Monday, February 22, 2010

In Their Footsteps

Hot Pursuit Stranger Than Fiction Do Unto Others Cloak and Dagger 

I recently realized that this week marks my anniversary with Intrigue—not as a writer, but as a reader. It was twenty years ago this week that I wandered out of the mystery section of the used bookstore I used to frequent in my youth and into the romance section without realizing it. I spotted these books with dramatic-looking white covers, shelved, fittingly enough, on what turned out to be the border between the mystery and romance sections. I didn't know anything about Harlequin, but I read a few of the back covers and these books sounded like something I’d like (i.e. mysteries), so I bought a few. Those first few soon sent me back for more, as well as to the new bookstore to get the current ones, since the used bookstore was several months behind and I couldn't wait that long knowing there were new Intrigues out there! I still remember the first Intrigue I bought new—Caroline Burnes’s original Fear Familiar, which was awesome. It was followed a month later by Tess Gerritsen’s Under the Knife, which knocked my socks off. I’d always wanted to write mysteries, but that was the book that cemented the fact that Intrigue was not just what I wanted to be reading, but what I wanted to write, and for me it remains the perfect example of exactly what an Intrigue should be.

It was many years later before I finally broke into the line as a writer, but my journey began with those early days, devouring those books until I’d read every one. I still have very fond memories of those early Intrigues, some of which remain all-time favorites, many of which I can recall the entire plots of all these years later. There were authors who became regulars with the line, some who moved on to big things, and others who only contributed a few titles before seeming to disappear. Wherever their paths led them, they were the authors and theirs were the stories that established my love for the line and showed me how Intrigue was done, for which I will always be grateful.

I figure the best way to pay tribute to those authors is to share their stories with others who may not have read them. So to celebrate my anniversary and those authors’ work, I thought I’d give away some early Intrigues by authors I particularly enjoyed (and whose books I happened to have spare copies of). They’re all used copies, but in good shape for their age (hey, they’re twenty year old books!). The spines are creased, but the books are holding together well with plenty of reading left in them. Most important, they're books that deserve to be read.  They are:

#84 – A Walking Shadow by Regan Forest
Forest wrote more books for Temptation than Intrigue, but her four Intrigues were terrific. This one has a great setting in the historic ghost town of Jerome, Arizona, and two compelling main characters with a cartoonist heroine and a mysterious hero hiding from his past.

#85 – Chain Letter by Elaine K. Stirling
Stirling wrote a number of creepy tales for Intrigue (Foul Play and Sleepwalker are particularly fun). This is a neat one too, as two strangers connected by a chain letter have to figure out why they’ve been targeted and who’s responsible when the others listed in the letter start being murdered one by one.

#89 – Red Dog Run by Jan Michaels
Michaels specialized in couple-on-the-run stories in her four Intrigues. Her first, Pursuit in the Wilderness, was probably my favorite, and one of the very first (and possibly THE first) true couple-on-the-run Intrigues. This is a good one too, with plenty of the rip-roaring action that was her forte.

#98 – Hot Pursuit by Fran Earley
Earley wrote several Intrigues set in Central America, an area not often visited in romantic suspense.  Ransom in Jade took place in Guatamala, while Setup took readers to Costa Rica.  This one is set stateside, but involves plenty of international intrigue as well. 

#102 – For Love or Money by M.J. Rodgers
Rodgers’s first Intrigue featured a strong heroine and a truly clever mystery, two elements that would be the hallmarks of the many excellent books she wrote for the line in the following years.

#110 – Stranger Than Fiction by M.L. Gamble
Gamble often wrote about characters with interesting and unusual careers, like the rock star hero and heroine who ran a celebrity impersonator business in If Looks Could Kill. This one is about the publishing industry (probably no surprise I'd find that interesting!) and the mystery surrounding who really wrote a guaranteed bestseller that's about to be released--and who will kill to keep the secret. 

#113 – Do Unto Others by Patricia Rosemoor
One of the earliest Intrigue authors, Rosemoor is obviously still thrilling Intrigue readers with her books today.  This was one of that first set of Intrigues I bought twenty years ago (not this exact copy), so I have a particular fondness for it. When her sister disappears inside a televangelist's compound, the heroine goes undercover to find out the truth and discover who's a saint and who's really a sinner. 

#118 – Cloak and Dagger by Jenna Ryan
One of Ryan’s was also part of that first set, though I don’t remember if it was this particular one. Either way, it’s a fun one, with a century-old legend that says a serial killer will rise a hundred years after his death, and a present-day murder that seems to indicate the legend is coming true…
Of course, these books and these authors are well worth checking out even if you don't win, and there are many others I could have mentioned as well.  To enter, all you have to do is post a comment.  What are some of your favorite older books, Intrigue or otherwise, that you think not enough people have heard of?  Favorite authors who may not be writing any longer who you wish were or had written more?  Or what books brought you to Intrigue? Or any random comment you'd like to make.  

I'm thinking of choosing eight different winners to spread the wealth, with each winner getting one book, though if not enough people enter or are interested, I may pick just one winner who will receive the entire lot.  We'll see how it goes.  In any case, be sure to comment on eHarlequin before Wednesday morning, which is when the winner(s) will be chosen. 

Happy reading!

Kerry Connor