View our feature on Christina Dodd’s Chains of Ice.As a wildlife observer in the untamed mountains, Genny Valente had no idea that a beast more fearsome than any leopard lurked in the forest-a man, one of the Chosen Ones, betrayed by his gift and tormented by his memories. John Powell fled his fate and his duty, yet in Genny he sees his one chance for redemption. He will stalk her, kidnap her, and love her as only a savage can.
The application to become a Romance Writer goes something like this:
- Are you prepared to live in a world populated by defiant, intelligent, beautiful virgins who know how to shoot like snipers, bold, muscular, driven men with dark souls, and a constant parade of exotic locales? A world that doesn’t really exist?
- Can you give a glib excuse for buying more research books than any one person can ever read in a single lifetime?
- Are you prepared to have your family think you’re crazy when they catch you talking to yourself … again?
- What is your favorite romantic adventure movie? And right there on the application, it says ROMANCING THE STONE.
That’s right. The answer to that question is filled in. Why, you ask? Because Romancing the Stone is the quintessential romantic adventure movie, with not only a legendary jewel, a scarred villain, great sex, and a cynical anti-hero, but a heroine who’s a romance writer. Does it get any better than that?
I love romantic adventure movies; they’re fun, they’re fast, they sparkle with dialogue and sexual tension—and they’re surprisingly hard to find. Hollywood has always thought that romance and adventure are oxymorons, mostly because they believe that women are ill-suited to adventure. If they do include a woman, it’s the woman’s job to run during the chase scene, twist her ankle, fall down, make the hero rescue her, and thus put him into the hands of the villains. The reason there aren’t more romantic adventures showcasing vibrant, intelligent, coordinated women is because men run the studios. There’s a word to describe these men. The word sounds like oxymoron. But it isn’t.
In no particular order, here are my favorite romantic adventure movies:
Indiana Jones And The Lost Ark: two words—young Harrison Ford. Yeah, that’s more than two words. Picky, picky.
The Bourne Identity: I suppose it’s not strictly a romance, but few writers or directors use a female character so well. Marie is drawn into the adventure because she’s desperate for money and Bourne will give it to her—if she helps him. She doesn’t realize what she’s getting into, and once she does, she yells, is scared, wants to run away, but she doesn’t run, she doesn’t fall down and twist her ankle, she comes up with better plans than Bourne does, and in the end, she gets Matt Damon. Does it get any better than that? Of course, the second movie totally screws up the romance, but as a stand-alone movie, The Bourne Identity works big-time.
Last Of The Mohicans: Talk about smoky, glorious sexual tension between Cora and Hawkeye, teamed with some of the best adventure and most romantic lines ever delivered in a movie. Cora: “What are you looking at, sir?” Hawkeye: “I’m looking at you, miss.” And Hawkeye to Cora when she’s about to be captured by the Indians: “You be strong, you survive… You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.” Added bonus—the soundtrack is fabulous.
Star Wars (Episodes IV, V, VI): two words—really young Harrison Ford. Yeah, that’s more than two words, too. I put these in my favorites list because in The Empire Strikes Back, as Han Solo is about to go into the carbon freeze and possibly die, or for sure get really stiff, he utters one of the best lines ever in romantic adventure. Princess Leia: “I love you.” Han: (completely serious) “I know.” Then in Return of the Jedi, when the rebels attack the bunker and it looks like Han’s about to be captured, Leia shows him her hidden blaster, the one that will save his life. He smiles and says, “I love you,” and she smiles back in perfect accord and says, “I know.” That’s when you know they’re going to have a great relationship forever.
Charade, To Catch A Thief, Indiscreet: And more. Whether he’s a hero or a thief, Cary Grant exudes charm, and because he was so popular, the scripts and the filming are the best.
Casablanca: I know, it doesn’t end like a traditional romance, but the love story makes my heart ache, and I had to include it. According to the DVD extras, the last scene wasn’t even written while they were filming, and Ingrid Bergman didn’t know which man she was going to end up with until she filmed that final scene.
Oh, and of course, Romancing the Stone.
I drew my inspiration for Chains of Ice from my favorite romantic adventure movies. The story starts in New York City where for one magic summer, Genny Valente is offered a chance to escape her dull and onerous future and become a wildlife observer in the untamed Russian mountains. Little does she know that a beast lurks in the forest…a man, one of the Chosen, betrayed by his gift & tormented by memories. In Genny, John Powell sees his chance for redemption. He will stalk her, kidnap her, love her as only a savage can. When a new betrayal threatens, John must call on the powers he fears. Then only Genny can save him…if she dares…
Chains of Ice never stops to let you draw breath. And that’s why I love romantic adventures. They leave you breathless.