Are you a lonely heart of the mind? To satiate the insatiable – for the reader who knows no bounds – your library has a collection devoted to paperback romances. From floor to average reaching height, the walls of our fiction area overflow with thousands of romances and mysteries.
Release the floodgates of passion – drown your lover’s remorse – always revel in a happy ending
When Valentine’s Day appeared on my calendar, my heart sunk low. Ennui began to slow down my days, my appetite dwindled, feverish dreams woke me, and finally a morbid melancholy held me siege. Was this complete anhedonia? What would I give my lover?
The librarians and library assistants came to my aid. For Valentine’s Day – my idee fixe, Laura Beth recommended Jackie Collins, Nancy Kathleen Woodiwriss, and Corey Rochelle Alers. It seemed everyone had their go-to-romance-fix, but when I stood in the romance area, I was overwhelmed by all the choices. Vampires in Austria were enticing, daddy romances less so – ‘Three-way Miracle’ made me blush. John suggested I make my choice by the best (funny) titles I could find.
Soon I found Puppy Love in Thunder Canyon, Unicorn Vengeance, Windmill of Love, and Bulletproof Hearts. I read the first chapter of each one, and the quality of writing whittled down my choices. As much as I wanted Puppy Love in Thunder Canyon to be good, the writing was incoherent and valorized a dog trained in psychotherapy that seduced unhinged men for its owner; Unicorn Vengeance was the final part of a trilogy and required extensive knowledge of the previous two novels; Windmill of Love was dull.
Bulletproof Hearts caught my attention right away. The characters, their desires, and actions were clear. Abigail Trevor, a glamorous Southern Lit. Professor plagued by asthma, stood
over her brother’s grave in Washington D.C. as the rain poured down and the sky slid into darkness. A handsome man comes out of the gloom and speaks with an Irish lilt; he ‘knew and admired her brother, Jason, a great deal’. ‘Oh, he’s gay,’ she thinks to herself.
Sooner than later, Shaun Logan – a ‘panty melter’ – turns out to be much less gay than originally thought, and they find themselves on the run to the Deep South – in a bed and breakfast decked out in doilies, large complimentary glasses of shiraz, and surrounded by an ever passionate thunderstorm.
One thing leads to another, and Abby’s breaking into her childhood home in Clarksdale to figure out the cryptic message her dead brother left about dominos. The house violently explodes and knocks them into a sweaty pile of mutual survival. Under the threat of heavy gunfire, they crawl out a window – hence the subtitle: “He guarded her body. She guarded her heart.”
Fate leads them to Abby’s wheelchair-bound college mentor who has just survived a devastating stroke. The domino clue turns out to be a high profile computer program that would allow homeland security to record every single telephone call (this was written before the NSA revelations!). Jason thought Abby’s friend would be a safe haven to leave the program. Unfortunately, Abby realizes Shaun might have played her the whole time to get at the program.
Heart broken, she flees from Shaun and hides in a crowded flower expo. Suddenly, more men with guns are chasing her into a thicket of bamboo. An asthma attack threatens to reveal her position in the underbrush. Shaun arrives to save the day, but before the heartwarming conclusion, he gets shot through chest! The FBI pop up, surround the gunmen, and save Abby from a most certain death at the flower expo. Nevertheless, the emotional toll of witnessing her lover get shot through the chest leads to the worst asthma attack yet and she drops to the ground.
Shaun awakes with an IV in his arm and Abby standing in the doorway wearing an arousing hospital gown. They confess they love each other, and that they’ll probably have grandchildren. Finé!
Bulletproof Hearts is one of Harliquen’s Intrigue novels. Each month Harliquen publishes six Intrigue novels. Each year, they publish over 1,320 novels. They claim to have sold 6.38 billion titles and that one in three women living today have read at least one Harlequin novel.
They are somewhat notorious for their writing ‘formulas’ and post them to their website. Here are the submission guidelines for their Intrigue Novels: http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=546&chapter=0
Here’s their ‘How to Write the Perfect Romance!’ guide:
I read Bulletproof Hearts in a single day. It may not have been morally edifying, or in anyway a good conversation topic, but it was entertaining and often funny. If I ever need another valentines pick-me-up, have a long car ride, am sick, or am lying out at Lake Sardis, I’ll probably grab another Harliquen romance from the library.
OR I might just buy one from the library for only a quarter! “Spy in a Saddle” will make for a great gift this 14th.
¡Happy Valentines Day!