Gordon Merrick created the legendary Peter & Charlie gay romance series. The trilogy portrayed the first mainstream love story between two men that concluded happily ever after. Another milestone in gay fiction occurred when they were reprinted in the 1980s. A young artist named Victor Gadino illustrated the iconic clinch covers. Never before had two men been pictured so intimately on romance novels.
The 1980 Mills & Boon reissue of Violet Winspear’s book Lucifer’s Angel is said to be the first romance (contemporary or category, anyway, not so sure about historicals) to feature a kissing couple on the cover. And what a pretty one it is.
The Sheik by Edith M. Hull, published in 1919, is as influential to the modern romance genre as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps, even more so.
It was a blockbuster of a success, despite its many detractors. While some modern readers may cringe at its depiction of women, sexual roles, and racial attitudes, The Sheik remains a compelling read one hundred years after its publication. 5 stars
It’s March 30, 2022! As always, Sweet Savage Flame is a little late to the party, even our own. We’re night owls so days don’t start until late morning for us. One year ago today, we uploaded our first post to this blog/ website, Welcome to Sweet Savage Flame. We had modest ideas for what we’d be doing, and now we’re branching out to be amateur historical record keepers of the romance genre.
Wendy Brown is a not-yet-21-year-old Englishwoman who’s been given the worst news imaginable: she has an inoperable brain tumor and will die in a few months. Rather than spend her last days wallowing in despair, Wendy decides to make the best of her lot. Alone in the world, she sells her family home and buys a ticket for the maiden voyage of a glamorous cruise ship that’s set to sail the world. Thus begins Anne Hampson’s Song of the Waves, a vintage Harlequin Presents written in 1976. 4 stars
Charlotte Lamb’s Stranger in the Night deals with a sensitive topic she’s approached several times: rape. No, it does not employ the controversial trope of “dubious consent” found in many Harlequins from the 1970s and 1980s. This is a healing love story about a traumatic assault that upended a woman’s life and affected her relationships with men. 5 Stars
Tabitha in Moonlight is a light romance about an efficient, capable nurse (aren’t they always in these books?) of an elderly men’s ward who falls for the new surgeon, Dr. Marius van Beek. Betty Neels wields the typical doctor-nurse romance into a Cinderella story, with Tabitha starring as the poor, down-trodden stepdaughter who gets no love from her wicked step-mother and equally wicked step-sister. Dr. van Beek plays the role of the prince, but fortunately, this Prince is far more astute than his fairy tale predecessor, not requiring a glass slipper to identify his true lady love. 4 stars