2017 Summer Guide 

Steamy Romance

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LeRoy Mazyck / Scott Suchy

It was the summer of 1994, and not only was all of Charleston glistening with sweat from the sultry nights of an extreme Southern heat wave, but the city was also deep in the throes of an unmatched hunger for adult romantic literature. People were lining up in the streets, waiting for the next great trash novel to release and sate their desires for a naughty read. Smut authors became local A-List celebrities overnight, reaping the rewards of an afternoon spent at their typewriters.

And, while Charleston's great romance authors of the time — Chuck North, Sheppard Marry, Shem Shrimpfischer, and Ashley West — are all now part of the city's pantheon of literary legends, one of the genre's greatest names has all but disappeared into the annals of history: Ravenel Steele.

  • LeRoy Mazyck (Pixel Studios) / Scott Suchy

The City Paper's Pulitzer Department has spent the past year searching for all they could find out about Steele — a pen name for sure — but, has been able to uncover little about this recluse. (Editor's note: Though we don't even know if Steele is still living or deceased, we're pretty sure the author's real first name is Chip.)

As forgotten as Steele is to the public today, the writer remains one of Charleston's most prolific romance novelists of all time with 235 titles published in just one summer. The novels' deftly crafted narratives all incorporate popular summertime themes specific to the Lowcountry.

We submit for your consideration, the top Ravenel Steele novels of all time, and some of the Holy City's great summer eats, drinks, and activities that inspired them.

For the Love of Grilled Meat

Synopsis: Madeline Rose was always warned to avoid red meat. The only daughter of two devout vegans, she was protected from the come-hither aroma of cookouts and burger shacks. But as Rose blossomed into womanhood, her curiosity grew — as did her hunger. Then, on a steamy summer day, Rose encountered Dean Brisket. The bad boy of the barbecue world, he was everything Rose’s parents had warned her about. But from the smell of smoked meats that hung on his clothes to his sauce-stained fingers, Brisket was more than capable of whetting Rose’s appetite for the savory pleasures she had so long denied herself. What followed was a love affair that was medium rare, yet still well done.

By Kinsey Gidick, Connelly Hardaway, Mary Scott Hardaway, Kelly Rae Smith, Enid Spitz, and Dustin Waters

Portraits by LeRoy Mazyck/Pixel Studios, Photo Illustrations by Scott Suchy, Swimsuit photography by Jonathan Boncek

Models: Murat Atilla, Sabrina Hyman, Abigail Morrow, Jerry Mosa, Megan Murphy, Codie Richardson, Nico Rittmeyer, Lily Slay, Audrey Smoak, and Walker Trull

Hair and Makeup:Karson Terrell, Special thanks: Kelly and Wyatt Durette

5 ways to party like a patriot on July 4
5 ways to party like a patriot on July 4 2017 Summer Guide

Happy birthday America. While we usually celebrate you in our backyards, with overcooked hot dogs and lukewarm beers, we decided that this year we will branch out — and go all out — by celebrating in true Charleston style. We've culled some of the best shindigs around the Lowcountry so you too can ditch the lame backyard picnic and party like a patriot. — Connelly Hardaway

6 ways to get cool on Charleston's waterways
6 ways to get cool on Charleston's waterways 2017 Summer Guide

Ah, Charleston summer. You are so wonderful and so very, very hot. Thank goodness for all of your waterways — from oceans to rivers we love to splash around this city. Here are some of our top picks for cooling down around town. — Connelly Hardaway

13 patios you should drink on this summer
13 patios you should drink on this summer 2017 Summer Guide

This is not a list of the best patios in Charleston. Or the best bars. This is your roadmap to a summer sampler of boozy patios where you can have it all — midnight tot nachos, top-shelf rosé, and a $4 happy hour burger that would be cheap at triple the price. One day it's Britney Brunch at the Biergarten, the next it's Coronas at Red's Ice House as you watch the sun dunk into Shem Creek. Hell, try a few in a day. Charleston, of all places, is a city made by and for patio drinking. — Enid Spitz

7 ways to sweat this Summer
7 ways to sweat this Summer 2017 Summer Guide

Let's be honest, you don't even try to get into "beach body" shape anymore. So you can either buy that Kardashian-endorsed teatox and shit your brains out on the beach, become the type of person who spends money on cover-ups, or enjoy your summer anyway. Hell, you're basically detoxing non-stop, sweating out the toxins as you sip mojitos anyway. — Enid Spitz

5 Hot Summer beach reads
5 Hot Summer beach reads 2017 Summer Guide

There's nothing like kicking back in the sand with a nice page-turner about shark attacks, sci-fi motorcycle gangs, and sad recollections from other people's time at the beach. That's why we've gathered a few recommended reads to enjoy while you catch a few rays. — Dustin Waters

Planning to bring a little booze to the beach? Here's what it could cost you
Planning to bring a little booze to the beach? Here's what it could cost you 2017 Summer Guide

We've all seen the commercials on TV of a happy couple enjoying a few beers as they dig their toes in the sand along a tropical beach. But anyone hoping to recreate such a scene on any local beaches should be warned — your desire to kick back a few while enjoying the sunshine may end up costing you. — Dustin Waters

7 fun activities for the whole fam damnly
7 fun activities for the whole fam damnly 2017 Summer Guide

It's hot. Your kids are bored. They need a distraction ASAP. What's a fam to do? Get those tots in the car and head on over to these 7 amazing-yet often overlooked-attractions. — Kinsey Gidick

8 best wanderlust Instagram accounts in Charleston
8 best wanderlust Instagram accounts in Charleston 2017 Summer Guide

Admit it, you're addicted to social media. It's fine — we're right there with ya. And while this summer guide, for the most part, wants you to get off your phone and get outside, we know that sometimes you need a screen-scrolling break. Might we suggest taking a trip on your phone with these locally-based, wanderlust worthy Instagram accounts? — Connelly Hardaway

6 places to get your summer suit
6 places to get your summer suit These latest beach looks will keep you looking cool all summer long

5 road trips for your summer
5 road trips for your summer 2017 Summer Guide

Sometimes you've just gotta get the heck out of dodge, err, Charleston. While we love our fair city, we try to expand our horizons every once in a while, traveling just a short distance to find a number of hidden gems all over the Lowcountry. Here are our top five picks for day-trip worthy spots nears Charleston. — Mary Scott Hardaway

5 can't-miss music events
5 can't-miss music events 2017 Summer Guide

For many Charlestonians, summer means outdoor celebrations with live music and cold drinks, preferably with a view. Luckily, the city overfloweth with perfect such scenarios this year. From cruisin' through the harbor to the sounds of bluegrass and fireworks to boozin' at al fresco music festivals, there are plenty of ways to make sweaty music memories this season; here are five of those: — Kelly Rae Smith

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