Molly Katz started writing for the Candlelight Ecstasy Romance series in 1984. Worth His Weight in Gold was her 5th novel for that imprint. She had some success in the serial romance genre but stopped in 1987 when the series shut down and pursued a career in stand-up comedy. She penned two psychological thrillers in the 1990s but is best known for her humor books, most notably Jewish as a Second Language.
Worth His Weight in Gold is a typical Ecstasy Romance, the woman falling for the man improbably and deeply. Ecstasy was a competitor to Silhouette and Harlequin in the 1980s, during the heyday of the serial romance. If you like the classic sereial romance novel from the 1980s, relatively clean and short. this is a good one, and much of Katz's humor comes through.
Ecstasy series are highly collectible and rare, especially in good condition. The series had strong authors but could never break through against the larger series, despite the backing of Dell.
From the jacket: "He was waiting for her--and she ran into his trap! Ruth Barrett was being held at gunpoint for trespassing when Frank Gordon, chief of the police force she'd publicly embarrassed, came to arrest her. But the real trouble began when the lithe blond runner passed the handsome giant on a country path and fell into the lake in surprise. Suddenly she was in his strong arms, unexpectedly warm on that cold February day. Why did she yield to his masterful embrace? Why couldn't she say 'No!' before he swept her off her feet, filling her with desire for everything she'd tried to reject?"
Janice Kaiser was first published in 1985 and has written at least 32 books, primarily series romances for Harlequin under their Superromance and Temptation lines. Private Sins is a standalone romantic political tale that uses Ms. Kaiser's education as a lawyer in addition to her experience as a romance novelist. Private Sins was her second mass market, standalone, novel, published in 1995.
The novel got good reviews and is given a 4.00 rating on Goodreads. It still reads as contemporary - the private scandals of politicians and other prominent people make the news every day - this novel is a fictionalized account of the stuff of the news.
Private Sins can be had for as little as $3.97, including shipping, on Biblio.
From the back jacket:
BRETT-the stunning, brilliant attorney tested and tempted beyond reason when she falls in love with her husband's son. AMORY-the new supreme court justice who will put his heart on the line to keep his young wife and his life on the line to defend his beliefs. ELLIOT-a political attache trapped by his contempt for one woman and his forbidden love for his father's new wife. HARRISON-a senator whose scandalous private life may cost him much more than his career. Only by exposing the private sins and secret passions of this very public family can they fulfill a destiny that is theirs for the taking .
Joanie stood in her narrow kitchen and looked down at Bruno in all his well-brushed glory. The collie returned her gaze with his liquid brown eyes just dripping the unconditional love that dogs can have for their humans. That look always warmed Joanie’s heart.
You’ll never discount my feelings, my career, or my interests, will you? She thought as she reached down to rub his muzzle. You’ll never tell me I could lose a few, or be more adventurous, or get a boob job either, eh?
The dog moved his head slightly so that she was scratching his ears and then she swept her hand down to pet his shoulders. His tail began to swish and his eyes, if it was possible, said even more vehemently, I love you; you’re the best! His needs were simple, give me attention and affection and I will return the favor. She gave him a final pat, gave him a small piece of salmon jerky and left him chewing on it, content.
In her small, neat bedroom she changed into a bright flowered dress for this evening’s date. She liked the dress as it matched her personality - modest (knee length, high neckline) yet showy (bright, twirly). She would be easy to find no matter how crowded the venue.
Later, at the bar (why was it always a bar?), Scott was waiting. His white bow tie made him clearly identifiable. She hadn’t thought he’d actually wear it. The bar was noisy but somehow he’d managed to get them a table in the adjoining restaurant where the sound was muted and they could talk, not shout.
He didn’t try to invade her space and his cobalt-blue eyes held hers as if he was trying to understand her words and feelings. Maybe, she thought, just maybe…
The Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme series was published by Dell during the heyday of the serial romance. They were longer than the original Candlelight Ecstasy series and thus the stories could have more depth. This was the third book in a series that would eventually run to 188 titles.
Donna Kimel Vitek wrote 34 romance novels between 1979 and 1987, starting with four short romances for Macfadden Encore (as Donna Alexander), then ten for Silhouette (as Donna Vitek) before moving on to Candlelight (as Donna Kimel Vitek). When Dell shut down the Candlelight series she stopped writing. Her popularity is shown by being one of the authors being invited to step up from the base Ecstasy series to the Ecstasy Supreme series.
Synopsis: "She'd worked hard to get to the top--to become an associate producer. When a malicious scandal forced her to switch networks, Juliet York swore that unfounded rumors would never threaten her reputation again.
"But she'd no sooner arrived at Union Broadcasting than superstar anchorman Marc Tyner made it clear that he wanted more than a working relationship. Being thrown together on a dangerous investigative assignment in a small town meant double jeopardy: Marc would use every wile to get his story--and his way. How could she protect herself when his merest touch triggered her deepest desires? How could she know if this was the love of a lifetime or a dangerous diversion--no rumor but a real affair that could break her heart and destroy her career?"
Warmed by the Fire is available on Biblio for as little as $5.99.
Romance and Mystery are by far the two largest genres of fiction. Harlequin capitalized on this with their Intrigue series.
Romantic Suspense was first popularized in the 1950s and 1960s with the likes of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney. Harlequin launched Intrigue, with contemporary timelines and characters, in 1984.
The Intrigue series, like other "harlequin" series, developed subseries within, usually based on a family (The McKenna Legacy), an organization (The Colby Agency) or a location (The Rose Tattoo). The subseries could be written by a single author, as our example today where all 12 volumes in The Rose Tattoo subseries were written by Kelsey Roberts, or multi-author, like the Colby Agency subseries.
Her Mother's Arms combines an adopted heroine looking for her biological mother, a sexy ex-CIA agent, and someone looking to kill the heroine for the truths she may uncover. As with most serial romances the story unrolls quickly and ends predictably but it is a fun ride. Intrigues run to about 250 pages, still well within a single evening's sitting.
Her Mother's Arms is a typical example of the genre and the series. It gets a 4.0 rating on Goodreads. Her Mother's Arms is available on Biblio for as little as $3.97.
Redding Walters brings a unique, intriguing, and fascinating perspective and story-line to the romance novel.
Even Seahorses are Free traces the love history of Dr. Rebecca Beisonig, through the rather ingenious devices of a long drive up the Pacific Coast with a dead cell phone. As she drives she recounts her past loves and their shortcomings, as well as their high points.
At her destination, she plunges into her work while re-discovering the depth of friendship with other women and fending off the advances of a "young stud" in which she knows she has no interest. In her rediscovery and soul searching she finally comes to terms with the lost love of her life, the value of female friends, and the end of her marriage that was never really fulfilling.
Ms. Walters brings freshness to the novel. Her characters, from the very pregnant Barbie to the aloof Howard, are full and lively. They jump off the page to the point you can almost touch them. The story is both unique in the interplay of environmental science and the livelihoods that are often in conflict and in the love, lust, and conflict of Rebecca.
The energy of the novel starts at a high level and allows the reader to briefly recover before driving to a new peak. Continuing to build as the story progresses with each peak being higher than the last. The ending is both satisfying and not quite how one expects.
Even Seahorses are Free is highly recommended. Available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.
"A provocative...novel of love and divorce among the moderns." it says on the cover. From the blurb on the back: Ward Galvin could not have told you why his marriage was on the rocks. His wife, Myra was still a beautiful woman, desirable to every man - except to himself.
Then he met Trina. Trina Macklyn was the kind of girl even a good man dreams of once.
Vina Delmar was a prolific writer from the 1920s through 1976. She and her husband wrote short stories, plays, and novels. This one was written after her husband died and was the only one of her last ten that was not historical in nature.
Her work is not often read these days but has an average rating on a scattering of reviews on Goodreads of about 4, which is relatively high.
The Breeze from Camelot is available on Biblio for as little as $7.99.
Let me start by saying that, although I own a Kindle, I still prefer the feel of a paper book in my hands. It is my plan to provide periodically a review of a book that is no longer in print but is available in the secondary market for a reasonable amount.
Let me further inform you, before we get any further along, that I used to own a used book store with the largest collection of serial romance novels in New York, as far as I can tell.
Romance novels, at least since the early 1970s in the United States, have been massively successful and the primary success, until recently, in terms of actual titles and copies printed, was in the serial romance category, colloquially known by the name of the powerhouse publisher as “harlequins”. Each title typically had only a single print run and was released once, as part of a group of books, or “series” that were similar in format and level of eroticism and adventure.
By design then almost all serial romances are no longer in print and often were printed in relatively small numbers per title. One such title, from the Temptation series, is Alyssa Dean’s Manhunting in Miami. Dean wrote 6 novels for the series in all and Manhunting in Miami is probably her best. She got 4 stars from Romantic Times when the book came out and has an overall rating of 3.57 stars on Goodreads. Described as “lighthearted and humorous” it involves a professional woman who hires an investigator to find her husband candidates who will satisfy both herself and her upper-crust family.
Manhunting in Miami is available for as little as $4.75 from Biblio.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)