Friday, January 20, 2012


It is one week today that ABC’s One Life to Live went off the air. And instead of focusing on which book I want to blog about, I’m feeling nostalgic about a show that made me laugh out loud, brought me to tears, and inspired some major crushes. Yes, I’m a soap opera fan. And I’m proud of it. So before I go onto books (and don’t worry, I will eventually get there) I want to share how soaps have influenced what I watch and what I read.

I’m Holding Out for a Soul-Mate. From Luke and Laura (General Hospital) to Cruz and Eden (Santa Barbara) to Josh and Reva (Guiding Light), soaps created some amazing “Super-Couples.” And watching these characters fall in love, break up, and then find their way back together has provided countless hours of enjoyment. More important, it helped to instill in me a lifelong appreciation of the epic love story.

Heroines are Nice, but Vixens are Better. From Tina Lord Roberts, as portrayed by the amazing Andrea Evans, to Brenda Barrett, the incomparable Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzi, soaps created some of the most intriguing women on television. Sometimes they did really, really bad things. Exhibit A: Tina coming back from the dead, carrying a stolen infant, and informing a stunned Cord that he is the father—at the altar, seconds before he was to marry Kate. Sometimes they did really, really stupid things. Exhibit B: Brenda wearing a wire in front of boyfriend Sonny Corinthos in a desperate attempt to get him to leave the mob. No matter what crazy shenanigans these vixens got up to, they did it with style. So thank you, soap operas, for making me appreciate characters with a little bite. Or, in the case of vampires, a lot of bite. 

The Circle of Life. The Lion King owns the bragging rights to these words, but they also sum up how I feel about soaps. Characters are born, grow up, fall in love, have their hearts broken, die, get cloned, come back from the dead—or is it an unknown evil twin? Nope, it’s really them—fall in love (again), have their hearts broken (again), kill someone in a fit of jealous rage—no wait, that character’s not really dead—get stalked by the intended victim…You get the idea. Soap operas never end. And I, for one, love it. Which probably explains my addiction to all things serial.

And now back to books.

Like mysteries? Some of daytime’s brightest have picked up the pen. Shari Shattuck (formerly on The Young and the Restless) has created two intriguing characters in wealthy socialite Cally Wilde and LAPD detective Evan Paley. In her first book, Loaded, someone’s out to kill the beautiful Cally. Will the sexy Evan save her? I guess so, because Callie’s in trouble again in the second book, Lethal. After bravely taking a bullet for a young Asian woman, the two lovers have another mystery on their hands involving drugs, murder, and…geishas? The books are a fun and fast ride. In The Man She Thought She Knew, Evan asks Callie to marry him and then disappears. Kidnappings, corruption, and more dead bodies. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out if Callie gets her happy ending.

Harley Jane Kozak played Mary Duvall on the now-defunct Santa Barbara. Her character remains in soap opera infamy for being killed by a large letter “C” on the roof of the Capwell Hotel. Don’t believe me? Check it out on YouTube at: Today Kozak is author of the Wollie Shelley mystery series. If you can get past the name, you’ll likely enjoy the character, a struggling greeting-card artist, and the trouble she falls into. For example, In Dating Dead Men, Wollie signs on to date 40 men in 60 days as research for a new book, How to Avoid Getting Dumped All the Time. Alas, Wollie does get dumped on—first by a dead body and then by a man on the run from the mob. In the sequel, Dating is Murder, Wollie gets back on the dating bandwagon by joining the cast of a reality TV show, Biological Clock. After being stalked by an assortment of oddball characters and threatened by a drug cartel, Wollie does find her Mr. Right in Simon, a hot FBI agent. The third book in the series, Dead Ex, centers around the murder of a soap opera producer and a talk show called SoapDirt. (As an aside, 2011 saw the first season of Dirty Soap, an E! reality TV show about—wait for it—soap opera stars. How funny is that?) In the most recent book, A Date You Can’t Refuse, Wollie goes undercover for the FBI as a “social coach” for foreign celebrities. Hey, I’m not making this up. Murder and mayhem ensue.

Soap-hopper Eileen Davidson (The Young and the Restless, Santa Barbara, Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful) is also penning a mystery series about….daytime television. She introduces soap opera actress Alexis Peterson in Death in Daytime. In Dial Emmy for Murder, Alexis is a presenter at the Daytime Emmys. The other two books in the series include Diva Las Vegas and Swingin’ in the Rain. While I confess I’ve not yet read Davidson’s Soap Opera Mysteries, they are on my to-read list. And at least Davidson is still employed—for now. She currently plays Ashley Abbott on The Young and the Restless.

The same cannot be said for the charismatic Michael Easton, who played sexy (but mostly silent) über-detective John McBain on my beloved One Life to Live. So, if you like graphic novels, try out Easton’s Soul Stealer series: The Beaten and the Damned, Blood and Rain, and Last to Die. Book trailers for all three are available at: As the novels are still sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read—hey, there was a reason I called my blog, Too Many Books, Not Enough Time—I’ll let Easton tell you what the series is about in his own words:

At the end of the day, this is a love story. It's a dark and twisted love story, but it’s a love story. Love is one of the things worth fighting for in this world, and I believe I have that kind of love for my wife. I was a long time in finding her, and she has inspired me to explore the better sides of myself, because I have a tendency to be a little dark. (Read Easton’s full interview online at:

Hmmm. Guess this explains why Easton was so good at brooding—both as Detective John McBain and as tortured vampire slash rocker Caleb Morley on the short-lived Port Charles.

And now for the really sad part. Daytime soaps are a dying breed. With only 4 left on the networks, if you have ever loved a soap opera—now is the time to watch. But if fans like us can’t save them, then I say join them—as in, join the actors who have brought us so many years of pleasure as they go onto new endeavors. 

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