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Sweet Savage Flame: What We Are & What We Want To Be

A Blog & Webiste for Old School Romance

Note: I had meant to write this up for the New Year, but the holidays and illness got in the way. Don’t plans always have a way of getting knocked aside by life? Nevertheless, we keep making them.😀 And making plans are we’re doing for Sweet Savage Flame!

Sweet Savage Flame was started in March 2021 by me Jacqueline Diaz. I have wonderful people who help out: Mary Anne and Blue Falcon, who is my rock.

So What’s the Deal With Sweet Savage Flame?

This article was inspired by a question I saw posted on Google: “Is there a website that has a list of all historical romance novels by a publisher?” I thought, of course, FictionDB or Library Thing must have those details. And they do, usually by imprint or series, but sometimes it’s not easy to find all the information at once. This got me contemplating our intentions for Sweet Savage Flame.

More than just a blog where we post reviews of romance novels written prior to 2000, I wanted this place to be a source of valuable information regarding the genre’s history.

I have an anachronistic streak about me, especially regarding media consumption. On My Goodreads bio, I write that for me, pop culture ends in 1999–although that is a bit of an exaggeration. Once in a while, I will discover new talent to get excited about, but my heart turns to the past, especially when it comes to reading romances.

The twentieth century was like no other before, and everything that stemmed from then has historical value for where we have branched today. While I may not produce output in record time, I think it’s essential to have space for a comprehensive record of romance, especially the pivotal latter decades of the 1900s.

I try to be even-minded about the people involved in the industry and the work they created. Perhaps what was published “back then” could never be published today. Nevertheless, I want to know what was written, by whom, and maybe find out why. So, Sweet Savage Flame reviews vintage and old-school romances, we talk about authors, publishers, and cover artists and models. (And we sell some used books at our book store.)

Should we be doing more?

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What Sweet Savage Flame Is Not

There are many incredible sites on the web that provide information about romance novels or books in general. There are blogs at Bookriot, Red Feather Romance, and even Amazon. Other sites like AAR (All About Romance), Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and forums on Goodreads provide communities for romance readers to get together and talk. Romance.Io has all the latest reviews grouped into categories and tropes.

For the more scholarly inclined, there is RomanceWiki hosted by the University of Birmingham (UK), and Unsuitable run by Duke University professors who teach “Publishing & Marketing Popular Fiction: A Case Study of the Romance Novel.” Our Twitter pal, Dr. Maria de Blassie, also teaches a college course on the history of the romance genre and posts videos on her site Enchantment Learning. International Association for the Study of Popular Romance is “dedicated to fostering and promoting the scholarly exploration of all popular representations of romantic love.”

In the last year, I’ve met fascinating folks on Twitter and Instagram who are exceptional sources of knowledge regarding the history and relevance of romance. If you have a question about the genre, someone out there knows the answer, and we will try to guide you to it.

I must admit, the bigger the internet gets, the more lost I feel. There were smaller sites ten years ago and more of a local feel. A decade ago, I loved using the Amazon Customer Discussion forums. When they were shut down, a lot of wisdom was erased. (I feel the same way about the loss of the IMDB forums). Little sites like TheRomanceReader folded. Even the long-running magazine Romantic Times stopped publication and was scrubbed entirely from the internet.

I created a blog and website, but I didn’t create a community. A community can’t be made out of thin air. It has to be built. I want to start building one, and I welcome you to be part of it. If you like romance novels that are 20 – 40 years old or more, that’s all you need to come in.

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Guest Blogging, Reviewing & Forums

This site has been a work-in-progress, learn-as-I-go sort of thing. After learning to code (very poorly, I might add), performing SEO, searching for the perfect images, reading, researching, writing, formatting, and editing (very poorly, I might add), I post.

Then I expect some magic to occur. I don’t focus on the social aspect as much as I should. So it can seem as if I’m talking to people rather than speaking with them. I don’t always respond to comments promptly, which is insulting to people who spend valuable time here. It’s something that I am working to improve upon, and I hope that we can form some connections.

To that end, I will be attempting to create a forum where people can interact and chat. It will take time because I don’t want this site to get any buggier than it is. I hope to have it up within a month or so. Any comments or input would be appreciated.

More importantly, I am asking you, our readers, for your voice. Sweet Savage Flame does a lot of talking. But what do you have to say?

We’re looking for guest bloggers or reviewers. Have you read a pre-Y2K book so wonderful–or so horrific–you had to write a review and now want to plaster it all over the web? Send it to us, and we’ll post it with your byline below the title.

Do you have any trivia about an author that could make for an intriguing anecdote? Maybe you have an opinion on the state of romance and would like to write an Op-Ed? Perhaps you have a blog and are looking for a guest blog exchange. Are you a BookTuber or Bookstagrammer who’d like to write a one-time spot? There are many ways to make your voice heard, and we’re eager to help.

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Confession Time

We all carry personal baggage that wears us down. I have several chronic conditions that make life… interesting. I’ve lived with Lupus for 30 years. The stress on my joints makes it difficult to type, and I am a terrible sausage-fingered, hunt-and-peck typist as it is. You read this site; it’s no stranger to typos, for which I apologize.

I also have other issues for which I take medication. I have ADHD and trouble focusing. Depression and anxiety have plagued me for years. Lexapro has done wonders for depression. However, anxiety still lingers. I panic when performing simple tasks.

Communicating with others is a big trigger. I love when people send me messages yet freeze when responding. I second-guess my word choices. Did that post sound sarcastic? Better add a smiley emoji.

It’s a weird thing to struggle with when running a blog, as this depends upon interaction. Communication is an essential skill, one that I am trying to work on every day.

Since I’m airing all my dirty laundry, I might as well get it all out. I’m no fan of institutional education. I’m a college dropout, having left university with only 40 credits to my name–8 of those due to AP high school classes. I was pregnant at 19 and a mother by 20. Although I homeschooled my daughter on and off for 15 years, the only degree I hold is a high school diploma.

What I’m inartfully attempting to say is that I am no academic when it comes to anything, including literary scholarship. I have not written a thesis or articles on the socio-sexual-political aspects of romances. I have never been published professionally.

But I love history, adore romance novels, and have a knack for solving puzzles. That comes in handy when identifying cover artists or remembering a book title. Collecting data and forming a cohesive whole is like solving a puzzle.

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Your Opinion

I want Sweet Savage Flame to be where you can get as much information as possible about your favorite vintage romance reads. If we can’t help, we’ll point you in a direction where you can.

Plus, I want this to be somewhere for all people who want to talk about romance come and feel welcome. We may joke around, but there is no judgment here. Like what you want and don’t apologize to anyone for it; certainly not to us.

Let us know how you feel. We love getting feedback, and we take it to heart. As always, drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

10 replies »

  1. There is honestly no romance like old school historical romance, or as I have been known to call it, the first wave of historicals. Woodiwiss, Small, Sherwood, Vandergriff, and a host of other names long since forgotten by modern romancelandia, are important parts of what made me, well, me. I am an avid lover of historical romance, have been reading it since the age of eleven, and taking a stab at writing it, in one form or another, by seventeen. It’s been a while since then :ahem: but I have been writing romance (four historicals and one co-written contemporary with a historical flavor) and about romance, on my own blog, Typing With Wet Nails, among many others, including a stint with Heroes and Heartbreakers (MacMillan romance blog) and now helping to reboot Buried Under Romance.

    I’ve been very much missing the community that was Romantic Times, and seeing a need for such a place for those of us who love the books we do, to have a community of our own. I am also a raging extrovert, so yessssssssss on engaging with others. I also live with anxiety and depression (better living through modern pharmeceuticals!) so I do understand on that front. Finding Sweet Savage Flame is one thousand percent finding my tribe, so definitely count me in for all future endeavors.

    • Hello Anna,

      Great comments and thank you for dropping by! When I started reading romance in the early 1990s, I read what was being published at the time. I had no concept of the genre’s history. As the years went on, I discovered the early era and was hooked.

      I’m always delighted to meet others who love and respect the books that came from back then.

      I’ll definitely bookmark Typing With Wet Nails (How do you do that? I can barely type as it is, LOL.) and Buried Under Romance, which I am familiar with. And keep an eye out for your books. So glad to have you on board and hope to see you around!

      Cheers,

      Jacqueline

  2. This is a wonderful post. I don’t know what to mention first in my comment–in fact my communication “issue” is that after I read a post, yours especially because they are usually so thought provoking, I put off adding a comment because I have too much I want to say and yet I have to be somewhere….and then I decide too much time has elapsed.

    So at the moment I’m going to limit myself to praise for the site and what you’ve accomplished in so short a time, it’s really amazing! Also I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it before but you were the person on Goodreads who inspired me to start mentioning the cover artist in my reviews because I saw you had shelves for the artists. Until that time it was information I had been seeking avidly but not really sharing it with others (except my exceedingly patient husband).

    I’m sorry to hear about your health challenges. Consider the fact that a single info packed post of yours might be stretched by another blogger into days worth of content, and don’t push yourself beyond what is comfortable or healthy for you.

    • Hello Iris,

      It’s always so nice to hear from you. I, too, put off adding comments to conversations because sometimes I feel the speakers have said everything so perfectly, and all I have to add is “Me, too!” But it’s always a joy to see a comment weeks, or even months after an article is posted, so if a thought pops into your head, let it out! 😊

      How sweet of you to say that I inspired your shelves, because to me, you’re an inspiration. Your knowledge on artists is invaluable, and it’s information like that which I cherish and want to record. There’s no centralized location where one can look for cover artists, let alone mid to late 20th century romance illustrators. And how many people like you can identify artists on sight? That’s a great talent to have. If you don’t mind, I’ll be picking your brain for more info on artists in the months to come.

      Thank you for saying all that. One thing I learned in 2021 is that I am capable of things I hadn’t thought I was… But the key is to only put on my plate what I can finish. That’s why I want to meet and speak to more folks who love and know romance.

      All the best,

      Jacqueline

  3. Hi Jacqueline! It’s Jennifer from @artoftheclinch. So happy you’ve created this valuable site and I look forward to seeing it unfold 😊 You bring such an important angle to the history of late 20th century romance, which I see as engagement with all elements of the genre from the perspective of an intelligent reader who values and loves the great books along with the clunkers — without needing to correct them, apologize for them, or make them anything other than what they were and are. I’m sure this site will continue to be a resource for me and others for years to come.

    • Hello Jennifer,

      Thanks for being here! It was the oddest bit of synchronicity last Spring when I started this site and then saw your Twitter. I had just created the Covers of the Week and when I saw your account, I literally squealed in delight. It made me so happy, it was like a sign from above letting me know that there are people who appreciate the joy, the camp and the wonder of older romances, just like me and doing this blog wasn’t such a crazy idea.

      Because of your daily postings, I’ve discovered new cover artists and honed my identification skills.

      If you check the comment section, Iris, a Goodreads buddy of mine, is the superstar at identifying category romance artists. If you ever post any contemporary covers, she’ll have all the info, and she has helped me learn about several artists.

      Cheers,

      Jacqueline

  4. Thanks for all that you do here – there’s no site quite like this one out there! I have just been getting into 80s and 90s romance and your site has helped a lot to add to my ever-growing list of interesting books. And there’s certainly a tremendous abundance of books left to cover. I may try writing up a review or article myself in the future.

    • Hello Ms. M!

      Thank you for the compliments. I’m glad that we can be of help in your search for books to read. With it being the 50th anniversary of The Flame and the Flower this year, yes, there are many diverse books to cover. I’m finding new authors and books all the time.

      If you do ever write a review or an article, let us know. It would be exciting to new opinions around here. My e-mail is on our About page if you ever want to contact me.

      All the best,

      Jacqueline

  5. I just want to let you guys know, you guys are one of the most refreshing blogs I read! I follow several, but I don’t check them everyday( unlike yours ) because they get a little too political. There is a place for that, but everything is so politicized today it’s nice to read a blog the focuses on character and storytelling first and foremost. Reading this also makes me want to start a blog of my own. Thanks for your posts and keep doing what your doing 😊

  6. HI, Jacqueline.

    I DM’d you but I wanted to write here as well. Thank you for allowing me to become a part of the community you are creating here. Even though we have never met in person, you and I have so much in common, from love of vintage romance to similar pop culture thoughts to some of the daily issues we deal with. One of the most important things a person can have is community and you have helped me find one here at “Sweet Savage Flame”, so thank you for that.

    As to what I hope “Sweet Savage Flame” can be, my hope is to be a contributor to whatever direction you wish to take the blog in. I might suggest holding off on the forum idea for now and trying to work on increasing the interactivity of the site, and then establishing a forum. However, I will support you in whatever choices you make regarding the site. I love the idea of guest-bloggers, as it can provide different perspectives and there are people who have knowledge of books, authors and artists from the era we focus on that will enhance both the site and my knowledge.

    In sum, being a part of “Sweet Savage Flame” has made me six inches taller, one hundred pounds lighter, and a better dancer (sadly, I’m not growing any taller, I still need to lose 100 pounds, and you really don’t want to see me dance). But, all kidding aside, I am truly grateful for your friendship and support. It means more to me than I can articulate.

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