In 1975, when I was 14 and living in Marin, California, I read about a million Barbara Cartland books. Not one of them made an impression on me. I got them from the library—I was also reading the classics constantly back then—and ran through about five a week. My family didn’t really watch TV, so Dame Cartland was my no-brain time. Then, one evening, our babysitter (I have three younger siblings) brought me a copy of Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love. It changed my life.
I knew, of course, theoretically about sex. I and all my friends had paged through The Joy of Sex—and been grossed out by all that hair—and I’d even read Coffee, Tea or Me? and The Happy Hooker (My parents had “hidden” copies.) But none of those books made intercourse or oral sex seem like things I’d find wildly exciting. I was even on the fence about French kissing—I’d done it a couple of times and found it slobbery.
Then, I read Sweet Savage Love and, suddenly, it was very clear to me I had a lot to look forward to. The sex in that book was so scorching; I read the love scenes between Steve and Ginny over and over again. Part of it was, I’m sure, Ginny never initiated anything—until the end of the book, her pleasure is always forced on her by Steve. That worked for me—I couldn’t see myself initiating anything with any male and so I thrilled to the idea that, some day, some gorgeous guy would inflict ecstasy on me. I paid no attention to the plot of the book—I feel sure I skimmed the long, involved sections about the Mexican Revolution. But, I loved reading about Steve and Ginny, their passion, their fights, and, their hard-won love.
I just reread Sweet Savage Love. I still find Steve and Ginny to be hot as hell. I still was bored by most of the background plot. I was startled to read how many other lovers the two had and found that to be a bit of a turnoff and wondered I hadn’t noticed or cared about that aspect of the book when I was young. I also, in this read, felt too much in the book was over-the-top. Parts of just made me roll my eyes.
I still think Sweet Savage Love changed my life. Not only did it open my eyes to the possibility of torrid passion in my own life, it also significantly influenced what sort of romances I sought out then and still seek out now. I still like many an alpha hero and I still find sexy love scenes where the hero forcibly seduces the heroine. When I read and enjoy Black Ice or To Have and To Hold, I suspect I do so in part because of my response, so many years ago, to Steve Morgan’s seduction of Ginny Brandon.