The next romance author I remember getting handed routinely from librarians as a relatively young teen was Emilie Loring, which I didn’t mind at all to tell the truth. Her books were actively published from the 1920s-1970s but that’s a tad misleading since she died in 1951. It’s widely known that what happened is that there were 30 novels written and published by her directly before her death but a lot of unfinished manuscripts and notes were found by her sons afterwards, which they then edited and finished into 20 more novels that were published under her name over the next 20 years. When you considered that she didn’t start writing until after she turned 50, it’s an incredible story of a dedicated romance author.
Over the years, I’ve told other romance readers many times that Loring’s books are similar in tone to Regency romances only set before, during or after WWII and located mostly on the upper East coast of the United States. Many of her plots are as much novels of manners as Regencies are, including anything from arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, mistaken identities, secondary romances, spies, espionage, and social seasons of the country club set. Some people have their Georgette Heyers to think back on and fondly remember reading from their early years. I have my Lorings.
Personally, I’m not sure I missed out on anything.
Emilie Loring’s novels are very cinematic in that carefully crafted scenes of sexual tension and high society glamorize a basically elitist existence of a debutante or heiress. Every Loring novel has a romantic “problem”, something keeping the magic twosome apart. The Loring heroine follows conventional rules of her societal order, such as charity, historical, or sports pursuits. The glamour of these to the average reader must have been palpable. These pure ideal cut across the sexed-up pulp romances made more popular later on.
For one thing, they were contemporaries for their time and were about my own country, not some other. For another, the heroes were to die for and I’m not talking about alpha jerks here. I’m simply talking about honorable, gentlemen hunks all around and there were still balls and gowns and all that stuff. I mean, seriously, what was to miss?
She was definitely an expert on implying a lot but seemingly not letting anything happen at the same time, much like those early movies. I liked her books but it wasn’t necessarily for the romance which in many ways was next to non-existent, except for those little hints here and there. No, I liked her books for the very real mystery that was present in them. They weren’t always murder mysteries but they were mysteries that the heroine was heavily involved in solving. Not so much doing the heavy lifting but definitely applying brain-power to, even if she did usually end up in the classic damsel-in-distress role. Eh, it was a trade-off and for a young teenage girl, trading off what might or might not be happening for a real mystery wasn’t a bad deal at all.
If there is one thing I regret after all these years it’s that I unfortunately traded away most of my paperbacks of hers and am having to rebuild my collection. I’m not even sure I’d want all of them back but there are one or two that I’d truly like to find again. The Solitary Horseman being at the top of that particular list.