These 15 Historical Romances published before 2000 either caused radical changes in the romance novel industry or they are so pivotal and unforgettable, they are must-reads. Please note, we at Sweet Savage Flame may not have read all books ourselves, but recognize their importance to the genre. Our aim is to review all books on this list if we haven’t already.
Brenda Jackson’s Tonight and Forever is her first published book and the first in her long-running series of the Madaris family. It’s a Pinnacle Arabesque romance from 1995, which are category romances but are not numbered, at least not to my knowledge. What propels Tonight and Forever into a “better than good” zone is that it isn’t just a romance about the healing power of love, it’s a book about the power of love itself. 3 1/2 stars
For Mary Anne Landers’ first Covers of the Week post, she wants to honor the late, great Elaine Duillo (1928 to 2021). Elaine left us on July 30 of this year, and had been retired for some time. But her wonderful illustrations live on.
Driving Force, a Sally Wentworth Harlequin Presents, offers few surprises but is a satisfactory read regardless. West Marriot– our hero, not a 3-star hotel but a famous race car driver–was terribly injured in a race several months ago. Madeleine French, a nurse and physiotherapist, had been married to West for four years. 3 1/2 stars
Books like Jo Ann Ferguson’s An Offer of Marriage suffer from being published during a time of change. When Kensington’s Zebra historical romances died, they didn’t go quickly (actually, Zebras are still around, but they’re not the same as they used to be in the 1980s and 1990s). 1 star
This review is of The Strong, Silent Type, book #2 in the “Bachelor Arms” series and the 2nd of 3 books in the series written by Kate Hoffmann. The book begins with Josh Banks, the hero of the book and a tax accountant (yes, you read that correctly), meeting with one of his clients, actress Olivia Wilde (NOT the current actress using the stage name, this Olivia Wilde is a 75-year-old octogenarian actress). Olivia asks Josh for a favor; to keep her granddaughter, Taryn, out of Los Angeles for a few weeks… 3 1/2 stars
In the romance genre, we often see some types of plots or character types repeated. These similarities resonate for myriad reasons. Some tropes are common in vintage or old-school romance, but not so much in modern romances. Then there are tropes that never go out of style.
This review is of A Happily Unmarried Man, #3 in the “Bachelor Arms” series published in April 1995 by Kate Hoffmann. The story begins at a mall in Los Angeles… 4 stars
For the week of Monday, September 6, 2021, to Sunday, September 12, we’re looking at gorgeous category romance covers painted by some of the greatest artists of romance novels. Below are a few category romances illustrated by the legendary Elaine Duillo, Robert Maguire, Elaine Gignilliat, and Pino. Enjoy!
This review is of Bachelor Husband, book #1 of 11 in the “Bachelor Arms” Harlequin Temptation series from February 1995 by Kate Hoffmann. Bachelor Husband begins with Harry Truman “Tru” Hallihan, the hero of the book and a private investigator, working a case.
This review is of Shameless Ecstasy, a standalone from May 1989 by Thea Devine. The book takes place on Swany Island, Georgia. One of the residents there is Sarianna Broydon, the heroine of the book. 1 star
We list the best romance book blogs (besides ours, LOL). These links to some of the greatest romance novel loving sites and blogs should keep you busy.
Enjoy this list of 5 Great Vintage Romance Heroines from 5 Great Romances. From Gothic, Category and Historical Romance, we’ve got it covered. May you love these strong heroines as much as we do!
If you have an Amazon Prime account you can borrow up to 10 books for free at a time. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, no doubt you already take advantage of the many books you can read for a fixed monthly fee. These old school romances are available to read on Amazon.
This week Sweet Savage Flame is highlighting male cover models! We all know Fabio, John De Salvo, and Steve Sandalis. But what about other men who modeled in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s? Looking at these attractive men, we can see how the image of the romance cover hero has evolved through the years.
Duncan’s Bride has an old-school plot, even by the standards of romances written in…1990. In Silhouette Intimate Moments #349 by Linda Howard, a 28-year-old beauty from New York City travels across the country to become the mail-order bride of a hero who’s damn lucky to get her. 4 stars
Highland Fire is the third of Ruth Langan’s MacAlpin clan Highland series originally published as Harlequin Historicals. The first two books were Highland Barbarian, about sister Meredith, and Highland Heather was middle sister’s Brenna’s tale. This book tells the story of the youngest MacAlpin sister, Megan, and her romance with an Irish renegade, Kieran O’Mara. 3 1/2 stars
We’ve listed 10 category romance authors from the 20th Century who were so incredibly successful or influenced the genre in revolutionary ways. These authors are must-reads for lovers of old-school or vintage romance.
This review is of Virginia Vixen by Kay McMahon. Published in May 1989, this book is part of a series connected to four other books by Ms. McMahon. The book begins in Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1774. Rebecca Wilde, a reporter for the Virginia Gazette and the heroine of the book, is investigating the murder of a slave who was a childhood friend of hers. Arriving at the same time is Alec Stone, the hero of the book, who has come to Virginia from England for two purposes; to find his father’s identity and to investigate the disappearance of one of his employees. 2 1/2 stars
In the romance genre, an author might use an alias for various reasons. Perhaps their real name lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Because some romance writers create fiction for multiple genres, different names ae used. Others are men who want to appeal to a vast female audience. Or they could be married couples or duos who need a catchy nom-de-plume.
The power of love is as old as the Earth and as constant as the four seasons. To live is to love! At Sweet Savage Flame, romance is in the air all year long. So to celebrate, from Monday, August 23, 2021, to Sunday, August 29, our 20th edition of Covers of the Week highlights four beautiful romance covers set during Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
Christine Monson was best known for her infamous, shocking bodice-ripper Stormfire, which is legendary for the protagonists’ extremely abusive revenge-based romance. Her second book Rangoon significantly turns down the crazy factor, but still retains the sensitive writing that made Stormfire so haunting and memorable. 3 1/2 stars
Thanks to Anne Mather’s Tangled Tapestry I now realize publishers don’t always put the correct copyright information in the front of e-books. Going into this read, I knew it was a vintage romance, but you only get to know that it was published in 1969 after you finish it. I’m only stating this because, like many things written in the mid 20th century, it’s aged as if… it was written in the mid-20th century! This book may offend some readers’ sensibilities, or, if you’re twisted like me, make you laugh! 2 1/2 stars
Elaine Duillo was the undisputed “Queen of Historical Romance” covers. She was a giant in the competitive field of pulp fiction artwork, where women were few and far between. Duillo painted hundreds of book covers, was inducted into the Illustrators Hall of fame, and was the matriarch of a talented artistic family. She passed away on July 30, 2021, at the age of 93.
Blue Falcon’s Romance Journey
In a recent post, Jacqueline asked, “The Hero, the Heroine, or the Love Story?” querying about what people read romance novels for. I answered in the comments section, but I also felt like I wanted to elaborate a bit more. Hence, this post.
Peggy Gaddis was a big name in mid-century genre fiction. Gaddis is credited with almost 300 works under a dozen names (that I know of). Her fortes include contemporary category romance novels; Shadows on the Moon is one example. First published as a hardcover by Arcadia House in 1960, it has been reprinted several times and on both sides of the pond. 4 stars
One of my favorite romance cover artists from the 1980s, 1990s, and well into the 2000s is Gregg Gulbronson. For the week of Monday, August 9 to Sunday, August 15, 2021, we highlight his gorgeous covers.
Pinnacle Books’ Passion’s Wicked Torment is a balls-to-wall 20th-century bodice ripper set in the gangster era during American Prohibition. From New York to Chicago, from Alaska to Europe, this book hops around the globe and features lots of mutually lusty sex scenes, rapes, and gangbangs. It stars a heroine so stupid and dumb, she could only have been written by Mr. Melissa Hepburne himself, the author of the blockbuster bestseller (I’m not kidding, it sold over a million copies!) Passion’s Proud Captive. 3 stars
It’s not exactly the easiest vintage romance to find, but it’s a memorable one. Uninvited Wedding Guest began as a hardcover titled Friend of the Bride, originally published in 1968.
Viking Magic by Angela Welles was the entry for the nation of Denmark in Harlequin Presents’ line 1990s Postcards from Europe mini-series. Viking Magic features a nice guy hero and a neurotically insecure heroine (aren’t they all?) united on a quest of sorts. 4 stars