Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I can feel spring around the air. Unlike many people, I mourn the loss of the winter when spring comes – I’m not really one for rain and flowers. So as I was happily shoveling the snow the other day, I thought about my favorite winter romances.
Except I couldn’t really think of any, except one: Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas. The story of Evie Jenner and the utterly ruined Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is one that has remained readers’ favorites since it came out five years ago – it climbed four spots to land at #3 on the recent Top 100 Romances poll. It’s pretty hard to ignore the appeal of St. Vincent, who is so deliciously, unrepentantly bad, but who learns to love the stuttering Evie over a backdrop of frigid winter. Their race up to Gretna Green remains memorable for those thick sandwiches of thinly sliced meats and cheeses; the hot bricks and fragrant wine that St. Vincent procures for the freezing Evie; and their quick growth to intimacy while cuddled for mutual warmth in the rocking carriage. I love this section every time I read it, and I spent a happy fifteen minutes with my shovel on the driveway while I thought of Evie and St. Vincent.
But I couldn’t recollect any other winter stories. When I thought about it, there are practical reasons, I suppose. Flowers are romantic. Beaches are sexy. Slush and drippy noses and salt stains are just unsightly in the city. And what would our poor heroine slaving away in a tumbledown cottage, actually do in the winter? Her hands would be chapped. She’d probably be skin and bones. And don’t forget (I reminded myself), if our heroine is a member of the ton, then she’s rusticating the winter away from London, away from the Season, which, as we all know, is Locale Numero Uno for historical authors.
After I went in, I scanned my bookshelves and my memory, and I remembered Linda Howard’s Ice (contemporary) and Amanda McCabe’s The Winter Queen (Elizabethan England). Neither amazed me, although the authors made good use of the setting. And I seem to remember Jo Goodman featuring some interesting winter settings in her older westerns, although again, nothing sticks out.
Unfortunately, I handicap myself quite severely in my requirements, because I find myself incredibly picky about the obvious winter story – Christmas. After all, it’s easy to make Christmas a magical solution to everything, and blame (or thank) the Christmas spirit for bringing people together, and rely on twinkle lights and Scrooges and cute elves to make everything twee. Not my thing, really. The Winter Queen is an exception to the Christmas boycott, because Ms. McCabe brought the Elizabethan customs to life, and made Christmas interesting. But otherwise, I tend to stay away from Christmas stories, unless they’re out of the ordinary.
Any recommendations to keep me cool through the long, warm, humid summer?
– Jean AAR