Romance, Recommended

…and that’s saying a lot. I’m not going to take the time or energy right now to talk about the anti-romance prejudice out there, except to say this: the happy ending may be out of fashion, but that won’t last forever. This culture of the ugly and morose that permeates literary fiction circles will fade away eventually, and in the meantime you can always read Jane Austen — she’ll give you a love story and a happy ending you don’t have to apologize about.

Anything I could say on this topic has been said before and said very well indeed, particularly by Jenny Crusie, the goddess of modern romantic comedy. Please have a look at her Let Us Now Praise Scribbling Women (an essay on the romance novel as feminist revision of toxic fairy tales and canonical literature), and Defeating the Critics: What We Can Do About the Anti-Romance Bias.

Welcome to TemptationOf course you could just skip the essays and go straight to one of her novels — I’d recommend you start with Welcome to Temptation (St. Martin’s Press March 2000 ISBN 0312252943) . Reading her fiction will get across all the same points.

So, a list of three romance novels that I consider just plain good: well written, engaging fiction with a strong narrative and excellent characterizations. And happy endings, which (remember this) aren’t fattening.

Flowers from the StormBeyond Welcome to Temptation I recommend: Flowers from the Storm (Avon Books 1992; re-issue May 27 2003, ISBN 0380-76132-7 ) by Laura Kinsale. It was out of print for a long time, but it’s back again, and what a good thing.

DanceEspecially fine is Judy Cueva‘s (aka Judith Ivory‘s) Dance (Jove Books, 1996, ISBN 0-515-11763-3). In fact, thinking about it, if I had to pick one novel classified as romance to take to a desert island, it would probably be Dance, for the lyrical language and the characters I adore so much that I shiver — literally — when I pick this book up to read it again. Which I do regularly. Now if they’d only reissue it (it’s sadly out of print, but worth the search) and give it a worthy cover.

2 Replies to “Romance, Recommended”

  1. i have yet found ANOTHeR FaV part of your WEBLOG!!! Your book recommendations…. i am NOW compiling a list from this and can not wait to dig into some of the HiSTORiCaL WRiTiNGs that you have recommended… i canno teLL you HOW TiCKLeD that i am to READ this SECTiON here! LOL! You have picked some of my FAV writers! You have MOST EXCeLLeNT TASTe, dear GiRL! *WG*

    ONe of MY MOST FaV ROMANCeS to re-read is WINDFLOWER by Laura London aka Sharon and Tom Curtis. i keep hoping for miracles of ALL miracles that they would resurface and write several sequels… i do not understand the mechanics of writing but, they do iT SOOOO WeLL… as the above authors and yourself… what amazes me in this piece of works are the words that pop into your head as you are reading that they do NOT write down but, you imagine as you read their work… NOT a cuss word through out… but, you could SWeAR you heard … So MANy things you thought you heard… and you go to read it over and find that you heard it through your mind via their writings… does that make sense? Their work is TRULy an RiCH WORK~OUT of one’s iMAGiNATiON!!! Your work FaLLs in the CLASS… IMHO.

  2. I’d love to de-criminalize Harlequin romances. I collect Harlequin’s, but only by a couple of writers (more cost-effective and saner). I love Robyn Donald, who has written over 50 books for the Harlequin franchise. She is from New Zealand, and although I used to have a web address for her, it seems to be defunct. There is this, though: http://www.writing.co.nz/books/Donald.rtf
    It’s an interesting read, all about why she writes, how she writes certain things, and writing romance in general (the politics, the “crime”).

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