Hello there to all lovers of bodice rippers and old-school historical romances from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Welcome to Sweet Savage Flame!
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 called Rebel 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. It would be the first book in a series of 5 detailing both their and their daughter’s love stories.
Sweet Savage Flame and 1970s, 1980s, & 1990s Historical Romances
Please accompany Sweet Savage Flame as we look back at a 30-year period in the romance genre. From the 1970s to the end of the 20th century, it was a time when covers were lurid and beautiful and stories filled with passion.
Historical romances used to be tumultuous epics that sometimes contained violence, scenes of forced seduction, or even rape.
Today, they include stories with less euphemistic love scenes that are more blatantly erotic. Historical romances now have modern mores, and sometimes eschew historical mindsets altogether, becoming what some derogatorily call “wallpaper historicals.”
The Future of Sweet Savage Flame
I will be adding authors, books, cover artists and their works, book reviews, and links. Plus Sweet Savage Flame will have more blogging in the future.
Will old-school romance make a comeback one day? I certainly hope so!
What are your opinions about the historical romance genre? What book was your first historical romance? Please, drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.
Absolutely love your website and emails. I was a librarian in the early 70s when bodice rippers first hit the shelves and I devoured them like M&Ms. The last couple of years I began a reread of many and discovered HR Facebook groups. I also visited my local used bookstore and found many old favorites plus new ones. I’ve even found 2 copies of Stormfire and other Monson books. I especially love reading your posted about the cover artists and have now collected the naked man covers by Robert McGinnis. Many thanks for all your hard work and time in creating and nurturing SSF. ❤️
HI! A couple things…first I love your website! I review current hr, but I love reading your reviews. I need your assistance! I recently acquired 15 old bodice rippers from a closing used bookstore. I am clueless about them. Most are first editions (I think) and some are out of print. I belong to a bodice ripper group on Facebook (you should look at it) and they couldn’t help much. I have one author whom no one has ever heard of that I have 2 signed books! If you could email me I would LOVE to discuss these with you and maybe get more info on these books I own! I can send you a list of the books if you’d like. Thanks so much! I appreciate your time!