BRINGING YOU THE BEST IN ROMANCE FICTION
My daughter is a natural born reader. I’d like to take credit, but she visits the library and keeps up a constant stream of new books to read without my help. I find them strewn among her bedding in the morning, and tucked beside her plate after breakfast. Most of what she reads is YA paranormal. Since I’d like her to branch out, I’ve offered book suggestions to widen her scope. Don’t stick to one genre. She doesn’t take most of my suggestions, but I have fat bookcases full of decades worth of stories I’ve loved, and occasionally she’ll pluck a book.
I remember when I discovered romance novels. My father was a big believer in garage sales. He loved books, the cheaper the better. He’d buy flats of paperbacks. Peppered among the classic sci-fi, biographies, self-help and adventure novels were vintage harlequin novels, with swoopy ovals around a drawing of a man and woman. The heroine was often a meek nurse or secretary. Roughly 80 pages long, they were good for cutting my teeth in the romance genre.
The real find was a true classic, though I had no inkling at the time. To me, it was just one garage-sale book among many. I read Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove. And then I read Ashes in the Wind and realized just how adventurous romances could be.
I graduated to more books. Johanna Lindsey, Rebecca Brandywine, Regency romances, and newer Harlequins. I like the ones with humor, and even kept a few to this day. It’s the reason I appreciate a good Jennifer Cruise novel.
I discovered these books, even if it later turned out that many were already recognized as some of the best in the genre. To me, they were new, and mine, and something I figured out. I don’t think I can duplicate this for my daughter.
Some of the older books were tasteless, or too chauvinist, and the messages in them old fashioned. I don’t want my daughter to stumble through the wilderness, but I don’t think it’s healthy for me to tell her what a good romance is.
We’re all still finding that out for ourselves, after all, aren’t we?
All I can do is curate my library of books to make good ones available, so she has the opportunity to pick them off the shelf from among the self-help, sci-fi, horror, and teen paranormal.