Valentino: Worldwide Sex Symbol by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Photo of Rudolph ValentinoAllow me to introduce you to the world’s first worldwide sex symbol, Rudoph Valentino.

He was the silent movie hero who made women all over the world pant and swoon.

Today is Valentino Day which commemorates his death on August 23, 1926. That should give you an idea of the influence this man’s life and death had on the world.

If you don’t know of this dark-haired Italian with the piercing gaze, ask your grandmother or great-grandmother.

Paved the Way for Today’s Alpha Hero

It’s not such a reach to say he was the model for all of the alpha male heroes that appeared on the cover of those early romance novels. You know, the heaving bosoms and thrusting loin covers that made romance authors cringe.

Actually, looking at the most popular romance covers today, the shirtless, muscled chest (far more spectacular than Valentino’s) still rules the cover wars.

I didn’t know Rudolph Valentino had a day commemorating his death until I was looking at one of those “Today in History” websites. The fact that he does have a day dedicated to his memory is testament of his influence on popular culture in his era.

The Brooding Hero Sex Symbol

The silent film era hero was born in Italy as Rudolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Piero Filibert Guglielmi De Valentina D’Antonguolla. That’s a mouthful.

He starred in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and Son of the Sheik. Women cinema-goers fell in love with Valentino’s portrayal of the alpha male hero. In today’s world, we would consider him a misogynist at best.

The Sheik book cover

Still available on Amazon & other booksellers, ebook & print.

The Sheik, a 1919 novel by E. M. Hull (Edith Maude Henderson Hull), was a huge worldwide bestseller so women were ready for a visual representation of the man. Cast as the Sheik of the international bestseller, Valentino breathed life into the the brooding alpha hero.

If you’ve ever read the book, then you know that the sheik rapes the heroine repeatedly. She broods on how much she hates him and eventually manages to escape. She is recaptured by him. As they ride back to camp, she comes to the sudden realization that she is in love with him!

Gag me with a spoon! Although the language from that era is restrained and the rapes happen “off screen,” the idea is abhorrent to me. The book is not my idea of a romance, but it’s certainly a picture of gender roles and attitudes about sexuality of that era.

Valentino’s portrayal firmly entrenched the desert romance or sheik romance, as a popular trope in romance fiction that is still mined today. Fortunately, most contemporary books using this trope in various guises eliminate the rape part of the scenario.

Who Was Edith Hull?

Anonymous drawing of Edith Hull, courtesy of Wikipedia

Edith Hull

Ms. Hull wrote several more novels with desert settings. They were some of the most popular commercial fiction of that era. I’ve heard several popular romance authors of today cite The Sheik as the most romantic book they ever read. The book is still being reprinted and sold. You can find it on Amazon if you’re interested.

Mrs. Hull began writing when her husband, a civil engineer and later a prize-winning pig farmer, was serving in World War I. The Sheik was actually her first book and was published in England in 1919. It quickly became an international bestseller. Publishers Weekly listed it as a top ten best seller in America for 1921 and 1922.

Gasp! How Many Books Sold?

Photo of pile of books

CC0 License: pexels.com, Pile of covered books #159751

The book sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide. Just think about that. This was an era without television, internet, social media, etc. Those sales came mostly from word of mouth–woman reader to woman reader.

Sales increased even more when Paramount released the movie version in 1921. That sent Rudolph Valentino into immortality–the Latin Lover, the greatest “lover” of the silent screen as he was proclaimed.

By 1923, the novel had published well over 100 editions. Sales surpassed all other best-sellers combined! Her novel wasn’t the first desert romance. Robert Smythe Hichens and Kathlyn Rhodes had broken ground with the desert romance genre, but Hull’s book proved to be the most popular and influenced romance writers who hadn’t even been born yet.

Stacks of gold coins

Public Domain Pictures

Ms. Hull continued to write into the 1930s, and her 1925 novel The Sons of the Sheik was also a tremendous success.

Ditto for the film version Son of the Sheik, which again starred Valentino.

Later in life, Ms. Hull said her only regret was that she had sold the film rights for her novels for too little money. (Sounds like a familiar complaint.)

Back to Valentino aka Mr. Sexy

Grayscale photo of multi-storied building

Photo (CC0) by Eneida Nieves from Pexels

Valentino had applied for American citizenship shortly before his death. On August 15, 1926, he collapsed at a Park Avenue hotel in Manhattan and was hospitalized.

Doctors determined he had appendicitis and gastric ulcers and operated immediately. After that, perforated ulcers mimicking appendicitis were referred to as Valentino’s Syndrome. Then he developed peritonitis.

His condition continued to deteriorate until he developed pleurisy. His doctors knew he wasn’t going to make it. Back then, it was common practice not to tell the patient or family or anyone that news. It’s said on the day he died, he briefly became conscious and talked with the doctors about his future. Then he lapsed into a coma and died a few hours later at the age of 31.

Women Committed Suicide!!!

Black and white photo of griefstricken woman

CC0 Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Upon notice of his death, mass hysteria ensued, greater than happens today upon the untimely passing of an iconic celebrity.

A crowd of over 100,000 people lined the streets of Manhattan to pay their respects at his funeral. Suicides of despondent fans were reported. The next day a riot broke out that required most of the NYPD to control it, and police had to line the streets for the remaining days of the viewing.

After a funeral mass in Manhattan on August 30, his body was transported by train to California where another funeral was held in Beverly Hills. Want to know more about Valentino and his effect on popular culture? Read this.

Today’s Alpha Hero

In our time, the most popular alpha hero is a man who can walk on the wild side yet be a polite gentleman to women.Infographic of Dead Heat cover art and text from reviews

To the woman he loves, he’s tender and protective. If the woman he loves is threatened, then look out. All bets are off. That’s the kind of alpha hero I love to read about and write about.

John Galloway, the hero in my romantic thriller Dead Heat is that kind of alpha male–a Navy SEAL who will do whatever it takes to protect those he loves.

Post Script

As you swoon over the latest hero in a romance novel, just think–he wouldn’t be there if Edith Hull hadn’t written The Sheik, and Rudolph Valentino hadn’t breathed life into the character with his performance and made the world of women readers and cinema-goers sit up and take notice.

Joan’s Next Book

You’ll find my her next book in the Love, Christmas 2: Movies You Love Holiday Collection.
Infographic of Love Christmas 2 cover artSprinkle a little Christmas magic into your life with 26 ALL-NEW, never before released romances. This collection is available for pre-order now. It’s going to be HUGE so order your copy today!

Fountain Pen

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Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between the hustle and bustle of Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they grow fruit trees and grapes and make wine. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Visit Joan Reeves Website

A Different Vacation–in Japan by Mona Risk

I had the unique opportunity to visit Japan a month ago. After a twenty-four hour flight from Florida to Illinois, a four-hour layover in Chicago, and an endless flight to Tokyo we finally arrived TWO days later–because of a thirteen-hour time difference–under a pouring rain.

Tokyo is a perfect example of modern capital, with more highrises than Manhattan and as many Toyotas and Hondas! Our organized tour around the huge city revealed a few surprises. Did you know that Tokyo has a Statue of Liberty offered by the US? And an Eiffel Tower taller than the original French Eiffel Tower?

The imperial palace is not open to the public, but we visited a reproduction newly inaugurated in April. Painted in bright colors on a golden background, all the walls slide open in such a way that you can have several small rooms converted into a large one. No furnitures encumber the rooms. People spread their futton mat at night and remove them in closets during the day .

The real old Japanese flavor survives in the temples boasting the vivid red colors favorite to the Japanese culture and the shrines hidden in caves overlooking the ocean or on top of mountains. To reach that particular shrine, Nichinan, we climbed down 400 steps. The problem was to climb them back up!!!

We visited gorgeous parks with incredible displays of colorful flowers. We walked around for hours, others navigated by train. Weddings are often held in these parks.

The blend of old and new is present everywhere. Every mall, airport or public place offers two types of stalls in the rest rooms, the very old style–a whole in the floor surrounded by ceramic. You don’t sit. You crouch low or stand and aim right! The other type is the expensive Toto type with a set of push buttons to spray water when you are sitting. A detailed set of instructions is affixed on the restroom door. 

 

 

In addition to all sort of suchi, we tasted new food, even new ice creams flavors: Green tea ice cream, gold or platinum ice creams: vanilla covered with a gold leaf or a platinum leaf. You pay double price for these.–$8.

 

 

 

 

Our tour guide explained that school children of all ages have one month of vacation in summer and one in winter. In addition to clearing their desks, the children must clean the class, the class restroom and the hallway in front of their classes. 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the geisha area, fought the samurai, but didn’t ride in a pulled rickshaw.

It would take too long to relate all the highlights of this incredible journey to the other side of the world. Maybe one day I will use it as a setting for a new book.

Meanwhile let me offer you my newest book:  FOR SARAH’S SAKE

 

A broken marriage.

Second chance at love.

And a precious little girl trying to escape danger and hatred, to get herself a loving family.

Mona Risk

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She’s a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist.
Mona Risk’s name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list, and her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher’s Weekly.
Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home.
If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy her international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and special heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion.
 View website

Epic Endings by @JoanReeves #mgtab

One of the things an author always strives to do is to create an Epic Ending to a book. If the author can succeed in doing that, the reader will remember that ending, and, hopefully, that book.

I think the best epic endings are full of emotional truth. I remember watching the old romantic movie, An Affair To Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. One morning it was on TV so my daughter and I took a few minutes out of a busy day to watch THE one scene at the very end that is always gripping.

Actually, the ending is the only scene I ever really want to watch.

The scene is where Cary Grant is at the door. He’s basically reciprocated the brush-off that Kerr gave him. He stops and looks at her and talks about how he painted her wearing the lace mantilla, or shawl. He couldn’t take money for the painting so he told the gallery owner to give it to this young woman who fancied it because she liked it and because she was…

He pauses. His face reflects his thoughts as he begins putting two and two together. When he reaches four–even though that couldn’t possibly be correct, he’s thunderstruck. You can see the incredulity. Your heart literally clutches as he thinks, “No, it couldn’t be.”

He closes the door and comes back to the couch, placing his coat and hat on it. He goes to the other closed door in the room and opens it despite her protests. He sees the painting he’d been describing on the wall. More than that, he sees the shadow of a wheelchair.

That’s when he creates a memorable cinematic moment–a moment full of emotional truth. His face reflects how crushed he is, how his heart is in a vise as he realizes the woman he loves is indeed the woman in the wheelchair who visited the gallery and fancied the painting. He’s staggered by the knowledge. You see all this. You feel all this.

It’s a powerful scene full of heartbreak and love and grief at what has happened to her. From the ashes of that comes his joy at realizing she didn’t kick him to the curb because she didn’t love him because she loved him so much she wanted him to have a life with a wife who was “whole.” (You must remember this is an old movie from the 1950s when being in a wheelchair was even more devastating than it is today.)

Of course, my daughter and I were in tears when he goes to her and vows his love. Together they can be happy, but apart they’ll never be whole.

It’s the greatest of acting because of the actors’ ability to show that emotional truth. Cary Grant is so good in the scene that I forget he’s suave, debonair Cary Grant. He is Nicky, the devastated lover.

That’s an epic ending. I always try to create that kind of ending in my books. My latest is Second Chance Bride. You can judge for yourself whether I succeeded in my quest to make an ending that’s memorable.

Do you have a favorite ending in a book or movie that touches your emotions that way?

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. All of her books have the same underlying theme: It’s never too late to live happily ever after. She lives her HEA with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. Visit Joan online at her Blog and Website. Follow her at: Facebook * Twitter * Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page. Sign up for Joan’s mailing list and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between the hustle and bustle of Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they grow fruit trees and grapes and make wine. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Visit Joan Reeves Website

Kiss Me, Thrill Me in June @JoanReeves #mgtab

Ah, June! The month for weddings. Wait a minute. Why is June traditionally the month for weddings?

Well, June was named for the Roman goddess Juno, the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So if a woman married in Juno’s month, good luck would shine upon her marriage.

What began as superstition became tradition. Of course, before a woman marries, she must first find that special man. The one who will thrill her and touch her heart.

That’s what the Romance Collection KISS ME, THRILL ME is all about–a smart, sassy woman finding the right man who will not only sweep her off her feet with romance but be there to catch her if she ever needs saving.

With 6 New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors contributing to KISS ME, THRILL ME , I thought it would be interesting to ask the authors what thrills them when it comes to romance.

I’ll let my fellow authors speak first.

Mimi Barbour is the author of The Surrogate’s Secret, an international love story. Miguel forces his dead brother’s surrogate to marry him so he can take her and her twin babies to Chile to save his beloved, sickly mother whose only cure is to see her grandchildren.

Mimi said, “I like a romance with humor and realistic characters. For me, the first meet is important, and I like it to start it with sparks flying.

Whether instant attraction, anger or even action are the causes for them to feel connected, it’s nice if they recognise a link right from the start.

Characters in my books have to be people I’d love to meet in real life.

If I have to spend hours creating a story for them, they better make me care about them first and then hopefully, the readers will too.

Alicia Street is the author of Touch Me and Tango, a second chance at love story.

A lost love returns for one more dance–and a second chance at love. They fell for each other long ago, but reality intruded and broke them apart. When they meet again, the same passion flares between them. Can love prevail this time?

When asked what thrills her when it comes to romance, Alicia said: “A story that takes me through the ups and downs and the final triumph of two people falling in love is what thrills me. It gives me hope in this crazy, difficult world. I never tire of reading novels that show how love can conquer all.

Mona Risk is the author of Right Name, Wrong Man, a medical romance.

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name while in her fiancé’s arms? In this international medical romance, forbidden dreams about the sexy French surgeon, Dr. Yves Malroux, assail Mary-Beth at every turn.

Torn between two lovers and not ready to pledge love and commitment to her fiancé, she flies to France to confront her past and the lover she left behind.

What thrills Mona when it comes to romance? She said, “When I read a romance I like to meet characters who attract me. I like to see them thrown into difficult situations that disturb their lives or facing realistic problems that force them to re-evaluate their priorities. A successful author–in my view–would make me sail through the characters’ journeys with a fluid writing style that doesn’t detract from the story.

Patrice Wilton is the author of For the Love of Candy, a chick lit romantic comedy.

Fun, flirty, a little sexy, and a lot of humor–that’s chick lit romantic comedy at its best. Harrison Wolfe doesn’t want his twenty-year-old daughter to marry Candy’s son. Candy hasn’t met her yet, but knows they are too young. How can the parents keep them apart without their own attraction getting in the way?

Patrice answered the question this way. “All writers are readers first, so I try to give them what I want. I love books that make me laugh and cry, that make me feel deeply, and what better than a heartwarming, gut wrenching romance?

The characters have to be strong, wonderful, people that you care about and root for. The hero is the man you can’t NOT love. He’s irresistible, and the heroine will steal any heart away. The conflict has to be strong and dramatic, giving the reader a thrill of a lifetime and a book they won’t soon forget.

Dani Haviland is the author of Aye, I Am a Fairy.

This time-travel romance is an adventure with assaults, arson, a 230-year old video on a solar-powered smartphone, and two very different women awaiting the sharp British lord with a great secret.

What will lovely Leah, the sassy heroine, do when she learns the truth?

Unfortunately, I believe Dani was on vacation and could not respond to the question I’d posed to the group, but I wanted you to see the lovely cover of her book in the Kiss Me, Thrill Me Collection.

Joan Reeves is the author of Cinderella Blue, a mashup of romantic comedy and a cop romance.

Detective Andrea Luft–Andie to her friends–loves to say those three little words: “You’re under arrest.” Especially to bad guys who SO deserve it. Andie is undercover to catch the thief stealing designer wedding gowns from San Antonio bridal boutiques.

She’s about to make an arrest when Detective Bruce Benton barges onto the scene. The suspect escapes, and, as a reward for this screw-up, Benton and Andie are paired together as partners to close the case. Andie and Benton, two commitment-phobic cops with nothing in common—except the desire sizzling between them.

What thrills me when it comes to romance? I like a romance that’s like one of those 20 layer cakes you see on the Great British Baking Show. I want layers of appealing characters, humor, interesting situation, dynamic scenes, great dialogue, oceans of emotion with unexpected undercurrents, a really black moment, and an epic ending.

Okay, Readers, now it’s your turn. What thrills you when it comes to romance?

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. All of her books have the same underlying theme: It’s never too late to live happily ever after. She lives her HEA with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. Visit Joan online at her Blog and Website. Follow her at: Facebook * Twitter * Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page. Sign up for Joan’s mailing list and receive a free ebook. Just click here to sign up.

Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between the hustle and bustle of Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they grow fruit trees and grapes and make wine. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Visit Joan Reeves Website