All the romances listed below are true Desert Island Keepers for me, and for each of them the following holds true: Whenever I open them to reread a particular scene, I cannot put them down again, and I end up reading the whole book. Each and every time. So this list is entirely subjective, with no regard to subgenres or dates of publication – although to gain entry on this list, a romance must have been around for a few years, otherwise I won’t know whether I will reread it again … and again … and again.
The order in which I have placed the books is not according to preference, but, as far as I can remember, according to the time in which I discovered them and added them to my own personal canon. Continue reading →
See, I knew that signing up for this blog would cause me a headache. How are you supposed to choose the top ten romances that rock your world? How? How? (At the back of my mind I have the Baha Men singing along, except it’s “How do you choose now? How, how, how, how?” Great. Hence the headache.)
Anyway, I figured the only way I can keep sane is a) recognize that I won’t hit them all, and b) acknowledge that if I am actually stuck on a desert island with only ten romance novels, I’d go crazy anyway, no matter what I chose. (Unless I chose, like, the Koran, Paradise Lost, and Journey to the West. Then maybe I’d not go all loopy.)
I decided that what I’d probably crave the most is variety, a little bit of every genre to suit every mood. It actually turned out to be relatively easy once I’d decided on this, looked at my Top 100 list, scanned my shelves, and sliced through the different categories. I’m happy with my choices – they’re all different in setting, subgenre, writing style, and character. I’ve also read each of them at least twice – I’m a serial re-reader, so I know when something works for me, when it doesn’t, and (most of important of all) when it stands up to the test of time. Continue reading →
Lately I’ve been thinking about the boundary between contemporary and historical romances as I try to place new submissions for the Special Title Lists appropriately. Although not a romance, my reading of the Flavia de Luce mysteries also has me thinking of this boundary.
The Flavia de Luce mysteries, set in post-World War II England, are considered historical mysteries. But what if they were romances? According to Wikipedia and numerous other Web sites, contemporary romances are set after World War II, while historical romances are set before or during World War II; by that criterion if Flavia grows older and falls in love her book might be considered a contemporary romance. I say “might,” because Wikipedia also notes that contemporary romances are generally “set in the time when they were written, and usually reflect the mores of their time.” Continue reading →
When I wrote my post for the TBR Challenge yesterday, one of our commenters brought up a good point – it’s hard to find a gothic where the heroine isn’t a doormat. Nowadays, gothics are pretty hard to find anyway but even in their heyday, they seemed to have more than their fair share of childlike, frequently fainting heroines. Growing up, I remember my mom loved gothics and while I enjoyed some of the old books she picked up at library sales, there were definitely some helpless idiot heroines out there. And while The Jade Pagoda, the book I read for TBR Challenge yesterday, didn’t feature a completely spineless heroine, it still isn’t one I’d put on a list of recommendations.
After seeing the request for good gothic suggestions, Barbara Michaels immediately came to mind. Though better known today for her Amelia Peabody books written as Elizabeth Peters, under the Michaels name she has written a number of novels full of creepy Gothic goodness. Continue reading →
I love vivid settings in romance and am particularly fond of foreign settings. When they’re done well, I learn more about a country, feel as if I’m there, but still enjoy the story. Long before I ever visited Greece I fell in love with the country – or at least one of the Greek Islands – by reading Mary Stewart’s The Moon-Spinners, set on the island of Crete. I haven’t visited Crete myself, but feel as if I actually know what parts of it look like thanks to Ms. Stewart’s words. What I carried with me, for years, were the windmills of Crete.
After I read The Moon-Spinners for the first time, I knew that someday I wanted to visit Greece, and at least one Greek island. And I also knew that I wanted to read more books set in Greece – both the islands and mainland.
The Special Settings section of AAR’s Special Title’s Listing includes six books set in Greece, three by Mary Stewart. I’ve tried five of the six books, but have enjoyed the three by Ms. Stewart the most. In addition to The Moon-Spinners, the list includes Ms. Stewart’s My Brother Michael and This Rough Magic.
Rike gave a DIK review at AAR to Mary Stewart’s My Brother Michael, set in Delphi. Rike notes of Delphi that: “It’s a truly magical, mystical place. Whatever your own religious persuasion is, there you’ll find it very easy to feel close to a higher being, and understand perfectly well why the Greeks built a sanctuary for Apollo on that very mountainside.”
From the first time I read Rebecca, these words have been pure magic to me. Though the people around her never even call her by name, this narrator ushers the reader into an unforgettable story. The brooding atmosphere, the slow revelation of horrible secrets, the gradual unveiling of layers of character – none of this would have been there were it not for this particular narrator. Readers get to know Maxim de Winter, Mrs. Danvers and the others through her eyes and it’s this aspect of the novel that really makes it work.
I’ve seen various tweets and blog comments about giving books as gifts for Christmas or Hanukkah. On the one hand, it’s a brilliant idea. I keep a downright scary number of books around the house, but I don’t buy enough to support the publishing world or my favorite authors singlehandedly. Still, books are so subject to personal taste that I find it a little agonizing to figure out which ones would be the perfect gift for someone.