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