Tag Archives: LOVE

history of valentine's day

Valentine’s Day Is Here Again, So Let’s Have Some Fun

history of valentine's day

Valentine’s Day: A Tale of Love, Laughter, and Maybe a Little Bit of Madness

Ah, Valentine’s Day–a day dedicated to showering our loved ones with affection and appreciation. February 14th is when couples express their love for one another through acts of kindness, gifts, and special moments shared.

But have you ever wondered where this love-filled holiday came from? Well, buckle up, folks, because it’s time for a hilarious journey through the history of Valentine’s Day, which dates back to ancient times.

love on the seashore
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Origins of Valentine’s Day: When Love and Fertility Collided

In ancient Rome, there was a festival called Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February to celebrate the Roman God of fertility, Lupercus. The festival was a wild and crazy time for couples to exchange gifts.

In addition, young men drew women’s names from a box to be paired up for a few weeks. Yup, you read that right. This practice became known as a matchmaking tradition that was just one step away from the modern-day version of “The Bachelor.”

But wait, it gets even better! As the Roman Empire declined and Christianity spread throughout, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day in 496 AD.

Saint Valentine was a Catholic priest who lived in Rome during the third century. According to legend, he performed secret marriages during a time when the Roman Empire banned marriages.

Saint Valentine was later executed for his actions and became known as the patron saint of love and affection. Talk about going above and beyond for love!

Over time, the celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day became more popular and spread throughout Europe. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the tradition of exchanging love letters became popular and eventually gave rise to the practice of sending Valentine’s Day cards.

By the early 15th century, Valentine’s Day had become a recognized holiday and was celebrated in various ways throughout Europe.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day Worldwide: Love knows no boundaries

Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated all around the world, with each country putting its own unique twist on the holiday.

In the United States, it is a time for couples to express their love and affection through gifts such as chocolates, flowers, and jewelry. Couples may also spend the day together, enjoying a romantic meal or participating in special activities.

Single people celebrate it, too, in a variety of creative ways. Friends come together either and celebrate “Anti-Valentines Day” with horror movie marathons, at-home spa events, or solo dance-offs.

Japan and South Korea celebrate Valentine’s Day as a time for women to express their love. They show appreciation to the men in their lives through gifts and acts of kindness. It is also common for women to give gifts to their female friends to show their gratitude for their friendship.

In some countries, such as Italy, Valentine’s Day is a time for couples to renew their love and commitment to one another. It is traditional for couples to exchange gifts and exchange love letters. In many cities, there are special events and festivals that are held in honor of Saint Valentine.

No matter where you are in the world, Valentine’s Day is a time to show those special people in your life just how much they mean to you. And what better way to do that than with a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a love letter written in crayon?

funny valentine's day
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Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

Valentine’s Day has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. It’s been a wild and crazy ride, from the days of Roman fertility gods to its recognition as a holiday honoring Saint Valentine, to the sweet and sentimental day we currently know and love as a cherished tradition.

Whether you’re spending the day with your significant other or celebrating with friends and family, Valentine’s Day is a time to let your loved ones know just how much they mean to you.

And remember, love may be a many splendored thing, but laughter is the best medicine. So have a little fun and make this Valentine’s Day one for the books!

love and laughter
Photo by J carter on Pexels.com

Funny Love Quotes

“I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” —Rita Rudner 

“If you love them in the morning with their eyes full of crust, if you love them at night with their hair full of rollers, chances are, you’re in love.” —Miles Davis

“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” —Phyllis Diller

“By all means, marry; If you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” —Socrates

“Valentine’s Day is when a lot of married men are reminded what a poor shot Cupid really is.” —Anonymous

“Love is a lot like a backache, it doesn’t show up on x-rays, but you know it’s there.” — George Burns

“The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.” —Blaise Pascal 

“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.” – Joan Crawford

“Love is being stupid together.” —Paul Valery

“It wasn’t love at first sight. It took a full five minutes.” —Lucille Ball

“Love is a two-way street constantly under construction.” —Carroll Bryant

“Love is something sent from heaven to worry the hell out of you.” —Dolly Parton

“You know how people say, ‘You can’t live without love’? Well, oxygen is even more important.” — Dr. Gregory Houser

“If I love you, what business is it of yours?” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I like to say there are certain things you can’t take back: One of them is ‘I love you,’ and one of them is bullets.” —Nathan Fillion

“Save a boyfriend for a rainy day—and another, in case it doesn’t rain.” —Mae West

“I love you no matter what you do, but do you have to do so much of it?” —Jean Illsley Clarke

“Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” —Jules Renard

8 lessons to learn from romance

What Reading Romance Novels Can Teach Us

8 lessons to learn from romance

8 Life Lessons to Learn From Romance Novels

Romance novels tell stories that range from mundane to zany to melodramatic to tearjerkers and beyond. Regardless of the plots, one of the reasons the genre resonates with readers is its everlasting element of hope. Every romance novel must end on a positive, optimistic note (cliffhanger serials notwithstanding). Love is eternal, and no fiction does this theme more justice than romance. But romance novels are more than love stories. There are numerous life lessons we can learn from reading these beautiful books.

1 – Love Yourself

It’s a well-worn phrase, but it will be hard for others to care for you if you don’t care about yourself. If you abuse your body, you will attract abusers. Every person has intrinsic value due to their existence. Few of us are physically, mentally, psychologically, or morally perfect. What we have is the gift of being human. Humans are capable of love on a level unknown anywhere on earth. Focusing on the worst of humanity breeds self-loathing.

In the Harlequin Romance Rumor Has It by Celia Scott, Lucinda, a downtrodden young woman, learns to look at herself differently after a rumor of her affair with a foreign hunk goes viral. She understands she doesn’t need to mimic the fashionable looks of others to be desirable. Lucinda has a worth that’s all her own. Only after she realizes, this does the hero take notice of Lucinda and fall in love with her. Self-respect attracts respect.

rumor has it
Rumor Has It, Celia Scott, Harlequin, 1990, Frank Kalan cover art

2 – Other Cultures, People, or Time Periods

Whether you enjoy historical or contemporary romances, there are many subjects romance novels can teach us. Through books, I–a life-long Long Islander–have traveled to New Zealand sheep stations, the jungles of South America, the glittering palaces of Europe, the deserts of Arabia, and more lands. Romance is ubiquitous among all peoples, eras, and cultures. Falling in love is a story for the ages.

From my reading experiences, I was taught foreign ways to say “I love you” or “darling” (as we discussed in our Languages of Love article). Westerns taught me about guns and ranching, while pirate romances enlightened this land-lubber on basic nautical terms like bow, stern, deck, bulkhead, passageways, and overhead compartment. Along the way, I also learned about the feudal system, the levels of nobility, ancient medicines, Native American customs, Medieval politics… So much was introduced to me by being exposed to various cultures in romance novels.

assorted silver colored pocket watch lot selective focus photo
Photo by Giallo on Pexels.com

3 – The Importance of Communication

Readers of romance know it gets tiresome when the main characters don’t listen to one another. Big misunderstandings would be avoided if the heroes and heroines acted like calm, rational adults and spoke to each other. It’s no wonder “big misunderstandings” is one of the most disliked tropes.

Let us observe these obstructive behaviors and learn what not to do. Basic respect for your partner requires you to listen to them and allow them to finish sentences without interruption. Ask follow-up questions. Don’t keep important information to yourself if it’s pertinent to solving problems. Never let anger color your point of view. Without communication, there can be no trust, and vice versa.

4 – Form Support Networks

Two people in love can feel they need no one else in the world except each other. It’s vital to be able to rely on one’s partner. Nevertheless, it’s also important not to forget that friends and family provide support. In times of heartache, a heroine has had to depend on her best friend’s shoulder to cry on. Sometimes the hero needs a respected family member to give him a kick in the rear when he’s acting like a fool.

Medieval romances have shown me how women worked together to create a productive castle and how men united in battle. Men need intimate friendships as much as women do, even though they are statistically less likely to reach out for help. Friends, family, and communities are as necessary for romance as in real life. Plus, how many romance series is based on a group of comrades or siblings?

people silhouette during sunset
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

5 – Toxic Behaviors To Avoid

Here at Sweet Savage Flame, we enjoy the good, the bad, and the irredeemable in romance. However, everything must be kept in perspective. What’s entertaining in fiction may not be acceptable in the real world. A happily ever after ending entails fidelity, trust, and commitment. While we adore old-school plots like kidnapping or an enemies-to-lovers story, bickering and fighting are not the way to go.

Stockholm syndrome is mental brainwashing, not the foundation for a solid union. A moment of infidelity can be something to overcome, but a serial cheater is not a person to bond yourself to. Neither is an abuser, whether verbal, physical, or sexual. Again, we make no bones about liking bodice rippers and non-politically correct books, but there’s a difference between drama on paper and real life. Reality has enough drama, so you don’t need a lifemate who revels in it.

6 – Fortitude Is the Greatest Kind of Strength

The terms “strong woman” or “strong man” are often tossed around, but what does it all mean? Is it having athletic prowess, the ability to fight, or engaging in manual labor? Granted, these are all noble and wonderful abilities, but physicality can only take one so far without an inner constitution to survive and thrive. The most significant strength is fortitude, the ability to endure hardship and come out emotionally stronger for it.

Think of the main historical characters who withstood duress: farmers whose crops failed, ranchers & plantation owners whose homes were burned down, soldiers who went to war, and the women left behind and widowed. Being an orphan was far more common in the past due to the dangers of childbirth.

Even contemporary heroes and heroines have to deal with quotidian struggles such as working, paying the bills, raising families, and the stresses of modern living. The characters who speak to me are the ones who go in day in and day out, endure what they must, and overcome the worst obstacles because they have wills of steel.

man holding brown rope
Photo by Evelyn Chong on Pexels.com

7 – Everyone Is Deserving of Love

This idea is a corollary to learning to love yourself. The Golden Rule exists worldwide. There is nothing more essential than to love and to be loved. Whether a poor street urchin, a noble lord, a plump governess, or a beautiful model, all are worthy of agape no matter where they come from or what they look like.

It doesn’t matter if you made mistakes in the past or are making mistakes right now.

There have been socially “ruined” heroines, heroes with criminal histories, characters intent on destroying their enemies, all these types and more, who have found redemption through love. Or they redeem themselves, thus recognizing their inherent worth and allowing themselves to be open to love. Romance encourages the belief that finding that special someone is possible in this vast world.

8 – Lovemaking/ Sex

There’s nothing wrong with reading a romance for its steamy love scenes. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty for appreciating sex. Although, just like in movies, what is written on paper can be hyperbolically portrayed. Few women can achieve orgasm upon the first thrust without any foreplay. Rare is the man who can delay his own orgasm for hours to give pleasure.

Still, there is a plethora of information to gather about lovemaking in romance novels. How to use a condom, for one. Foreplay is essential to sexual gratification. Giving pleasure can be just as enjoyable as receiving.

Many of the most erotic books aren’t super explicit. They give you little hints on how to please your beloved. Some women appreciate caresses on the nape of the neck. Some men go crazy by having their earlobes licked.

I learned to kiss long before I actually ever kissed anyone.

But I draw the line at licking fingers and belly buttons. When I read a love scene with those activities, that’s when I say nope! Too far for me.

adult affection bed closeness
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your Thoughts?

What other lessons do you think romance novels can provide readers? Do you think the reasons listed above have merit? Is it better to leave fiction in its own realm and absorb knowledge only through experience? As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!

Secret Fire

Historical Romance Review: Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey

In this review, IntrovertReader can’t gush enough over her love for Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey, which features a Russian Prince, the aphrodisiac “Spanish fly,” and one of Lindsey’s best heroines.

historical romance review
Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey
Rating: five-stars
Published: 1987
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Victorian Era Romance, Forced Seduction
Pages: 416
Format: Audiobook, eBook, Hardcover, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonThriftBooksAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Historical Romance Review: Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey


The Book

Secret Fire was the second Johanna Lindsey romance I read, and it cemented her works among my favorites. Published in 1987, this was written during Lindsey’s peak years of output.

The cover is another Elaine Duillo gem, this time featuring white, cream, and brown hues–appropriate for the wintery Russian setting. There’s also a blond male cover model whom I’ve been searching for for years. Forget Fabio and his long-haired colleagues; it’s this guy I have often imagined as the hero of many love stories I’ve read. He’s a perfect model for the ultra-gorgeous hero of Secret Fire, Dimitri. [Note: I have discovered he is the late Gerald “Jerry” Timm, a model and actor.]

secret fire duillo original

The Characters

Dimitri is a half-Russian, half-English Prince who is in England to visit family and smooth over a scandal his sister has gotten into by engaging in an affair with a married man. The uber-sexual Dimitri doesn’t mind his sisters’ affairs, only that she’s so flagrant about them. So he decides to bring her back to Russia on his ship and perhaps find a dutiful spouse for her.

Meanwhile, Lady Katherine St. John, the eldest daughter of an Earl, is enraged to find that her sister has decided to run off and elope. Although Katherine has a father and brother, it’s upon her dainty shoulders that familial responsibilities lie. She concocts a plan to exchange garments with a maid and search the London streets for her sister.

The Plot

As she’s walking about, Dimitri’s carriage is stuck in traffic, and he happens to see Katherine. Although she’s short and rather plain with dull brown hair, there’s something about her that appeals to Dimitri.

As a prince who’s gotten anything and everything he’s ever wanted with a snap of his fingers, Dimitri sends a servant off to procure the woman for a night of passion. Katherine dismisses the man, but he won’t take no for an answer. Before Katherine knows what’s happening, she’s kidnapped and finds herself trapped in strange quarters.

When Dimitri finds out what’s been done, he’s disgusted at first. He was just looking for a quick tryst, not a sex marathon. Dimitri figures he’ll have to let his men have a go with her, as Spanish Fly makes a woman insatiable. Then he enters the room, and those thoughts go out the window. While Katherine might not be the most beautiful woman in the world, she certainly is one of the most sensual visions he’s ever witnessed, naked on the bed and writhing in desire.

And so begins Secret Fire, with a night of pure ecstasy for both Katherine and Dimitri.

Her adamant refusals prompt Dimitri’s servant to ply her with”Spanish Fly” to make her willing for the prince’s touch.

secret fire review

The Prince in Pursuit

However, the next day Katherine is back to her old self and threatens Dimitri’s servants with arrest, as she is the daughter of an Earl. No one believes her, of course. What would an Earl’s daughter have been doing roaming the London docks alone and wearing the clothes of a servant? Still, to prevent any scandal, his servant has the brilliant idea of locking Katherine in a chest and taking her with them to Russia.

When Katherine finds herself at sea, she demands to be returned. Dimitri had not expected to find her aboard the ship but is pleased to see her. Despite his hundreds of past amours, their night together was one of the best in memory, and the lady had been a virgin, to boot!

Dimitri pursues Katherine with an ardor he hadn’t imagined possible. Of course, Katherine rebuffs him at every turn. She’s no common trull but a lady deserving of respect. Dimitri ignores Katherine’s claims of nobility, mostly because he wants to believe that his Katya can be easily had. He knows he has to marry a noble Russian woman to produce an heir for his line, but Katya can be his mistress in the meantime.

Over the seas and rivers, through Europe, and into Russia, Dimitri tries what he can to seduce her back into his arms.

But Katherine has a will made of steel. Even though she wants him just as much as he wants her, she holds out for what she needs–not what he desires.

[He] wanted her. Incredible fantasy. This fairy-tale prince, this golden god wanted her. Her. It boggled the mind. It defied reason. And she said no. Stupid ninny!


Final Analysis of Secret Fire

I love Katherine. Like Georgina Anderson from Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue, she has a habit of talking to herself–a trait I share, to my husband’s annoyance. Katherine’s fiercely proud, stubborn, and resilient. She’s not my favorite Lindsey heroine, but she is up there with the best.

One of my favorite scenes is after Dimitri’s aunt decides to discipline Katherine, and Dimitri’s horrified reaction to it all, combined with Katherine’s stiff-upper-lip reserve.

Dimitri is as equally stubborn and proud as Katherine. But nowhere near as brilliant. That’s ok. His charm and godlike looks make up for it!

This is another of Johanna Lindsey‘s excellent romances that I’ve re-read many times. Secret Fire is an absolute wonder, the hero, the heroine, the plot, the writing, all of it.

Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 4.9


He’d caught only a glimpse of her from the window of his carriage, but the young prince knew he had to have her. Within minutes, Lady Katherine St. John was dragged from the London street and carried off to a sumptuous town house — for the pleasure of her royal admirer…

From the tempestuous passion of their first encounter, across stormy seas, to the golden splendor of palaces in Moscow, she was his prisoner — obsessed with rage toward her captor even as an all-consuming need made her his slave. Yet theirs was a fervor beyond her understanding, carrying them irrevocably toward final surrender to the power of undeniable love.

Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey
old school historicals thumbnail

15 Old School Historical Romances That Revolutionized the Genre

list of best 15 old school bodice ripper novels

15 “Best” Old-School Historical Romances

Best Bodice Rippers or Just Old School Romance?

Sweet Savage Flame has compiled a list of “the best romance novels/ bodice rippers,” demonstrating the genre’s evolution in the last third of the 20th century. These are 15 old-school historicals we consider to be must-reads for those who wish to understand the roots of the romance industry.

Detractors of these novels may disparage them as mere bodice rippers. To us, a “bodice ripper” romance is a term of endearment. We embrace it without shame. Moreover, we appreciate how pivotal that (unfairly maligned) subgenre was in the era’s early years.

There are books on this list that, indeed, are “hardcore” bodice rippers–i.e., romances where the hero forces himself on the heroine. Such was the nature of the early years of the old-school romance era. But as the list goes into the late 1980s and the 1990s, they have disappeared.

This List Has Only Some of the Best Romances; There Are Many More

Sweet Savage Flame’s position on such controversial matters is never to shrink away from the past. We look back head-on and try to investigate, analyze, reflect, and understand.

Most of our picks are seminal works that transformed the industry’s evolution. A few are so notable or unforgettable we feel they merit special appreciation.

Links to our opinions and ratings are provided in the descriptions, but five of the fifteen listed are yet to be reviewed by our staff. We have read all of these and consider them essential reads. We aim to review all books on this list in the upcoming year.

Please note this is not a complete compilation of essential works. This is just a small sample of relevant texts from the thousands of paperback romances published from 1972 to 2000.

The List of 15 Romances to Read, in Chronological Order

#1 The Flame and the Flower

best romance novel flame and flower

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss radically transformed the concept of the romance novel with The Flame and the Flower. Before its 1972 publication by Avon, romantic novels with happy endings never included “explicit” sex scenes between protagonists.

After the hero of The Flame and the Flower, Brandon Birmingham, mistakes the heroine, Heather, for a prostitute, he forces himself upon her. Too late, he discovers the girl is–was–a virgin.

Throughout this doorstopper of a book, Brandon violates Heather several more times before they mutually consent to make love. This is due to Brandon’s transformation into a kinder, more decent man, all to be worthy of Heather’s love.

Contemporary perspectives would consider Brandon’s behavior to be criminal. Nevertheless, fifty years ago, millions of readers were drawn to this love story, viewing the actions as part of the fantasy of “forced seduction.” This was ostensibly a plot device that allowed unmarried virgins to be sexually active without guilt.

The closed-door love scenes for “good girls” were now relics of the past. Although today we categorize The Flame and the Flower as old-school, it marked the start of the “modern era of romance.” The bodice ripper was born.

And the romance genre–and books overall–would never be the same.

#2 Sweet Savage Love

best bodice ripper  novel sweet savage love

Capitalizing on the success of The Flame and the FlowerRosemary Rogers first book ratcheted up the melodrama and sexiness to a new level of extreme. Rape, forced seduction, multiple partners, cheating, and violence were prevalent parts of the story.

Women couldn’t get enough of it, catapulting Rogers to fame and riches.

Sweet Savage Love sold millions and millions of copies, resulting in several sequels and spinoffs.

This revolutionary Western told the tale of Ginny Brandon and Steve Morgan. Here, Rogers’ depicted a heroine who could enjoy sex with men besides the hero.

Inevitably, it seemed this type of ultra-sexual romp would mark the course of historical romances for the foreseeable future.

#3 Moonstruck Madness

best old-school romance novel moonstruck madness

Moonstruck Madness was Laurie McBain‘s second outing. This novel cemented her status as an Avon “Queen of Romance.” (Although–supposedly–McBain co-authored her romance novels with her father.)

This swashbuckling old-school historical romance was a huge best-seller and the first in a popular trilogy about the Dominick Family.

The plot differed from Woodiwiss’ and Rogers’ works in that lovemaking was consensual. There was no bed-hopping, and the violence was not gratuitous.

Moonstruck Madness was a kinder, gentler offering with no bodice-ripping in sight.

Fans flocked to the more tender romantic style. It ultimately produced long-term success.

#4 The Silver Devil

best bodice ripper novel the silver devil

The Silver Devil’s Duke Domenico is possibly the most extreme anti-hero ever to appear in an old-school romance novel. 

Over 45 years after its publication, many readers frequently discuss this book still highly-talked about and consider it one of the best bodice rippers ever written. Teresa Denys’ first-person-POV romance with an Italian beauty is a gripping read from the very first lines.

The powerful and megalomaniacal Duke sees the heroine Felicia at her window, desires her, and soon purchases her from her brother. Domenico’s obsession over her reigns supreme; he goes into murderous rages at the slightest hint of jealousy.

The prose in The Silver Devil is magnificent. The scenes of violence and brutality are intense. The hero is…a complicated man. The novel ends with the typical HEA. Even so, it’s hard to see a happy ending lasting beyond the pages of this book.

If you’re fortunate enough to find the Ballantine edition with the H. Tom Hall cover, it could cost you up to several hundred dollars.

#5 Fires of Winter

fires of winter

Johanna Lindsey‘s third novel, Fires of Winter, was a Viking romance about a captive Welsh woman and her Nordic owner. Marauders raid Lady Brenna’s home, kill the men and enslave and ravish the women. They spare only Brenna from ravishment and violence as the Viking leader has plans for her. She is a valuable prize that he plans to gift as a slave to his youngest son.

Just over 300 pages long (half the length of Woodiwiss’ and Roger’s fat epics), Fires of Winter is a lean, action-packed lean, bodice ripper.

The theme here is all about the battle between the sexes. Although there is forced seduction/ rape, this romance has no cheating. That made quite a difference to many readers looking for monogamous love stories.

However, the couple does argue–a lot. This was a common trait of many of Lindsey’s earlier works.

Johanna Lindsey cemented her status as one of romance’s top best-selling authors with this bodice ripper. The Robert McGinnis romance novel cover design is legendary, featuring the first naked man on a romance cover.

#6 Skye O’Malley

skye o'malley

Skye O’Malley is “The Queen of Erotic Romance,” Bertrice Smallpiece de resistance–her magnum opus. She wrote over 50 novels, and this is her finest work.

In this Tudor-era romance, the beauteous Irish lass Skye O’Malley amasses numerous husbands, lovers, children, and enemies.

And many true loves.

This is the lustiest of bodice rippers. Skye experiences the most rollicking adventures any heroine in Romancelandia could only dream of.

#7 Savage Ecstasy

savage ecstasy

Janelle Taylor’s Savage Ecstasy wasn’t the first historical bodice ripper published by Zebra books. It wasn’t even the first best-seller out of Kensington’s flagship imprint. It was, however, the one that firmly marked the largest US independent publisher on the map as a major player. 

In the decade that followed, Zebra would be a dominant force to be reckoned with in the romance field.

Savage Ecstasy sold over a million copies, as did its sequel, Defiant Ecstasy. It spawned a long-running series that told the love stories of Gray Eagle and Alisha and their children and their spouses.

Savage Ecstasy was one of the first publications of the enormously popular Native American romance subgenre. Readers consumed these romantic novels in droves until well into the 2000s.

#8 Stormfire

old-school best romance novel stormfire

Christine Monson’s Stormfire is perhaps one of the genre’s last hardcore bodice-rippers. Stormfire made some romantic novels of the 1970s appear tame in contrast.

This tale of vengeance is extreme in its brutality. Set in Regency Era England, Ireland and Napoleonic France, it keeps hitting the reader with action and insanity.

From the moment the heroine is kidnapped and violated by the hero, we can see this is not a romance for the faint-hearted.

Like The Silver Devil, Stormfire transcended its seemingly sordid content through thoughtful, superb writing and intense characterization.

Like that other romance, this is considered one of the best bodice rippers ever. Plus, it, too, is hard to find and expensive if you do!

#9 Whitney, My Love

regency romance novel whitney my love

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught is the story of a gawky, coltish girl in love with a charming young man who barely notices her.

She goes off to finish school and returns a beauty. Then Whitney Stone finds herself forced into marriage with the dark Duke of Westmoreland. After a tumultuous beginning, they slowly learn to love one another.

Whitney, My Love is a beloved classic to this day. It reinvented the Regency romance by making it more sensual and increasing the page length and scope.

#10 A Knight in Shining Armor

old-school best romance a knight in shining armor

Jude Deveraux‘s A Knight in Shining Armor is a tear-jerker of a travel romance. Take note of the book’s cover. It was not Deveraux’s typical stepback or clinch cover but a simple design showing an encircled gauntlet holding a flower.

This was a sign of “respectability” for Deveraux, signifying that she was one of Pocket Books‘ most successful authors. A Knight in Shining Armor had been released in a hardcover edition in 1989 before being printed in paperback, extremely rare for romance writers, who had always been associated with with “pulp” genres.

The heroine, Douglass, is transported back to Tudor-era England and falls in love with an Elizabethan knight. Things take a twist when she returns to the future.

And so does the hero! But now he doesn’t recognize her.

The pair fall in love both in the past and the present eras. Will they ever find their forever somewhere in time?

#11 Gentle Rogue

best bodice ripper romances gentle rogue

Yes, Johanna Lindsey appears twice on this list–for a good reason.

Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue might not be historically accurate as for a Regency romance. Yet it’s so whimsical, romantic, witty, and the best of her Malory series; it’s a gem!

James Malory is an absolute cad. The tables are turned on him when he falls in love with a beauty disguised–quite poorly–as a cabin boy. Then Georgina abandons him at a port.

He’ll have to deal with the wrath of her five older brothers to get things straightened out.

#12 Outlander

best bodice ripper romances outlander

Although Diana Gabaldon has said that Outlander is not a romance novel, it does qualify as one–if you consider it a standalone.

It has the two elements required for the genre: a central love story that ends HEA. Although the subsequent books in the series would separate the lovers through time and space, the first entry is pure romance.

Outlander–or Cross-Stitch as it’s known elsewhere–is, at its core, a historical romance that features time travel. The married-in-the-future heroine, Claire, comes off as improbably perfect (in one scene, she fights a wolf and kills it with her bare hands!).

Jamie Frasier, however, is a favorite hero of many romance readers.

Outlander has been adapted into a popular television show, introducing new fans to this already successful novel.

#13 Flowers from the Storm

best bodice ripper romances flowers from the storm

Flowers from the Storm by the talented Laura Kinsale is an absolutely unusual yet stellar romance. Kinsale’s writing is superb. Romance is at its intellectual best here.

The plot is this: a disreputable rogue of a man succumbs to a stroke.

The Earl of Jervaulx is mainly paralyzed and incapable of speech. A prim Quaker mathematician takes on the daunting task of rehabilitating him. Soon, they discover that he has a secret baby from his married mistress when the child is dropped off at his home.

How can such two disparate people be happy together?

This emotional, exquisitely written book is one of the 1990s best romance novels and deserves a look.

#14 Dreaming of You

best romance books DREAMING OF YOU

Although we prefer its predecessor, Then Came You, the Regency-era romance Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas is a monumental book that catapulted the author to superstardom.

Readers adore the hero, Derek Craven. The sexy, snaggle-toothed London rough pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He now runs a gaming hall and brothel.

Craven falls for a curious, bespectacled young woman named Sara. She turns his entire world asunder with her wondering innocence.

#15 Lord of Scoundrels

best romance novels LORD OF SCOUNDRELS

In Loretta Chase’s old-school Regency-era romance, Lord of Scoundrels, The Marquess of Dain was abused as a child for his ugliness and grew up thinking himself worthless. So he now engages in a life of debauched chaos.

Dain meets his match in Jessica Trent, who initially seeks vengeance against him. She then changes course and fall in love.

However, after he dishonors her, Jessica shoots Dain. This makes Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels a controversial romance in some eyes and a must-read in others.

While the rippers of the 1970s were now a remnant of the past, the power dynamics between males and females remained paramount in the genre.

Your Opinion

Again, this is not a complete syllabus of the best historical books in romance. We could have made this list much longer, but we settled on only 15 books. Now we want to hear from you.

What old-school historical romance do you think we left off this list? Do you agree or disagree with our choices? Do you think any of these books rank as the best in romance?

How do you feel about bodice ripper romances? If you were creating a list of best contemporary romances, which books would you choose?

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!

planet earth

The Languages of Love

planet earth
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Old-school historical romances were quite diverse in settings, ranging from the Occident to the Orient, from the Middle East to everywhere in Europe to the Americas. In my time reading these books, I’ve come across several ways to say “my love,” “my beloved,” or “my darling” in various languages. As language is very nuanced, there are many words of love you can express among your friends, family, lovers, pets, etc.

I’ve tried to compile some ways to share intimate words with the one you love most in various languages.

Is your language on this list? If not, how do you say these words and phrases in your native language? Please, drop a comment and let’s talk romance!

LANGUAGEMy Love/ My Beloved or My Dear/My DarlingI love you.
Arabic(f) habibti; (m) habibi Ana uHibbuki. (to a female)
Ana uHibbuka. (to a male)
Ana Ahabak. (to a male)
French(f) ma chère; (m) mon cher (darling)
mon amour (my love)
Je t’aime.
German mein(e) Liebling (my darling)
mein(e) Schatz (my sweetheart)
Ich liebe dich.
Greek agápi Se agapó. S’agapó.
Irish mo stór (my love)
mo chuisle (my heartbeat)
Tá grá agam duit.
Tá mo chroí istigh ionat. (Besotted love)
Italian (f) cara (m) caro Ti amo.
Norweigian elsket  Jeg elsker deg.
Portuguese (f) querida (m) querido (my darling)
(f) amada (m) amado (my love)
Eu te amo.
Spanish (f) querida (m) querido; (my darling)
(f) amada (m) amado (my love)
Te quiero. (I want you/I love you, casual)
Te amo. (More intense; said to spouses)
Welsh cariad (my love)Rwy’n dy garu di. (formal, poetic)
Fi’n caru ti. (North Wales)
Dwi’n caru chdi. (South Wales)

10 Languages I Love You

Arabic – I Love You

Be My Travel Muse

German I Love You

German Liebling

Irish I Love You

Welsh I Love You

Welsh I Love You 2