Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Review: I'm Loving Loveswept, Part One

For more than fifteen years at the end of the last century, Bantam published category romances under the Loveswept imprint. According to the RomanceWiki, 917 books were published between May 1983 and January 1999, beginning with Sandra Brown’s Heaven’s Price and ending with Fayrene Preston’s The Prize. Among the authors of the remaining 915 novels were some who became VIP romance authors (Jennifer Crusie, Suzanne Brockmann) and others who became bestsellers in other genres (Janet Evanovich,Tami Hoag).  Some of the writers on my auto-buy list now are writers I first read as Loveswept authors (Deborah Smith, Jill Shalvis). Helen Mittermeyer and Billie Green were two of my favorite Loveswept authors, and I remember how much I loved Kay Hooper’s revamped fairy tales.

I was among those cheering Random House’s announcement in late June that Loveswept was being revived as an ebook only line with the first titles being released in August 2011.  In addition to reissues, the new Loveswept line will include new romances. Jessica Scott, already a familiar name within the online romance community, will debut in November 2011 with Because of You, followed by Back to You (February 2012) and Until There Was You (April 2012). Prices for Loveswept ebooks will range from $2.99-$4.99.

When ARCs of the first reissues became available to reviewers through NetGalley, I requested two I remembered fondly.

Lightning That Lingers
By Sharon and Tom Curtis
Publisher: Random House/
A Loveswept Classic Romance Ebook
Release Date: August 8, 2011
(originally released in 1983)
Five Stars

Philip Brooks is an environmental biologist who lives alone on the summer estate, Lily Hill, all that remains of his family’s great wealth. To pay taxes so that the land can be preserved for wildlife, Philip works as the star attraction at the Cougar Club, a male strip club.

Jennifer Hamilton, very young and very shy, is the newest addition to the library staff of Emerald Lake, Wisconsin. On a night out with her co-workers, Jennifer reluctantly agrees to visit the Cougar Club.  Halfway through the first act, she retreats to the restroom. She’s even more embarrassed by the second act, and in trying to avoid looking at the stage, she exchanges a fraught look with “the most handsome man in the world.” She’s shocked but attracted when he turns out to be the third act, “the number one male dancer in the Midwest.”

Philip is equally attracted to Jennifer, and he pursues her, driving her home, going to the library, sharing with her his passion for the wildlife he protects. Determined to resist him at first, Jennifer eventually yields.  She wrecks her car on her way to him and almost freezes to death. Philip saves her from hypothermia, introduces her to his pets (a screech owl named Chaucer and a brown hen named Henrietta), and dances with her to music from an old gramophone before they make love. There’s still the problem of his profession, and it leads to the black moment when Jennifer’s mother writes that she’s planning to visit the Cougar Club. But this is a romance, and the dark night leads to a golden morning and a satisfying HEA.

I worried that I might find a twenty-eight-year-old contemporary romance dated. But aside from a reference to Jennifer’s Dorothy Hamil hairdo and the wounds inflicted by her illegitimacy, the story has worn very well. Twenty-first century readers may find Jennifer’s innocence unrealistic; even in 1983, she would have been extraordinary. But the authors present her as a woman not of her time, as unfledged as the baby owls Philip rescues. She thinks of herself as “Jennifer Hamilton, who’d spent a lifetime of twenty-three years misplaced in an era of sexual liberation.” Others may find the lush prose not to their liking, but I loved it. Phrases like “the lace-work caress of his hands” and sentences like “memories collected in her mind like intimate postcards” still sing in my head.

I’ll post my review for the second Loveswept reissue I read tomorrow.

Have you read any Loveswept romances in the originals or as reissues? What do you think about a stripper hero and a librarian heroine?



quantum said...

I checked with Amazon UK and find that I can download this book for £1.91

This sounds like my kind of book. I can easily project my mind back into the relevant time period and find the 'Old World shyness' very attractive. When it clashes with the brazen behaviour of a male stripper, then sparks start to ignite my imagination!

I'm pretty sure that I will like the 'lush prose' as well. It might waken the sleeping poet within me.

Thanks for the recommendation. *smile*

Janga said...

Let me know what you think of it, Q. Thanks for commenting.