Harlequin has been busy rebranding their covers, and has redone most of their lines with bigger images, smaller banners, and an assortment of other changes you might have noticed. You can see many of the cover designs on this page featuring all their titles on sale at $1.99 each.
But awhile back. MissB2U was going through many (many many many many) donated boxes of vintage Harlequins, and she'd send me a few with the subject line, “Brace yourself, Effie!”
I think Harlequin might have missed an opportunity, here. I like the new designs a LOT, but I'm thinking… well, we need more vintage. REALLY Vintage.
Like, What the hell does that even MEAN? vintage! Have a look, but be ye warned – as I investigated some of them, the descriptions sounded like a LOT of my catnip so now I want to read them all. DAMMIT.
Now, I'm guessing this has to do with fashion, given the cover illustration, but the description is completely baffling:
The only women who interested Lucien Manners , they told Arabella, were long-dead ones — like Cleopatra, Dido and Sappho — none of whom had anything in common with an empty-headed model girl, far too young for her age, whom Lucien had described as a “street arab”. Arabella had better just stop thinking about him…
I am… intrigued. (I also had to Google what the hell a “street arab” was – what a lovely antiquated term. Geesh.)
Then MissB wrote, “I just found one called The Silver Sty with a toothsome redhead on the cover. My brain is a-poppin’. Is this where you keep your were-pig? Is this what happens when vampires get an eye infection? It almost defies contemplation.”
I don't think we're talking about infections that make your eye all red and puffy. Oh, yeaaah, it's guardian-ward time!
Sarah had all kinds of names for the guardian she hadn't seen for years- the GI (Guardian of Innocence), the Myth, Poor Fish- just as she had all kinds of ingenious plans to get rid of him when he came. She wanted no interference in her young life.
Unfortunately, in a mistaken moment of confidence, she told James Fane all about them, before she knew who he was. James was amused- but as her guardian, he was quite prepared to be firm!
And HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS look at the UK cover from RomanceWiki.
WHOA. I'm a little skeeved by that cover. Is she about to kick his ass? Choke him? Do a lapdance? What the heynow is going there?
And… despite the 2 star reviews on GoodReads, I kind of want to read that one, too.
But wait, there's more!
MissB said of this cover, “The blank look on her face must be 'Where the fuck is Bahl Bahla? You made that up.'”
But Australia, I am LEARNING because I took one look at that and said, “I bet that's in Australia” – and sure enough it is:
To take her mind off the tragic death of her father, Corinne went to work on Bahl Bahla, the great cattle station in the Outback.
There she met Kiall Ballantine, who thought her just a society orchid and misinterpreted the reason for her unhappiness. It was the beginning of a tempestuous relationship.
The quizzical look on her face is funny, but when paired with Mr. Rugged Smirk, you just know it is Business Time. Because when you're from Bahl Bahla, you MUST have big Bahls.
Also – given the new archane terms I'm learning today, I much prefer “society orchid” to “street arab.”
Then there's Behind the Cloud by Emilie Loring:
My apologies for the teeny cover.
SPEAKING of Business Time, this book caught MissB's eye because the description she found read, “The warm and thrilling story of a beautiful girl alone with the men of an Alaskan air base.”
Says MissB, “Indeed.”
That sounds like something in the erotic romance genre, for sure, but no, this was published in 1940. And I'm now totally fascinated by Emilie Loring after reading her bio on GoodReads:
Emilie Loring was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1864 to George M. Baker and Emily Frances (Boles) Baker…. She died in Wellesley, Massachusetts on March 13, 1951. At the time of her death, Loring had sold more than a million copies of her first thirty books. She began writing in 1914 at the age of 50 and continued until her death after a long illness in 1951.
Loring was a prolific American romance novelist of the 20th century, known for her “wholesome love” romances and independent, spirited heroines. Beyond romance, her books also explore a selection of topics including but not limited to marriage, love, American patriotism, freedom, and optimism.
DUDE. That's kind of amazing.
Here's the more-better description of the book, which doesn't sound nearly as erotic-romance as the short summary:
When Delight Tremaine joined her brother in an Alaskan air base, she was warned that the young officers there were starving for the company of an attractive girl. She promised to just be “Best Friends with all of them”.
But she did not reckon meeting Lt. Bill Mason, so handsome and yet so maddeningly aloof.
Neither did she expect to meet Captain Steele, who was hard as his name.
Delight suspected that the hatred between these two West Pointers was deep. Was it a girl? Was it a passed up promotion?
CAPTAIN STEELE. Who was as hard as his name.
Oh, my gosh. I have goosebumps of WannaReadThatNow.
(Also – my first thought about the title Behind the Cloud was that Alaskan pilots must be particularly gassy.)
And our final stop on MissB2U's tour of vintage Harlequin covers of excellence: The Feathered Shaft.
Look, if he's trying to tell you that it has feathers, I'd be a bit alarmed, wouldn't you?
I totally Googled “What is a feather shaft,” and found out that it's the hollow middle part of a feather. But this book, this is all about pretending to be the hero's sister:
For various reasons, Nicola was having to masquerade as the sister of Kurt Thesige. It was a worrying situation, as, quite apart from the ever-present danger that her deception would be discovered, she soon realized that her feelings for him were far from sisterly!
I love how the description answers the question, “Why is she pretending to be his sister?” with, “Because reasons. VARIOUS reasons.”
Which classic (and 50c!) Harlequins have you read? Any you recommend? Please share!