I’ve always been embarassed to admit I like romance novels. Granted, I’ve grown beyond the really awful ones with some half naked dude on the front while some chick in a bad rendition of period clothes swoons nearby. My mom (who I stole them from) had a particular fondness for ones with Native American guys. Considering they all use the uber un-pc term “Indian” maybe that’s where my personal thing for Real Indian guys comes from? Although, if you can suspend disbelief, ignore the absolute ignorance of the historical period and just read them for the sex, they aren’t half bad soft-core porn.
I was 17 or 18 when my best friend at the time handed me a Nora Roberts book and said “You have to read this!” I did, and I began cautiously looking for authors and books that I liked. As I am so picky, I have several authors and multiple books by each today.
She is the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Bestselling romance author, beating all competition, she is the undisputed queen of the genre. But after reading her for 13 years, I’m starting to see a lot of recycled plot lines and now just read her murder/mystery/romance series “in death” which she writes under the name JD Robb.
But, even having said that, she definitely has plenty of books that I read over and over. They include but are not limited to….
- The Dream Trilogy (Daring to Dream, Holding the Dream, Finding the Dream)-link is to a bound copy of all 3. This was the first book(s) I ever read by Roberts. The heroines are 3 best friends who grew up together and are all attached by blood or friendship to a chain of hotels (the Templeton brand). The first book stars Margo, an international model who has to move home in scandal, disgrace and broke. The second features Kate, a hardworking accountant, who is framed when she’s accused of stealing from clients. The final book is Laura’s story..she spends the first two books getting rid of her ass of husband and then finds love with a bad boy in the third. Oh-and there’s a treasure hunt. And yes, it may sound silly, but the characters are strong, the dialogue is awesome and the sex is hot.
- While we’re talking trilogies, we can’t forget the Quinn Brothers trilogy. Sea Swept, Rising Tides, and Inner Harbor. I think what I like most about this trilogy is that the protagonists are men, which is incredibly rare in a romance novel. I genuinely can’t think of another story where the majority of the attention is given to the men (that isn’t by Roberts, anyway). Roberts can write men-their voices are unique, manly (without being so overly manly that you feel testosterone poisoning coming off the page). The men are brothers–but not by blood–they were all fostered/adopted by Ray and Stella Quinn. Stella died years ago and Ray was in a bad car crash, which is what brings them together at the start of the first book–he asks them to look after a boy, Seth…his grandson. The problem? Ray and Stella couldn’t have kids–so who is this child, what does that mean, and what do they want to do about it? There is a book that tells Seth’s story as a man (Chesapeake Blue) which was nice, but not in a re-read a billion times way.
- Midnight Bayou–it takes place in New Orleans, and there’s a secondary ghost story plot. I’m sold.
- Sweet Revenge-Princess Adrienne of (fakemadeup middle eastern country) is the daughter of the Sheik and his first wife Phoebe Spring, the famous American actress. Just like Grace Kelly, Phoebe was romanced and whisked away to her palace. Then the fairy tale broke. They had only one daughter, a girl. Her husband took second, third, ect wives. He became abusive, and she became hooked on drugs and liquor. Then, when visiting Paris on a “come visit us, we’re new and cool” trip, Phoebe makes a daring escape with Adrienne. Her husband divorces her and leaves them broke. Adrienne must take care of herself and her mother…and she decides to exact revenge on her father. So she becomes a jewel thief, training for the day when she’ll steal back The Sun and The Moon–her mother’s bridal jewelry, which should have belonged to them when her parents divorced. Again-it sounds silly but it’s a really really good read.
I love Katie because her heroines are not gorgeous. They are overweight, sometimes they have physical ailments (real ones, not fake ones). They are insecure (but not pathetic). In short, they’re real (and sometimes they fall in love with dragons, but that’s another story).
- Blow Me Down– This stand alone novel is great. I love that it has a real world story, and the virtual story as well. If you’ve ever been into online gaming, you’ll especially appreciate the various jokes and loving fun she pokes. Plus, the online world is a pirate theme, and who doesn’t love pirates?
- The Corset Diaries The story takes place in a manor house where the contemporary characters are both acting out a reality show (but have roles such as lady of the house, maid, etc) and interacting as people. History, reality tv and romance…fun! That the heroine is plus sized makes me even happier.
- Hard Days Knight This story takes place at a Ren Faire, where the character gets involved with a jouster and joins a jousting team.
- The Aisling Grey Series, starting with You Slay Me– Aisling is trying to deliver something, when it’s stolen from her. By a dragon. In human form. Really hot human form. Oh, and she conjures up a demon…but it arrives in the form of a Newfoundland dog. Hysterically funny. If you like it there are more.
I love an author who isn’t afraid to let her characters say “fuck” a lot. Or to be cranky. Or to be 30 year old blonde chicks who rise from the dead as the legendary Queen of the Vampires (who also has a shoe addiction to rival Carrie Bradshaws).
- Betsy-The series starts with Undead and Unwed. Elizabeth (Betsy, please) Taylor (she knows, she’s heard them all) is having a hell of a day. She’s 30, she just got fired from her secretarial job, and a car hit her. And killed her. But she just woke up…and ohmygod WHAT is on her feet? Her wicked stepmonster stole her FUCKING SHOES and put this crap from PAYLESS on her feet! And she’s really really thirsty…. Personally I love the series…around book 8 things seem to slow down, but the most recent book 11, explains why–a lot had to get put in motion for the biggest shock I’ve had since Dumbledore died in book 6 of Harry Potter.
- Fred-Starts with Sleeping With the Fishes (2 more after that). Frederika (FRED, Ya hear me?) is a marine biologist at the New England Aquarium in Boston (squee!). She’s in charge of the big central tank..where the fishes have been on stroke because they want her to play the “thump thump” (rock music, really loud). How does she know that? She’s a mermaid…and the new doc there just found out. Will she keep it a secret from the intern who “ohmigosh I just love dolphins!” wants to grow up and be her? Will she figure out what’s fucking up the harbor water?
- The Alaskan Royals Series-Starts with The Royal Treatment. Davidson pictures an Alaska where, instead of being sold to the US by Russia, the colonists from Russia declare independence and crown their own Royal Family. Each book tells a different family members story but everyone pops up everywhere. I especially love that the King has the foulest mouth of all. Hysterically funny.
I haven’t actually read anything by Stephanie Rowe that isn’t part of her paranormal series. Her “Immortally Sexy” Series is to die for funny. One of the main characters is Satan and he says things like “My sex kitten, it is your stud muffin responding to your email”. Start with Date Me Baby, One More Time and read through the rest. The first book is the story of Justine, the guardian of a chalice that grant immortality and her best friend the dragon trapped in dragon form, and internet sex addict, Theresa.