings
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23
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 243 ratings
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24
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 79 ratings
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25
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 776 ratings
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26
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 188 ratings
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27
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 497 ratings
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28
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3.26 of 5 stars 3.26 avg rating — 164 ratings
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29
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 145 ratings
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30
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 417 ratings
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31
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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 431 ratings
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32
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 48 ratings
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33
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 157 ratings
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34
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3.32 of 5 stars 3.32 avg rating — 272 ratings
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35
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 611 ratings
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36
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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29 avg rating — 51 ratings
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37
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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 30 ratings
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38
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3.44 of 5 stars 3.44 avg rating — 16 ratings
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39
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2.71 of 5 stars 2.71 avg rating — 7 ratings
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40
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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45 avg rating — 29 ratings
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41
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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 20 ratings
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42
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2.81 of 5 stars 2.81 avg rating — 16 ratings
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43
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 180 ratings
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44
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 17 ratings
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45
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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29 avg rating — 14 ratings
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46
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2.25 of 5 stars 2.25 avg rating — 4 ratings
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47
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 12 ratings
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48
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 70 ratings
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49
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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54 avg rating — 13 ratings
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50
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 578 ratings
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51
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2.6 of 5 stars 2.60 avg rating — 15 ratings
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52
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2.5 of 5 stars 2.50 avg rating — 8 ratings
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52
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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 1,247 ratings
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54
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2.5 of 5 stars 2.50 avg rating — 20 ratings
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55
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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 6 ratings
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56
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3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 52 ratings
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57
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 9 ratings
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58
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2.8 of 5 stars 2.80 avg rating — 10 ratings
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58
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3.0 of 5 stars 3.00 avg rating — 8 ratings
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60
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 6 ratings
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61
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 13 ratings
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62
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 10 ratings
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62
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4.62 of 5 stars 4.62 avg rating — 8 ratings
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64
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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65
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2.75 of 5 stars 2.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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66
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 19 ratings
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67
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3.21 of 5 stars 3.21 avg rating — 14 ratings
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68
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 6 ratings
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69
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1.0 of 5 stars 1.00 avg rating — 2 ratings
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69
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3.23 of 5 stars 3.23 avg rating — 13 ratings
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71
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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25 avg rating — 12 ratings
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72
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 12 ratings
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73
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 283 ratings
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74
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3.0 of 5 stars 3.00 avg rating — 10 ratings
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75
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2.75 of 5 stars 2.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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76
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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29 avg rating — 14 ratings
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77
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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25 avg rating — 8 ratings
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78
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 22 ratings
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79
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 332 ratings
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80
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 21 ratings
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80 books · 126 voters · list created February 15th, 2012 by Karla (votes) .
67 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Karla 1061 books
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Comments (showing 1-48 of 48) (48 new)

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message 1: by Karla (last edited Feb 15, 2012 05:04AM) (new)

Karla My eyes glazed over towards the end, but I have begun this list with 38 books which I consider to be real bodice rippers. Each book has a comment saying why I think it qualifies.

I hope I'm not being an asshole by saying "DON'T ADD TO THIS LIST!" but I'd like to be able to mod this one at least a little bit. :P

Anyway, if you want to add a book, post a comment with a couple reason why you think it qualifies.

TO REITERATE:
Suggested reasons (and a high or intense quantity of them is encouraged)
--rape
--gang rape
--multiple abuses by hero (a slap doesn't count)
--slavery & the abuses/degradation that come with it
--incest
--child abuse
--random extreme stuff like castration (Hello, Stormfire!)
--very under-aged heroines
--violence and/or gore


message 2: by Sharon (last edited Feb 15, 2012 12:23PM) (new)

Sharon I can't remember The Taming (Cameron, #1) by Aleen Malcolm as a BR.

A suggestion: Dangerous Obsession by Natasha Peters I loved that one. Has anyone read it?

Edit Revision


Well hell now I see the voting section on the left of the screen. Very cool Karla.


message 3: by Tammy (last edited Feb 15, 2012 03:58PM) (new)

Tammy Walton Grant um, can you add The Flame and the Flower, or is it too obvious (or not extreme enough)? It was the book that started it all, after all.

It has abduction, rape, a very young heroine with a Hero in his 30s, a crazy ex-mistress, a murder plot, and one of the best original alpha Heroes.

(says Tammy from her crazy Woodiwiss corner)


message 4: by Sharon (last edited Feb 15, 2012 09:13PM) (new)

Sharon Dangerous Obsession fits the criteria.

It's been a few years since I read this one...I think I sent it to you Karla through BookMooch...anyway, the book begins with the rape of Rawhnie, probably about 15 or 16 yrs. old (underage heroine) and...(I think he carried the rape thru), her Uncle, that is (Incest) All the while the H, Seth? (who is the son of the main characters in Savage Surrender sits in the parlor listening to whole shabang. Just prior to that, Uncle (beat)Rawhnie in front of Seth before dragging her upstairs to rape her for her mouthiness.

Seth witnesses this, takes it all in, then just gets up and leaves. But Rawhnie sneaks away from Uncle and catches up with Seth (who is actually a stranger to her)... Turns out, Seth is one cold blooded, cruel SOB. He makes Rawhnie become his mistress and continues thru the entire story as cruel and rotten to the core.

Definitely should be on the list.

Edit.....Ok, Rawhnie is Rhawnie and she was probably 14 or 15 yrs old


message 5: by April (last edited Feb 28, 2012 12:39PM) (new)

April Brookshire Tender Fury by Connie Mason Tender Fury by Connie Mason


message 6: by Karla (new)

Karla I've updated the list. :)


message 7: by Karla (last edited Feb 28, 2012 12:53PM) (new)

Karla April wrote: "Tender Fury by Connie Mason Tender Fury by Connie Mason"

April, I've added the book, but can you give me a couple reasons why you think it's down & dirty?

Jeanine, same with you. I don't know the qualifications for The Love Slave & Bold Blades Flashing off the top of my head.


message 8: by April (new)

April Brookshire Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "April wrote: "Tender Fury by Connie Mason Tender Fury by Connie Mason"

April, I've added the book, but can you give me a couple reasons why you think it's down & dirty?

It pretty much meets all the qualifications on the bodice ripper checklist. Ridiculously beautiful heroine who almost every man pants after, kidnappings, rape or coerced sex by hero and others, evil villains galore (like the whole world is out to do the heroine wrong), verbally abusive and selfish hero, unpredictable plot with bizarre twists and turns, many scenery changes.



message 9: by Karla (new)

Karla Thanks, April! :)


message 10: by Twiggy (new)

Twiggy Tender torment by Jane archer
Island Flame by Karen Robards
Gypsy Lady by Shirley Bushbee


message 11: by Twiggy (new)

Twiggy Which is your favourite?


message 12: by Karla (new)

Karla Is that question for me? Or everybody? :D

Well, mine is:
Dark Fires by Rosemary Rogers


message 13: by Twiggy (new)

Twiggy I've only read about 10 of these but I think I would have to go with the Shiek as I read it as a teenager and have fond memories. Gypsy Lady and Lady Vixon were the books that introduced me to the more hard edged BR.

Thank you for the list.


message 14: by Kerrie (new)

Kerrie Would The Rain Maiden by Jill M. Phillips qualify?


message 15: by Sita (new)

Sita I would not have considered The Pagan a bodice ripper..


message 16: by Karla (new)

Karla Sita wrote: "I would not have considered The Pagan a bodice ripper.."

In my review, I likened Vesuvio the hero to one of those old-school BR heroines who get used and abused. In an odd way, I thought it worked. LOL


message 17: by Sita (last edited Apr 03, 2012 08:03PM) (new)

Sita Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: In my review, I likened Vesuvio the hero to one of those old-school BR heroines who get used and abused. In an odd way, I thou..."

I guess that was why I was confused. For me, a man getting used and abused wouldn't fall into the "bodice ripper" category. But that is just me.

In any case. I love the list and am glad a monitored one is here. :D


message 18: by Keri (new)

Keri What about Laurie McBain's Tears of Gold, Devil's Desire and Moonstruck Madness? Lisa Gregory's Bitterleaf dealt with slavery.


UniquelyMoi ~ 1-Click RockChick Well, I can't vote because I haven't read any of these, but 'down and dirty'? I'm checking the books on the list. Twice.


message 20: by Stacy (new)

Stacy I'd recommend Silver Jasmine by Janet Louise Roberts. Island of Desire by the same author, now that I reflect on it. Both have rape or attempted rape, Voodoo, abuse, marriage by force, all of that horrifically delicious stuff you find in a good BR.


message 21: by Karla (new)

Karla Thanks for the rec, Stacy. I've got both of those in the TBR. Will add to the list when I'm on an actual computer instead of a tablet (love it, but sometimes so ponderous).


message 22: by Isabel (new)

Isabel The heart of war by Lisa Beth Darling could be on this list , though it's not from the 70's or 80's , it still has child abuse , humiliation, gore, and the use of a snake to torture. The list goes on but that would be spoilers.


message 23: by BRNTerri (last edited Oct 24, 2012 04:07PM) (new)

BRNTerri Keri wrote: "What about Laurie McBain's Tears of Gold, Devil's Desire and Moonstruck Madness? Lisa Gregory's Bitterleaf dealt with slavery."

Sorry, but Tears of Gold isn't a bodice ripper at all.


message 24: by Rachel (last edited Nov 09, 2012 12:35PM) (new)

Rachel What about The Copeland Bride by Justine Cole?
(view spoiler)


message 25: by Roses (new)

Roses What about The French Passion by Diane Du Pont? It was published in 1977 and has a young heroine raped by the hero and kept by an abusive "guardian" as his mistress until he has her imprisoned in the Bastille.


message 26: by Cem73 (new)

Cem73 No Gentle Love, by Rebecca Brandewyne (the title say it all lol )


message 27: by Melissa (last edited Feb 04, 2013 09:59PM) (new)

Melissa A Pirate's Love, by Johanna Lindsay (h is raped by H, who is a pirate and abducts her)

Hearts Aflame, by Johanna Lindsay (h is abducted and made a slave, forced to have sex with H who owns her)

Secret Fire, by Johanna Lindsay (h is abducted and drugged, forced to have sex with Russian aristocrat and basically taken as a slave. She's later whipped for disobedience.)


message 28: by Melissa (new)

Melissa My favorite is probably The Flame and the Flower


message 29: by Mermarie (last edited Aug 08, 2013 02:36AM) (new)

Mermarie I added Under Crimson Sails to the list because of the sexual slavery, rape, and sexual depravity the heroine suffered at the hands of every man she came in contact with. XD

Edit: Woops, I should learn to read...says not to add books... XD

I am deleting it now, if someone wants to check it out and see if it qualifies.


message 30: by Karla (new)

Karla I TRUST YOU. :D But since you deleted it, I'll add it. I'm super-curious about that one.

It's because my old BR list had every Lindsey & Kleypas imaginable on it. FFS, people. -__-


message 31: by Mermarie (new)

Mermarie Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "I TRUST YOU. :D But since you deleted it, I'll add it. I'm super-curious about that one.

It's because my old BR list had every Lindsey & Kleypas imaginable on it. FFS, people. -__-"


XD Good ole JL.... The Quaker's version of BRs. lol I honestly don't even think I've read anything by Kleypas, either. o.o Who..is that?


message 32: by Karla (new)

Karla I haven't read anything by her, but I've got a couple of her early romances that will never see the light of reissue day because they supposedly don't toe the PC line.

However, Kleypas' idea of BR-ness sounds even more tame than JLs. LOL (Quaker's version... *sporfle*)

She's got her devoted fans, though. Regency crap. You know the drill. :P


message 33: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Polson I really think Tame the Rising Tide should be added to this list. I believe it meets a lot of the criteria Heroine is raped gives birth children are stolen away, falls for a man the main Hero,but doesn't stay with him after many men later married to a much older man and raped again she finally finds her way back to her love.


message 34: by Karla (new)

Karla Thanks for the suggestion, Kimberly. I've got that one on the TBR and it certainly looks like it'd qualify. I'll add it. :)


message 35: by Krystle (new)

Krystle Burris I'm hoping someone here can help me with my search. I remember reading a novel in the mid-90s, so I'm guessing it was a '70s or '80s release date. I remember one of the character's names was Olympia St. James. She was the sister of the abductor. The main character was a young woman from London who did not want to go forward with the arranged marriage her parents set up with an American living near New Orleans. She ran away and ended up on a ship, and fell in love with the captain, who just happened to be her betrothed. When they landed in New Orleans, he left her alone in the hotel, intending to return and tell her who he was. Instead, his cousin, Olympia's brother, abducted the woman. Does this ring a bell for anyone? I haven't read the novel in almost 20 years and would really like to re-read it. Thanks!


message 36: by Karla (last edited Dec 23, 2013 02:29PM) (new)

Karla Hi Krystle! I think it might be In Passion's Shadow by Sandra Dubay.

There's a partially visible version here which appeared in Google results for Olympia's name.

Another option: You can check the Openlibrary link and see if it's available to borrow (if your state participates in the lending program).


message 37: by Krystle (new)

Krystle Burris Karla, thank you so much! That's it. I immediately recognized the cover of the book.


message 38: by Nenia (new)

Nenia Campbell I'd like to nominate Anise by Patricia Phillips

It's pretty intense. Lots of rape or threats of rape in the beginning. The other love interest gets a hand cut off. And the villain has a necklace woven from the pubes of all the women he's ever slept with.


message 39: by Elzette (last edited Mar 06, 2014 05:32AM) (new)

Elzette Id like to nominate Into Passion's Dawn (The Loves of Angela Carlyle, #1) by Michele Dubarry Across Captive Seas (The Loves of Angela Carlyle, #2) by Michele Dubarry Toward Love's Horizon (The Loves of Angela Carlyle, #3) by Michele Dubarry
Into Passion's Dawn Across Captive Seas Toward Love's Horizon
I added the series because i haven't read a more violent bodice ripper besides storm fire. The difference is she gives back as good as she gets.
multiple beatings and rapes by different men.
not an easy read. But well worth the experience


message 40: by Karla (new)

Karla I just finished reading the first book in that trilogy and I totally agree.


message 41: by Elzette (new)

Elzette Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "I just finished reading the first book in that trilogy and I totally agree."
I think The loves of Angela Carlyle is a very under rated bodice ripper series. It was a very difficult read as she is put through so much violence. But what makes this book stand out from most is that she doesnt seem to swoon for him, instead she fights him, and even shoots him.
Thank you for responding.
I was starting to think i was only person who have read it.
What did you think?


message 42: by Karla (new)

Karla I read it more like a trainwreck. The writing overall left me so cold in spots. There were periods of dullness where I wanted the plot to get moving. But then when Scott would show up, things didn't seem to improve in the drama department beyond simple shock value and repetitious back-and-forth/hot-and-cold fighting. It was a mixed bag, though it reminded me greatly of Savage Surrender in tone and the bone-headed determination of the heroine to keep plugging along through various situations.

By the end Scott was giving off the same vibes as Anthony Welles in Devil's Embrace with his "kidnap and rape you til you realize we're made for each other" attitude. I didn't like that book for a wealth of reasons, so it kind of harshed my buzz towards the finale to be reminded of it.

I'm still going to read the rest of the trilogy, though. I had a take a break from it because it exhausted me with its bludgeoning tone of futile bickering and sexual warfare. I thought Angela was constantly vacillating about him (love-hate-love-hate), which sounds like a different take than what you had.


message 43: by Christina (new)

Christina What about Silver Jasmine by Janet Louise Roberts and Silken Savage by Catherine Hart?


message 44: by Karla (new)

Karla I'm familiar with Silken Savage, but what elements make Silver Jasmine bodice rippery?


message 45: by Christina (new)

Christina If I recall correctly (it's been ages since I read it), the hero wins the heroine in a card game, rapes her, then takes her to America to live on a southern plantation. I think one of the secondary characters is also raped later in the story. There's slavery, murder, and violence, especially against women.

I may not be remembering this bit right or I could be confusing it with another book I read, but I think one of the female characters (a slave) is either scarred on her face or else scarred in some way so that she can't have children. I think the former plantation owner or overseer did this to her.

Like I said, I could be confusing this with another book. I don't have a copy of this anymore, so I can't fact-check. Sorry!


message 46: by Karla (new)

Karla I think I have a copy, so I'll thumb through it to make sure, but it sounds good! I'll add it anyway and edit if necessary. :)


message 47: by Greentea (new)

Greentea I can't believe I'm missing out on these great books just because it's written decades before me. :( These books aren't available in print now..... I'm just dissapointed there's no way I can read this unless it's for sale in amazon or something


message 48: by Karla (new)

Karla Some of them can be had at book sales or used book stores, if you have those options in your area. Thriftbooks and Abebooks are also good online sources! And the internet has quite a few of the permanently-out-of-print pricey ones. ;)


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