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Bodice Tipplers

Mar 20, 2022

Sarah is a plucky girl reporter!  Lyle is a hot war correspondent who's also a news anchor I guess?  (Maybe he's a far more uncool Morley Safer?) Anyway he isn't a print journalist but he's decided he's going to restart the weekly newspaper on Compostela, a Caribbean island that we might as well call Smasrshbuda.  She wants the job!  He's incredibly inappropriate and she takes it anyway!  It's 1981!  He has a terrible mustache and looks exactly like that guy from The Young and the Restless that Sara keeps calling Vincent!  (Courtney is screaming.)  It's Blue Days at Sea by Anne Weale, Harlequin #444! This is an interesting little book because - okay, remember back to our NINTH episode which was TWO YEARS AGO omg when we covered Adam and Eva by Sandra Kitt?  We were so young then. That was the first Harlequin by an African American author featuring a Black couple.  I read when we were working on that one that there was a stealth Black Harlequin earlier, that was written with no physical description of the couple's skin tonesl and that even the original cover is racially ambiguous.  And it turns out that that's true, and that it's this book, and y'all it is weird.  They're actually both British, and most of the people on the island are Afro-Caribbean.  But I'd assumed that to pull this off it would have to be a setting where the race of the two leads isn't necessarily so relevant that it feels odd that it's not mentioned.  HA.  HA.  These people are constantly in situations where they're naturally talking about race and where their conversations would be different depending on their backgrounds, experiences with institutional racism, cultural upbringing - everything!  On the one hand it's pretty bold - it's always talking about the consequences of colonialism in the Caribbean, about racism, about interracial relationships - but then it's kind of tone deaf that Anne Weale, who's white, thought she had the cultural competence to write this.  So that's a major content warning.

BUT that's all!  For the low low price of this $5 used Harlequin paperback you also get: a sex pest on the mantel in Act 1 that goes off in Act 3! Labor law violations innumerable! A really awful 1981 guy! Fat shaming and diet culture that just kind of sneak up on you every so often! Sexual assault and really awful failures to support her afterwards! I am probably forgetting something!