Okay, Susan, be prepared to be bored. I know I’ve talked about some of my favorite “romance” books. These are stories by little-known authors or stories published awhile ago or even single titles I’ve read by authors known for other genres. I thought I’d share why I love them so.
Frank Yerby was an African-American author who was the first of his race to have a book made into a movie, THE FOXES OF HARROW. But the book I love best of his was THE SARACEN BLADE. It was a story of a gently bred serf who loved a baron’s daughter and spent years earning the right to woo her. Though in today’s market, a romance editor might insist that the H/H not be separated so long, the book itself was so good, the ending seemed perfect.
You’ve heard me tell about MELISSA by Taylor Caldwell. Basically, the heroine is a young woman emotionally manipulated by a weak father. The hero is a diamond in the rough kind of guy and we watch Melissa grow from a naive, deceived daughter to a woman willing to reach out for love. Caldwell’s true gift is how well she could construct the souls of her characters. They weren’t just flawed; they were the kind of people you have around you every day. You might not want them as a best friend, but I might.
Another book I really liked was RED ADAM’S LADY by Grace Ingram. It was a fun historical romance with a quirky hero and a long-suffering heroine. At the time I read it, most other medievals were full of war and angst. This book was just plain amusing…and romantic.
A surprise read was MESSAGE FROM ABSALOM by Anne Armstrong Thompson. Published in 1975, it was a spy thriller about a civilian heroine swept into an espionage caper while being chased by a handsome, devilish KGB agent. Yum! What a great read in the height of the Cold War.
And last but not least, Elsie Lee’s ROOMMATES. I had been a long time fan of Lee’s historicals. To start with, she was one of the few who wrote sensual historicals. And her women were always strong. This book, however, was a contemporary…enough of a switch to intrigue me. This 1976 book was about several women in New York sharing an apartment. They were kind of the mid-70’s SEX AND THE CITY. The heroine is a country mouse come to the city and she gets caught up in their lifestyle of living by partying. But by remaining true to her moral compass, she wins the best prize of all…Mr. Big.
Well, there you have it. Some of the books that made me the romance reader…and writer that I am. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!