Yes, yes, it’s the 15th. But awhile back, Hubby and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 15th, rather than the 14th, and not because the candy’s on sale, though that’s a perfectly good reason. So this year, I’m doing something similar: we’re celebrating on the 15th – with vintage romances.
I recently had an email from a reader, DM, who found a Laurie McBain title she’d loved years and years ago on sale in the bookstore’s romance section – and she was so very happy to be able to buy a new one, as her old copy was long lost:
I just got back from my lunch break sweep through Borders. While snatching up the new Alice Hoffman, the latest Guildhunter & Loose Ends, a familiar and beloved name caught my eye from the new release rack: Laurie McBain. Yes, it was a soft cover edition of “Devil’s Desire.” I thought to myself, this is HUGE. Did I miss something? The bitchery should know this! There’s a whole generation out there who’ve missed out on the awesomeness that was Laurie McBain; the woman who started the hero as not such an alphhole rapist trend. One can only hope that the rest of her books are soon to receive similar treatment. Not that I’ll need to shell out for them I still have all the originals including the carrot topped fleeing virgin covered “Devil’s Desire.” I keep them away from the sun in a box marked “my precious”… Anyway, just wanted to share.
I admit, I never read a McBain, and DM says that among her favorites are Moonstruck Madness and Devil’s Desire. Woo hoo! Books to add to the romance re-read pile.
McBain’s books are being reprinted as part of the Sourcebooks Casabalanca Classics line, which is headed by Leah Hultenschmidt and brings new editions of classic romances to the bookstore. I asked Leah a few questions about the line, and about the books she’s looking to publish as part of Casablanca Classics.
What makes a good classic romance that you think has to be republished to reach a new audience?
We’ve been primarily concentrating on romances that helped define the genre in some way, yet still have an irresistible hero and heroine. They might not fit as neatly into today’s “romance” mold (if such a broad genre can be said to have a mold), but that’s what’s been so exciting about bringing them out again. To me, they’re “The Godfather” of romance—so much has been based on these works and the ideas have been adapted in a number of ways, but the original never feels old.
What are some plot points or characteristics that speak to readers today, and which ones do you think should be avoided?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I wish they’d like romance like they used to.” These readers aren’t missing the potential does-she-want-it/doesn’t-she? sex scenes, the purple euphemisms or insipid heroines that you sometimes find in early works of the genre. Thank goodness we’ve evolved a lot in that respect—and the really good writers never bothered with them anyway. But there is a scope missing in a lot of today’s books, that epic sense since you used to get in historical romance that page-count requirements and the drive for pacing have often eliminated in the current market.
For example, in Laurie McBain’s TEARS OF GOLD (Aug.), we’re more than 100 pages in before the main characters are even in the same state. I’d not likely let a newer author get away with separating the hero and heroine so long. But in Laurie’s book, it absolutely works and by the time they do come together—HELL-O! The anticipation leaves the reader begging.
And in LEGACY (March), Jeanette Baker does what we’ve been calling a timeslip—a modern-day hero or heroine going through a similar struggle as counterparts in the past. No one actually goes back in time a la Diana Gabaldon (another favorite), but you get a great sense of how a historical conflict is still immensely relevant today.
What authors or books would you LOVE to republish, and which of the books released so far as a Casablanca Classic do you adore the most?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Laura Kinsale, so having those books on the list has been a dream come true for me. Same with Roberta Gellis—her historical detail is stunning.
As for who comes next, I’d love to hear what your readers have to say! Anything out of print at least 5 years but preferably 10 is fair game. And if they’re bestselling award-winners, all the better.
OK, then, let’s tell them what to do. Leah and the Sourcebooks crew have a few sets of the Classics line to give away for your guys. Yay! Books! All you have to do is leave a comment and tell us what book you’d like to see as part of the Casablanca Classics line, a romance from long ago that would rock our house today, and you’re entered to win. If you don’t have a book to suggest but you love the older romances, tell us something you love about them that you don’t see so much in romances published today – good or bad.
I’ll draw five winners, and each winner will receive a set of the following books:
Disclaimer: I’m not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Black socks, they never get dirty. The longer you wear them, the stiffer they get. Open to international entries, though the shipping will probably take awhile. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead will probably be remarked upon on some blog somewhere.
So, tell us: what vintage romance should be back on your shelves, all shiny and new?