@jfruh I registered just to answer your question because historical romances (good ones) are my passion. I review them for a popular romance blog (Dear Author) and am attempting to write one myself (a lot harder than it looks!).
Anyhow, the genre is huge and I think most people who try books at random, particularly if they are older ones from the 1970s and 1980s, will find it hard to discover the good ones if they only try a few. To discover the ones that are to your taste, you have to seek word of mouth, read reviews, or ask other romance readers who share your taste for recommendations.
Here are some that I like (doesn't mean you'll like them but I'll try to stay away from any that fit your description of what you dislike).
Black Silk, Beast, or The Proposition by Judith Ivory -- this author has a marvelously literary writing style and crafts complex, fascinating characters
For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale -- this author shares the above qualities although their books are quite different. Kinsale's books tend to be very emotional.
Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney (based on your description, some of her other books might not be for you but I think you might love this one, and perhaps To Love and to Cherish as well)
Mr. Impossible or Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase -- This author writes humorous books
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal
Miranda Neville's series starting with The Wild Marquis
Also, possibly Shana Abe's series starting with The Smoke Thief if you have any interest in a historical fantasy/paranormal romance