A Love to Last Foreverby Linda Randall Wisdom is a fine romance between two former high school classmates, Stacy McAllister and Clarence “Mike” Harper. It’s 1986, and a 20-year class reunion brings the protagonists together. While Stacy was a popular cheerleader and prom queen who dated the captain/ quarterback of the football team, Mike had been a chubby, pimple-faced nerd who students like Stacy’s boyfriend had picked on.
Stacy’s life is not running as smoothly as it had years before. She’d once had a promising future with a scholarship to North Western University but gave it up to marry her boyfriend a week after graduation. While that marriage resulted in a daughter, it ended in divorce when Stacy had enough of her husband’s abuse. A second marriage also ended in divorce after she got pregnant with a son.
This week Sweet Savage Flame is highlighting male cover models! We all know Fabio, John DeSalvo, and Steve Sandalis. But what about other men who modeled during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s? Looking at these attractive men, we can see how the image of the romance cover hero has evolved throughout the years.
The four men whose artful forms we’re appreciating are pictured on the covers below, left to right:
Chad Deal – Deal posed for hundreds of romance covers in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Perhaps one of the first cover model icons, Deal had a long and successful career. He posed for twice as many covers with Elaine Duillo as Fabio did ( 40+ vs. 19).
Guy Bishop – This internationally famous model lent his face to countless magazines and book covers. Bishop appeared in glitzy advertisements and walked the runways of Paris and New York, showing off designer clothes.
Mike Dale – Dale has worked for Bantam Loveswept, Silhouette/ Harlequin, Zebra, and many other publishers. His face was ubiquitous in 1990s romance covers, his down-to-earth appeal making him a natural for category romance. A true example of a silver fox, Dale now runs a life management business, teaches yoga, and models for catalogs and fashion magazines.
If you watch Madonna’s “Material Girl” video, that pretty much sums up the plot of this category romance. Man in Control by Alice Morgan features a unique heroine, an avaricious young woman who openly acknowledges that she’s looking to settle down with a man, not for love but money. This Dell Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme wasn’t fabulous or anything (few of them really were). However, the book was quirky enough to hold my interest, even if it could have been shortened by 100 pages.
Samantha Thatcher has come to San Francisco to look for a rich sugar daddy to sink her red claws into. And why shouldn’t she? She’s young, beautiful, and poor, so a girl ought to know what’s in her best interest. Her aunt has lined up several prospective candidates for Sam to date.
On her way to her aunt’s, she gets a flat tire. A handsome red-haired trucker named Steele pulls over to fix her flat. He’s a charming fellow who takes an immediate interest in Sam. When he finds out why she’s is in town, he’s determined to show her that there’s more to a husband than what’s in his pants–er, wallet.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Man in Control by Alice Morgan”
Brooklyn-born artist Elaine Duillo, who, in her long and storied career, earned the well-deserved moniker of “The Queen of Romance Cover Art,” did it to me again! How many books have I purchased simply because I was dazzled by the hypnotic painted covers, only to find disappointment within the pages of those supposedly lurid novels?
The best thing about Emily Bradshaw’s Halfway to Paradise is its stunning jacket, which is an excellent representation of Duillo’s flair for making even the most mundane tale seem enticing. This one is done primarily in purple hues, with the heroine’s long blonde locks that flow down to her knees providing a bright complement to the hero’s dark-violet doublet.
Back in the day, an Elaine Duillo cover guaranteed you were reading a juicy bodice ripper. That was not the case with this book.
Why have I spent so much time in this review discussing Duillo’s talent rather than the content of this Halfway to Paradise? Because, lamentably, the book put me halfway to sleep.
“Well…I suppose we could have…one for the road.” Garret’s breath was quick, his hands hot. How hard he felt against her softness. He thought she was being flippant; couldn’t believe she’d leave him.
THE DEDICATED MAN
The Dedicated Man by Lass Small is a delightful romance between a slightly older man and a young woman just starting to grow her wings. It’s a story about compromise to make a relationship work. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Small’s trademark humor is a big part of the book as she’s incorporated into other works, like Four Dollars and Fifty One Cents.
Piper is part of a large, loving family. Her younger siblings are a riot. Her parents are good, salt-of-the-earth folks.
Garret is a casual family friend who is drawn to the vivacious Piper. While Garret is an established man with a career, Piper’s barely eighteen. Despite their age difference, the two are attracted to each other and begin to date. They fall in love, and in due time, get married.
Things are great for Garet and Piper, as far as romance goes.
Other than E. M. Hull’s masterpiece, The Sheik, the Dell-published Desert Hostage by Diane Dunaway would qualify as my most-liked sheik romance.
Harems and desert sheiks romances aren’t usually my cup of tea, as I prefer historical heroes to be swordsmen, cowboys, or knights. Nevertheless, a man like Karim who is passionately devoted to his heroine makes for a great hero, and a romance with such a male protagonist will certainly catch my interest.
This is another book where the half-European, half-Arab sheik carries off his object of desire into the sandy dunes and makes her his.
The story starts with a bang where we read about Karim’s mother and her desert abduction at the hands of a ruthless sheik. She plots and manipulates to have her son be taken to Europe where he will be educated and ”civilized.”
The girl would be more than a job to him. He had known it the moment he’d looked at her face. Was that why her eyes were so wide and round? Because she knew it too? It was ordained and irrevocable. Sometime. Somewhere. Somehow. He would take her to his bed.
ESCAPE NOT MY LOVE
Rating: 5 out of 5.
My First Historical Romance
As I’ve mentioned before, Elaine Coffman’s Escape Not My Love was not my first venture into the world of romance, but it was my first historical romance novel. And for that, I am grateful.
Superficially, ENML drew me in from the outset. It had a stunning step-back cover, designed with a pattern of a woman’s purple and white-flowered gown, and it opened to reveal the colorful protagonists clinched in a passionate embrace. (Thank God for that step-back! I first read this as I sat in church, waiting for my turn to enter the confessional and talk to the priest. He didn’t know what kind of trashy book I was reading, and I wasn’t about to volunteer that tidbit.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Escape Not My Love by Elaine Coffman”
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 calledRebel 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.... Read more “Welcome to Sweet Savage Flame”