To celebrate World Book Day 2022, we asked our wonderful authors to tell us more about the book that made them fall in love with romance…
Long, long ago, when I was twenty-two years old, I was working in Zambia and, as you do, I got a tummy bug. I was confined to bed for a few days and one of my housemates loaned me her copy of Georgette Heyer’s The Quiet Gentleman. Readers, it changed my life!
The book that made me fall in love with the Romance genre was No Special Consideration by Brittany Young. The story had a handsome alpha male and a very smart, determined woman. They were perfect for each other, but he lived in Africa and worked preserving endangered species. He didn’t want to drag any woman into his difficult life. But their love made it worth it. LOL He didn’t see it that way, and he fought every inch of the way. He was romantic and head over heels but determined to protect her. It had everything: strong characters, an unfixable conflict, gorgeous scenery, and so much romance. Is it any wonder that even after decades I haven’t forgotten it?
I fell in love with romances while reading Shana by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was Shana’s age and just knew that there was a breathtakingly handsome Ruark Beauchamp out in the world waiting on me. These are characters who fight with passion and loved with equal passion.
It wasn’t so much a book that made me fall in love with reading romance, but an entire series of books: Sweet Dreams. I have such fond memories of these teen romances and as I got older, I naturally progressed from those to Mills & Boon, devouring the greats like Sara Craven, Miranda Lee, Emma Darcy, Charlotte Lamb…oh, I could go on! Knowing that I could pick up any book from the series and get what I need — a HEA with all the wonderful feels!
There is something so heart-wrenchingly beautiful and fragile about confessing your love to another person. I think Jane Austen captured this feeling wonderfully with the dashing Captain Wentworth, and I love how romance explores this bittersweet moment in so many wonderful ways… I will never tire of it.
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”
― Jane Austen, Persuasion
One book that cemented my love of romance, although not the first romance novel I read, was E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View.
Subtle and sophisticated, funny and evocative, this story – both the book and the 1985 film version starring Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands – made me fall in love with both Italy and Lucy and George as a couple. That first kiss scene in the corn field overlooking Florence is to my mind romantic perfection.
I fell in love with romance as a very young teenager and have to thank my English teacher for that. We were studying Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and I realised that wit and humour are an important part of romance and always have been! Since then, I have never looked back.
I can’t remember the first book romance book I read, but I remember reading The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery in my early teens. The lyrical writing, Valency’s journey from being timid and reclusive to being a rebel (in her own way- this was written in 1926!) and a swoon-worthy hero with a terrible name and reputation makes it a book that stands out in my memory.
I still argue with my mother about how old I was when I first found Jilly Cooper. I can tell you I took it to junior school which did NOT go down well. But the fun, chaotic, argumentative, tension filled story packed full of crazy romance and even crazier family members had me hooked from the moment I opened the book to the first page and started a life-long love affair with romance.
My writing instructor told me I would enjoy the book Hummingbird by Lavyrle Spencer. When I finished reading the tale about a woman who saves an innocent man suspected of a robbery attempt, I didn’t want to leave Abigail or Jesse. The good news was that I could read the book again and again. I have.
One of the books that got me hooked was Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, which I read at a very tender age (my parents didn’t really get what the books were about) but I recognized a swoon worthy hero in Francis Crawford right away!
I would have to say Pride & Prejudice. A spirited heroine and a brooding hero, with enough conflict and comedy to keep you turning the pages. This has to be the all-time classic romance that never dates.
Or if you want a Mills & Boon one – One of my favourite reads is Still the One by Debra Cowan – a Mills & Boon Vintage Intrigue. I love the romance between Rafe and Kit, their shared history and the emotional depth of the story. Believing her sister has been kidnapped, Kit turns to her past lover for help. You’re rooting for them all the way on this dangerous but thrilling adventure.
It’s hard to remember the first book that made me fall in love with romance, but I remember being totally entranced with Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe’s romance in the Anne of Green Gables series. I read and reread those books just to delight in the development of their relationship from enemies to friends and then lovers.