Romances I Want to See on the Large or Small Screen

byrdtheatre Recently we’ve seen a spate of books made into movies – Ender’s Game, Catching Fire and The Book Thief being three of the most recent. Which got me to thinking about romance novels I think would make excellent films or TV series. Books that I feel contain enough grit and depth to appeal to a wider audience while still containing the kind of luscious love stories that romance fans adore. I’ve added some casting hints just in case Hollywood needs the help. Here’s my list:

1. Nobody’s Baby but Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – The story: Football hero and brainy scientist meet in the most unusual of ways. I can totally see Emma Stone as the brainy, feisty Jane. Cal is a bit harder but I can picture Mathew Fox (or a younger, hotter version of him) delivering the cereal killer line with aplomb. This sweet tale of a brainy gal and the jock she brings to his knees would make a terrific rom com.

2. A Summer to Remember – Mary Balogh– A love story with the same terrific, tender scope of Pride and Prejudice. Amanda Seyfried would be Lauren but who could play Kit? I could easily see this as a miniseries done along the lines of the 1990’s Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

3. Cry No More – Linda Howard – of all Howard’s books I think this would translate best to the big screen. The story of a mom searching for her son and the man who helps her, this is a suspenseful thriller with an intense romance. Charlize Theron would probably make an excellent Milla and Javier Bardem would be my choice for Diaz.

4. The Shadowy Horses – Susanna Kearsley – The tale of an archeological excavation, a ghost and who boy who sees dead people, this is a romance with both heart and intellect. I love all of this author’s books but I think this one would be the easiest to convert for the big screen. Add a spooky atmosphere, find the right leads and this paranormal tale of love and history would capture our hearts and imaginations.

5. Virgin River series – Robyn Carr – These books have all the heart and angst of small town living but they also have the action and adventure needed to keep a series from heading too deeply into schmaltz territory.

6. Wings of Glory series Sarah Sundin – Watching Foyle’s War and Land Girls has convinced me that WWII can be well done by the BBC, and this series about American WWII pilots would also be a fantastic, romantic series to bring to life.

7. In Death series J.D. Robb – The books have already done all the heavy lifting. The plots for over a year of episodes can be lifted directly from the mysteries in the books. The series is perfectly set up to do a two hour premiere episode and then one hour weekly episodes. And the large cast of characters is perfect for television where you can have people making guest appearances while still having a relatively small core cast.

8. Betsy the Vampire Queen Series Mary Janice Davidson – These could be a fun take at the vampire craze which television has always had. Given some of the questionable film choices Johnny Depp has made lately I think playing Sinclair might be a step up for him. And I liked the chemistry he had with Eva Green in Dark Shadows. I think they would be terrific in a television series based on these books.

9. Troubleshooters series Suzanne Brockmann – These could be turned into a show that would be a great mix of Homeland and the A-Team. I think the action and adventure could lure male watchers while the women would totally be there for the eye candy and romance. And wouldn’t Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy make an awesome Sam?

10. Bess Crawford series Charles Todd – While not really a romance series (we are taking the super slow, circuitous route to our HEA) I think these would make a wonderful TV series. The WWI setting has proven it can work given our love of Downton Abbey. The mysteries are adventurous enough to translate well from the written to the visual. Because of her excellent work in Atonement I can’t seem to shake the image of Kiera Knightly as Bess.

What romance books do you think would make great movies? Do you have any book series you think are small screen worthy?

– Maggie Boyd

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43 Responses to Romances I Want to See on the Large or Small Screen

  1. LinnieGayl says:

    You have some great suggestions. I especially agree about the Bess Crawford mysteries. I would say the Flavia de Luce mysteries but apparently they’re going to be turned into a TV series.

    • maggie b. says:

      I wonder who they will get to play Flavia? That character will call for an awesome actress! That should make a great TV series though.

  2. Paola says:

    Emma Stone is too young for Jane. In the book she’s 34.
    I’m waiting for Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift. It seems the rights were bought, but there’s still no news about a movie.
    I’d also like a movie from Laura Kinsale’s Seize The Fire, so many adventures and changes of places, it would be epic.

    • maggie b. says:

      I know the rights have been bought to the In Death books but nobody seems to be moving forward on that either. It’ll be interesting to see if and when they do.

      Emma Stone always looks like she is in her 30s to me, don’t know why. I don’t know who my second pick is . . . . .

    • AMK says:

      Oh, wow, I didn’t know there were any plans for an Ibbotson movie. Obviously there’s no guarantee it’ll get made, but, well, that would be something ;)

  3. Tee says:

    Definitely agree with you about Nobody’s Baby but Mine and the Virgin River and In Death series. Can’t recall A Summer to Remember (I did read it, though) and disagree on Cry No More (not one of my favs by Howard). I followed the Hallmark rendition of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series and they did a fabulous job (unlike some of their other attempts at books). I could see, with great castings, that the Virgin River books would do well, along with the In Death group. No suggestions as to actors, though. Surprise me, Hallmark (or whoever). :)

    • maggie b. says:

      I’ve heard good things about Cedar Cove but didn’t get a chance to watch. I plan to catch up when they go to DVD.

  4. Vol Fan says:

    I’d love to see “The Tea Rose” series by Jennifer Donnelly. Also “The Bronze Horseman” is set to be a movie and I hope nothing derails it & it happens, because that one will (or could) be a classic.

  5. wendy says:

    Perfect casting choices for Cry No More. And I agree with you 100% about the Betsy books making a very popular TV series – if they don’t miscast and mess around with story line too much.

  6. Leigh says:

    Maggie, I think I probably would have come up with a completely different list! But I can understand why you think these books would work – they just are not favorites of mine.

    I have read Nobody’s Baby but Mine, and I hate the whole steal a baby from you concept, but I can see how it would translate to the screen. And maybe Troubleshooters would translate -even though I think most of the scenarios were unrealistic – however, look at Die Hard with Bruce Willis – those are completely out there but work. In Death books- again I am not a fan but the repetition would translate well – most series do have key components that are repeated from episode to episode – so Eve’s computer/car problems and her disagreement with the butler Summerfield? (can’t remember his name) could be comedic.

    I do agree with the Robyn Carr – especially since the books are more or less serialized.

    What books would I pick? Sort of hard to think of many since I have mostly given up on series.

    I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
    It Had to Be You or Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

  7. Maria D. says:

    These are great suggestions but I have to admit that I have almost no trust left in “Hollywood” to get a series right (I’m not a fan of what they did with True Blood) – I’m waiting to see what they do with some of the upcoming books to series (Kenyon’s and Lisa Renee Jones for examples). I can’t see any actress we know now as Eve Dallas – and certainly no male actor with any gravitas to play Roarke.

  8. leslie says:

    Interesting list. I do have to disagree with you about Amanda Seyfreid is all wrong to be cast as Lauren in A Summer To Remember. Lauren is tall, dark haired, willowy and very uptight. Amanda is short, busty and sassy and completely wrong for the part.

    Nobody’s Baby But Mine would never be made as SEP wrote it…too much controversy to be sure. Emma Stone too young for sure.

    I would like HBO to do Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay series as a mini series.

    What I would really love is PBS/BBC doing Georgette Heyer. I would swoon if that ever happened. There is so many really good young English actresses… could be grand!

    • Karat says:

      Another vote for the Heyer adaptations here! I wonder if with the success of Downton Abbey someone can bring Heyer’s novels to the small screen

      • Paola says:

        From this page

        “Choosy Productions in the UK have the film rights to all Heyer books except ‘The Grand Sophy’ and ‘These Old Shades’ which are owned by a company in the USA. Hopefully, this means that we could look forward to seeing some movies come out within our lifetimes. Any one who wants to write a screenplay, however, I’m sure it would assist!”

        • Jane says:

          I’ve always wanted BBC productions of Heyer books – and the first one I’ve always wanted was The Grand Sophy with These Old Shades as second choice. Funny how those are the only two not owned by the UK company. I’d love it if the same production company that did the series of Horatio Hornblower movies with Ioan Gruffudd would do a series of movies of Georgette Heyer books.

  9. Emma says:

    I would love to see Joanna Bourne’s spymaster novels on the big screen and also Meljean Brooks’ The Iron Sea series. I have no idea who I’d cast but they’re both such richly realized worlds!

  10. pamelia says:

    I second Leslie’s vote for Nora Robert’s Chesapeake Bay series. Whenever I read it I think it would make for great tv.
    I would also love to see Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chicks made into a tv series. It’s got action and is funny as heck and I would love to see who they cast as Tex.
    My only fear is that they never seem to get these projects done quite right. I found the “Christmas for Holly” version of “Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor” to be really lame and lacking in romance.
    I actually put off reading Nora Robert’s books for a long time after seeing a few of the made for TV movies based on her work since they really didn’t grab me or interest me all that much. Now that I’ve started reading her books I’m a little shocked they couldn’t do a better job with them — everything is right there and ready to go!

    • Elizabeth Rolls says:

      I agree, Pamelia, about the Nora Roberts TV adaptations. I’ve seen a couple, fortunately after I read the books, and was disappointed. As you say, hard to see how they could miss with the material. I think most of her books would work better in the mini series format, rather than the movie format, though.
      But if they made a series with the In Death books, who the heck do you cast as Roarke?? Not sure how many folks are familiar with Dodie Smith’s The Starlight Barking, but in it the Dog Star, Sirius, comes to earth to save all dogs. He appears to each and every dog in their own image. I think of Roarke rather like that; every woman’s private fantasy man.

      • pamelia says:

        Elizabeth, I totally agree with you on the casting conundrum. Just look at the disparity of views over casting Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades movie.
        Roarke is such a well-known character I don’t think you could please even half the fans with any given actor being cast. I’ve always kind of pictured a young Pierce Brosnan in my head for Roarke, but in the here and now I think Henry Cavill would be great — but, Henry Cavill can’t play everybody and he seems to be on an awful lot of casting wish-lists already.

  11. Detra says:

    I always thought the In Death series would make a great television series. I picture Michelle Williams as Eve (since she cut her hair short) and Matt Bomer from “White Collar” as Roarke.

  12. Totally agree about a Heyer adaptation! I agree that Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory would be good, too.

    And while I’m almost afraid to mention it for fear nothing will come of it, I have to chime in here and say that a couple of playwrights have expressed an interest in adapting my own Regency romance, THE WEAVER TAKES A WIFE, for the stage!

    • amers says:

      Sheri, That is terrific! That book and one by SEP were what I used to convince my mother that she, too, as a “romance” fan. LOL I hope it works out!!

      • amers says:

        amers: Sheri, That is terrific!That book and one by SEP were what I used to convince my mother that she, too, was a “romance” fan.LOLI hope it works out!!

  13. Ducky says:

    It’s a pipe dream but I always wanted an adaptation of The Lymond Chronicles. But to get the right actor to play Lymond would be very tricky.

    • Jane says:

      It’d be great if HBO would undertake The Lymond Chronicles. It needs several seasons to really get all the story.

      • Alicia says:

        I would want no one OTHER than HBO to tackle Lymond. Casting would be a nightmare. I still think Harry Lloyd would do a marvelous job.

        But my god do I want to see someone tackle Janet and Wat!

  14. Joane says:

    When I saw the title of the post I inmediately thought: In Death series, it’s so obviously written fot TV!
    My personal cast for Eve is Mireille Enos, the actress in The Killing, the American remake of the Danish TV series Forbrydelsen. Although I like the original more than the remake, I really liked this actress from the American TV Series. Since I saw The Killing, I imagine Eve Dallas with her face.
    Also, I’d love to see SEP’s ‘It had to be you’. I always imagined Scarlett Johansson fit the description but then I realised that nobody would really believe her near virginal status.
    Your ideas are very interesting, and it’s obviuos that there are many novels out there that could be good tv shows or movies.

  15. Sarah Sundin says:

    What a delight to see my Wings of Glory series on this fabulous list! Of course most authors dream of seeing their books as movies – after all, that’s how we see them in our minds.

    But then I’m reminded of how my Tolkien-loving husband responded to “The Two Towers”…”Elves at Helm’s Deep???? There weren’t any elves at Helm’s Deep!” It’s become a family joke. Don’t even get him started on the Hobbit movies.

    No movie could ever truly convey a book, because every reader has a unique movie playing in her own head. But if we’re willing to silence the “Elves at Helm’s Deep?” critics in our minds, there’s nothing more wonderful than seeing a favorite story come to life on the screen.

    • LeeF says:

      Sarah- the joke for me is seeing “Gone With the Wind” as a teenager and almost shouting “She had three kids- where are the other two?!?”

      That was my first experience with deep disappoint with film/television adaptations of favorite books. I think they did it better on TV in the 70′s- Rich Man, Poor Man (loved Rudy Jordache/Peter Strauss), The Thornbirds, Captains and the Kings (LOVED Richard Jordan). Now days, I justcringe when i read about someone tackling a favorite or, worse yet, redoing an old favorite.

  16. PatAAR says:

    May I interject with some fringe romances?

    Any of Marta Perry’s Amish romances
    Any of Heidi Cullinan’s gay romances
    Any of Jodi Thomas’ Western romances

    Just some thoughts from the outside of mainstream romance…

  17. LeeB. says:

    Personally I’d prefer the books by Mary Balogh and Susanna Kearsley NOT be made into movies or miniseries. Very rarely do film makers not mess up the books. I still cringe at what Barbra Streisand did to The Prince of Tides. And Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers tv movie was ridiculous.

    The one rare movie that didn’t mess up the book was “Tess” (with Natassia Kinski) based on Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.”

  18. Eliza says:

    I thought the movie version of Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” was well done, with Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates and Peter Finch in the key roles, directed by John Schlesinger. I similarly appreciated D.H. Lawrence’s “Women in Love,” directed by Ken Russell, starring Alan Bates, Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson.

    • Joane says:

      Yes, I agree with you and what LeeB. said.
      The thing is that those movies that you mentioned are all British and done by very good directors: Roman Polanski, John Schlesinger and Ken Russell.
      If you have a good director, and good actors, then it’s easier to make a quality movie or TV series.
      It looks like good directors or actors are not inspired by Romance novels. If you have second-rate directors & actors, you get second-rate movies and performances. In the movies it’s not only important the story you tell but also the way you tell it.

  19. Trish B says:

    I’ll second the rec of Joanna Bourne’s spy series of books and also SEP’s NBBM. I’ll suggest Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, Take a Chance on Me by Susan Donovan and Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series could make a nice tv series . . .

  20. Julie says:

    Don’t have a cast in mind, but Crusie and Meyer’s Agnes and the Hitman seems like a good candidate for filming. And I, too, am surprised that In Death hasn’t been made into a TV series.

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  22. Sandra Danby says:

    Somehow Heyer seems to be out of fashion, don’t know why. I’d love to see Outlander serialised, but don’t know who would play Jamie Fraser. SD

  23. Angela says:

    Virgin River would make a great TV series!!

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