Executive Editor May Chen’s “First” Avon Romanceby May Chen
Ok, I actually don’t remember the first Avon book I read, it may have been The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss which I, of course, adore but I think it would be so much more interesting to say that it was Chance the Winds of Fortune by Laurie McBain.
It was winter break, I was probably 12 or 13 years old (yep, started reading smexy books young and I’m proud of it ). I was in Taipei visiting relatives over a two week period and I was bored out of my mind (this was before the internet and iPad, people!). I can’t read Chinese and I had a lot of downtime in between stuffing my face at various family gatherings in numerous restaurants and strange people’s homes—it’s all blur, really. (If you’re Asian and grew up visiting relatives in Asia, you’d know exactly how these visits played out.) My mother finally had an afternoon free and took me to the famed Chongqing South Road which today has over 40 bookstores clustered in one area. Fortunately quite a few of them had a small English language section and though, at that point, I had never read or heard of Laurie McBain, I seized on the only romance novel I could find.
I shouldn’t have loved Chance the Winds of Fortune. It was the second book in a trilogy I’ve never read, the heroine, Lady Rhea Claire, is the daughter of the hero and heroine from the first book in the series, Moonstruck Madness, and they play a large role in the second book so I wasn’t emotionally invested at the beginning. The hero, Dante Leighton, is a pirate–I hate pirate heroes (sorry!)— and the book took waaay too long to set up the romance, as I recall Rhea and Dante don’t even meet until what felt like halfway through the book. And yet…I have a vivid memory of lying on a black leather couch in someone’s living room (could’ve been my grandmother’s, an uncle’s, like I said it was all blur!) and then, many hours later, getting up in a daze, having finished the book in one sitting, eyes slowly blinking, readjusting to my forgotten surroundings.
It wasn’t a perfect romance read, but it was the right romance read. Chance the Winds of Fortune took me out of my present reality and swept me away to the 1700s, to the vast Caribbean ocean and an unlikely love between a sheltered young, very young (17!) daughter of a duke and a jaded, much older (34!) sea captain. Laurie McBain’s writing was evocative, lush and she had created these fully dimensional characters that captured my young, very young imagination.
I took the book home with me back to New York, and I still have that well-thumbed copy today, I’ve since read it multiple times. Many years later, I would start my first publishing job as an editorial assistant at Avon Books where I recognized a painting of a woman on horseback hanging on the wall of SVP/Executive Editor Carrie Feron’s office, it was the art from the cover of Moonstruck Madness. I had come full circle!
So any fans of Laurie McBain? Has anyone read this trilogy? I’ll select a random commenter to win a rare Moonstruck Madness notepad!