Movies Based on Romance Novels, Part II: Best-Selling Authors

movies based on books

Harlequin Romance Movies

We’ve found more movies based on romance novels. These are adapted from bestselling bookd in the 1980s.

By the mid-1970s, the romance genre was hot, from historical romances to family sagas to Gothics to category romances.

It was no surprise when Hollywood would come knocking at the door. Despite the vast number of romance novels written and sold, surprisingly few of them were adapted to the screen.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, there would be a smattering of romance novels turned into movies, from Harlequin, Pocket Books, and other publishers.

Leopard in the Snow by Anne Mather, 1974

The Book

Mildred Grieves, better known to romance readers as Anne Mather, was Harlequin’s best-selling author in the 1970s. Her Harlequin Presents novels were fresh, exciting, and sensual.

Her 1974 romance, Leopard In the Snow, was a hit with readers. It has been republished several times and was–at one point–available on Kindle, although it doesn’t appear to be so now. The original edition of this book is highly prized, hard to find, and expensive if you do.

leopardinsnow
Leopard in the Snow, Anne Mather, Harlequin, Don Sinclair art

The Plot

Helen simply couldn’t believe her eyes when, stranded in the snow in the wilds of Cumberland, she found herself confronted by a leopard! But luckily it was a tame one, and its owner, the mysterious Dominic Lyall, was able to offer Helen shelter in his house.

Soon, however, the situation turned into a nightmare as she realized that he intended to keep her there, virtually a prisoner – and no one had any idea where to start searching for her! How could she get away? And, as time went by, did she want to get away?

Yet she was only too well aware that if Dominic did decide to let her go, it would only be because he wanted to get rid of her for good…

Leopard In the Snow by Anne Mather
harlequin romance movie
Leopard in the Snow, Anne Mather, Mills & Boon, 1974, cover artist unknown

The Film

This Harlequin Presents romance was made into a 1978 romance movie starring Keir Dullea, star of 2001, A Space Odyssey, and Susan Penhaligon.

harlequin romance movies
Leopard in the Snow, Anne Mather, Mills & Boon, 1978, movie-tie edition

The film wasn’t very profitable and garnered mixed reviews. It would be a long while before Harlequin romance movies would hit the screens again.

You can watch Leopard In the Snow on YouTube.

Leopard in the Snow, film

Janet Dailey Romances Made Into Films

English-born Anne Mather sold millions of books worldwide for Harlequin. She had an American counterpart in Janet Dailey. By the end of the 1970s, Dailey was Harlequin’s only American writer and an extremely popular one.

After producing more than 50 books with Harlequin, Dailey signed a massive deal with Simon & Schuster to write category and full-length romances for their Pocket Books Division and new Silhouette imprint.

She and her husband Bill developed a movie studio of their own, Ramblin’ Films, to produce their own films.

Foxfire Light by Janet Dailey, 1983

The Book

Janet Dailey‘s Silhouette Special Edition #36, Foxfire Light, was from 1982 and was the Daileys’ first foray into filmmaking.

foxfire light
Foxfire Light, Janet Dailey, Silhouette Special Edition #36, 1982, cover artist unknown

The Plot

The original Special Edition version is hard to find, but the book is available on Kindle.

BUY FOXFIRE LIGHT

foxfire light
Foxfire Light, Janet Dailey, Kindle version

The Film

In the wooded Ozark hills Joanna met proud-hearted Linc Wilder. His gold-flecked eyes mocked her, his country-born spirit clashed with her city-wise ways. His lean body challenged her, sparking her senses till Joanna was as sweetly glowing as the foxfire that lit their nights.

This was no will-o’-the-wisp, to slip away in the dark, but a bright and shining love to show the way into tomorrow.

FOXFIRE LIGHT by JANET DAILEY

This was the Daileys production company’s only romantic adaptation to film. The movie came out in 1983 and was neither a commercial nor a critical success.

It starred Leslie Morgan and Tippi Hedren as the heroine’s parents and Faye Grant and Barry van Dyke as the young lovers.

foxfire light movie poster
Foxfire Light, 1983 Movie Poster

Ride the Thunder (aka When a Spider Bites) by Janet Dailey, 1980

The Book

A decade after the release of Foxfire Light, the Daileys would have another of Janet’s books transferred to the big screen. This time, it was one of her full-length novels, Pocket Books’ Ride the Thunder. Bill Dailey acted as an Executive Producer.

ride the thunder cover
ride the thunder
Ride the Thunder, Janet Dailey, Pocket Books, 1980, George H. Jones cover art

Ride the Thunder is still available on the Kindle version. If you can get your hands on the original copy, it is a collector’s item, as it’s one of the first stepback romances.

Buy Ride the Thunder

The Plot

From the Driving Power of Manhattan’s Penthouses to the High, Wild Beauty of Idaho’s Mountains, a Love Story That Rides the Thunder!

Jordanna Smith was the wild and willowy daughter of a prominent banker and a glamorous socialite, a globe-trotting huntress who sought the world’s big game at her father’s side. No man was her father’s equal in her eyes–until the night she met the rugged stranger who, in one frenzied and exalted moment, tapped the roots of a desire she had never known.

Fleeing to Idaho to join her father’s hunting party, she hoped to forget the bronzed stranger’s fiery touch. But there he was — her stranger, their guide, Brig McCord.

Their days were filled with the wild beauty of the hunt, their nights with the primitive fire of their passion. But soon their idyll was shattered by jealousy, betrayal and murder.

Now Jordanna would have to face the hidden truths about her father and her brother, and a secret that already had claimed one life and threatened to destroy her newfound love.

Ride the Thunder by Janet Dailey

The Film

The title was changed from Ride the Thunder to When a Spider Bites to make the film sound less pornographic, more suspenseful.

When A Spider Bites had a small budget of $350,000. The film starred Andrew Lamond as Brig McCord and Sharon Young as Jordanna ‘Dannie’ Smith. It was released in 1993.

janet dailey movie
When a Spider Bites, Movie Poster, 1993

When Jordanna Smith accepts an invitation to accompany her father & three others on a hunting trip into the Idaho mountains, she doesn’t know the trip will lead to both romance & murder – & that the motive for each will be revenge.

WHEN A SPIDER BITES, IMDB

Movie Based on a Lavyrle Spencer Romance

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer, 1989

The Book

LaVyrle Spencer’s 1989 romance novel, Morning Glory, is a romance about:

The book is available on Kindle, but the original Jove edition with the James Griffin stepback is also a collector’s copy.

Buy Morning Glory

morning-glory-outside
morning glory griffin
Morning Glory, LaVyrle Spencer, Jove, 1989, James Griffin cover art

The Plot

LOVE IN A STRANGER’S EYES…
ELLY
In town, they called her “Crazy Widow Dinsmore.” But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule–she had been an outsider all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys to raise, and a third child on the way.
WILL
He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he’d never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.
Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED–A husband. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore’s cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last … 

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

The Film

Morning Glory was made into a film in 1993, starring Christopher Reeve as Will Parker and Deborah Raffin as Elly Dinsmore. Although it was not a box office hit by any means, it received some critical acclaim.

The movie has gone on to be an appreciated romance classic.

morning glory movie

You can watch Morning Glory on Youtube:

Your Opinion

Have you seen any of these movies based on romance novels? Have you read the original books? Let us know!

Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!

1 thought on “Movies Based on Romance Novels, Part II: Best-Selling Authors”

  1. Thanks, Jacqueline. I read “Leopard in the Snow” and “Ride the Thunder” around forty years ago. Way too much time has passed for me to give an opinion on the books.

    I knew the former had been made into a movie, but I’ve never seen it. Well, I can’t remember seeing it.

    I’d never even heard of “When a Spider Bites” until now. What a ghastly title! Especially for a romance movie. Sounds like a horror show!

    I didn’t know about “Foxfire Light”, either the book or the film. I knew about the “Morning Glory” movie. But I haven’t watched it. Marriage-of-convenience romances aren’t for me. In any format.

    Over the years I’ve seen quite a few romance films based on romance novels. Most are pretty obscure, and I’d have to watch them again to write about them. But nowadays, just about anything ever filmed can be found somewhere!

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