Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nancy Drew and The Mystery of the Future Romance Reader

As I mentioned in my TBT post, I've been cleaning out the attic and I discovered boxes of the books I read when I was a kid. I found my Little House books, my Anne of Green Gables books, a plethora of stories about horses, my Babysitter's Club books, and, of course, Nancy Drew.

Reading the Nancy Drew mysteries was the first literary connection I shared with my mom. She read them in the 60s, and she gave me her books. I became addicted to The Nancy Drew Files. I spent my allowance on new releases and combed through the library for titles I'd missed.

I've taken care of my hardcover Nancys in hope that one day I can pass them on to my niece, but I'd forgotten about my piles of paperbacks from the 90s. When I discovered them, I realized that Nancy Drew was my gateway drug to romance (and to romantic suspense, where the characters get to fight crime and fall in love). Specifically, the Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Super Mystery series was a big influence on me as a reader and writer.

They're almost like fanfic--"What if these characters met and fought crime TOGETHER?" (Though, as the Wiki informed me, this wasn't the first time they'd paired up to fight crime. It was just my first experience with it.) There's always an obligatory moment in each book where Nancy thinks, "Damn, Frank Hardy is hot, but I have a boyfriend. Oh well." Which caused great frustration in Young Me, who wanted Nancy to ditch Ned, marry Frank Hardy and have crime-fighting babies.

See the transition to romance reader there? Or at least to frustrated shipper... Romance fans, did you have a similar Nancy Drew experience? Please comment! Because I want to include your thoughts in my next post.

For your enjoyment, here are a few of the covers of the books I discovered while cleaning. (Of course after I labored to get my evil phone to take clear-ish pictures of the covers, I discover that they're all on Goodreads. Sigh. The next post will have links to their much nicer covers.)

Double Crossing, 1988. That hair. THAT. HAIR. What is going on here? Did they just escape from a wind tunnel? A sharknado? I don't even... Why is the Titanic in the background? I do love everyone's white gym shoes.

Apparently Nancy's boyfriend Ken--Ned, I mean Ned--wasn't on this cruise, which means the sexual tension between Nancy and Frank is steamy.
They watched Joe walk off. Then Frank and Nancy strolled in silence past the closed shops. Neither felt it was necessary to say a word. They ambled slowly, comfortable and close.

"Hey--I have an idea," Frank said. "How about a swim? It'll help us to relax for tomorrow."

"All the pools are closed," Nancy said. Then she turned and looked up into Frank's eyes and gave him a dazzling grin. "But who cares?"

"Best time to avoid the crowds," Frank said lazily "Well, what do you say? Meet me at the pool on the Palace Deck in fifteen minutes."

"I'll be there!"

On the way back to her stateroom to change, Nancy thought about Frank. Was she attracted to him? she asked herself. She honestly had to answer yes. He was warm and funny and caring and, best of all, intelligent. He was almost the most special boy she knew--almost. But there was Ned, and Nancy knew Frank could only be her friend. She would have to leave it at that--and she hoped she could.
Young Me = Mind. Blown.

But sadly the potential for sexy fun times in the cruise ship's pool was ruined by discovering a body. Boo!

Dat ass.

Shock Waves, 1989. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys go to Padre Island for Spring Break. And fight crime! Kids, you need to read this blurb.
Nancy Drew and her boyfriend, Ned, are among the guests invited to flourish Padre Island, on the Gulf Coast. Everyone's geared up for spring break, including Frank and Joe Hardy. The brother detectives happen to be staying at the home of wealthy friend Buck Calhoun. While scuba diving, Buck makes a play for Nancy, which Ned intercepts. But, the game begins when Buck finds a sunken wreck, and a dead body.

Meanwhile, Padre Island's social set is raided buy a squad of resort sharks. The sophisticated crime group has ripped off a fortune in loot. But, they've never left a clue until they snatch a pair of melted keys belonging to Joe Hardy. The worthless keys have deep personal value for the youth sleuth. And, he vows to track them down no matter what the risk...in Shock Waves.
I'm sorry, did you just say "wealthy friend Buck Calhoun"? And he makes a play for Nancy? Holy cow. How did this not end up as a Harlequin Presents? Nancy Drew totally could have had the millionaire's secret baby. Missed opportunity, people.

"I said take the shot!"
"I can't, I may hit Bond!"
"Take the bloody shot!"
...
"Agent down."

Mystery Train, 1990. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with those earrings. Clearly they are the mystery in this book. That, or the mystery of "Who looks good in a bright yellow sweater?" Answer: Big Bird.

OMG, is that Jay Leno?

Best of Enemies, 1991. There is so much crazy sauce in this blurb, you guys.
The Berlin Wall has come tumbling down, and a major American agent--code-named the Swallow--wants to come home. On a top-secret mission for the Network, THE HARDY BOYS head to Memphis, where a mystery man named Pritchiff has promised to turn the agent over for a price. But a ruthless German spymaster, known only as Klaus, has vowed to beat Frank and Joe to the punch--and shoot the Swallow out of the sky.

Meanwhile...

NANCY DREW comes to the aid of Beau Davis, a guy with a bad case of the Memphis blues.

Accused of stealing a guitar once belonging to Elvis, he is now a prime suspect in a more ominous matter--the murder of Pritchitt! In a case as twisty and treacherous as a Mississippi River current, Frank and Joe and Nancy are headed for a stunning rendezvous and revelation in "Best Of Enemies"
Young Me is totally mesmerized by the summer blockbuster action this promises. Older, Filthy Mind Me is inappropriately giggling at "the Swallow". Also, it seems somehow less perilous to crash into a river when you're in a convertible. And also clearly not wearing their seatbelts! For shame!

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