Hello to all lovers of bodice rippers and vintage historical romances (pre-21st Century). Historical romance isn’t what it used to be. The romance genre has evolved greatly over the years, but there remains a soft spot in my heart for the books of old.
My Historical Romance Experience
I read my first historical romance at age 12. It was a bodice ripper-lite, Elaine Coffman’s Escape Not, My Love, published in 1990. It had a lovely step-back cover that outside looked respectable, like this:
But the inside was a beautiful clinch design:
Just weeks later, I read my first book published by Zebra. This was from the Heartfire imprint, a Civil War romance called Rebel Vixen by Dana Ransom (yes, I have a penchant for blond heroes).
My first real taste of hardcore bodice-ripping came to me a few months later with Rosemary Roger’s Sweet Savage, Love, which Avon published in 1973. It shocked me to my core. I loved it but was a little scared of how violent and epic it was. Grandiose in scope, it told the tumultuous romance of Steve Morgan and Virginia Brandon as they trekked across the United States and Mexico. It would be the first book in a series of 5 detailing both their and their daughter’s love stories.
Please accompany me as I take a look back at a roughly 30-year period in the romance genre from the 1970s to the end of the 20th century, where covers were lurid and beautiful and stories filled with passion. Historical romances transformed from tumultuous epics that sometimes contained violence, scenes of forced seduction, or even rape, to stories that have less euphemistic love scenes, are more blatantly erotic, have added a heavy dose of modern mores, and sometimes eschew historical mindsets altogether, becoming what some derogatorily call “wallpaper historicals.”
The Future of Sweet Savage Flame
I will be adding authors, books, cover artists and their works, book reviews, links, plus more blogging in the future.
Will old-school romance make a come-back one day? I certainly hope so! What do you think? What are your opinions about the historical romance genre? What book was your first historical romance? Please, drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.