Romance Novels You’ve Got to Read

Last year when I was recovering from a traumatic case of sepsis that nearly killed me (DRAMA!), all I wanted to do was to escape into romance novel after romance novel. This last weekend, while recovering from a root canal retreatment that resulted in bouts of vomiting and gums that were so painful and inflamed by the bacteria’s “last stand” that I kind of wished I could die for a few days, I retreated into romance novels again. (See a pattern?)

So, in honor of that, and of St. Valentine’s Day, I pulled out that romance novel list I gathered from my friends last year, and I’m reposting it here for everyone’s reading pleasure. Some of them I have read, and some of them are still on my reading list. If you have any suggestions of your own, do please comment below.

  • First and foremost I have to mention the author Georgette Heyer. If you have never read one of her romances, then there is definitely something missing from your life. She is SO GOOD at relationship development and at witty dialogue and at creating characters that you just want to hang out with for hours and hours. She’s also probably the next best thing to Jane Austen that I’ve ever read. You could dive into almost any of hers and be happy, but here’s a list of some of mine and my friends’ favorites: The Grand Sophy, These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub (Sequel to These Old Shades), The Nonesuch, Cotillion, The Talisman Ring, Sylvester; or The Wicked Uncle, Frederica, Friday’s Child, and so many more.
  • If you’re looking for mystery and romance, the Dorothy Sayers’ series in which the romance buds between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane is near perfect: Strong PoisonHave His Carcase, Gaudy Nightand Busman’s Honeymoon.
  • Or there’s ALWAYS Elizabeth Peters, of course. Pretty much any of her archeology series, with the delightful Amelia Peabody and Emerson.
  • Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest and Wildwood Dancing, made one of my friends “swoony.”
  • These is My Words, by Nancy Turner looks so interesting and is at the top of my reading list.
  • Another friend suggested anything by Courtney Milan, though I admit that some of the anachronisms in the period piece I tried out got to my romance-nerd brain and I had to stop reading. I don’t remember the name of that book, but if anyone has a favorite of hers they want to share, do.
  • Amy Finnegan’s, Not in the Script, which I haven’t read but looks intriguing.
  • If you’re in the mood for something in the teen genre, perhaps Janette Rallison’s My Double Life would be right for you.
  • Looking for old school? How about Mary Stewart? A friend of mine suggests Nine Coaches Waiting, or Wildfire at Midnight. Or her Arthurian series The Crystal Cave.
  • Another one that looked super interesting to me but that I haven’t had a chance to read yet is Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen. My friend said about it, “It is seriously addictive with amazing characters an interesting romance and even though I have read it several times I love it each time. The romance is beautifully balanced with other character development.”
  • Did you know that Princess Diana’s grandmother was a romance novelist? Well, she was, and she has an enormous list of books to her name. Most of them are pretty cheap on Kindle. Check out Barbara Cartland.
  • Sarah M Eden has a good bunch of worthy books to her name. Suggested titles include, Longing For Home, Seeking Persephone, Friends and Foes, Drops of Gold, or, essentially, any of her regency era romances.
  • One of my friends who loves Sarah M Eden also enjoyed Donna Hatch’s novels, though I have not looked into her yet. Also, Jennifer Moore and Elizabeth Johns. (If you’ve read any of these authors, I’d love to hear what you think of them. They’re still on my list.)
  • Several of my friends suggested Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, and I have to say I found it entirely charming. I also like her other book, Blackmoore.
  • Another friend suggested Honolulu by Alan Brennert, saying that “It is not really a romance, but it is a wonderful novel about a Korean mail order bride. As I was finishing the last few pages I began to cry, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Jade, the main character.” How could you not be interested?
  • “I cannot speak enough good about the Glamour series. Premise? Regency + magic. Written by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s amazing. I love the characters and they go through REAL LIFE. these books are so enjoyable that after checking them out of the library often enough I started to buy them. I even bought the last book BEFORE it came out. I never do that. It starts with Shades of Milk and Honey. That’s her first novel. Each one gets exponentially cooler.” – I agree wholeheartedly. Mary Robinette Kowal is awesome. Word on the streets is that her Ghost Talkers, set in WWII, is also really good.
  • The Last Unicorn, I think by Peter S. Beagle. “The language, the story, the characters, the message–LOVED IT. *sigh*”
  • And last, but not least, The Princess Bride! I sometimes forget to think of it as a romance since it is clearly at its core a satire, but it’s great for romance too!

 

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January Comfort Reads

Who didn’t need comfort in January? It’s been a rough month, and you can bet I turned to books for some respite. Here are the ones that were the most comforting to me:

crookedkingdomtheq

Crooked Kingdom: The sequel to Six of Crows (which I loved so much that I literally shed tears when it ended). This series is like a Dickens book, if you added magic and more action and adventure, and if, say, Oliver Twist were an intriguing, ruthless, criminal mastermind out to get revenge while simultaneously ensuring the safety of his ragtag group of friends. The characters are so vibrant and layered. Some of my favorite characters ever written, maybe. Read Six of Crows first, and see if it doesn’t give you a heartache when you reach the end. 

The Q: Aaaaaah. I just loved this book so much. So many moments that made me nearly squeal with happiness. In this story Quincy St. Claire, one of the best business minds in her country and someone who throws herself into her work so fully that it nearly shuts real life out, must learn how to be vulnerable and let other people into her heart in order to save the business that means so much to her. One of the most elegantly crafted romances (and just general character growth) I’ve read in a long time, and it’s not afraid to lay bare the foibles of its characters, though it does it with compassion and affection.