Books to the Sky

Archive for the ‘harlequin’ Category

Oh, darling, you look so sexy in that parka!

Oh, darling, you look so sexy in that parka!

Line, Publication Date: Harlequin Romance, 1981
Cover Steaminess: 5. Classic clutch, but they’re both wearing parkas.
Back of Book Description: “For reporter Sarah Grey it was the assignment of a lifetime—accompany the supertanker Arctic Enterprise on her maiden voyage through the Northwest Passage. Despite the hazards involved she was determined to turn in the best story she’d ever written. But she hadn’t counted on opposition from the ruggedly stern Captain Guy Court. Sparks immediately flew between them. And Sarah soon realized the sparks were not all hostile ones…”
Flowery Language Quotient: Low, but that’s mostly because no one gets jiggy with it in this book. There’s a little bit of groping, but everyone’s wearing parkas when it happens. Least sexy romance novel ever!

Sarah Grey is a science reporter who has just finished an article on the cutting-edge topic of recycling. Oh, 1981. She goes to see her editor, who offers her the assignment accompanying the crew on the maiden voyage of the supertanker Arctic Enterprise, which is about the worst name for a ship ever. (I didn’t actually know what a supertanker was. I had to Google it. You’re welcome. I suspect this is only big news because this is pre-Exxon Valdez, you know?) Anyway, it seems the owner of the supertanker, Tony Freeland, has taken a liking to our young Sarah, because she is a romance heroine and so stunningly beautiful, so she’s a logical choice for the job, but her editor thinks it’s a dangerous assignment. Then there’s an infodump about the boat, zzz. The gist is that the purpose of the mission is to collect liquid natural gas from the arctic to fuel Canadian homes (Sarah seems to be stationed in Ottawa) and there’s been some debate in the press similar to the debate over ANWR a couple of years ago: it’s a valuable resource, but we might have to kill some cute animals to get at it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Couple of quick links:

+ Contestant #2 in Jezebel’s Worst 80s Romance contest is this guy, described as “A cold, hard-hearted radiologist with control issues and a penchant for mind games!” The Mills & Boon (that’s British Harlequin to you) says, “Was he just being kind?” and I kind of want to know when “kind” became a synonym for “mean and manipulative.” Oh, 80s romance heroes. This one actually loses points for “lack of rapiness.”

+ Also from Jezebel are scans of this spread from People of (allegedly) the “hottest bachelors” done up as romance heroes. If Bret Michaels could please stay off the cover of any book I buy, that would be great.

I recently picked up Beyond Heaving Bosoms, which I think I’m just going to carry around in my purse all the time, so that when people ask me why I read romance novels, I can point to the preface and say, “This! This is why!”

In the first chapter, the Smart Bitches define Old Skool and New Skool romance. The former encapsulates books published in the mid-80s and earlier, and often features one of my least favorite character archetypes of the genre: the Brutal Rapey Hero. They write:

These heroes aren’t just determined, assertive, and confident—they’re hard, arrogant, and harsh and the heroine is often afraid of him. He’s a punisher as well as lover and protector, but he hurts her only because he loves her so much. Baby. Punitive kisses were dealt with abandon, and the heroine, after stiffening up and resisting, would eventually soften into his kiss—after all, who wouldn’t love having their lips mashed hard enough to leave bruises? And speaking of bruises: grabbing the heroine by the arms so hard they lave marks was another earmark of Old Skool heroes.

This is on the list of things I just Don’t Get. Maybe I’m just not the target audience, but, you know, there’s very little that offends me, but I do react especially negatively to any kind of sexual violence. I’ve read plenty of novels with punishing kisses and heroines getting flung against walls or the hoods of cars, and I just sit there puzzled, because I don’t find rape sexy at all. Did women in the 70s and 80s? Why did this become a trend?

Jezebel is having a Worst 80s Romance Heroes Contest, however, so we can sit back and analyze the books. They describe their first contestant as “a rapey, manipulative former footballer with a will of iron!” Nice, yeah?

I’m working on a recap of a 1981 Harlequin, and the hero has thus far not exhibited any rapist tendencies, so that’s something, I guess. The hero and heroine also haven’t gotten a lot of alone time (the whole book takes place on a boat) so that may change.

Speaking of violent heroes, Salon has an article up today about vampire fiction. This is not really my thing—I tried the first Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse books and didn’t care much for either—but these books are making their publishers a lot of money. And, well, we do kind of love Laurell K. Hamilton here at Books to the Sky.

Nightline did a segment on Harlequin’s 60th anniversary and got such luminaries as Seth Rogan, George Will, and (swoon!) Paul Rudd to read some choice passages. Watch it here.

In honor of its 60th anniversary, Harlequin has 16 free ebooks available for download. Since all romance novels, good bad and otherwise, get me a little giddy, I just downloaded a bunch of them. It’s hard to say no to free books.

DocTurtle of Judge A Book By Its Cover, who has previously frowned upon romance novels, is recapping a Harlequin Blaze with awesome results. Part 1 and Part 2.

Like Pretty Woman in Australia, only with less prostituting and more REVENGE!

Like Pretty Woman in Australia, only with less prostituting and more REVENGE!

Line, Publication Date: Harlequin Presents, 2008
Cover Steaminess: 7. A shirtless guy and a girl in a pink negligee are making out on a bed in front of a window that shows a city skyline.
Series/Back of Book Description: Red Hot Revenge. “All that stands in the way of Dante Carazzo and revenge is Mackenzi Keogh. Mackenzi will do anything to save her hotel—something Dante uses to his advantage: he’ll reconsider if she becomes his mistress! Mackenzi knows she shouldn’t trust Dante, but the pleasure he gives her is too intense to resist. However, their bargain is compromised when Dante learns she is pregnant…”
Flowery Language Quotient: Medium. Nothing egregious, but typical romance novel-y exaggeration and euphemism during the sex scenes. (At one point, his chest hair curls “possessively” around her fingers, for instance.) And there’s this description of orgasm: “She came apart like the force of a skyrocket, exploding into myriad tiny stars that sparkled and shone and floated on the breeze as they drifted back down to earth.” That’s pretty typical of the writing style in this book, always taking the description just a step too far.

It’s a filthy night in Australia and Dante Carrazzo is in a filthy mood. He’s driving around trying to find a boutique hotel that is apparently hard to find. And he has plans for this hotel. (Filthy plans? Dirty plans? Naughty plans? Okay, sorry. But this is a romance novel. We already all know where this is going. Wanna place bets that the innkeeper is an attractive woman?)

Dante arrives at Ashton House, the hotel. Words he thinks of to describe the old mansion-cum-hotel: “sinister,” “unwelcoming,” “brooding,” and “resentful.” Sounds like a place you want to stay, right? Or like the freaking Bates Motel. (Although, “resentful”?) He goes in and tells the night clerk his name, which is how it’s revealed that Dante recently came to own this particular house of horrors. Sounds like it’ll be a good investment. The property once belonged to Jonas and Sara Douglas and it took Dante 17 years to get his hands on this particular gem. The acquisition of the hotel is a key piece to an unspecified revenge plot against the Douglases. But it’s late and rainy, so Dante just wants to go to sleep. He strips off his clothes intending to do just that and finds… a naked woman in the bed!

Read the rest of this entry »


Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
--Arnold Lobel

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
--Groucho Marx

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