Author Archives

jacquelinediaz

Covers of the Week #7

Romance is in the air! For the week of May 24 to May 30, here are some lovely Frank Kalan covers painted for the Harlequin Romance line. Enjoy!

Author Spotlight: Johanna Lindsey

A Heart So Wild, Johanna Lindsey, Avon, 1986, cover artist Robert McGinnis

A Historical Romance Favorite

To this day, I still mourn the passing of a romance great, Johanna Lindsey. Lindsey holds a special place in my heart, more so than any other historical romance author. Oddly enough, the first Lindsey I read was not a historical romance, but her 1990 science-fantasy romance, Warrior’s Woman. After that, her books became an addiction for me.

It’s no wonder that her publishers labeled her with the motto “Everyone Loves a Lindsey.” She reached the #1 position on the New York Times Best Seller list with Defy Not the HeartAngel, and other books. Lindsey sold over 60 million copies of her approximately 56 published romance novels. Her works were translated into at least a dozen other languages.

Life, Love, Family, & Career

Lindsey was born Johanna Helen Howard on March 10, 1952, in Frankfurt, Germany, to Edwin Dennis Howard, a soldier in the U.S. Army, and his wife, Wanda Lindsey (nee Castle). After her father died in 1964, Lindsey and her mother settled in the state of Hawaii, as her father had always dreamed of doing.

While still attending high school, at the age of 18 Johanna married her one true love, Ralph Bruce Lindsey.... Read more “Author Spotlight: Johanna Lindsey”

A Closer Look at Cover Artist: H. Tom Hall


H. Tom Hall

H. Tom Hall’s art work on romance book covers is legendary. His style is instantly recognizable, refined, yet sensual.

Hall was born in 1932 and grew up in Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. He studied at the Tyler School of Fine Art and received his BFA from Philadelphia College of Art.

While in the U.S. Army, Hall wrote and illustrated a children’s book published by Knopf. After illustrating children’s books and magazines for many years Hall moved on to create book covers. His work has graced some of the biggest bestsellers of all time, like Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and some Colleen McCullough works, including The First Man in Rome and The Thorn Birds.

The First Man in Rome, Colleen McCullough, Avon, 1991, Tom Hall cover art

His career was so widely varied and successful that he was commissioned to do the reprint of John Steinbeck’s Cup of Gold and illustrated the cover of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s blockbuster bodice ripper, Shanna. The latter book sold millions of copies, and the passionate clinch cover was a huge part of the romance novel’s allure.... Read more “A Closer Look at Cover Artist: H. Tom Hall”

Covers of the Week #6

deception

A pair of Pino covers! For the week of May 17 to May 23 let’s admire some historical romance novel stepback covers illustrated by Giuseppe Dangelico Daeni, aka Pino, a legendary artist we will explore at length very soon here at SweetSavageFlame.com! Aren’t these gorgeous works of art?

Left to right: Deception, Amanda Quick, Bantam Books, 1993, Pino cover art; Dangerous Anita Mills, Topaz, 1996, Pino cover art

The Languages of Love

planet earth

Old-school historical romances were quite diverse in settings, ranging from the Occident to the Orient, from the Middle East to everywhere in Europe to the Americas. In my time reading these books, I’ve come across several ways to say “my love,” “my beloved,” or “my darling” in various languages. As language is very nuanced, there are many words of love you can express among your friends, family, lovers, pets, etc.

I’ve tried to compile some ways to share intimate words with the one you love most in various languages.

Is your language on this list? If not, how do you say these words and phrases in your native language? Please, drop a comment and let’s talk romance!

LANGUAGEMy Love/ My Beloved or My Dear/My DarlingI love you.
Arabic(f) habibti; (m) habibi Ana uHibbuki. (to a female)
Ana uHibbuka. (to a male)
Ana Ahabak. (to a male)
French(f) ma chère; (m) mon cher (darling)
mon amour (my love)
Je t’aime.
German mein(e) Liebling (my darling)
mein(e) Schatz (my sweetheart)
Ich liebe dich.
Greek agápi Se agapó. S’agapó.
Irish mo stór (my love)
mo chuisle (my heartbeat)
Tá grá agam duit.
... Read more “The Languages of Love”

Covers of the Week #5

They may be late, but here are romance covers to enjoy for the week of May 10 to May 16. Since this week will be short and hopefully end up sweet, we’ll celebrate some short and sweet romances illustrated by Will Davies covers for this week!

Left to right: Promise Me Tomorrow, Leigh Michaels, Harlequin, 1991, Will Davies cover art; That Dear Perfection, Alison York, Harlequin, 1988, Will Davies cover art; Country Bride, Debbie Macomber, Harlequin, 1990, Will Davies cover art; Don’t Call it Love, Lindsay Armstrong, 1984, Will Davies cover art

A Closer Look at Cover Artist: Victor Gadino

Victor Gadino

Victor Gadino is an award-winning artist who holds an MFA from Pratt Institute. His work has appeared in elite promotions for the corporate, publishing, and entertainment fields.

Gadino’s big break in cover art illustration came through Avon’s Gordon Merrick gay romantic series, beginning with The Lord Won’t Mind. These–at the time–controversial images showed Gadino’s knack for sensual paintings that held a touch of whimsy.

The Lord Won’t Mind, Gordon Merrick, Avon, 1971, Victor Gadino cover art

Gadino did not begin his craft as a romance illustrator on Johanna’s Lindsey’s Prisoner of My Desire, but it helped catapult his name in the romance cover industry. Elaine Duillo had been Lindsey’s regular illustrator at the time, and although this was just a one-off occurrence, Gadino’s artwork was immediately appreciated by fans. (I love the horse grazing in the background.)

Gadino would design incredible-looking covers for authors such as Rosemary Rogers, Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham), Betina Krahn, and Sandra Hill. His works are defined by exquisite attention to detail, whether it be the hero’s muscled abs or the heroine’s beautiful gown and flowing hair. Many of his covers have been designed as stepbacks, with a “respectable”-looking front, but when they’re opened, there’s a beautiful illustration inside.... Read more “A Closer Look at Cover Artist: Victor Gadino”

Updates #5

woman in black tank top lying on bed

Things have been moving quickly here at Sweet Savage Flame.

woman in black tank top lying on bed
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Jacqueline Diaz, Romance Author

While I’m busy with this blog, I’m also in the process of completing my first book, The Savage Noble, which I hope to have out by August 1, 2021. You can find the first two chapters of my book at wattpad.com or my website jacquelinediazromance.com.

New Additions and More Updates to Come

I have been adding more book reviews to this site, at least two every day. The Coach to Hell is one book that was fun to review, if not read. We are blogging bi-weekly about romance-related issues and uploading new pages. There’s a blog post about our love for Fabio and pages on the history of Harlequin Historicals and Fawcett Books.

Used Book Store

There’s now a STORE attached to this blog. I’m reducing my vast paperback and hardcover library by selling used books. I have many books to sell, from multiple genres, including romance, science fiction, children’s books, and non-fiction. There are few doubles, so it’s first-come, first-serve if you find something you’d like to purchase from my vintage-and-not-so-vintage collection. For example, the rare out-of-print book Bliss by Judy Cuevas is available for $30, a fair price.... Read more “Updates #5”

Sweet Savage Flame Podcast

Valerie Parv

Australian author Valerie Parv recently passed away at the end of April, joining her fellow Harlequin/Mills and Boon colleague, Emma Darcy, who passed away late last December. Combined, these two women accounted for over 100 million books sold worldwide. Despite being gloabal phenomenons, their accomplishments did not receive the acclaim they deserved.

At our Sweet Savage Flame Podcast, we honor the memory of these two romance legends, Valerie Parv and Emma Darcy.

The podcast can be accessed at the site below, or on Spotify, Google, and many other forms:

WordPress Podcast Site

Valerie Parv 1950-2021

Emma Darcy 1940-2020

Romance Cover Model: Fabio Lanzoni

Fabio
Fabio
Fabio Lanzoni

A Controversial Romance Icon

Like bodice rippers and vintage romances of yesteryear, model Fabio Lanzoni has been unfairly maligned and even mocked by many modern-day romance readers. There’s a sentiment of contempt displayed at the old clinch covers, with some going as far as declaring that Fabio represented a low point in the genre. As a fan of Fabio and old-school romance, I cannot emphasize how wrong I think these detractors are.

The painted covers of retro-romances were created by talented artists using beautiful men and women as their models. They were works of art, despite–or perhaps because of–their campy, sexual nature. Lovers of romance should embrace that period in history, as they fail to understand that Fabio was supposed to be over-the-top and outlandish. He was advertising an exaggerated fantasy that we all knew was a bit ridiculous.

In trying to defend their beloved books, some readers take them too seriously. The romance novel industry has always been outrageous and irreverent by its nature, which is part of the fun.

We romance readers in the 1990s were far savvier than our contemporaries give us credit for being. The joke was never on Fabio, the reader, nor the genre.... Read more “Romance Cover Model: Fabio Lanzoni”

Covers of the Week #4

Winter Roses

May is upon us! May your days be full of love and joy! Here are some beautiful May-deval romance covers to enjoy for the week of May 3 to May 9. (Groan) That’s an awful pun!

Left to right: Lovefire, Deana James, Zebra, 1985, Pino cover art; Winter Roses, Anita Mills, Onyx, 1992, Greg Gulbronson cover art; Legacy of Shadows, Warner Books, 1987, Sharon Spiak cover art; Rose of Rapture, Warner Books, 1984, Elaine Duillo cover art

Belated Farewell to Emma Darcy

emma darcy

Farewell to a Talented Author

After writing my review for Emma Darcy’s Don’t Ask Me Now, I found out the sad news that she had passed away four months ago, on December 21, 2020, at the age of 80. Emma Darcy was a pseudonym for the husband-and-wife duo of Frank and Wendy Brennan.

Emma Darcy’s Life

Wendy was born in Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia, on November 28, 1940. She was a bright student and achieved success in college. She was the first female computer programmer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wendy and Frank married in 1964, and after having children, Wendy chose to leave the workforce and stay home to raise them. Frank was a businessman and a pharmacist.

Both were lovers of reading and they decided to join forces to write books together. Frank and Wendy wrote several books which they submitted to Mills and Boon. The legendary editor, Jacqui Bianchi, aka bodice-ripper author Teresa Denys, accepted their submissions but asked for them to be tweaked a bit before publication. In 1983, the couple released their first book as Emma Darcy, the Mills, and Boon/ Harlequin Presents Twisting Shadows.

Frank and Wendy wrote 45 books together before Frank passed away in 1995.... Read more “Belated Farewell to Emma Darcy”

The Evolution of Romance at Harlequin

the feathered shaft

Harlequin Romances are Becoming More Sexy

An article from February 11, 2021, by journalist Chris Lambie at saltwire.com addresses How Harlequin Romances Got Spicier. A study of 500 books found the covers got sexier as time has passed, just as the stories have. This phenomenon is not limited to Harlequin, but Harleys are the biggest players in the romance market, and they’re the oldest ones around.

From the article:

“All this begs the question, why study Harlequin romance covers over the decades? ‘If you want to understand what straight women want over time, I think this is a really telling way of looking at it,”’ Fisher said. ‘There’s only a certain segment of women that would be interested in these books. But I think it’s really useful in terms of understanding women’s idealized fantasies about mating.‘”

I’m afraid I have to disagree with this sentiment. I know straight women, lesbians, gay men, and straight men who read romance. It is evident that it’s mostly straight women read heterosexual romances. However, we shouldn’t ignore almost 1/5 of male readers or the other out-lying groups. Approximately 50% of romance readers are between the ages of 18-45, so of course, there are those looking for something different from their mothers or grandmothers.... Read more “The Evolution of Romance at Harlequin”

Updates #4

pexels-photo-6863529.jpeg

Hello, everyone! T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, and it’s certainly been a tumultuous one. I’m thankful it’s almost over, and that May will soon be upon us in all its flowery glory.

It’s hard to believe this vintage romance blog is only a month old, as it’s taken up so much of my time trying to put it together. Besides researching authors, publishing houses, and cover artists, I’ve been reviewing books and tweaking the site to make it more user-friendly with plenty of links and additions to the menu.

Used Book Store

You may have noticed there’s now a STORE attached to this blog site. I’ve decided some Spring cleaning is on the agenda, so I’m reducing my library by selling used books. I have many, many books to sell, but there are few, if any, doubles, so it’s first-come, first-serve if you find something you’d like to purchase from my vintage-and-not-so-vintage collection.

The conditions of the books range from excellent to acceptable for reading, and they are priced to sell. Shipping and handling is a default flat rate of $4 for Media Mail anywhere in the US. If you wish for a faster delivery method, please amend your order to First Class, which is a $6 flat rate, or to Priority Mail, which is a $9 flat rate.... Read more “Updates #4”

Covers of the Week #3

Ah, the beauty of Spring! For the week of April 26 to May 2, these are my picks for stunning romance covers to gaze upon!

Where Dreams Begin, Lisa Kleypas, Avon, 2000, Max Ginsburg cover art & Garters, Pamela Morsi, Jove, 1992, Leslie Pellegrino cover art

The Washington Post Reports: How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After

flame and flower
The Flame and the Flower, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Avon, 1972, Robert McGinnis cover art

How Has the Romance Genre Changed Over the Years?

On April 15, 2021, The Washington Post journalist Angela Haupt spoke with a dozen major players in the romance novel industry to write this engaging article about the evolution of the romance genre:

How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After

From the roots in bodice rippers like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ Flame and the Flower to the softer, sweeter writings of LaVyrle Spencer, to Harlequin’s dominance in publishing, to Fabio-mania, to the industry today, the article highlights the major points of the romance genre’s history. The two constants in this ever-changing field are the requirement for a happy, satisfactory ending for the protagonists and the ubiquitous nature of people who read and write romance. I think Beverly Jenkins did an excellent job summing it all up:

“There’s so many different women writing romance. You’ve got marine scientists, you’ve got biologists, you’ve got physicists. You’ve got waitresses. You’ve got stay-at-home moms. So, you know, everybody writes romance, and everybody reads romance, and all of that together generates billions of dollars a year. We’re the people that keep the lights on in publishing.”

... Read more “The Washington Post Reports: How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After”

A Closer Look At: Roger Kastel

Roger Kastel may not be as noted for his romance cover art as most of the other illustrators I’ve highlighted, but to ignore his artwork would be a shame. Although Kastel created a vast catalog of pulp fiction artwork, as well as romance covers, his biggest claim to fame is his work on movie posters, notably Jaws and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Kastel has illustrated about 1,000 book covers for various publishing houses. His work has been recognized by several elite institutions, he has won myriad awards, and is a member of numerous fellowships and associations. He has spent over 7 decades working as a professional artist. His artwork is part of Americana.

To read more about Roger Kastel and his artwork you can access this page:

Here are some great links, including a heartfelt tribute to his father’s career by his son Matthew Kastel:

Magster.com: Matthew Kastel Talks About The Art of Roger Kastel

Paperback Palette Blog: Roger Kastel Much More Than Jaws

Roger Kastel Official Website

Are you a fan of Roger Kastel’s work? If so, what are your favorite covers or pieces of art painted by Kastel? Drop a comment and let’s talk romance.... Read more “A Closer Look At: Roger Kastel”

A Closer Look At Pocket Books

whitney my love

I hope our readers view SweetSavageFlame as more than just a blog. We’re not academics, but we try to document the romance genre’s history since the last quarter of the 20th century. Even though this site is just a couple of weeks old, Sweet Savage Flame is building a substantial catalog of old-school romance books. We analyze and sort by reviews, authors, publishers, imprints, and/or cover artists. In addition, we look at the history behind the individuals and the companies that helped form the romance novel industry.

Every few weeks, we’ll highlight institutions or people archived on our pages. So let’s begin at the beginning with the originators of the paperback movement, Pocket Books.

Pocket Books: America’s First Mass Market Paperbacks

Started in 1939, Pocket Books was the first mass-market paperback distributor in the United States. They initially just reprinted classic works. Over time, Pocket Books developed their own stable of writers.

Through the years they would produce thousands of books that were accessible to readers. The revitalization of the romance genre started with Avon‘s 1972’s The Flame and the Flower. 1974 would see the one-two punch release of The Wolf and the Dove and Sweet Savage Love.... Read more “A Closer Look At Pocket Books”

%d bloggers like this: