As with everyone else here, I found it quite difficult to whittle my list of book loves down to 10. I could handle 50 or even 25, but 10 just seems like such a paltry number when compared with the sheer number of books and characters I truly adore. Just to keep things manageable, I kept my list to post-1970s romance, which cut out some classic favorites such as Persuasion, Venetia, my little stash of Betty Neels books, or Elswyth Thane’s wonderful Williamsburg novels. I also stuck with romance, rather than picking some of the books I’ve loved in other genres which have romantic elements, such as Julia Spencer-Fleming’s mysteries or Catherine Asaro’s science fiction. So, what did I come up with? Well, in no particular order, here they are:
To Love and To Cherish by Patricia Gaffney – The controversial emotional powerhouse that is To Have and To Hold tends to get most of the attention, but this first novel of the Wyckerley trilogy is the one that I’ve always loved the most. It’s a tender, touching love story and hero’s struggle over his love for a woman trapped in a horrible marriage is filled with such amazing tension. If you like your romances emotional and angsty, this is one not to miss. Continue reading →
Happy New Year! Now that 2012 has started, everything just feels so fresh and new. I have a new page-a-day calendar, I’m getting used to writing a new date, and somehow after the fun of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the world just seems shiny and new for my first day back online. So, of course 2012 means starting with all-new books, right?
Not so fast. There are certainly more than a few books I’m looking forward to reading this year. I recently read a book by Nadia Lee that I enjoyed, and I’m hoping the next installment in the series will be out in 2012. Laura Lee Guhrke and Kaki Warner have new books out in January that I want, and Delilah Marvelle is starting a series in 19th century New York that sounds more than a little bit intriguing. Janice Kay Johnson has at least one new series title coming out this year that I know of, I’m finding word of three new books in the works for Carla Kelly, and I really want to read the book Judith James has planned for this year. Many other autobuys of mine in subgenres from romantic suspense to paranormal to historical also have books coming out this year, and I’m sure many other debuts and new-to-me authors will catch my eye.
I love going to RWA nationals for a variety of reasons. However, one of the major thrills for me comes from getting to hear about upcoming books and forecasts for various subgenres of romance. This year, hearing about the various trends in publishing really struck me because many of the types of books listed seemed to hit at opposite ends of the spectrum.
On the one hand, we seem to be inhabiting a period of sweetness and light in book choices. Small-town romances with home and family themes seem to sell quite well. Indeed, some authors with small-town series such as Robyn Carr and Debbie Macomber have almost a cult following among readers. Similarly, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen stories about the astounding popularity of Amish/Mennonite romances. Their focus on the simple life and strong family ties again seem to speak to a lot of readers. And in historicals, the light, wallpaper Regency/Victorian is not exactly hard to find either.
If you spend much time around romance, particularly historical romance, you know that mistresses show up fairly often. Many, especially in older books, take the form of the woman that was kept by the hero before he met his special virgin snowflake and who inevitably compares unfavorably to the heroine. I still remember (and cringe) over my days of reading Barbara Cartland in high school. Her mistresses weren’t always evil, but they did have a tendency to appear fake and tawdry next to her innocent little dewdrop heroines.