80s Category Romances: Mustache Week

Doing this blog together may have exacerbated our smut-collecting tendencies. Case in point: last year Erin bought a whole box of 80s category romances. Obviously, we had to read (and discuss) these treasures together.

One of our goals for 2023 is therefore to do a couple of focused weeks on 80s categories romance, each loosely organized around a theme. And what better place to start than mustaches?

Look. At. Those. Mustaches!

Which romance are you reading? Based on the blurb, what’s the basic premise?

Holly: I’m reading The Temptress Touch by Lori Herter. The hero is a painter, and he paints the heroine’s portrait (as evidenced by the portrait of the heroine creepily watching them kiss on the cover of the book). The heroine had rejected the hero’s advances, but then decided she liked him after all, so she’s going to use the opportunity to seduce him.

I admit that I opened the book randomly to the middle and read a bit, and it seems like the big conflict is going to be because the heroine seduced the hero, the hero now thinks she’s a big ole slut, and she does not appreciate the mistrust and shaming. I’ll be interested to see how this dynamic is handled.

Erin: I’m reading Calling the Shots by Kathy Alerding because it’s a hockey romance. The blurb is puntastic with hockey references. Apparently the heroine is a trainer for Omaha, and the hero sweeps in as…a player and a talent scout and a skating coach? I don’t even know how that would work, but I guess I’ll find out! Naturally, she will be irritated by both his usurpation of her position and her unwanted lustful feelings, but he will prove irresistible in the end. Of course, he is the sort of man who can’t be tied down, and that will make my head absolutely explode until he is somehow forced to confront his feelings and (presumably retire and) tie himself down. 

Ingrid: I’m reading Walking on Air by Michele Robbe. Basically, we have Alexandra as the only woman on the ground crew for an airship (a freaking BLIMP, GUYS) who has carved out a place for herself with all the men, until womanizer Cameron comes along. He’s a womanizer and she’s desperately trying to hold on to her career and stay away from him…because obviously she’d have to choose between the two? 

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Back to Old School: It Was Contemporary Week

Night Whispers by Judith McNaught (1998)

Heat Factor: No foreplay.

Character Chemistry: Sex so good you’ll forget all of your police training. (But they’re definitely gonna get divorced.)

Plot: Cop goes undercover to investigate her estranged family.

Overall: That’s a nope.


Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (1998)

Heat Factor: Fighting is foreplay.

Character Chemistry: Sex so good you’ll forget the ethics of your very sensitive job.

Plot: Three brothers have to honor their father’s last wish by rearranging their lives and taking care of their newly adopted ten-year-old brother. And the social worker is really hot.

Overall: Rough seas ahead.

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Back to Old School: Devils Week

Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens (1998)

Heat Factor: Devil is going to make the molten heat inside Honoria explode. In a cataclysmic starburst. For 25 pages.

Character Chemistry: You’re my perfect match because our bloodlines make us strong enough to tame each other. But Devil never says “I love you.”

Plot: Murder most foul.

Overall: Erin was tickled. Ingrid powered through. Holly hated it.


Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (2006)

Heat Factor: Billiards and blow jobs

Character Chemistry: Sebastian is such an asshole, but he’s also so soft for Evie.

Plot: Marriage of convenience, gambling hell edition.

Overall: Erin loved it. Holly tolerated it. Ingrid can’t remember the plot.

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Back to Old School: Pirate Week

Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey (1990)

Heat Factor: It’s your standard old school fare—a couple of relatively descriptive scenes and then a bunch of interludes that fade to black.

Character Chemistry: Antagonism leads to love. 

Plot: Georgie is dressed as a boy but James knows she’s a woman. So he’s seducing her. And then they’re forced to get married. 

Overall: Slow. Then bonkers.


Captured by Beverly Jenkins (2009)

Heat Factor: There’s a lot of blue balls, and then it’s just balls to the wall.

Character Chemistry: It was “NO!” Then, “YES, let’s do it.” Then, “Let’s get married!”

Plot: Dominic steals Clare away from her mistress and shows her a life of freedom, but Clare can’t rest easy until her children have also been freed from slavery.

Overall: High stakes, low tension. Very historically juicy.

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Back to Old School: Hottie McScottie Week

The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux (1980)

Heat Factor: It slipped in. Consent optional. Do you need consent if you’re married?

Character Chemistry: He is large, grumpy and swarthy, and she is fair, smol and pure. How can they not fall in love?

Plot: One damn thing after the next, caused by miscommunication and stupidity.

Overall: They’re mad at each other, but they don’t know why they’re mad at each other, and they won’t stop doing dumb things to each other.


The Bride by Julie Garwood (1989)

Heat Factor: It’s the sexiest one we’ve read so far in the Old School read-a-thon

Character Chemistry: It’s The Taming of the Shrew, but who’s taming who?

Plot: Jamie’s like, “You told me to handle it! So I handled it.”

Overall: This book is absolutely delightful.

Content Note: These books contain rape, ablism, and racism and we discuss this content in our review. Also, sorry, Ranulf of The Black Lyon is not actually a Hottie McScottie, but he’s got highlander energy.

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