Buy Sweet Old-Fashioned Romance Books: The Pleasures Of Vintage Romance Novels
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Love And Romance
Sweet And Gentle Old-time Vintage Romance
Do you like a sweet romance?
Are you tired of heaving bosoms and frankly rather explicit love scenes? Personally, any love scene that makes me want to cry, ‘Mind out! You’ll have her eye out!’ is something I don’t want to be reading while trying to eat my dinner. Or a banana.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that, in romance terms, I cut my teeth on ‘sweet’ vintage romances, and I still have more than a soft spot for them. Lucilla Andrews, Mary Burchell, Iris Bromige – let the tattered paperbacks stand on your bookshelves with pride!
Mills and Boon
A neighbour used to get a regular 'weekly' magazine - I believe it was in fact Woman's Weekly. She would pass them on to my mum when she was done with them. This had a serial or two, usually Mills & Boon stories, and a few stand-alone romantic short stories. I still remember details and plot-lines from the serials: quite something considering how flimsy some of the plots were. Give me the child till she is thirteen, and I will give you the romance-addicted woman...
In fact one of the publishers that immediately springs to mind when discussing sweet romance and love stories is Mills and Boon. This venerable old publishing house began life in 1908 and has been in business ever since. They are a profitable concern, too: while they are now an offshoot of American giants of pulp romance Harlequin, revenue for the first quarter of 2009 has been reported as up by 13.5%.
However their output isn't always regarded as quite as sweet as it used to be. Titles such as 'A Body To Die For' and 'Pregnant On The Upper East Side' are enough to scare the vicar away from afternoon tea! Mills & Boon's own writing guidelines, direct from Mills & Boon online website, still advise aspiring contributors to 'write from the heart'.
So what publishing houses are reliable sources for addicts of a gentle romance these days? Of course Christian romance is a big thing, certainly in the U.S. Even Harlequin has its religiously inspired 'Steeple Hill' imprint. But that isn't quite what most of us mean when we refer to a sweet romance: instead we mean gentle hand-holding and a few chaste embraces in the place of horny romps, with heroes more likely to be lawyers or businessmen than vampires or secret agents. Cardigan-wearers can still find purveyors of tales that can charm and allure without setting the house on fire with the heat of their passion: try 'One Touch, One Glance: A Sweet Romance Anthology', from e-book publisher Freya's Bower.
What about the hot stuff?
Of course, the pervy hot-stuff erotic romance novel has its place. That place is not on your desk at work unless you want some hilarious comments (possibly including on your Facebook wall.) Nor is it on your granny’s bookshelf. (But there’s nothing you can do about it if the old dear’s still got some go in ‘er. Just avert your eyes from the man-boobs and tousled locks.)
Nor is the erotic romance an entirely new development of the past few years. Ethel M. Dell was packing ‘em in with tales of riding crops (whatever they are), flashing eyes and subservient damsels decades ago. But we don’t have to like it! Nor do we have to read it. If you want to hang on to your pages of chaste embraces and Fair-isled heroes with stern chins, then you go, girlfriend. In a gentle, decorous kind of way, of course.
However lots of ladies seem to be made of sterner stuff: the erotic e-book website Ellora's Cave has made leaps and bounds of progress in recent years, with financial progress exemplified by its 2003 revenues of $1.2m.  There's money in smut, it seems: or indeed, 'where there's muck there's brass'.
New Developments: What Is Chick-Lit All About?
The modern face of romance novels has acquired a title and genre all of its own, and that title is 'chick-lit'. Exemplified by the work of Sophie Kinsella and 'Bridget Jones' author Helen Fielding, the chicklit genre is typified by heroines who have careers, like a drink, have almost certainly 'put it about a bit' and generally get up to some hair-raising hi-jinks before grabbing a hold of the hero towards the end of the book (and even that isn't always a given.)
Blogging About Love And Romance
Of course we're all connected up these days: and hopeless romantics are as likely as anyone to be blogging their days away. There are even blogs about sweet romance, not just the hot 'n' heavy stuff! Some interesting romance blogs are www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/, http://avonromanceblog.blogspot.com, and http://www.worderella.com/
Sweet Romance Has Its Own Pleasures
Come and join me as I re-read and review an occasional vintage romance, including a few of the gentle heart-strewn tales of my youth. The odd heaving bosom might pop up from time to time. But it will be suitably clad, quite possibly in polyester, or a home-knitted jumper.
Photo credit: Ed Yourdon