sI was tagged by @seashells-and-bookshelves. She made me cry a lot and she’s just the actual best please go give her some love.
If I had to give my romance or romance-adjacent books that led me to romance novels, they would be…
Okay so my journey began so long ago that I’m not quite where to start. I’ve always loved the romantic elements of stories (probably a result of growing up on Disney movies but who knows). It would be hard to pinpoint the exact books, so I’m going to list some that were turning points.
1: The Mystery Kiss by Elaine Harper: I stole it and a few others from my oldest sister Kelli because I was staying the night at her house and I was bored and couldn’t sleep. I was probably about 9ish. These were 80s teen serial romances published by Harlequin, I think. They’re about 150 pages each, and kind of silly. I LOVED them.
2: The Road to Paradise Island by Victoria Holt: When I was about 12 my aunt dropped off a box of about 50 books she’d gotten for $5 at a garage sale. They were for my mom but I immediately just attacked the box and made off with my loot. Among these were a huge amount of Victoria Holt books (and Phyllis A. Whitney). I was obsessed. I went to the library and checked out every single Victoria Holt they had. If you’re not familiar with these, they’re (non-sexual) gothic romance with all these crazy storylines about revenge and feuds and crazy shit. They’re amazing.
3: Like No Other by Melanie George: This was my first grown-up romance novel with actual sex scenes, I stole it from my mom’s bathroom when I was about 16. It’s about a girl pickpocket who gets picked up by a member of the aristocracy after she fails to pick his pocket, he realizes she’s a girl and tries to My Fair Lady her but ends up falling for her. It was SUPER unrealistic but really cute and funny in places.
4: Ravished by Virginia Henley: So this one was another stolen from Kelli, when I was about 17. There is a LOT OF HISTORICAL BACKSTORY to any of VH’s romances and I LOVED that. Who doesn’t like to learn about actual historical events while also having betrothed couple who loathes each other from childhood fall in love? Not me that’s who! All of VH’s romances are like that (well all of the 12 or so that I’ve read anyway). They’re slowburn and let romances develop pretty naturally, and I like that. Also history.
5: Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas: this one is the one I count as my first romance novel. Mostly it’s just my first “modern” romance novel. Kelli “accidentally-on-purpose” left it behind when she came to visit for my high school graduation. I devoured it. I then moved to Kansas to live with my other sister for a while ( to look for a job and learn to drive and just learn in general to be an adult). There was a Borders within walking distance of my sister’s house (and I had no friends), so I went there and ashamedly bought the next three books in the series. Before these books I hadn’t realized that romances could be so lighthearted and hilarious. I’d been thriving on the drama, but now I felt whole and clean and happy once I’d finished. My fate was sealed.
It took a long time for me to stop stealing other people’s romance novels and just get up the courage to like what I like and not be ashamed of it. Why should you put down something that brings you genuine enjoyment? I now buy my romance novels at the store and snapchat/ instagram what I’m reading to everyone I know. Also now I have a fallback subject to discuss with Kelli whenever I feel the need for sisterly connection. <3
IF YOU LIKE ROMANCE NOVELS TOO YOU SHOULD FOLLOW ME AT @believingfairytales because I like talking about them.
I tag: @angelacolsin , @romancetherapy , @all-the-kissing-books , @pollyssecretlibrary @thestarfishdancer @msisoverthegardenwall, @mtr-amg and anyone who wants to do this! A lot of you it wouldn’t let me tag for some reason. <3 also @avonromance because why not! <3
Hope @librarianlirael doesn’t mind if I participate in this by first sharing her story? It’s easier to keep up with the books she named in case I get a chance to read them in the future. 🙂
Anywho, I’m still on hiatus, and not really feeling much better as far as anxiety is concerned. Actually, I’m up and down so sometimes it seems worse and sometimes it’s better. But this gives me something to focus on, so thanks for tagging me @librarianlirael 🙂
I know I’ve mentioned this in another post somewhere, but my own journey to being a romance fan goes pretty far back. I was a preteen, actually, and whenever I went to the grocery store with my mom, I’d always stop by the book section to admire the clincher covers. I don’t know why, but something about the romantic images intrigued me, and I was curious. Now, my mom did actually let me buy a book one time, which was Liar’s Promise by Dana Ransom (seriously, check out the link just to take a look at this early 90s clincher cover XD) though I never actually read the book. Well, there was a few years that passed before I started to skim it, but I never read it cover to cover.
So I don’t consider that book to be what actually hooked me. Instead, skip ahead a few years later to the bargain book bin at our local dollar store. Books for a buck! Most of them romance! I was a 15 year old browsing these reads and found another with a cover that delighted me (that word might be too strong, but I was again intrigued). It was called Enchantress by Barbara Benedict, and this was the first one I ever read.
It’s probably not the greatest book, but I recall enjoying it for what it was, and went back to that same bin where I purchased Hunter’s Bride by Jessica Wulf. I thought this one was much better, and now that I know Orion’s brothers actually got their own books, I kind of want to look them up and see what’s what.
Now, though I was pretty much getting into romance at this point, it wasn’t until the next book I purchased that I really became a fan: Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood. I think I read that book two or three times before going to my local library to check out every single book of Garwood’s I could find. Or I just purchased them from the store at any opportunity. Ultimately, I ended up owning most of her historicals, and that’s how my own road to romance ended up going. 🙂
Yay, I was tagged!
My top 5 books that led me to romance:
1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
I watched the TV miniseries with my mom sometime in the early 90s, then read the book. I think I was too young to really appreciate the material but I still fell hard for that forbidden/taboo love story.
2. The Blue Sword and the Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinely
Oh what a dreamy pair of romantic stories, hidden in a YA fantasy duology! Dragons, swords, magic? Sure, that’s there. But also great romances, especially the Blue Sword.
3. Warrior’s Woman by Joanna Lindsey
This is the first true romance novel I ever read and it’s… problematic, to say the least. Space barbarians, snarky AIs, and
non consensual sexual encounters. So over the top, not always in a good way. As a pre-teen reader, I was by turns horrified and titillated.
4. The Duchess by Jude Devereaux
The first romantic romance novel I ever read. In retrospect, has some issues with Orientalism. But the sweet love story between grumpy Trevelyan and plucky Claire had me swooning. Plus, bonus points for Scottish setting.
5. The Lonely Hearts Club by Radclyffe
One of the first lesbian romances I ever read. And Radclyffe writes great romance! A high-powered surgeon and a pregnant, high-powered attorney fall in love.