Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Must Read Romance

In my quest to locate the definitive list of Must Read Romances to test the true romance devotee, I found a variety of lists, but none of them reflected my romance preferences (and were therefore inferior, ha).

I found This List, from the Romance Reader, but it seemed to be more "Old Skool" romance and I was disappointed by the absence of the New Guard. Nary a Lani Diane Rich or a Kresley Cole in sight. And paranormal was woefully underrepresented.

A couple weeks back, the Smart Bitches were in People Magazine, plugging Bosoms and romance novels as a whole. They sent along to the people of People a list of their favorite romances and the people of People distilled that list down to these five:

1. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
2. The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale
3. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
4. Magnate's Make-Believe Mistress by Bronwyn Jameson
5. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

I have to say, this is a nice list. Diverse, high quality stuff. But it isn't my list. I doubt you're ever going to get romance readers to agree on a top five (or even a top fifty), but that's part of the beauty of this business. There is marvelous variety and plenty of readers who love every inch of the romantic spectrum.
(And if you're interested in Candy from SBTB's Favs you can find that list HERE.)

Anyway, here's my nit-picking of the SBTB list, along with a list of my very own:

1. Bet Me is not my favorite Crusie. Not by a long shot. (Though of course, I still love it, because it's still brilliant.) I also wouldn't say it's the most universal. I would definitely have a Crusie on my list (no question about that), but mine would have to be Welcome to Temptation. The book that popped my Crusie cherry, so to speak.

2. What? No paranormal? No vamps? No shifters? Say it ain't so! My #2 slot has to have a paranormal slant. Shana Abe? Kresley Cole? This is a hard one to choose, but I think I'm gonna go with Jacquelyn Frank's Nightwalkers. Jacob.

3. Okay, I like Loretta Chase and all, but if I only have to pick one historical, of all the historicals out there, it's gotta be Julia or Eloisa. Quinn or James? How to choose? There is a glut of Regencies, so I'm going to go Georgian on this one. Desperate Duchesses, baby

4. Honestly, I am not a big fan of category romances. I just don't have one of these on my list. I'm afraid I'm going to fill this slot with, ahem, the rather hot side of the spectrum. My favorite naughty romance would have to be an Emma Holly guilty pleasure: Prince of Ice.

5. J.D. Robb. It wouldn't be a romance list without a listing from Dame Nora, eh? I did really like Naked in Death, but as romantic suspense go, not really my fav. I tend to veer more toward the action edge than the darker side. I like my romance fluffy, thank you very much. So my list is going to showcase the lighter, adventure-ier edge of the rom-suspense genre: Roxanne St. Claire & her Bullet Catchers. Kill Me Twice.

What would be on your top five? Which books would you give to a genre-newbie to try to turn them into a lifelong card-carrying romance-reading addict?


Kendra said...

1. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie- totally! I have two copies and read it at least every year, trying to figure out what makes it so funny and sweet/romantic at the same time. Or, as an alternative, Jayne Ann Krentz's Trust Me. Desdemona and Sam are great characters. Oh, and Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
2. Once and Always, Judith McNaught. My all time classic favorite, one of the first I read when I discovered historical romance. Also Johanna Lindsey’s Angel. A western and the hero’s name was Angel…and he was to die for.
3. I agree that Eloisa James is great- my favorite is Fool for Love. Not that I don’t love all of her books.
4. I started reading category romance in 7th grade when my grandmother had a subscription to both Harlequin Romance and Presents…and later Intrigue. I loved/love anything by Catherine George, Sophie Weston, Jessica Steele, Emma Darcy, I could go on…
5. Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard- a sassy, funny, yet still gripping romantic suspense. Her latest, Burn is great too. She has wonderful heroines.

Okay, so no paranormal. And I think my list might be a little more than five, but those are some of my must reads.

Vivi Andrews said...

Oooh, I loved Mr. Perfect. Great book. And Angel! Dude, that takes me back. That's the one where the heroine has a pet panther isn't it? Who likes to chew on boots, while still on feet? Gotta love it.

Nice list, Kendra. :)

Rebecca said...

Finally, finally, finally somebody is giving Jacquelyn Frank her due. I think her writing on the Nightwalkers series is as tight as a drum, but I always feel alone in my praise. Glad to see her on your top five.

Sorry, can't do five. I can hardly keep it to twenty.

Kate Diamond said...

Wow. What a timely topic! I was just on vacation with a bunch of friends who read romance sporadically and want to start reading more regularly. I have been asked to compile a list of recommended books.

I can't just stick to 5, or even 20. Thus far, I've got a VERY long list broken down into categories. (My favorite category is "Tortured Soul Sex Georgians.")

Anna Richland said...

Having seen Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels at the SBTB site, and on what seems like every list of great romances, I couldn't remember if I had read it or not. I checked it out of the Seattle library, happy to find a paperback published in 1994 still circulating. Now to find reading time.

SBTB also sent me to Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady, which I recommend to everyone. Amazing. The best book I think I've read for dialog that reveals character, dialog that is the character speaking. I loved this book.

Vivi Andrews said...

Kate - I'm dying to know what the rest of the categories are now!

And, Anna, I've heard nothing but good things about Joanna Bourne. Have you read My Lord and Spymaster yet?

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I couldn't tell you who'd be in my top five, but there'd definitely be a Crusie and a Mary Stewart. And Jane Austen would definitely make an appearance. :)

Kate Diamond said...

Ooh! I know what my Mary Stewart book would be: "Touch Not the Cat."

Ciara said...

I still haven't read Crusie. I know, I know--foul! I usually recommend the following to newbies:

1. The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne
2. Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
3. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
4. The Unsung Hero by Susan Brockmann
5. Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

and if they don't mind reading a really long one, my personal favorite:

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Ciara said...

PS Loretta Chase is one of my favorite Regency authors, but Lord of Scoundrels isn't my favorite of her excellent books. I prefer Mr. Impossible or Your Scandalous Ways.