Classic Romances Part 2: I Wish You’d Come Back

510Rw+dYaaL._SL500_AA300_I find this year my romance reading has been split firmly into three camps: Review books, Must Buy This New Release books, and Yes! They Came In The Mail! classics.  In the latter case, Better World Books is my absolute bestest pal – free shipping, frequent coupon codes, and good prices.  Only thing missing is a price drop watch.

Anyway, I’ve gotten my hands on some books that I’ve been yearning to read after reading about them, hearing about them, and not being able to find them because they’re so bloody hard to find.  The Windflower is one; Jane Ashford is another.  But the one that I just finished last night, at the grand ole’ hour of 2:47am, and the spur for today’s blog, is Bliss by Judy Cuevas.

I snatched it up when it appeared on Better World Books for $5.95.  Would it have been my first choice to read about a “washed-up artistic genius who never met a drug he didn’t like,” and a “materialistic, ambitious, upstart” heroine known as Miss Seven-Minutes-of-Heaven?  Um, no, not really, to tell the truth.

But it’s set in turn-of-century France.  It is a DIK.  And in the years I’ve been hanging around AAR, at least once a year someone mentions Bliss with awe, worship, and, well, bliss.  And plus, it’s Judy Cuevas.  The legendary Judy Cuevas, aka Judith Ivory, whose prose took the whole damn genre to another stratosphere, and who has disappointingly, sadly, and I sincerely hope not tragically, been missing in action for six years.

So I bought it.  Because, really, when a seminal cult classic is $6 including tax and shipping, I’d be stupid not to buy it.  And I read it.  I won’t go into it too much, because the review (quoted and linked above) does it beautifully, but I will say this: If I ever taught Romance Novels 101 (ha), this would be number one on the required reading list.  The legacy left by Judy Cuevas and, I think, Bliss, is probably more far-reaching than I suspected; I can see tortured, drunken Nardi all over romance, a resurgence of brave, flawed Hannah, and an echo of Ms. Cuevas’ prose in some of the best authors writing today (see Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, and Joanna Bourne for example).  Authors who aren’t afraid to lay their characters wide open.  Authors who don’t just spit out one-dimensional sentences.  Authors, in short, who give a damn.

Judith Ivory isn’t the only who I wish would come back, but luckily the advent of online and self-publishing, as well as a flourishing online trade, has helped to make many of these authors accessible.  In no particular order, here’s a list of authors I wish would return – and who in some cases, have:

  • Judith Ivory: We miss you.
  • Marsha Canham: Let’s hear it for self-publishing.  After a long absence, Marsha Canham’s back with part three in the Pirate Wolf series, The Following Sea. All historical fans rejoice.
  • Signet Regencies: Mary Balogh’s Signet Regencies are slowly being republished by Dell.  Regency Reads has made many gems, such as Joan Wolf and Allison Lane, available as eBooks.  Which means the only ones left are Carla Kelly’s old ones.  Please, Ms. Kelly? Pretty please?
  • Maggie Osborne: Okay, so I’ve never actually read her Westerns.  But judging by the reviews, buzz, and discussion about her, clearly I’m missing out, and clearly we need her back.
  • Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick from the 90s: Yes, I know she’s still publishing, and pretty prolifically.  But I know I’m not the only one who compares her recent stuff unfavorably to her gems from the 90s.  However, I think this is a lost cause.
  • Sharon and Tom Curtis, aka Laura London, aka Robin James: Two in a million, but also a lost cause I think.  They haven’t published since the mid-90s.

Have you read Judy Cuevas/Judith Ivory?  Which authors do you want to return?

- Jean AAR

52 thoughts on “Classic Romances Part 2: I Wish You’d Come Back

  1. I looove Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas!!! I’ve read “Bliss” and “The Proposition” and I re-read them everytime I need a romance fix.

    For the authors who have gotten frustrated with the mainstream publishing business, why not self-publish your work and put them up in the Internet?

  2. Wonderful list. I think Judy Cuevas is alive and well, just concentrating on being a grandmother.
    The thing is, this business really takes the heart out of you sometimes. It beats you up, and then expects you to come back for more, and many writers, particularly the brilliant ones who never got the recognition they deserved, finally say the hell with it and walk away.
    I could never stop writing. But I sure the hell could walk away from the crazy brutality of the publishing world.
    Ditto on Joanna Bourne, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran. I would lay down and die for Judy Cuevas and Laura Kinsale.
    But sometimes enough is enough.

  3. Oh how I miss Katherine Sutcliffe.She was a brilliant author and every book of hers was as good as the last one I read , whether it be historical or contemporary.On a later note, whatever happened to Samantha Saxon, her trilogy was excellent.

  4. The pinnacle of used books is Alibris. Better world Books library is linked to it as well as Yankee Clipper etc. Its more like a used bookstore clearing house. I also could not afford the price of a used Bliss until I found this website and saw one listed for around $6. Yeah!!

  5. I’m right there with you with Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas. I thought she was awesome. I loved Bliss and Dance and some of her Avon titles. I wish she would return but I’ve come to accept that she won’t. However, I do enjoy Meredith Duran and take solace in her writing at the moment.

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  7. Laura Kinsale—please write a new novel. Also, how I wish Barbara Samuels would go back to regency/historical romances.

  8. SO psyched for more of Carla Kelly in e-book!!!!! Yay!!!! (But I will still hold on to my “moldy oldies”) Thank you Carla!!

  9. My first romance novel was “Hummingbird” by LaVyrle Spencer (sigh) and I was mesmerized by her talent in telling wonderful stories, of course I have read everything on her book list more than once, I do wish she would take up her pen and share more stories with her fans.
    As a few others have mentioned Judith McNaught, she too is one I miss.

  10. Yep, Reforming Lord Ragsdale, Daughter of Fortune, Miss Whittier Makes a List, Summer Campaign, Libby’s London Merchant, One Good Turm, The Wedding Journey, in fact, most of my Signets moldy oldies will be out this year. Some I’ve returned to Signet, and some to Cedar Fort, which yes, really needs to improve its ebook delivery. I can pass on your comments to them.

    I’m about to re-up with Harlequin Historicals for two more books, and if you like the sea stories, I’m game. I’m also working on a mystery series set in 1780 New Mexico, still a colony of Spain, except that Spain, weak, is withdrawing from the frontier and leaving the sturdy colonists to their own salvation.

    I keep busy.

    • Carla Kelly: Yep, Reforming Lord Ragsdale, Daughter of Fortune, Miss Whittier Makes a List, Summer Campaign,Libby’s London Merchant, One Good Turm, The Wedding Journey, in fact, most of my Signets moldy oldies will be out this year. Some I’ve returned to Signet, and some to Cedar Fort, which yes, really needs to improve its ebook delivery. I can pass on your comments to them.

      Thank you for responding. As you see, you have many dedicated readers, old and new. Since I just “found” you a year or so ago, I’m doubly happy to hear that not only will your out-of-print books be returning, but that you are keeping busy, as you say.

    • Carla Kelly: Yep, Reforming Lord Ragsdale, Daughter of Fortune, Miss Whittier Makes a List, Summer Campaign,Libby’s London Merchant, One Good Turm, The Wedding Journey, in fact, most of my Signets moldy oldies will be out this year. Some I’ve returned to Signet, and some to Cedar Fort, which yes, really needs to improve its ebook delivery. I can pass on your comments to them.
      I’m about to re-up with Harlequin Historicals for two more books, and if you like the sea stories, I’m game. I’m also working on a mystery series set in 1780 New Mexico, still a colony of Spain, except that Spain, weak, is withdrawing from the frontier and leaving the sturdy colonists to their own salvation.I keep busy.

      Thanks so much for responding, Carla. I think I speak for quite a few of us when I say that your news makes us very happy.

  11. No he didn’t, but I had specifically asked about the Kindle format, so that may be why his reply was limited. He responded to my e-mail right away, so I’d certainly encourage you to contact him with any further questions. Carla’s blog also indicates that in September, Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand will be out in paperback and ebook. So will Daughter of Fortune.

  12. Re: Carla Kelly’s Lord Ragsdale – I reached out to Cedar Fort (Bryce Mortimer, president) and he said to expect Reforming Lord Ragsdale on the Amazon Kindle site within the next couple of weeks. The file on the Cedar Fort site is a .pdf.

    • Joanne: Re: Carla Kelly’s Lord Ragsdale – I reached out to Cedar Fort (Bryce Mortimer, president) and he said to expect Reforming Lord Ragsdale on the Amazon Kindle site within the next couple of weeks. The file on the Cedar Fort site is a .pdf.

      Oh, sweet! Thanks Joan

    • Joanne: Re: Carla Kelly’s Lord Ragsdale – I reached out to Cedar Fort (Bryce Mortimer, president) and he said to expect Reforming Lord Ragsdale on the Amazon Kindle site within the next couple of weeks. The file on the Cedar Fort site is a .pdf.

      Oh, sweet! Thanks Joanne! Did he say anything about other formats? Not terribly fond of PDFs, have to say. If not, I’ll email Cedar Fort.

  13. I miss Stella Francis Nell, Tom & Sharon Curtis, Anne Golon (the Angelique series), Lois Swann (Mists of Manitoo), Rebecca Flanders (Heart of the Wolf series) and Jan Cox Speas. And earlier styles of Jayne Krentz & Sandra Brown – maybe they grew and I didn’t.

  14. I too miss Judith McNaught. I want her to write straight up contemporaries or those long historicals. I did not like her recent foray into the romantic suspense genre.

  15. Carla Kelly has a new book Marriage of Mercy coming out from Harlequin in May. According for Fort Cedar Press Reforming Lord Ragsdale is available as an ebook but it is not listed on Amazon. I, too, wish she would write for more mail stream publishers. Except for her recent novels for Fort Cedar press I have all of her reqency ones. Wonderful writer. I kind of wish Jayne Krentz’s Genevieve Jones series was available.

    • SandyH: Carla Kelly has a new book Marriage of Mercy coming out from Harlequin in May. According for Fort Cedar Press Reforming Lord Ragsdale is available as an ebook but it is not listed on Amazon. I, too, wish she would write for more mail stream publishers. Except for her recent novels for Fort Cedar press I have all of her reqency ones. Wonderful writer. I kind of wish Jayne Krentz’s Genevieve Jones series was available.

      Oh my God, Sandy, you’re totally right! It only seems it’s only available from Cedar Fort – for $2.99.

      http://cedarfort.com/#%7Bselector%3A%22.ldsba-body%22%2Cmodule%3A%22/ldsba/productDetail.module%22%2Cparameters%3A%7Bproduct%3A%2220071501%22%7D%7D

        • Karenmc:
          Lord love a duck! I just ordered it. The website is very stripped down, and I don’t know what format the book is in, but for $2.99 I’ll jump through an extra ring or two.

          PLEASE let us know the details when you can! I’d love to have this book and went to the website to check it out, but didn’t download it because I couldn’t figure out the format. I mainly use a kindle, but I have a kobo reader that I could put an epub on.

          • Carrie:
            PLEASE let us know the details when you can! I’d love to have this book and went to the website to check it out, but didn’t download it because I couldn’t figure out the format. I mainly use a kindle, but I have a kobo reader that I could put an epub on.

            Ditto. I agree about “stripped down” website. It’s very, very bare, with no FAQs or information about the press, and a very bizarre $5 “shipping fee” for an eBook. Would love to hear any details you’d care to share, Karenmc.

  16. Oh, @Xina, I hope you’re right about Theresa Weir writing another romance novel – I’ve already read through her entire backlist!

  17. I miss Stef Ann Holm. I enjoyed her contemporaries and Americana’s especially Honey and Hooked. I don’t think she’s had anything out for at least 3 years. I agree xina, I would love to have some of the older ones I loved on my ereader.

  18. I wish I could edit my posts…lol, because I just thought of one more point. I do wish that Judith McNaught would put her historicals in e-book form. They were some of my first romances I read, and I’d love to have them on my e-reader. Pretty sure I’m not alone in this wish.

    • xina: I wish I could edit my posts…lol, because I just thought of one more point. I do wish that Judith McNaught would put her historicals in e-book form. They were some of my first romances I read, and I’d love to have them on my e-reader. Pretty sure I’m not alone in this wish.

      xina, I’m pretty sure that if it’s not already happening, it will be soon. I saw Every Breath You Take on Overdrive the other day. Now, granted, that may not be first on your list, but who knows?

      Speaking of Judith McNaught, I did think about adding her to my list. But realistically, I’m more devoted to the individual book (read: Almost Heaven) than her stories themselves. I went through a huge JM phase, but the only one that is re-read now is AH.

  19. A couple of you mentioned Teresa Weir. I’m pretty sure she is working on a romance novel. I follow her on Twitter, and although I’m not there often, I remember her mentioning it. There’s always hope. right?

  20. Bliss and Dance are two of my favorite romance novels, and I don’t think any romance author today writes like her.
    I read these book just last year, after having both copies safely stored away for years. Years ago, I remember comments about the book and one think I always remembered was…that is book where the hero throws up in a beautiful piano. Just that didn’t appeal to me. What a wonderful discovery though…I adore these books. Those two books were simply genius.

  21. My husband probably will not be happy I found out about Better World Books. I just spent a happy couple of hours searching their Bargain Bin ($3 books!!!) and found waaay too many books that have been on my “try to find used copy” list. I’ve spent over $50 today on $3 and $4 books! What fun!

  22. I really appreciate threads and topics like this. I love learning of books I have missed, or authors I’ve never read. I have never read Judith Ivory either, but I’ve now ordered several for my kindle. I wish that Bliss was on kindle, because I can’t afford the used paperback. I will def. be looking for it at some UBS this weekend though. Thanks to all above for more new/oldies to look for!

  23. I also buy books from Better World Books, but I’ve never seen an affordable copy of a Judy Cuevas book. I’ve read and loved all the Judith Ivory books, though.

    I am very happy that lots of authors are making their books available electronically. I’m hoping this trend will continue. I do hate it when the formatting is lousy, but I keep buying anyway.

  24. I’m very grateful for the new writers who, as you put it “lay their characters wide open,” and I mourn the fact that there will apparently be no more Judith Ivory books. Give me depth, grit and a bumpy emotional landscape over trendy light fluff any day.

    I’m waiting for Carla Kelly’s Reforming Lord Ragsdale to show up in e-format. The few print copies I’ve seen have been sooo expensive, and I know her backlist is slowly being released as ebooks. Also, I’ve read a lot of comments about Adele Ashworth’s Winter Garden over the years, and it’s available for pre-order for Kindle, coming out on May 29th. Yet another title for the electronic TBR pile.

  25. I REALLY miss Lavyrle Spencer. I have never read a book of hers that I was dissatisfied with.

    I also miss the old style “bodice rippers”. Not for their controversial aspects, but for the true historical aspects of them. As Ruby said above, I loved reading about the epic detailed history/background of the tale. So many of the old-school historicials gave you the ability to truly escape into them. You could feel them, see them, smell them, taste the dust, etc. I so miss that in today’s books. I have found very, very few that have the magical ability that the old school historicals did. Too many of today’s books seem hurried and/or follow a formula from the publisher.

    • Vol Fan: I REALLY miss Lavyrle Spencer.I have never read a book of hers that I was dissatisfied with.I also miss the old style “bodice rippers”.Not for their controversial aspects, but for the true historical aspects of them.As Ruby said above, I loved reading about the epic detailed history/background of the tale.So many of the old-school historicials gave you the ability to truly escape into them.You could feel them, see them, smell them, taste the dust, etc.I so miss that in today’s books.I have found very, very few that have the magical ability that the old school historicals did. Too many of today’s books seem hurried and/or follow a formula from the publisher.

      Yeah, epic is missing in big quantities these days. However, if you haven’t already read her I’d recommend Carrie Lofty, who has written some fairly meaty historicals (her latest is set in South Africa).

      • Jean Wan:
        Yeah, epic is missing in big quantities these days.However, if you haven’t already read her I’d recommend Carrie Lofty, who has written some fairly meaty historicals (her latest is set in South Africa).

        Thanks Jean, I’ll be sure & check her out.

  26. Oh, I could go for days on this subject!

    In contemporaries, I really miss Judith Duncan, Anne Stuart and, of all people, Diana Whitney, whom I can only describe as a guilty pleasure. I know that Anne Stuart still writes contemporaries, and I love those, too, but not like the old series contemporaries she used to write. :( I loved nothing better on a rainy afternoon or a snowy weekend than to hole up in the house with an Anne Stuart book!

    I’ll also second Tee’s mention of Theresa Weir — I know she’s still writing, but it’s just not the same!

    I also love traditional Regencies, and some of the authors in that genre that I really miss are Elisabeth Fairchild, Martha Kirkland and Barbara Metzger. Like Anne Stuart, Barbara Metzger is still writing, but not the traditional Regencies that I loved.

    As for historicals, I really miss Laura Kinsale and old-school Mary Jo Putney and Meagan McKinney. Meagan McKinney really broke the Regency-era single-title mold, with her unusual settings and time periods. Now there’s a bizarre tale for you – Meagan McKinney is one of the few author’s I’ve ever seen whose career trajectory goes from epic historicals THEN to category contemporaries. Mary Jo Putney’s older historicals were true historicals, where you learned as much about the period as you did the characters, but her last few have been wallpaperish to me.

    I’ve noticed a trend, in my whining — some of my favorite authors are still writing, they’ve just given up the types of books that I loved. Maybe they said all they had to say on that subject, or maybe, as in the case of Theresa Weir, they simply weren’t satisfied with the way their books were marketed or edited. Interesting.

  27. I’m in my mid-50′s and just started reading romance as a genre a few years ago. Even reading 250+ books a year, I sometimes feel like I’ll need another lifetime just to go back and catch up on all the authors I’ve missed out on. Since historical romances aren’t my go-to genre (I do read them, but not predominantly), I probably won’t go back and pick up many of the beloved historical romance authors Mentioned above. However, you have me curious about Ivory/Cuevas and I may check out a book by her.

    I agree about JAK. Three of my favorite romance books are her SFR trilogy written in the 80s under yet another pen name. (Sweet Starfire, Crystal Flame and Shield’s Lady) They didn’t sell well then, but they are marvelously written books with complex plots, well-developed characters and lovely prose. I enjoy her more recent books, but they feel like abridged versions of themselves, if that makes sense. After reading earlier works, it feels like the newer ones are outlines of what could be a much richer book. Linda Howard’s recent books feel the same way.

    @PatH AAR– I agree about Carla Kelly. I love her regency and sea-going books. I wish she’s return to that. And Amen on the authors who are phoning it in.

    • Carrie: However, you have me curious about Ivory/Cuevas and I may check out a book by her.

      Carrie, I think she’s definitely worth at one read. It pays, though, to find the best fit book I think, because not all her books are the same. There are some I don’t like, some I admire, some I like, and some I love. Everyone reacts to her books differently. But I’m glad this post has inspired you!

  28. Carla Kelly posts at AAR sometimes and I got the impression we will be seeing her old books digitally. Some of her old stories anthologies have been collected. Unfortunately, her new publisher, Cedar Fort, has no clue whatsoever on how to sell ebooks. (They don’t post the format AND they charge shipping on them!) I’m guessing they don’t do much in the way of promotion, either.

    • willaful: Carla Kelly posts at AAR sometimes and I got the impression we will be seeing her old books digitally. Some of her old stories anthologies have been collected. Unfortunately, her new publisher, Cedar Fort, has no clue whatsoever on how to sell ebooks. (They don’t post the format AND they charge shipping on them!) I’m guessing they don’t do much in the way of promotion, either.

      Is she also still doing the odd one for Harlequin Historicals? Her recent anthology was all new stuff, I think.

  29. As someone who just “discovered” Judith Ivory in 2011, I was saddened to discover that she was no longer writing. I have been looking for her back lists and have found out just how pricey they can be. Thanks, Jean, for the tip about Better World Books. And while I still buy Jayne Ann Krentz/ Amanda Quick books, I must wholeheartedly agree that I miss her older and IMO greater earlier works.

    But, like Tee, I understand “the King is dead, long live the King”, some of our newer authors are more than capable of becoming our generations’ classics. Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Judith James, Connie Brockway,Courtney Milan to name a few ,are the authors whose names will be bandied about in the far future as our classic writers and I am thankful for them. Like any reader, I am a Greedy Gertie when it comes to my faves, and I want them to write quicker and forever. This post has reminded me to be grateful for what I have been given…thanks Jean

  30. I miss Maggie Osborne for sure. I’d like Carla Kelly to return to Regencies–and the sea. I’d like Mary Balogh to return to gritty as would I like to see Kathleen Eagle.

    I’d like to see all the authors who originally had passion and weren’t phoning it in (LKH, Stephanie Laurens, Janet Evanovich, etc.) return to their dreams and not be pressured into meeting publishing schedules or readers’ screams of more, more, more. I’d rather read one really good book by a good writer than fourteen mediocre books by that writer.

    And finally, I’d like to see no one disappear without a trace.

  31. I’m afraid that Judith Ivory is lost to us forever. I’ve asked her agent and editor every year and they say they’ve heard nothing. I am afraid we have to conclude that something sad has happened to her.

    I agree with Tee’s “the king is dead” philosophy, but I’m afraid that Judith Ivory and the Curtises will always be supreme for me. Call it sentimentality, or where I was in my life when I first read them, but they are unmatched.

    Thank heavens that Connie Brockway, Lisa Kleypas, Linda Howard and others go on and for the addition of new favorites Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran. Still, I miss Judith Ivory and I always will.

    • AAR Sandy: I’m afraid that Judith Ivory is lost to us forever.I’ve asked her agent and editor every year and they say they’ve heard nothing.I am afraid we have to conclude that something sad has happened to her.

      That’s very sad, Sandy. There’s no one like her.

  32. Paula Detmer Riggs – another MIA. No one seems to know what happened to her. Miss her a lot.

    Also regret the passing of Edith Layton who I really loved.

    • elaine sAlso regret the passing of Edith Layton who I really loved.

      Second Edith Layton. I’ve been going through her Regencies, especially the Super Regencies, and they were (are) fabulous. Slowly buying up the Better World Books backlist.

  33. I still go to Laura Kinsale’s website every now and then, hoping she’s working on another. After a long absence, she published Lessons in French, which I really enjoyed, but has been absent again for about 2 years now.

  34. I miss Theresa Weir, Maura Seger, Maggie Osborne, Georgia Bockoven. I know Weir and Seger write under different names, but their books are also different. But I did enjoy the autobiography that Weir recently issued. I know there are other authors I miss, but it’s difficult to conjure up names without at least looking at some list. There were quite a few who only wrote for the Silhouette line and who no longer write, but knew how to craft a good story.

    Ivory and the Curtises were never favorites of mine, but I know many loved their works and miss them a lot. On the other hand, I would say there are a number of authors who have debuted within the years and who have become go-to authors for me. It’s something like royalty: The king is dead; long live the king. There is always someone waiting to step into the shoes and life/books go on. :)

    Otherwise, I feel

  35. Patricia Gaffney. Some of her books are now starting to come out in e-form which is great. I wsih she would come back to writing romances

  36. Judith is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and wrote some of the best books in the genre, IMO. Sadly, her MIA status is one of the things that contributed to my much lighter load of romance reading. All the authors I loved stopped writing, or went into women’s fiction.

    I saved all her books, and have slowly been rereading them. I have a few left, and of them I only plan to keep one – Beast. It’s not that I didn’t love Bliss, etc. I just felt like returning them to a UBS so some lucky person could discover them organically and maybe be taken on a magical journey.

    Another author I’ve been slowly rereading is Pamela Morsi – but the books are almost impossible to find, and the ebooks are slapped together and poorly edited. I feel like I’m reading another language. Oh well, it’s better than nothing!

    • TanyaAnother author I’ve been slowly rereading is Pamela Morsi – but the books are almost impossible to find, and the ebooks are slapped together and poorly edited. I feel like I’m reading another language. Oh well, it’s better than nothing!

      I just read Something Shady for the first time a few weeks ago, and I thought it was a nice change of pace. A wee bit slow, but really lovely to have two older main leads.

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