Happy Classic Valentine’s Day

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:

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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?


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    ReadinginAK says:

    I love the sweep of classics, especially related to time. No amount of time is too great. No distance is too great. No number of continents too great. Newer to romance reading, I don’t know if I have a classic fave to be re-released. I will always heart “A Rose in Winter” (Oh, Christopher Seton!), though, as my first.

    Captcha: time37- I probably have read it 37 times.

  2. 2
    Cakes says:

    I’m relatively new to the genre, so I don’t have that experience to be nostalgic about. I hope that doesn’t disqualify me from the contest!

  3. 3
    Kaelie says:

    I don’t know if it’s out of print but I’d love to see a new version of Anne Stuart’s Prince of Swords. It was the first romance novel I read and really enjoyed. The copy I have is just way too shiny to bring outside, for fear that I’ll blind someone.

  4. 4
    Vicki says:

    I still have some of the Mary Stewart though not all of them translate well to modern times (Moonspinners is much better than the movie), Georgette Heyer (especially Devil’s Cub and These Old Shades), Jane Aiken Hodge (especially The Adventurers), Victoria Holt (Bride of Pendorric was the first romance I ever read). There were some good books back then. I’m sure there are more but it’s late. I’ll remember them later.

  5. 5
    bets says:

    Ooh, Patricia Veryan! My library system doesn’t have ANY of her books (such sadness). I’d love to see The Tyrant!

    head33…not gonna touch that one!

  6. 6
    Kaetrin says:

    Oh, I remember reading Devil’s Desire ages ago – there’s a line “And I’ve the devil’s desire for you my lady” that I remember so well!  Also, she had some books with cool titles like Chance the Winds of Fortune which sounded very exotic to my 14 year old mind. 

    One book I’d like to see reprinted is the one I’ve heard about on this and other blogs but haven’t had the chance to read – The Windflower.  Apparently it is teh awesome yes?

    Also, there are some OOP Anne Stuart novels I’d like to get my hands on.

    and @ ReadinginAK – I loved Christopher Seton too – yum!

  7. 7
    Ana Farrish says:

    I’d love to see BLISS and DANCE by Judy Cuevas (Judith Ivory) reprinted. I check Amazon from time to time, and I’ve never seen the price for either drop below $15 for copies that are in pretty bad shape anyway.  I may just cave soon and go ahead and order them.

  8. 8
    MYJ says:

    Chicago Press is already republishing Mary Stewart’s books; or else, I’d suggest her books. What I really like about her books is how sensible her heroines usually are. They don’t really make a point of telling you how modern/feminist/strong they are. They’re just strong, period.

    Here’s another one – although it doesn’t really apply because she’s still in print. Judith McNaught’s “Paradise” and her historicals are very much favorites because they have that scope. Not always appropriate, but they actually transported you somewhere, and it was always a reading experience. I’d compare it to a meal rather than a tasty snack.

    Mary Balogh, Mary Balogh, Mary Balogh. She has a huge backlist and not everything is in print :)

  9. 9
    Nonny says:

    I’m actually fairly new to the romance genre compared to some people—the first romance novel I read was published in 2002. I would still love to be entered in the contest though! :)

  10. 10
    henofthewoods says:

    Sourcebooks is already publishing my absolute favorites that fit this line – Georgette Heyer novels – both romance and mysteries.
    But they are 13.99 each. (Fair for the lovely copy of otherwise out-of-print novel – just hard to afford.)
    And they don’t seem to offer an electronic version.
    If they had a less expensive ebook, I would start to convert my collection.

    As it is, I will continue to reread my ratty paperbacks.

  11. 11
    Niveau says:

    Patricia Gaffney’s Wyckerley Trilogy, especially To Have and To Hold. I want my own copy so badly~ borrowing is fun and all, but I want to be able to re-read it whenever I want to! The last edition came out in 2003, I think, so hopefully it’d be possible :)

  12. 12
    Becca says:

    I second the motion for Mary Balogh! I would love to read her old stories! Otherwise I am rather inexperienced in the foremothers of romance writing.

  13. 13
    Katie Ann says:

    I’d love to see BLISS and DANCE by Judy Cuevas (Judith Ivory) reprinted.

    Oh heck yes.  I’ve had those on my PaperBackSwap wishlist for literally years, waiting patiently to see if they’ll ever get to me.

    Those, or Lisa Kleypas’ “Give Me Tonight” and “Forever My Love.”

    Or “The Windflower.”  Surprised at only one mention so far, that seems like the quintessential out-of-print romance.

  14. 14
    meoskop says:

    I read & loved McBain in her heyday and am delighted she’s getting a new audience. Part of me wants to pitch things with 13 year old heroines (I’m sorry, Aleen Malcolm still makes me laugh).

    Ok, I’m not helpful tonight. I lived through the 80’s/90’s romance world, I can say what was good (McBain, Chance, Williamson, Layton)  but I don’t know what people want to buy today.

    (Captcha was known88, yes if I had known in 88 that I shouldn’t trash my complete collection of Avon Ribbon books…)

  15. 15
    Verity says:

    I loved Shirlee Busbee’s sumptuous Louisiana romances in the 80s, like Midnight Masquerade (a constant re-read and definitely the loveliest and most light-hearted of all her work), Tiger Lily and Deceive Not My Heart. No one writes like that anymore, not even Shirlee.

  16. 16
    Tessa says:

    My first romance was Johanna Lindsey’s “Captive Bride,” which, if at all possible, really should stay out of print.

    But oh, thank you for the Heyer!  I’ve been rereading them slowly (yes, they are spendy and I’m trying to convince the local purchasing person at the library to get them).

    Older Kleypas and Chase, please.

  17. 17
    Virg says:

    Oooh, definitely Heyer’s books, and The Windflower. Gosh, would love to see a shiny and new cover on those books. :]

  18. 18
    Natalie Decker says:

    I’m new to the Romance genre and all of its fabulosity. I’ve spent the last 10 years reading classics, YA, and literary fiction just hoping they include a good love story and now I’ve discovered an entire genre of exactly what I want! Where have I been?
    So as far as what I’d like to see come back, I have no idea. But I’d sure like to educate myself on all things romance through the years…so please enter me!

  19. 19
    Katie says:

    Tessa said on…
    02.14.11 at 10:31 PM
    My first romance was Johanna Lindsey’s “Captive Bride,” which, if at all possible, really should stay out of print.

    I agree! That book was pretty much horrible. One of her other books (Hearts Aflame) was my first romance, and somehow it managed to avoid the rapey ickiness of some of her other books. There is some cross-dressing, a genuine Fabio cover, a heroine who wants her some sex, and she also knows how to use a sword. Could there be any better recipe for vintage romance?

  20. 20
    Dine says:

    most of Elsie Lee’s, but most especially The Nabob’s Widow!  which is a wonderfully entertaining Regency; most of her really memorable stuff was ‘modern’ (60s/70s) suspense, but this Regency really stood out

    someone above mentioned Patricia Veryan – I’d love a chance to pick up her titles again – my library used to have some, but attrition has made inroads

  21. 21
    Andieg says:

    I know it’s not technically an Old Skool romance, but I wish someone would reprint Sue Wilson’s “Greenwood.”  I heard about it here and have read most of it online but I *ache* to own a print version that I can read & reread at my leisure.  It’s virtually impossible to find a copy anywhere & the one time I did see a used copy on Amazon they wanted $130 for it.  It’s an awesome story that deserves to see the light of day again!

  22. 22
    BookwormBabe says:

    Georgette Heyer is one of my favourites.  I love her for her wit alone.  I love that her heroines are strong women who do go after what they want but don’t necessarily need to buck society to do it.

    The attraction of these books is the interaction between the characters.  The dialogue is diverse and entertaining and you’re caught up in the adventure. 

    I have three aunts (in-law) and a grandmother (in-law) who all corrupted me with Georgette Heyer and it’s the first thing they all reach for whenever they’re feeling low. 

    I think any books that can repeatedly lift you up and make you smile are worthwhile.

  23. 23
    Lindsey says:

    Even though I’m new(er) to the genre than a lot of the Bitchery, I would love to see some Georgette Heyer books, such as Black Sheep, back on the shelves in shinynew form!

  24. 24
    Olivia Knott says:

    I’d love to see more of Mary Balough’s.  I actually have most of hers in the old signet regency covers, but they rock and I never see them in the used bookstore anymore.  It would be great to see more of her stuff available to everyone.

  25. 25
    Ahlison says:

    Laurie McBain!!!  I have them all in the basement and would recommend any of them.  The trilogy – Moonstruck Madness, Chance the Winds of Fortune, and Dark before the Rising Sun – fabulous!  Wild Bells to the Wild Sky (which I thought was a HABO a while ago) – fabulous!  Pirates! Gypsies! Swashbuckling! Spies!  I would love to get e-versions of all of her titles.

    Other titles?  The early Jude Deveraux, Shirlee Busbee, Cynthia Wright (she also had a fabulous series set around the American Revolutions)…  I guess my fondness for series started back in the 70’s!

  26. 26
    HRWriter says:

    “Midnight Waltz” by Jennifer Blake. Oh, I loved that one and it’s stuck with me all these years as one of my all-times faves. I could have done without the goose grease lubricant references, but aside from that, Robert and Amalie were hot!The big finale, where they are on an island when a monster hurricane makes landfall and the island goes underwater was epic. They just don’t write them like that anymore.

    Please, please, put me in the drawing. I would love to win this set of books. Today’s historical romances just don’t pack the same punch.

    Capcha is came99—the next word should be “times” of course. I wonder if that refers to a single scene, or spread over the entire book.

  27. 27
    SusanL says:

    I’m 48 and I’ve been reading romance since I was 10/11 ( I was in fifth grade). 

    I would actually love to see some of the early Dell romances republished.  Please don’t confuse these with the Ecstasy/Ecstasy Supremes.  I remember these as somewhat “gotchic-y”.  The first title that comes to mind is Man at the Manor by Olga Sinclair.  I found a description at the following link.


    This line is where I found Anne Stuart (The Demon Count) and Janet Louise Roberts who wrote regency, dmon/paranormals and historical.  And speaking of Anne Stuart, I would love a re-print of Barrett’s Hill.  My original is actually autographed by Ms Stuart, but I still would like a new copy :)

    has93 I has WAY more than 93 books in my TBR :D

  28. 28
    Chris in China says:

    I’m also a Mary Balogh fan.  Loving all the recommendations, even if they are out of print!

  29. 29
    SAO says:

    I’ve reread some old Sabatini, a free download from Project Guttenberg, he spends most of his time with the men, but, oh, Captain Blood, what a gentleman! And his devotion to Arabella, with whom he had barely exchanged more than a few, ‘hellos.’ Errol Flynn played a lot of Sabatini heros in the movies.

    I read a lot of Catherine Coulter’s historical sagas, the Viking era ones had caveman heros, including one who sticks a dog collar on the heroine (I kept hoping she’d shove a sword in his gut) but the Georgian era books were generally okay.

    And Kathleen Woodiwiss of the sweeping and improbable plots!

  30. 30
    Sally says:

    Oooh, shiny covers!! *o*

    I don’t have a specific book to suggest, but I’d like to try one of Carla Kelly’s oldies.

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