Nine historical romance novels were published under the name of Madeleine Brent, beginning with Tregaron's Daughter
in 1971 and ending with Golden Urchin
Each of the novels is narrated in first-person by the heroine and has a historical setting and an adventurous plot featuring an exotic locale. Many of the novels involved the heroine being the key to an Unexpected Inheritance
or hidden treasure that the villains were trying to get their hands on.
"Madeleine Brent" was actually the adventure story writer Peter O'Donnell, the creator of Modesty Blaise
, although this was not widely known until after the last of "her" novels was published. When Merlin's Keep
won the Romantic Novel of the Year award in 1978, "Madeleine" pled an indisposition and the award was collected by a representative from the publishing house.
The novels are:
- Tregaron's Daughter (1971)
- Moonraker's Bride (1973)
- Kirkby's Changeling (1975) (also as Stranger at Wildings)
- Merlin's Keep (1977)
- The Capricorn Stone (1979)
- The Long Masquerade (1981)
- A Heritage of Shadows (1983)
- Stormswift (1984)
- Golden Urchin (1986)
These novels provide examples of:
- Beta Couple: A standard plot element, with the beta girl usually being the younger sister or friend of the heroine.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The heroine of A Heritage of Shadows has one, the precise nature of which is kept hidden from the reader until an in-story dramatic reveal occurs.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Cadi Tregaron in Tregaron's Daughter has a prophetic recurring dream.
- Fish out of Water: Lucy in Moonraker's Bride, raised in an orphanage in China, and Meg in Golden Urchin, raised by Aborigines in Australia, each have trouble fitting into polite British society.
- The Gentleman or the Scoundrel: The two love interests in Tregaron's Daughter. Played with — the scoundrel turns out to be basically dependable, and the gentleman to have a hidden sadistic streak.
- Gentleman Thief: In The Capricorn Stone, the MacGuffin is the secret stash of a famous jewel thief.
- Marriage Before Romance: In Moonraker's Bride the heroine enters a marriage of convenience with a man who's about to be executed; complications (and eventually romance) ensue when he's not executed after all.
- Mythology Gag: Golden Urchin features a couple of rogues who with hindsight bear a striking resemblance to Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. (One significant difference is that, being supporting characters in a Victorian historical romance, they're in love with each other and get married at the end.)
- Raised by Natives: Mitji in Golden Urchin, raised by an Aboriginal tribe after being abandoned in the Australian desert as an infant.
- Same Face, Different Name/Moustache de Plume: "Madeleine Brent" was really Peter O'Donnell, who wrote adventure stories with contemporary settings and much less romance under his own name.
- Unexpected Inheritance: Several of the novels feature some variation of "orphaned heroine discovers she has wealthy relatives, unwittingly makes an enemy of one of her new-found relatives who would have got the inheritance if she'd stayed lost".