(Note: This review was written by the newest member of our Sweet Savage Flame family, Mary Anne! We’re delighted to welcome her aboard as she has so much valuable information and opinions to share with us. Mary Anne is a reader, reviewer, and writer. Read more about her on our About page.)
Sapphire Romances was a line of American paperback romances, mostly contemporary, issued by RCA Direct Marketing in 1982. I’m pretty sure they were available only through mail order; there’s no price on the covers. The books were reprints of British originals and The Hamlyn Publishing Group often appears on the copyright page. The venture lasted only a little while, but produced some remarkable reading.
Out of the Shadows by Stella March was first published in 1967 and has been reprinted several times. This Sapphire edition was published in 1982.
Diana Farrington, a young woman living with her family in the English countryside, gets the shock of her life when her parents reveal something they should’ve told her much earlier: she was adopted. She takes the news poorly, to say the least. Diana falls into what sounds like a fugue state, a temporary mental disorder that makes her lose touch with reality and run away with no destination.
Luckily she ends up spending a night in the barn at the country estate of Alan Weymouth, a wealthy London businessman. He’s intrigued by this wanderer. She’s lovely, charming, adventuresome. And as mixed-up as he is.
Alan seems enviable on the outside. But he’s harboring a secret, a “sword of Damocles” hanging over his head by a hair. Years before, when he was a commercial airplane pilot, a mechanical failure led to an accident that left a bone chip suspended inside his skull. Further head trauma might dislodge it and kill him. It can be surgically removed, but the odds on him surviving the operation are only fifty-fifty. Understandably, Alan decided to do nothing—except take care to avoid further accidents.
He tries to persuade Diana to reconcile with her parents; she refuses. He’s more successful in getting her a sales job at his Harrods-like department store in London.
Alan and Diana become close. Inevitably they fall in love. They’re clearly made for each other. But their unresolved issues make for complications. Which is as far as I’ll go in describing the plot. I hate spoilers!
I love this novel because it does what I think a romance should first and foremost do. It presents the story of a love that deeply moved me. I could feel everything the protags feel. And they feel a lot, from the heights of joy to the pits of despair. Alan, Diana, and their relationship well and truly come alive. I can easily relate to this couple.
If you enjoy a ride on an emotional roller coaster, if you go for romances that depict how love can change everything, and do so more convincingly than in the usual redemption storyline, I heartily recommend Out of the Shadows.
A bit about the author, drawn from her Wikipedia page. Stella March was the pen name of Marjorie Bell Marshall. She wrote twenty-three romance novels published between 1956 and 1986. From 1967 to 1969 she was the Chairman of the Romantic Novelists Association, the British equivalent of the RWA. She died in 2020, at age 104.
You read that right, folks.
Reviewed by: Mary Anne Landers