A Look at Retro Romance

Recently, I have been ill. At my age, one takes full advantage! So what better to do than rest in bed and revisit one of my favorite time periods, the late 1970s through to the early 1980’s. Not through films, or corny television shows…but through romance novels, more specifically, ‘Harlequin Presents’. Obviously, I know times have changed…but is really fun to look back and giggle at how time has moved on from this period in recent history. Afros and Bell Bottoms aside, lets look at some of the difference.

harlequin_presents_bannerSource: mobipocket.com

The Age Factor

First things first, if some 38 year old even attempted to seduce my 17 year old daughter, there would be big scene going on, I can tell you! I don’t care how much of a hunk he is! But back then, as per a Harlequin Romance, it was okay as long as he waited until she was 20 or so to marry her. By that time, she had usually ‘bloomed and become chic and self-assured’. Assuming an air of quiet calm, that many found beguiling or something similar. Well, how perceptions of women have changed since then, for one thing, there weren’t many Harlequin books that so much as mentioned ‘Women’s Lib’!

roseThe least controversial image we could put here…a rose, blooming!

Source: cepolina.com

The Locale

I happen to be a big (closet) fan of locales that favor London, Africa and generally exotic places; I certainly didn’t want to read about Rhode Island. It was all about the senses of imagining somewhere different, out of the ordinary from my daily life. For me, the detailed descriptions in some of the Harlequin books provided me with a little travel guide, if you like. However, some of the places featured within the books now have different names, governments and even societies. Such a different world to a mere 35 or so years ago. And, what is a bedsit in Putney anyway?

locationsExotic locations, you know, like Africa, Italy and…Putney?

Source: etftrends.com , pokerupdate.com , commons.wikimedia.org

The ‘Bachelor Pad’!

I loved the descriptions of the hero’s ‘real’ home. Despite the story being set in the deepest, darkest jungle the ‘bachelor pad’ is always, in true seventies style and lingo, always ‘displaying sleek, good taste’ and often ‘neither ultra-modern, nor completely traditional’. Close your eyes and imagine long Chesterfields strung about accompanied by low club chairs, and mahogany…lots of mahogany!

In one book, set in 1979 London, the ‘bachelor pad’ was located in Grovernor Square. The room featured a ‘circular bed on a platform’ with a ‘sunken circular tub’, complemented by orange shagpile carpeting. Now, that is certainly every woman’s dream!

bachelor padOoh er…who could say no to velour

Source: tumblr.com

Why Harlequin?

In retrospect; it is so interesting to read what the lifestyle, fashions and architecture were like back in those different countries, back in the 1970s: even if it was from a Harlequin Romance perspective! They were certainly a great escape, an interesting time capsule and a glimpse of society in different countries at that time.

In all honesty, I’m not that into the romantic side. The glimpse back to a brief period of history that I still remember is why I read them. I can say that I may even read further back, there are Harlequins available for download from the 1950s. Those are next on my list; I can’t wait to see what the 1950s bedsit in Putney was like then!

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