You Never Forget the First

susannah When I saw Sarah Johnson’s giveaway over at Reading the Past, her request for people to comment with the name of the novel that got them interested in reading historical fiction. Her contest got me thinking not just of historical fiction I have loved, but about the first novel that hooked me on romance. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pick just one! There have been too many firsts along the way for me.

Susannah by Candice F. Ransom – I read a lot of children’s historical fiction, but this one sticks out to me as the first book that really got me interested in romance. The timing of my finding this book was perfect. I was in 5th grade and just starting to create a third category for the boys in my class beyond being buddies or annoyances. The plight of the heroine in Civil War Virginia seemed so real to me and the star-crossed lovers theme seemed impossibly romantic to my awkward, tongue-tied self. I reread this book several times and even though I knew how it would end, I just wanted to live it all over again as many times as I could.

Window on the Square by Phyllis A. Whitney – My mother read (and still reads) a lot of gothic and romantic suspense. When I was about 11 or 12, she set me up with this book. Again, I was hooked. I had read books from the adult side of the library before, but this was the first time I had done it for fun. I loved the moodiness of the story and its Gilded Age New York setting. This book was my initiation into the fabulous world of Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt and their gothic contemporaries, and I have never forgotten it.

Rebellion by Nora Roberts – And then there was that first romance to take me out of the “kisses” category. I can’t remember how I stumbled across the book, but I still remember parts of it so well that I could probably recite them. The criticisms Mrs. Giggles levels at this book are really quite valid, but it’s still a fun read! It’s not perfect, but it is magical. Deep down parts of the story defy logic, but Serena and Brigham had such chemistry – and the bedside vigil just did it for me. Other books had pulled me over to the romantic sides of history and suspense, but this book got me hooked on historical romance in a big way. Most of my babysitting money fed my closet Harlequin Historicals habit, and Rebellion is the book that led the way.

Roselynde by Roberta Gellis – However, I wouldn’t be the madly voracious romance reader I am today if it weren’t for the first big book. I read this one in college and WOW! I had been squeamish about buying some historicals because of their awful covers, but Gellis tells such a good story that the book could have been upholstered in psychedelic, anatomically incorrect writhing people with flowing mullets and I would have bought it anyway. Seeing how history, beautiful romance and wonderful use of language all came together made me respect the genre even if others didn’t. And it was the experience of reading this book (and the glom that came later) that made me bring the romance reading out of the closet.

So, what was your first (or firsts)? What did it do for you? Shamelessly add some books to all of our TBR piles!

-Lynn Spencer

56 thoughts on “You Never Forget the First

  1. @Julie, the book about Adam and his secretary is called “A Very Special Favor” by Kristin James (aka Candace Camp, her real name), and it was published in 1986. This book is a DIK for me; I’ve read it so much the binding is starting to fall apart! Yes, I’m a sucker for Cinderella stories. I agree that the books about the other two brothers weren’t as compelling.

    ******

    My first romance was a Harlequin Presents titled “Wild Melody” By Sara Craven, published in 1978. I was hooked on Presents from then on, and even now they’re still a guilty pleasure. I just reread “Wild Melody” a couple of weeks ago, and some of the dialog was pretty funny! Tame by today’s standards, of course, but still entertaining.

    I can’t remember my first historical romance. I did read a couple of them back in the late 70s or early 80s, but they usually consisted of a hot and heavy relationship between the hero and heroine in the first few pages, and then 200 pages of separation (sometimes with entire oceans between them!), followed by 20 pages of angst and resolution once they saw each other again. Historical romances have improved a LOT in the past twenty years!

  2. Christina:
    I totally agree about the Anne of Green Gables books. Over the years I have reread Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams countless times.

    Rilla of Ingleside!!!!!!!

  3. Would you all think I was nuts if I told you my first was the Anne of Green Gables books?I know they don’t start out as anything like a romance, but as they go on the relationship between Anne and Gilbert completely sucked me in to this romance idea!When she thinks he’s dying, and he thinks she’s going to marry someone else… *sigh*My 12 year old heart turned over and was suddenly intrigued by the boy-girl relationships in other books!

    I totally agree about the Anne of Green Gables books. Over the years I have reread Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams countless times. As a kid I was always looking for books with a romantic element. Other favorites were the Sue Barton nurse books that shows her developing relationship with the man she marries along with her nursing career. And Janet Lambert with the Parrish and Jordan books. Great romance as the kids get older. I also liked historical fiction, and if I could find a romance in it all the better. As for getting into the romance genre as we know it today it started for me with Marion Chesney who led me into traditional regencies. Then I found Woodiwiss and read Deveraux’s Knight in Shining Armor. After that I devoured tons of historical romances.

  4. I’d been reading Austen (first was P&P, favorite is Persuasion), the Brontes (first and favorite is JE), Heyer (first and still favorite was Talisman Ring) and Anya Seton (first was Katherine, favorite is Green Darkness) since I was around 10. I’d read my mother’s Woodiwiss books when I was in my teens, but they never “hooked” me. What finally got me interested in the more “mass market” type of romances was a Harlequin book from the 1990s (when I was in my 30s) whose name I now cannot remember. It was the story of a shy secretary in Raleigh Durham who has been in love with her boss (named Adam) for years. It’s her 30th birthday and he hears her crying in her office so he takes her out to dinner. She accidentally tells him that she’s still a virgin and he offers to “help her out.” Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s a very sweet story. Adam’s brothers have books too, but they didn’t make much of an impression on me. I didn’t read much in the way of romance after that, but then Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series got me hooked for good. Now I will buy pretty much anything by Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase, Gaelyn Foley, Laura Lee Guhrke, Rachel Gibson, Robin Carr or Carly Phillips.

  5. I started with Gothic, mostly Victoria Holt, but the book that really drew me in was Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer in the 70′s. I had to go back and read all of hers, then start looking for more just like her. Clare Darcy, Sheila Bishop, Claudette Williams, Patricia Veryan, Constance Gluyas, Dorothy Mack, Elizabeth Mansfield. And then along came Sweet Savage Love.

  6. I loved the Sunfire series!! Brings back so many great memories. My favorites were Caroline, Nicole, and Emily, but I bought and read them all–even the later ones that were shorter. Sadly my mother gave them all away when I was in college. I was devastated!

  7. Ohhhh, Window On the Square! I read and re-read that, along with almost everything else PAW wrote!

    As far as my introduction to romance (as well as historical fiction), it was the book “Constance” by Patricia Cone, in 5th grade. It ended with a kiss and a shower of sparks up the chimney on their wedding night. Sigh…

    But the first REAL romance book(s) were an Egyptian trilogy by Joyce Verrette. If only I could remember the titles of them. But Amenemhet and Nefrytatanen were HOT!!! And romantic. And rich. And brave. And.And.And.

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane…

  8. RobinB: “Outlander” was my first romance novel, as it was for others who have posted here. It’s interesting that nowadays, the Outlander series is found in general fiction, rather than romance. In interviews, Diana Gabaldon has said that although there were elements of romance in the books, she didn’t consider them romances. At any rate, because there has been a lengthy gap between the books in the series, I started reading other authors (Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Mary Jo Putney come to mind), and I also like to see what other authors are writing and what other readers think at Internet sites like this one!

    Yes, I see Outlander in the general fiction section of most bookstores now. I’ve thought of this…that if it had been in general fiction when I first read it, I probably wouldn’t have started reading in the romance genre. Besides being one of my most favorite books in any genre, the book and the entire series made try other authors who wrote romance, and discover how much fun it was to read. Probably, even today, I’d still be turning up my nose if it hadn’t been for Outlander…in the romance section.

  9. “Outlander” was my first romance novel, as it was for others who have posted here. It’s interesting that nowadays, the Outlander series is found in general fiction, rather than romance. In interviews, Diana Gabaldon has said that although there were elements of romance in the books, she didn’t consider them romances. At any rate, because there has been a lengthy gap between the books in the series, I started reading other authors (Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Mary Jo Putney come to mind), and I also like to see what other authors are writing and what other readers think at Internet sites like this one!

  10. The first romance novel I ever read was “Colorado Angel” by Jean Haught. I was 15 and it gave me my first sex scenes. I was totally hooked. I headed to the library, picked up “Violet Fire”, and immediately became addicted to Brenda Joyce. I shared her with all my friends who were likewise delighted to discover the wide world of books with sex in them. It took a little time, but eventually I got over the sex novelty enough to be bothered by when a man dragged a woman around by her hair (Joyce), or the couple had sex in front of a Yeti (Haught). Both authors were subsequently abandoned and if I occasionally give into the sentimental urge to revisit one of those personal classics, I ALWAYS regret it.

    The first romance novel I read that has managed to remain a favorite this past almost-decade was “Tears of the Moon” by Nora Roberts. That book was and is lovely and sweet and funny. Plus it introduced me to an author so prolific that I’m still exploring her backlist today.

  11. gumbybird: Would you all think I was nuts if I told you my first was the Anne of Green Gables books? I know they don’t start out as anything like a romance, but as they go on the relationship between Anne and Gilbert completely sucked me in to this romance idea! When she thinks he’s dying, and he thinks she’s going to marry someone else…

    Not me, my mom had us reading AoGG by the time we were in grade 5 and it was certainly the romance between Anne and Gilbert that kept me interested in the books. I think it was Christmas that year that I received The Blue Castle, which I loved even more than the AoGG books. It’s also not classified as a romance but I certainly consider it one.

    I was 12 or so when I first read one of my cousin’s Harlequins – one of the very early ones (early 60s). Read them on and off when I could get my hands on them – you couldn’t find them in libraries back then! – and a girlfriend kept me well supplied as her mother liked to read them.

    First historical fiction was The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer, found in the school library – I think I was 15 or 16 when I found it down on the bottom shelf. I do remember following it up with These Old Shades but that was the limit of the Georgette Heyer collection in the high school library. I spent the next two years requesting Georgette Heyer’s at the public library, which didn’t have a complete collection of her work, either, unfortunately. After I was married in 1971 I found a great UBS and was able to pretty much complete my collection of GH.

    Lor

  12. I was home sick with the Chicken Pox and watched “The Bastard” starting a very young Don John. Chicken Pox and all I went to Walgreens and Osco to find other books in John Jake’s Kent Family Chronicles.

  13. I read my mother’s copy of Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow. Window on the Square by Phyllis Whitney was one of my very favorites, and I gave my copy to my daughter. Wonderful to hear these book names again. I have to say that Desiree by AnneMarie Selinko first got both my sister and I hooked on reading. I guess it’s not really a romance, but the romance was what made me love it.

  14. Back in the early 70s when I was a teenager, my very first romance was [i]The Flame and The Flower[\i]. I loved it! I thought Brandon Birmingham was wonderful and I really liked Heather too, (I know, it’s a terribly un-PC book and most people hate it these days). I was a strong-willed rebellious teen and I liked what I perceived to be Heather’s sweetness.

    After that came the equally incredible [i]Sweet Savage Love[\i], with the ever hot Steve Morgan and Ginny Brandon. Next came my all-time favorite, [i]The Wolf and The Dove[\i], which I reread every couple of years, and still love.

    And in direct oppostion to dreamweaver, I absolutely loved [i]Wicked Loving Lies[\i] and [i]Shanna[\i]. *different strokes* I still have all of the original books in my garage.

  15. Back in the early 70s when I was a teenager, my very first romance was [i]The Flame and The Flower[/i]. I loved it! I thought Brandon Birmingham was wonderful and I really liked Heather too, (I know, it’s a terribly un-PC book and most people hate it these days). I was a strong-willed rebellious teen and I liked what I perceived to be Heather’s sweetness.

    After that came the equally incredible [i]Sweet Savage Love[/i], with the ever hot Steve Morgan and Ginny Brandon. Next came my all-time favorite, [i]The Wolf and The Dove[/i], which I reread every couple of years, and still love.

    And in direct oppostion to dreamweaver, I absolutely loved [i]Wicked Loving Lies[/i] and [i]Shanna[/i]. *different strokes* I still have all of the original books in my garage.

  16. @Bessie – I loved Gladys Malvern books, too! Our local library had quite a few of her books, and I remember liking Behold Your Queen, and Rogues and Vagabonds. When I checked out Behold Your Queen for the first time, I remember looking at the checkout card and thinking it was pretty cool to find my mom and all of my aunts’ names on there from when they read it as teenagers.

    @Lauren Willig – I actually picked up Ann of Cambray on one of my UBS jaunts recently, but haven’t read it yet. Now you’ve made me curious!

  17. I loved the Sunfire romances — I think “Sabrina” was one of my favorites, set in 1780 Charleston. I stupidly gave them away at one point, so I’m trying to re-collect them, a slow process.

    Those, along with Sweet Valley High, were probably my first romances. My first adult romance was a Zebra historical, Texas Conquest, by Caroline Bourne. It was actually pretty good (more than I can say for some of the subsequent Zebra romances I read), and I branched out from there.

  18. I started with Marion Chesney’s Minerva, a regency and then went onto thicker novels with SEP’s This Heart of Mine.

    But when I think about it, I have read romance before then- only they were unpublished stories on fictionpress.com- a site where you can post your original fiction.

  19. This is my list of authors and books starting in the 5th or 6th grade and into Junior High:

    Gladys Malvern
    Jonica’s Island (New Amsterdam)
    Dancing Girl (Middle east at the time of Christ)

    Caroline Dale Snedeker
    The Forgotten Daugher (Ancient Greece)

    Eloise Jarvis McGraw
    Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Ancient Egypt–reissued a few years ago)

    Paul Leicester Ford
    Janice Meredith (American Revolution)

    Kathryn Worth
    They Loved to Laugh (1830′s)

    Gwen Bristow
    Celia Garth (American Revolution)

  20. I was in 4th grade when I found my great-grandma’s(!) hidden stash of Barbara Cartlands. My mom caught me and replaced them with Grace Livingston Hill, Emily Loring, Georgette Heyer and Sylvia Thorpe. I was immediately hooked on Regencies and historicals, not to mention history in general. I would make up wild, crazy stories with my favorite characters and make my sister and friends role-play my stories. We did that until well into our senior year. We had so much fun. Several of us keep in touch and we still occasionally do “re-writes”. I’m so glad my mom caught me reading in the dark with that flashlight (l0l).

    I actually started reading some contemporaries just within the last couple of years when my sister insisted I read Bet Me and WTTT by Crusie. I really enjoy some of them, but my dear old childhood friends will always be my favorites.

  21. I have two “firsts,” although I can’t remember the “true” first.

    I started out with category romances in junior high, although I have no idea which was the first one I read. I primarily read the Temptation, Intrigue, and Desire lines. I think the first one to have a major impact on me was “The Ivory Key” by Rita Clay Estrada, and holy cow did it have an impact.

    I continued reading only category romances through high school, and into my first few years of college. Then I had to give up all fiction reading for several years due to attending college full-time and working so much. As soon as I graduated from college I re-discovered my love of romances.

    I distinctly remember my very first single-title: “Tangled Up in You” by Rachel Gibson. I absolutely loved it. I re-read it about 3 times in a row, then read every other Gibson book available at the time over the next 2 weeks. I moved on to Jennifer Crusie and Susan Andersen and spent the next couple of years in serious glom-mode catching up on all the single-titles I’d missed.

  22. My first historical romance novel was “A Secret Love” by Stephanie Laurens, which was the fifth in the Cynster series (I always start these things out of order, I did the same with the Bridgertons). I just adored it. I think it’s because I like the whole witty banter/frenemies turned lovers plot.
    It was always the standout of her writing for me.

  23. I read my first few romance novels in high school and didn’t pick up another one until a few years ago, that’s how much I liked them :-) The first couple were Harlequins which a girl in one of my classes told me were great (not!) and gave me to read. A year or so later, my best friend was hooked on romance novels and told me I just had to read, if I remember correctly, Wicked Loving Lies (Rosemary Rogers?). I thought it was ridiculous. Then she convinced me to give romance another try with Shanna (equally ridiculous). They both put me off romance for the next over 20 years. If I remember correctly, I picked up Charlie All Night just for fun and starting liking romance after reading that. Now, I do believe I am hooked :-)

  24. My first romance novel was “Ann of Cambray” by Mary Lide. I was only six or seven years old, obsessed with Eleanor of Aquitaine, and someone gave me “Ann of Cambray” because Eleanor put in a cameo appearance. I was hooked. The next major milestone book for me was “Victoria Victorious”, which led me into the whole Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy oeuvre. I still go back and re-read “Ann of Cambray” every couple of years, and I still love it just as much.

  25. AHH! I loved those Sunfire romances! My favorite was “Victoria” by Willo Davis Roberts. I think that I also started off in the romance world with early Danielle Steel and Judith Krantz. Oh, how far the romance novels has come. The idea of paranormal romances and romantic suspense are types of books that have really only came onto the market in the late 90s.

  26. I was in my 50′s……browsing the library and picked up “The Wedding” by Juilie Garwood. Loved it! so I ordered all the books she had written up till then. I remember I had Prodigy at the time and they had a great message board site, one of which covered “Romances”…..I left a message asking the other readers to give me the names of other authors who wrote similar in time periods. Historicals, Regencys, etc. They were so helpful and I have been hooked ever since.

  27. My first favourite romance novel was Forever My Love by Lisa Kleypas. I am to this day, a die hard Kleypas fan because of this book. Love her.

  28. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was my first, it was shelved in the romance section then. It set the bar though and still remains an all time favorite! After that I moved on to Johanna Lindsey, Nora Roberts and Christine Feehan.

  29. Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow and Maulever Hall by J A Hodge were my first two, read at about the same time along with GWTW. I think I was in about 8th grade. I remember my other letting me play hookey (the one and only time ever) after I stayed up all night reading GWTW under the covers.

  30. Would you all think I was nuts if I told you my first was the Anne of Green Gables books? I know they don’t start out as anything like a romance, but as they go on the relationship between Anne and Gilbert completely sucked me in to this romance idea! When she thinks he’s dying, and he thinks she’s going to marry someone else… *sigh* My 12 year old heart turned over and was suddenly intrigued by the boy-girl relationships in other books!

    As an adult, I did not seek out romances until I picked up Nora Roberts’ Montana Sky while looking for anything to read while nursing my first son. I don’t find her that satisfying anymore but I’ll always be grateful to her for initiating my addiction to romances. :-)

    And then came Outlander as it circulated through the other moms I knew, and my historical romance obsession was born! (You too, Xina? I should have guessed!)

  31. After years of reading Harlequin and Nora Roberts books, I was looking for something different and picked up The Duke and I by Julia Quinn at the grocery store. It was my first historical romance and I think I read the entire Bridgerton series in about 3 weeks. Now historical romances are my favorite. I found this website and got many wonderful suggestions for books and authors and have been happily glomming away for the past 3 years. I not only read at least two books a week, but I’ve always got a book on my mp3 and books on cd from the library. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

  32. Lynn, you certainly brought back memories when you mentioned Window on the Square by Phyllis Whitney, that book along with Winterwood by Dorothy Eden and the Scarlet Pimpernal were probably my first historical romance novels in high school. After that, I was exposed to the Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer and started to enjoy other types of romances besides just this gothics or pure historicals. After that I discovered Judith McNaught with Paradise. After this post, I am going to see if I can find my copy of Window on the Square to see if it is as good as I remember.

  33. The book that got me hooked on historical romance was Robert Gellis’ Bond of Blood. What a book. I still enjoy it today.

  34. Oh my goodness! I’m so glad to have found so many Sunfire fans here. I still have my set of the books. A few of them look a little ragged, but I adore those books!

  35. When I was about 12 my cousin handed me some Harlequin’s and I devoured everyone of them I could get my hands on for about a year. Then I decided they were too repetitive and lost interest. I always read and loved reading but had switched to young adult or basic fiction.

    Fast forward 18 years and I was in the local library and I don’t know if it was the cover, the title or just wanting to see if Harlequin was still offering the same stories over and over again that had me picking up Love Song For a Raven by Elizabeth Lowell. I was blown away at the changes in category romance, my eyes nearly popped out! LOL I was a busy young mother with 4 kids but I squeezed in reading romance voraciously from then on!

    At first it was just category romances, I tried the longer length novels but found I couldn’t deal with the angst and big misunderstandings in longer versions. I wanted pure escapism with my HEA. Then I found The Bride by Julie Garwood, followed by Rendezvous by Amanda Quick and realized there were authors writing the kind of romance novels that fit me to a T. I was in heaven!

    Now 20 years and many, many more of “my kind” of authors later I am still so glad I picked up Love Song For a Raven in the library that day.

  36. My first romance novel was also “Susannah.” I loved it so much that I started collecting all of the Sunfire romances, but Susannah remains my favorite. I have most of them and figure I’ll pass them down to my sister’s kids someday. (My sister’s not a reader, so someone will have to do it!)

    My first grown-up romance was a book by Bobbi Smith called Rapture’s Tempest, which I swiped from my mother over a boring Thanksgiving weekend and read late at night so she wouldn’t catch me reading it! I’ve been hooked ever since.

  37. Very first romance was Storm Winds by Iris Johansen, still love it now. I re-read it all the time and it never gets old.

    To Sir Phillip With Love- Julia Quinn is the first romance I ever bought. Had to have it because of the title. It remains my favorite Bridgerton novel.

  38. When I started middle school, I more or less tripped over Mary Stewart one day in the school library. My impression of books in general up until that day was based on the ones we are all force fed in class – but these were wonderful!!!! I gradually branched out to every gothic I could find, and in high school, went on to sci fi (Anne McCafrey’s Pern series was and still is a favorite) But then real life interferred… it’s hard to find time to read when you spend pretty much 24/7 wrangling kids. Eventually little ones get big, and go to school, and I had time to get back to reading. I had been out of the loop so long, I didn’t know where to start, so my very well loved sister in law passed on a box of books. Ironically, I disliked most of them. (how it is that she and I have so much in common otherwise, but hardly ever like the same books is a complete mystery to me) There was one by Joan Johnston that I liked, and one by Jayne Anne Krentz that I loved……JAK reccommended Kathleen Eagle, and my book reading addiction just mushroomed from there.

  39. My first romance novel was Outlander. I had a friend who owned a bookstore in a small town near my cabin, and I had just finished the James Herriot books for the 3rd time. I was in her store not finding anything and for the 5th year in a row she pointed at the book Outlander, which was sitting in the romance aisle. For the 5th time, I told her no…don’t read romance. But, I didn’t find anything, and I was desperate for a book, so I took it, paid for it, and read it….and I was totally blown away by the story. I think I read it in 2 days and I am not a fast reader. I then went back to get Drums Of Autumn and continued to read until I was done with all the books that were available at the time.
    I guess I realized then that romance had a lot to offer. My first author after Gabaldon was Judith McNaught…Kingdom Of Dreams, and I noticed a stlye change, but the romance was there front and center. Even before I started reading romance, I would pick books with a romance in it, so naturally, my next step was romance. I just had to be dragged into it because I had the idea it wasn’t worthwhile fiction. Boy, was I wrong, wrong, wrong.

  40. Lynn and Michelle,
    You must be kindred spirits! My first real historical romance was also the Sunfire romance Caroline by Willo Davis Roberts! I found it in my fourth grade classroom and I was hooked. I still occasionally reread the scene where the hero finds out the heroine (dressed as a boy) is actually a girl. So sweet. I won a prize that year in school and my teacher gave me my own copy of Cassie from the series. Later I found a copy of Kathleen on my mother’s bookshelf (she must not have realized it was YA;)). I read every book in that series and still own all but one or two. Someday I hope my nieces will want to read them.

    My first adult historical romance that I remember well was probably a Kathleen E. Woodiwiss or Jude Deveraux, but I credit the Sunfire series with my love of romance.

    Kim T.

  41. The novel that got me hooked was “A Year and a Day” by Virginia Henley.I had always been an avid reader when I was young, but had gotten out of the way of it. Then I turned 50 and wanted to start reading again. So I read Anna Karenina and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Both were fantastic, but I needeed something a little lighter. So I said, why not, let’s try a romance novel. I never read one in my life. Well,I never looked back! I read Bronte and Austen too for the first time. I had always been a fan but had never actually read their novels.

  42. I know I’m showing my age, but my first was Georgette Heyer’s “Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle” in 1966. I found the book at the corner drugstore for the whopping price of $.25. I wish I still had it.

  43. I remember loving Jane Eyre when I was 13, but think I beacame hooked on the romance genre when I read Rebel In His Arm by Francine Rivers when I was 16. Still have my original copy…the cover is held on by tape and I haven’t reread it in over 10 years.

  44. Seeing “Susannah” pictured here brings back so many memories! I loved this book and consider it, along with “Caroline” (another in the Sunfire series) to be my first romances. I was in 3rd grade when I started reading the Sunfire historical fiction books, and I immediately fell in love with them. “Susannah” and “Caroline” (about a girl traveling to California for the gold rush, disguised as a boy) were my favorites. I was so fascinated by these books and the historical periods that they described. I even dressed up my Barbies as Civil War Barbie (a Southern belle, of course) and wagon train Barbie.

    I read a lot of historical fiction after that and gradually shifted over to suspense novels with a romance subplot. I wouldn’t have dreamed of buying an actual romance novel. My mother would have been horrified. Then, when I was about 16, I found “The Twilight Prince” in a box of books that someone had given us. It was a series contemporary romance, set in Arizona with lots of glamor (princes! sheiks!), romance, and horses. I loved it. Later, when I had my own car and could buy things without my mom knowing, I picked up a used copy of “The Bride” by Julie Garwood at the Goodwill store. I loved the setting, the dialogue, and the romance. After that, I was hooked.

    I still re-read parts of “The Bride” and “The Twilight Prince” now and again. They aren’t my favorite books anymore, but I would never part with them. I just wish I still had my copies of “Susannah” and “Caroline”!

  45. I wasn’t very impressed by romance novels when I first started reading them: it was the end of the ’70s. I do remember reading and sort of liking Shanna and books by Federica de Cesco. After a gap of more than 20 years I borrowed First Impressions by Nora Roberts from my mother and was hooked.
    Ironically enough it was written in 1984, but it showed me that things had changed and I started discovering more and more authors, especially after finding AAR, and now romance novels account for 90% of my reading.
    First Impressions is still one of my favorites, though. I know it’s not brilliant, but I find it such a sweet story.

  46. The first romance book that truly hooked me to reading them was “Morning Glory” by LaVyrle Spencer. Up to that time, I had looked through a few slim books that were just not worth the effort and they actually pushed me away from what I considered romance reading. Reluctantly taking “Morning Glory” from an enthusiastic coworker, who said it was the most recent book going around, I couldn’t tear myself away from it once I began reading it. It was such a heartwarming story, along with being written extremely well–it totally changed my outlook toward romance fiction.

  47. I found my first romantic novel in my primary school library in the historical fiction section. It was about a female slave and the master’s son, Romeo and Juliet-style. It wasn’t labelled a romance but puh-lease, that’s what drove the whole story.

    The I read a book – like the first one to be forever nameless – where the girl is standing in a field by a short sty (I specifically remember it being called a ‘sty’) and talking to the love interest from across the sty and they not touching as if it were some sort of barrier between them and then he reaches out and touches her cheek and when she closes her eyes, he brushes his fingers over her lids and then she feels his lips kissing where his hands just were and she holds on to his wrists because his hands are now cupping her cheeks and they kiss.

    Man, I wish I could remember the name of that book – and what it was about.

    After that, I found full-fledged series romance and there was no turning back.

    In terms of ‘first’ romances that I can name, I’m thinking maybe Brenda Joyce – the one with a blue cover, an American Historical and his name was Slade? Well, it’s not the name of the book but at least I have the name of the hero!

    Or maybe now that I think about it, that wasn’t the first, it was that Sandra Brown one where she sees him drunk in the buggy on the way home and he thinks she’s annoying and then falls in love with her and he has a half-Indian step brother and an evil mother…..hmm, I think I’m mixing up the facts in both books. All I’m hearing in my head is Miramar, Miramar but for the life of me I’m not sure what I’m trying to tell myself!

    /end ramble

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