When I say I probably read a thousand books in my 30 years of existence, there’s not much exaggeration. What I would rarely admit though is that about 70% of those books were from the romance genre — historical romance, paranormal romance, chick lits and all other sub-genre of romance including the staple Mills and Boons novelettes. A few of them are so addictive; I re-read the books on cold rainy nights. In my defense, those were the most available books to read when I was a kid. I tried raiding my brother’s shelves but Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Karl Marx were just too boring for a ten year old kid. Romance novels, however, were just a continuation of the fairy tale books that littered my room; the only difference is the essential sex scenes in the middle of the book. When Cinderella met Mr. Prince Charming, they skipped through the make-out sessions and headed straight for the altar. I’m not saying that people are missing out on any great works of literature by staying clear of the romance aisle but there are some really engaging stories in the genre that is worth wasting your idle time on.
Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood – Julie Garwood is not as prolific as other romance authors but some of her works, especially the early novels are such great reads. Lion’s Lady is a particular favorite of mine. My sister’s original copy was lost due to neighbors treating our house like a library they can check books out of so I had searched online for a copy. The story is about an orphaned princess (of course) who was left in the care of a Dakota tribe in the Americas. She was brought to London to be introduced to the ton and there she meets the duke of Lionwood. You can surmise that they lived happily ever after but of course not without some drama and action in the middle.
Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught – Every romance reader knows Judith Mcnaught. I like almost all her early works but I have this book on hardbound and paperback. In a historical romance, a duke is the most common stand-in for prince charming and this novel is no exception. The plot centers around an arranged marriage with the duke that Whitney knew nothing about and all the drama occurs when she finally figures out that her father essentially sold her to the duke and she can’t marry her childhood crushie.
In Death Series by JD Robb – JD Robb is the pseudonym of the most prolific woman writer ever, Nora Roberts. I’m suspecting she has a team of ghost writers on her arsenal for all the books she can put out in a year. The series is one of the longest running series in the genre with over 40 books to date. I’ve read about 35 or so so far but my interest is starting to wane. The first few books were addictive though. I read the first ten in 3 weeks during my semestral break in college. The story is set in the near future of the mid 21st century. Eve Dallas is a lieutenant for the New York Police with the most brutal back story ever written and her husband is the most handsome character I’d ever read. She investigates the most horrible homicide cases while still finding the time to do her wifely duties.
On the historical romance sub-genre, there are a lot of great authors that portray strong women characters instead of the wimpy damsels in distress. Some of them even go through all the trouble of creating plot lines. For the intellectual elitists who want to give their brains a break, I recommend Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsay, Julie Garwood, and Iris Johansen. I would checkout the early works before the 2000s. I recently snooped through my sisters new mountain of romance novels and what I found really freaked me out. It turns out that the “romance” genre of today is more erotica and smut than anything resembling romance. Stay clear of authors like Lora Leigh who consistently plots her story around how the two protagonists can get it on in creative and various ways.
Keeping up appearances:
Once you get addicted, its hard to put these books down. To be able to read in public and keep the air around you properly cold and haughty, you can opt to cover Fabio’s magnificent pose with plain paper or just get an old cover of a New-York-Times-reviewed novel. Now you can enjoy your book without people judging you.