Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Temptation Tuesday with Michelle Douglas

Join us in welcoming Romance author Michelle Douglas to The Pink Heart Society!


I love a good holiday romance story. In fact, I grew up on them. My grandmother and I would hunker down in front of the telly on wintry Sunday afternoons to watch Elvis Presley, invariably in Hawaii, croon his way into his girl’s heart. Or to sigh in satisfaction as Gidget reigned supreme on the beach. Grandma had a bit of a thing for Cliff Richard so Summer Holiday figured large on our shared landscape of escapist holiday movies too.

Perhaps this is why, in my pre-pubescent mind:

Summer holiday + beach + guy and girl = PERFECT

I couldn’t wait to grow up and become a teenager. What fun was to be had!

By the time I became a teenager, however, holiday romance movies had moved on a little, had lost some of their innocence. But as far as I was concerned, they sure as heck hadn’t lost any of their glamour... or their allure.

I went to the movie theatre not once, not twice, but three times to watch Dirty Dancing. Although I’m as ready as the next person to extol the virtues of a shirtless Patrick Swayze, it was more than the promise of a hot male bod that kept me coming back for more. There was a real chemistry between the leads – who can forget Baby’s reaction the first time she dances with Johnny? But what was even more surprising was the fact that Baby and Johnny didn’t end up together at the end of the movie.


No, this couldn’t be. I wanted my fantasies neatly tied up with happy-ever-afters thank you very much. And yet...

The characters had gained self-knowledge. They were better people for having met and fallen in love. And so were those around them. This couldn’t be construed as an unhappy-ever-after. It was poignant and real [And, on my walks home from the movie theatre I’d construct elaborate scenarios where Baby and Johnny would meet in five years time, discover they still loved each other and lived happily ever after, saving the world en route.]

A decade (or two) later and holiday romance stories still thrill me. My favourite now? The utterly beguiling and unashamedly feel-good Bread and Tulips. Rosalba, fortyish and married, is accidentally abandoned at a rest stop during a family bus trip. So she heads for Venice on her own, and she discovers herself, friendship and, of course, she discovers love.

Things happen when characters are sent on holiday.

Look what happens when Jane Austen sends Lizzie Bennett to Derbyshire. Or when A Room With A View’s Lucy Honeychurch tours Florence. Not to mention Shirley Valentine’s transformation when she goes abroad. There are the Jamaica scenes in Cocktail. That wonderful if overused line “We’ll always have Paris” from Casablanca. Remember when Amy and Laurie from Little Women go abroad? And there are at least two romantic holiday mini-stories in Love Actually.

And what happens? They all fall in love, that’s what. Despite their ages. Despite their circumstances.

It seems to me more than just horizons are broadened when characters take a holiday.

For a chance to win a copy of THE LONER’S GUARDED HEART, share with us your favourite holiday romance movie or book (or your favourite moment from one).

Michelle’s Harlequin Romance THE LONER’S GUARDED HEART is out now in NA and the UK, and will be out in May in Australia. You can find out more by visiting Michelle’s website


  1. Hi Michelle, I think you're really onto something there. Definitely love a holiday romance.

    Room with a View is a perfect example. And what about Enchanted April? Love definitely blooms then. And I grew up reading romances where the heroine visits somewhere new (on vacation or for work) and meets tall, dark, glamorous Mr Right! Sigh.

    I don't know Bread and Tulips. Will have to look out for it. Another to add to the list!


  2. I've never heard of Bread and Tulips, Michelle, but it sounds good.
    I've picked up lots of movie recommendations from the PHS and of those I've managed to find, I haven't been disappointed in one yet.


  3. Annie, I just love holidays. And it is MUCH better for the purse strings if I indulge through the pages of a book or by hunkering down in front of the TV and losing myself for a couple of hours.

    I haven't seen Enchanted April - but I believe someone mentioned it here way back when. Next time I'm at the Vid store... I bought A Room With A View last weekend (Haven't watched it yet. Am letting the anticipation build).

  4. Claire, Bread and Tulips is just wonderful. It's an Italian film and has a cast of quirky characters, which is something I find really hard to resist (loved the secondary characters in Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the best friends in When Harry Met Sally). The leads are older than the norm which I liked too. It's humorous and touching - will make you laugh and make you cry.

    Okay, if you find the movie recommendations here so good I'm heading for the vid store tomorrow.

  5. Hi Michelle!
    I remember watching Grease many years ago and I loved the beginning where Sandy and Danny have a summer romance. So sweet!

  6. was there a winner fromKathleen o'reilly?

  7. I saw Bread and Tulips and loved it. So sweet and unique. One of my favorite movies ever is Before Sunrise. Touching, emotional and beautiful. I enjoy the European movies which are so well depicted and are memorable.

  8. An emotional and heartrending but unforgettable movie which tugs at the heartstrings which I loved was Il Postino. This movie is enthralling, beautiful and fabulous.

  9. Thanks for this special blog. It is original and lovely. I adore holiday romance movies especially during the summertime which is fast approaching. Even though I am way past that type of thing it feel so good to watch something that sparks your interest. Mostly Martha was one that I was immersed in. The superb acting and the real situations were absorbing and riveting.

  10. Maureen, how could I forget Grease! I love Grease, and I think my favourite song from it is Summer Lovin'.

    When I was at Uni my flatmate and I would hold Grease parties. The girls loved them. The guys... hmm... I think they just came along for the girls.

  11. I'm with you, Anne. I love European movies. Have you seen Amelie? I love how the garden gnome is sent on an around the world trip and mails back photographs of himself posing with world famous land marks - it's hilarious and inspired.

    Before Sunrise is another movie I've heard good things about it. Shall put it on my list of to-see films.

  12. Ruth, I haven't seen Il Postino - but I love how you describe it. Emotional and heartrending... It seems my list of must-see films is growing.

    Speaking of wonderful o/s films - has anyone seen Antonia's Line? It's a Dutch film and if you are in need of a girl-power pep talk then this is an absolute must.

  13. Pearl, I don't think anyone is way past dreaming of romances or holidays.

    I enjoyed Mostly Martha too - I loved how she'd lock herself up in the meat locker to cool down. I could relate to that.

  14. I did see Antonio's Line but please forgive me, did not care for it at all. I was extremely disappointed.
    But I must say that Cinema Paradiso more than made up for that. This film was heartbreaking, extremely beautiful and I cherish it greatly.

  15. The Starmaker I saw on a whim and appreciated so much. Amusing and a touch of pathos as well. I would even say a masterpiece.

  16. Oh, no, Diane! What disappointed you about Bread and Tulips? Still if you loved Cinema Paradiso then am prepared to forgive you ;-)

    At a wonderfully decrepit little theatre, I once saw a double of Cinema Paradiso with Babette's Feast, which was a real treat.

  17. Ellie, I hadn't heard of The Starmaker before so I just went out and googled it. It sounds fabulous.

    After all these wonderful film suggestions I know what I'll be doing for the next few weekends.

  18. Dirty Dancing was the first ever PHS Friday Film-Night! It changed my life as a 16 year old. I saw it six times at the movies, the last three wearing a "Dirty Dancing" t-shirt!!!


  19. Ally! You Dirty Dancing tragic you. Did you learn all the moves? And do you still have that t-shirt?

  20. Thank everyone for sharing your favourite holiday movies with me. I have so many new movies I have to go and hunt up now :-)

    The name that came out of the hat (actually it was an old mixing bowl, but let's not split hairs)... drumroll please... was Ruth.

    Congratulations Ruth! You've won a copy of THE LONER'S GUARDED HEART.

    Please email me ( with your postal address and I'll pop a copy in the post.