When introduced to "Oliver Twist " in my earnest early 20s, my first thought was, "Sheesh, who knew the beloved purveyor of sentimentalist Christmas Cheer was anti-Semitic?" From reading and dissecting it, I learned an awful lot about social "morality," the 19th C English class system and my own
misconceptions and naïveté about possible bigotry even amongst folks whose hearts are in the right place.
Have I completely dropped the torch I'd carried for intellectual enlightenment if I admit that today I'm having even more fun reading about Dickens' "scamps in peril" all grown up and sexy-like?
Depends on whom you ask and, frankly, I ain't in the mood to ask. It's my and other romance readers' and authors' love of classic literature - and most of our abilities not take ourselves too seriously -- that, for us, makes reading romances based on classics so enjoyable.
Yes. I'm well aware that many don't consider Dickens' stuff "classic," in the same way they eschew Austen as such. I've been thinking on this long and hard, and my considered erudition has me concluding simply: Any riff done on a novel which includes zombies, vampires, or reformed children of the rookeries, automatically delineates said tome as an official classic.
Which is why I'm so jazzed about Lorraine Heath's Scoundrels of St. James series of romances based loosely upon Dickens' "Oliver Twist."
Her current release is the engaging, beautifully written and wonderfully sensual "Surrender to the Devil." It tells the story of Franny Darling, (a decidedly romanticized) Faegan's favorite, and a sort of big sister to a group of adept thieving lads now grown to be successful men and intensely attractive romance heroes. Franny's bright - having learned mad math skills counting contraband for years with the canny Faegan - and is in charge of accounts at Dodger's gaming club, where she's part owner along with childhood friend, Jack. His delicious and artful love story is told in Heath's "Between the Devil and Desire."
Franny survived horrific childhood trauma - an avenging angel from her youth earns his due in "In Bed with the Devil" -- to become a self-possessed young woman who chooses a protected, solitary life over intimacy with the many men who'd gladly wed her. Until Sterling Mabry, 8th Duke of Greystone proposes to Franny a tempting sensual partnership she thinks may be the only he'd offer a woman of her station - despite her understanding of her worth.
In reality, Mabry offers her all he's worth, yet struggles with wanting to be more for Franny: everything she deserves, and all he never can give her.
Heath's Scoundrels of St. James series isn't some tricky little take on a Dickens classic. Heath respectfully addresses the realities of both child exploitation and the indomitable human spirit as seen in real life. She just makes the resulting tale entertaining and emotionally satisfying, and wraps it in sexy HEA.
Look for "Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel" in November, the book in this series about which I'm all atremble. For when it comes to Heath's Scoundrels - and romance riffs on classics in general - I'm with the crew of lit-lovin' ruffians who can say naught but -
"I want some more!"
How do you feel about classics turned to romances: Divine? Or Profane? What do you love about Lorraine Heath's novels and the Scoundrels of St. James?
Michelle brings you more of what's hot in romance fiction at BN.com's new blog, Heart to Heart (H2H)!