As the changes in society happened, so did the chaste world of romance novels, with the debut of Dell Books new collection of books, Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme, and its first book Tempetuous Eden by Heather Graham.
The rules of romance had started out with chaste loves, as virginal girls found their journeys to the altar a bit more difficult thanks to bad men and scoundrels, rakes and wastrels, but ultimately their hero would come to find them, love them and marry them.
But seeing the changes that came from Avon Books in the 1970s, with romances now sharing more intimate details and the readers buying them in the millions, book publishers decided to get with the times.
In 1983, Dell Books debuted its new imprint, Candlelight Esctasy Supreme – dedicated to romance stories that broke a new rule – that its heroine wasn’t a virgin.
The first book of the series was Tempetuous Eden by Heather Graham, who also writes under the name Shannon Drake. This novel was set in Central America, with main character Blair, former socialite widow who decided to have one night of romance in the jungle with Craig.
But Blair knew nothing of Craig – was he a mercenary, government agent or a terrorist? Now that she was captured by him, was this a ruse or an actual kidnapping? Blair battles trying to understand the developing romance between her and Craig Taylor, hero.
Readers loved this new series, happily spending millions to see what happened with these female characters – one who weren’t virginal misses with no knowledge of the world, but those who had experience life and were trying to find that man to be with them.
Dell Books reportedly had over the top sales, with reports of US$30 million after one year of the series being published. The series contains 160 titles.
With these changes in the category, mainstays like Harlequin Books and Silhouette Books, changed and adapted too. The romance reader was the big winner, finding their options growing greater by the month.