Sunday, May 10, 2015

Embrace the Wind - Blaine Stevens

He drew her down upon a mat of sea oats and wild grass. She lay in his arms and opened her lips to his kiss. She tasted so good! An ache of need shivered through him. He pressed himself upon her, feeling the heat rising from her thighs as if from a bubbling cauldron. His hands closed on her breasts. For a long, mindless time, he nursed and caressed and fondled them as if he could never love her enough. With his finger he traced her lips and slipped it between her teeth. She sucked frantically on his finger, breathing raggedly and writhing against him.

Jove, January 1982
What the...? Have I gone all gushy in my reading tastes? Well, no, not exactly. I'm sharing a book I picked up a week ago written by none other than one of my favorite noir novelists, Harry Whittington. Known as the "King of Paperback Writers" Whittington wrote scads of novels under various names, including a bunch of historical romances like the one shown here. This one was published in 1982 and one of three novels under the Blaine Stevens name. Who knows, your grandmother might have a handful of Ashley Carters and Blaine Stevens on her bookshelf. For me, it's another reason to admire those old-school writers like Harry Whittington. Writers write, and in those days, if one had to make a living writing, then producing books outside one's comfort zone was necessary. There was no time waiting for the muse to strike.

I haven't yet read this one. It's part of a handful of Whittington's historical romances from the late 70s and early 80s that I've picked up in the past few months. I'll probably get around to reading it at some point. I'm such a big fan of his noir novels that I'd like to see his approach to writing in the Romance genre. He also wrote a handful of "nurse romances" under the name Harriet Kathryn Myers. Also some sweet vintage sleaze paperbacks that I wouldn't mind finding.

This one, like many of his novels, takes place in Florida, "the pirate coves of Spanish Florida" to be precise. Whittington spent years living and writing in the St. Petersburg area of the Florida gulf coast, so he knows the area well. At the very least, judging by the excerpt above, it promises to be a good steamy one!


  1. I recently finished reading this one. The good news is Harry Whittington was good at his job, which is also the bad news. "Embrace the Wind" is, at its core, a fairly engaging story that's surprisingly prescient. As it moves along you can tell it was written by the same person who wrote "Ticket to Hell" and "You'll Die Next." But, he was also very much aware of what genre he was writing and who his audience was, so the prose often takes a purplish hue, and there are several passages that I found difficult to get through because of this. This may also be why I thought the book was padded, with Harry piling on the adjectives to extend the word count. There's even a page-long history and description of the flintlock rifle, all to provide context for a single line of dialog. And, of course, the sex scenes are laughably overwrought in their efforts to be explicit but not pornographic ("...only the sheer lustrous fabric of the silk dress lay between his bristling blade and the hot chalice opening to him"), but that's typical of the genre.

    I don't mean to sound like I'm warning people away. Like I said, the story is pretty engaging, particularly once you get past the first 50 pages or so. I have another one of Whittington's Blaine Stevens novels, "The Outlanders," that I plan to read eventually. I'd also like to read some of his "plantation porn" that he wrote under the name Ashley Carter, just to see how he handled that genre (i.e., will there be more "bristling blades" and "hot chalices," or will he take a more plain-spoken approach). Regardless of genre, I usually find Whittington a safe bet.

    1. Hi John, thanks for commenting on this! I appreciate your take on this book. I still have yet to read it myself, but it's good to see what someone who has thinks of it. I have a couple of Whittington's Ashley Carter novels, and haven't yet finished one. I got a couple of chapters into one of them, a Blackoaks book, and was taken aback at the subject matter, the treatment of slaves in it. I'll get through them one day. My copies are really beaten up.