Here’s where I come clean…I read romance. A lot of romance. This will soon become obvious to the general library public because this summer we are doing a staff reading club where we display & recommend books we’ve read. Since reading romances is a lot like eating potato chips–they go so fast you can’t read just one–I’m a little worried about the whole display being filled with lurid covers.
What I find fascinating about romances is that the (let’s be honest) dreadful covers often obscure really good stories. For starters, all romances have two stories: the romance and whatever other plot is happening. So, if you like mysteries, thrillers, sci fi or fantasy, you can always find something to read in the romance genre. Plus, the writers are absolutely prolific, so there’s always something new to read. Instead of a new book every extremely painful two years, you generally get three-five books a year.
So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite romance writers:
Elizabeth Hoyt is an interesting romance writer as she plays with the tropes of the genre. Her main series is the Maiden Lane Series, set in the unusual choice of the late 1700s, where she literally chooses one trope to explore in each book. Despite that, her characterization is really good. Some romance writers have the problem that their characters are the same book after book, but Hoyt never falls into that trap; her characters leap out of the pages and stick with you long after you’ve closed the book.
The Maiden Lane series is best read in order, starting with the first book Wicked Intentions, but my favorite book
is actually book 2 in the series Notorious Pleasures:
Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn’t bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother… Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect – and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire – desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero’s wedding nears, and Griffin’s enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?
Set in the Regency period in England, Heyer is of the grand dames of the romance world. They’re full of humor, great families, fabulous repartee and are “clean” (no sex scenes). Plus, I got a really good score on
my SAT verbal because reading these books in middle school and high school expanded my vocabulary. My favorite is False Colours, which is on Overdrive:
“Something is very wrong, and the Honourable Christopher “Kit” Fancot can sense it. Kit returns to London on leave from the diplomatic service to find that his twin brother Evelyn has disappeared and his extravagant mother’s debts have mounted alarmingly. The Fancot family’s fortunes are riding on Evelyn’s marriage to the self-possessed Cressy Stavely, and her formidable grandmother’s approval of the match. If Evelyn fails to meet the Dowager Lady Stavely in a few days as planned, the betrothal could be off. When the incorrigible Lady Fancot persuades her son to impersonate his twin (just for one night, she promises) the masquerade sets off a tangled sequence of events that engage Kit’s heart far more deeply than he’d ever anticipated with his brother’s fiancée—who might know much more about what’s going on than she cares to reveal…”
I love anything this wife/husband team write, but last year they started a romance/urban fantasy series, which sent me hopping up and down in joy. Andrews’ work is marked by excellent characterization and lots of humor. They have
specifically said that one of their goals in writing this series was to portray someone with a close, eccentric (as all families are) family. The series, which is set to continue next year starts with Burn for Me:
Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire. Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive. Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.
J. D. Robb/Nora Roberts
As you may have guessed, anything that combines sci fi & fantasy with romance is like catnip to me. J. D. Robb is the nom de guerre of romance superstar Nora Roberts. I hate to admit it, but her books written under the Roberts name don’t do
much for me, although they are superbly well-written, but I adore her Robb books. They are set about 50 years in the future and are a combination of mystery, romance and a touch of sci fi. The first in the series is Naked in Death. Eve and Roarke are kick-ass character and the secondary characters add a lot of fun to this fascinating world.
In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line–between seductive passion and scandalous murder… Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all–and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire–and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about–except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.
Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle
Frankly, this writer, who writes under three different names, is so good that anything she writes is going to be terrific. It’s a little confusing, but when she writes as Krentz, it’s a modern day romance; as Quick, it’s historical romance and as Castle, it’s sci fi romance. Most of her recent romances have a tinge of psychic powers to them as well, including one of
my favorites: White Lies.
Relationships are challenging enough for most single over-thirty women. For level-ten
parasensitive Clare Lancaster, they’re a minefield. The elite few who know her secret call her a human lie detector, and any falsehood, no matter how subtle or well hidden, sets her blood racing. Over the years, Clare has come to accept that someone with her extraordinary talents is unlikely to find a suitable mate. And she’s even resigned herself to the fact that everyone, to one degree or another, hides behind a facade. Including her recently deceased brother-in-law. When Clare finds the body of Brad McAllister, the golden child of Stone Canyon, Arizona, the posh residents turn a suspicious eye in her direction. As Archer Glazebrook’s daughter, Clare is shielded from the law, but not the gossip. It seems that meeting the half sister and family whom she did not know until seven months ago was a mistake. Now her father summons her from California to play a role in his business empire, and Clare doesn’t intend on making the same mistake twice. But after meeting Jake Salter, Archer’s “business consultant,” she is convinced that things aren’t what they seem. Salter’s careful conversation walks a delicate line between truth and deception, revealing and resisting. Something sparks and sizzles between them – something more than the usual electricity between a man and a woman.
As for what I’m reading now? I’m reading Stephanie Laurens. I was absolutely positive I’d read her before. In fact, I was so positive that I actually told my mother to read them several years ago…but I picked them up recently and it turns out I actually haven’t. Oh well. They’re pretty good, too!