Monday, August 27, 2007

Whatever happened to

the good old days of series romance? During what I fondly think of as my "first wave" of romance reading, I used to pilfer my mom's categories when I was home alone. We were regulars at this store, which I was surprised to see advertising on AAR recently (I haven't been there in years and assumed it had closed down). I would get mysteries, she would get her Silhouette Desire fix. Then I would rifle through them and quickly read ones that sounded interesting, hoping no one would come upon me. I don't know if I'm remembering things through a haze of nostalgia, but those books seem so much better than the categories I've been reading lately. Better is the wrong word, because I have certainly read and enjoyed a number of them. They're just...different.

I appreciate the breadth and variety Harlequin has to offer, but so many of them seem to fit within certain margins. You've got the secret baby/accidental pregnancy books, the big city girl goes(or returns) to the small town where she hooks up with a rancher, and of course the millionaire/sheikh/tycoon and the mistress/secretary. Or perhaps mix of two or three, with some blackmail and revenge thrown in for good measure. I experimented with the Blaze line, but often find them to be hampered by absurd plot devices designed to shoehorn as much sex in as possible. Sex themed hotels and artists who carve penises and magic potions and whatnot.

The books I remember fondly featured a variety of settings, characters who had all kinds of occupations, and lively romances with deep, emotional underpinnings. Not so much on external trumped up suspense plots. When my parents moved, I had the opportunity to grab some of my and (my mother's) old favorites. I've only re-read and reviewed one (Guilty Secrets by Laura Leone), and it was pretty much as good as I remember. So without further ado, here are some other old series romances I loved. Anyone remember these titles or authors? Anyone know why they changed the Silhouette Desire line so much?

*Contact by Lass Small: I've read several books by her, but this Desire was the most memorable. The story of a hotshot attorney who falls madly in love with a reclusive artist. But can he get her to allow him into her well-guarded life? Small has an extensive backlist, but nothing since 2000. Wonder why?

*Winter Morning by BJ James: Another Silhouette Desire author with nothing since 2004. This was about a doctor who returns to her North Carolina hometown to practice, fleeing her friend and for one night, lover, another doctor. He follows her five years later. Nice sense of place in this one, and I loved the heroine's best friend, a dyslexic, illiterate Native American sculptor. Wonder if he ever got a book?

*Summer Light by Jude O'Neill: A Silhouette Special Edition about an uptight curator and a bohemian artist who decide to have a summer romance. As a suburban teenager, I loved the New York City art scene setting. Great, memorable characters, interesting story. I can't find much info on this author. Anyone heard of her?

*Leftover Love by Janet Dailey: Okay, she's a big gun. Haven't read anything recent by her, but I vaguely remember reading some of those state books. I remember swooning over this story of an "ugly" rancher who falls for the Omaha beauty who comes to work for him and has ulterior motives for doing so. I think I'm gonna read it tonight.

*Lightning that Lingers by Tom and Sharon Curtis: Sigh. Who can forget the shy children's librarian with the Dorothy Hamill haircut and the wildlife biologist who strips to hold onto his family manse? So many great scenes in this one. Wonderful, unusual book. In a class all it's own. Worth finding (I'm holding onto my copy).

All of these books proved to me that you could pack a vivid setting, well-developed characters and a compelling romance into a relatively short length. Now, if you've made it all the way to the end of this post, I've got a question. Have you read any great Harlequins lately? Something really different that stands out from the crowd? Even a single title contemporary that might have a similar feel. And again, what did they do to the Desire line and why?


C2 said...

*sigh* I loved Lass Small's books. I miss her!

And I totally agree about Lightning that Lingers - wonderful! I wish they would start writing again. At least we know they're alive and they know people love their books and wish they would write more. :o)

Devon said...

Oh good, I kinda wondered if it was just me,since I was so young when I read them. Maybe she really stunk or something.

I wonder why Sharon/Tom Curtis have such a small output. I thought that LTL was a book that only I knew until I started reading romance again and saw the love for it and The Windflower.