My love for romance novels started with a flood.
Actually, it started with finishing my Masters, not being able to find a job and then moving in with my grandparents because my house was flooded. It was a bit of a traumatic summer.
My brother and I were in line at Walmart stocking up on supplies, and I wanted a new book to read. Being fresh off grad school AND undergrad (I did my Masters right after getting my undergrad degree), my brain was shot from complex theoretical journalism papers. I needed something to read that could take my mind off the small craphole that had become my life. Something light and fun – like a paperback romance novel! I grabbed the first one that caught my eye near the checkout. The Romance Gods (or as I suspect, Goddesses) must have been smiling down at me because it was Julia Quinn’s latest release, “The Lost Duke of Wyndam.” I like dukes and really anything to do with royalty – surely I would like this book.
Julia Quinn instantly became my favorite new (to me) author that day. After devouring this book, I immediately went to the book store and bought four more of hers. Then I renewed my sadly very expired library card and checked out five more romance novels. After applying for jobs and helping out at my family’s drive-in during the day, I’d spend my nights in the company of lords, ladies, dukes and princesses. There was a whole literary world that was opening up to me, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t given it a chance until now.
And it’s a world that has room for everyone. I started with the regency genre, but if you’re interested in more contemporary books, there are plenty to choose from. Would have enjoyed Twilight if it had been well-written? The romance world has been writing about vampires and werewolves for far longer (and is far better at it). If like me you already miss football, there are tons of great football romance novels out there! Whatever your interest, there is a romance novel for you. Hell, there’s even dinosaur romance now (I DO NOT recommend the books, and yes there are more than one, but I DO recommend the HILARIOUS review of one of them. Seriously, READ IT.)
One of my favorite things about romance novels is the community they create. I follow several of my favorite authors on Facebook and Twitter, and not only are they smart and hilarious, but they’re incredibly supportive of each other. Most of the time I find out about a great book on sale because another author advertised it. It’s like one big romance author group hug!
If you’re looking for fabulous romance resources, my three favorites are Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Dear Author and All About Romance. I use all the above for recommendations, interesting discussions and the occasional laugh (SBTB’s Caption that Cover posts usually make me laughcry.) Heroes and Heartbreakers also has a great weekly newsletter that discusses not only romance novels, but also romances on TV and in movies (they had QUITE a lot to say about the “Fifty Shades” casting debacle).
And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you my romance recommendations. These are in no particular order, but if you’re new to romance, I do recommend starting with the first one!
- Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase – THE romance novel for people who don’t like romance novels. It’s a Regency-era romance, and absolutely a must-read.
- The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn – my favorite book in the Bridgerton series (eight books about a set of siblings in Regency London), this book not only features a fabulously strong heroine, but also a loving and loud family that I wanted to be a part of immediately.
- Breaking Point by Pamela Clare – A contemporary romance that still scares the crap out of me and yet is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. This one is part of a series on investigative journalists, all who are reporting on dangerous stories. Pamela Clare is one of the most kickass writers I’ve ever known. In doing research for another I-Team novel, she found out that in Colorado (as in many other states), it was commonplace to shackle pregnant inmates while they were giving birth. Clare did more research, contacted a (female) Senator and wrote a law – which then passed. Amazing and inspiring.
- The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros – You can’t go wrong with a Scotsman in a kilt kidnapping someone else’s bride.
- Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl – Picking one book by Victoria Dahl to recommend was REALLY hard. I feel like I could be friends with all her characters, and by the end of the story, I’m celebrating right along with them. She also has a fabulous Tumblr page. (P.S. That link is potentially NSFW.)
If you’re looking to be charmed and get lost in a good book, read a romance novel. It’s a community I am happy to support – and hopefully one day be amongst as an author myself: I’ve started writing a novel of my own! Now I just have to finish the damn thing…
Also – don’t forget to enter my Stella & Dot giveaway!