Today Let me talk about romance

Well, not that kind of Romance. I am going to talk about the written kind. More specifically, about romance novels.

Romance novels are like wine. An acquired taste, yes. Also, a taste that matures over time (yes, there is a ‘taste’ in romance novels and it ‘matures’ over time). The thirties and the forties are when you are actually looking for something very, very, satisfying. Not that kind of satisfying. No.

I, like any other romance novel reading girl started in high school, reading my aunt’s books under a table. Those days, I was not supposed to be reading romance, so the whole process just ended up being deliciously covert. What fun.

After 10 to 15 years, and, tons and tons of Mills and Boon, I found ‘Contemporary Romance’. Actually it all started by a chance sighting of a Sabrina Jeffries book. The cover looked…. mmmm… very…. ummm.. int-erest-ing.  Ya, well, it looked downright dirty. Then the book was quite the delight. A very, very easy read.  This led me down lists of top 100 romances of the decade, of last year, ever etc.  I won’t do the books individually, but here is a list of my favorite authors. Do not miss reading them if you enjoy a really good romance over a lazy afternoon. Indulge.

1. Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Try any of her books, and you won’t go very wrong. One of her very many introductions in her books says ‘Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ writes a modern day fairy tale. And that’s a perfect way to describe her stories. The people from her books get a fairy tale. A completely refreshing, engaging, laugh out loud funny stories of men and women. Perfect. Some noteworthy books – ‘It Had to be You‘ (tops most romance novel lists), ‘Heaven Texas‘, ‘Call me Irresistible‘ and all the rest.

2. Jennifer Crusie – Unexpected, Real and so much fun. She is a very sound writer, can be a poster woman for romance writers as her thesis or research included topics about romance writing from the feminist perspective. How interesting. I don’t really like all her books. But if you like contemporary, chances are you’ll love Jennifer Crusie. Some books – ‘Fast Women‘ (I really liked this one), ‘Bet Me‘ (Her all time famous, and I really liked this one as well)

3. Rachel Gibson – Another Susan Elizabeth Phillips in the making. Her ‘See Jane Score‘ is absolutely delicious. I haven’t read all her books, but they are good fun. In the same contemporary vein.

4. Linda Howard – If it wasn’t for ‘See Jane Score’ I think Linda Howard would have occupied the third place. She is fabulous, has a great number of works out there and is consistently good. The sex is really good. Although the themes and characters are sometimes not as contemporary as the others above, it is generally good fun and usually a satisfying read. Something unique about her books are that the men are very different. They are rough around the edges, more often than not they are police officers. And they are completely into the women. So much so that they become a physical miracle, if you know what I mean. Some books – ‘Dream Man‘ and ‘Mr. Perfect‘.

5. Jayne Ann Krentz – I found her very late, she is very good in a very old world sort of way. A bit like Linda Howard except she’s got a very, very interesting thing going on between her lead characters. There’s no harmony. And I love this about her writing. Before, during or after. They are the people they are and are very different from being the perfect match or anything of the sort. At least thats the way I found it. Gooood Fun. Some books – All her books I think.

6. Suzanne Brockmann –  I am not quite sure yet if she is one of my favorites but there are a lot of things I like about her books. They are contemporary, real and with some very different conversations happening. A lot of it is about the Marine life in the US of A, especially the Navy SEALS. So it makes an interesting change to the old reading habits if nothing else. It also tends to be about international relations and warfare, because, it is after all about Navy SEALS and the romance usually happens in the line of work itself. One of the most noteworthy things about Suzanne Brockmann and why her novels are so appealing, is that she is a ‘fair’ writer. Her characters are of mixed race, African-american, even half Indian and one of her lead men is bald. So she keeps it all around real. And the best thing. One of her romance books in the Navy SEAL series is entirely a gay romance. She has a gay son and so she is changing romance fiction. How amazing. And it is also so much more fun to read because of all that. Some books – Her Navy SEAL series. Lots of fun.

Now, for some random book recommendations, in spite of saying I won’t do a book-by-book list.

1. Lord of Scoundrels– Loretta Chase. Excellent book. Victorian or Regency, one of the two.

2. McKenzie’s Mountain – Linda Howard. Fun.

3. Whitney, My Love – Judith McNaught. Fun and Funny.

4.  Knight in Shining Armour – Jude Devereaux

Phew! That’s a large weight off my chest. I have been living these excellent recommendations for a while. Such a good thing I have had, and I have wanted to share the joy. Spread it.

P.S: The image on the home page for this post is a collage of some of the old Mills and Boons covers that I had. I love those vintage covers, maybe I could use some in a series of frames on the wall. Imagine doing that when you are 22 single and in love with romance!! The frames would have to be plain brown or black with a plain white or cream mount. Just saying.

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