#GratefulForGreatReads, Old & New

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

I’m headed to my hometown, El Paso, TX, for the weekend, to celebrate my mom’s birthday and catch up with some dear friends. 

Since this month’s theme is #GratefulforGreatReads, I thought I’d take some space to stroll down memory lane and talk about some of the books I remember reading when I still lived in El Paso.

Back in the day, I didn’t pay too close attention to authors’ names. A lot of books I read were from the library and a bunch of the lines no longer exist. Avalon romances, did anyone else read those? Silhouette Romance, with the purple covers, and Second Chance at Love and Candlelight Romance. And the iconic Harlequin Presents, with their white covers and playboy heroes.

I read a lot of Regency romances, my favorite being Caroline Courtney.

I famously remember reading Lace—about the raciest title I can remember from my early teen days, when maybe I shouldn’t have been reading it!—and reading some of the passages out loud with two friends, wide-eyed, alternately scandalized and giggling. 

I read all the Judith Krantz and Sidney Sheldon novels I could get my hands on.

I discovered Agatha Christie in high school, as well as Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, my first literary crush I think.

When I was in seventh grade, my teacher encouraged me to read Gone With The Wind, which I loved, and Nicholas and Alexandra, which spurred a lifelong fascination for pre-Revolutionary Russia. My favorite Caroline Courtney title had a Russian prince as its hero, and was the first time I learned of Napoleon’s attack on Russia and its scorched earth response. (I took a Russian History course in college, though my professor frowned on the Nicholas & Alexandra author, Robert Massie, who was a lazy historian in his eyes, a fact which amused me, but then the book read as much like a novel as non-fiction at times.)

I discovered Madeline Brent in high school and read all the titles I could get my hands on. My first was Moonraker’s Bride, which remains my favorite.

I also read The Once and Future King in high school, as well as Pride & Prejudice. I discovered Danielle Steel and William Shakespeare. My sister, a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, was a bit aghast when I had to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy for my Honors English class and had a hard time getting through it. I often wonder if I would have enjoyed them if they hadn’t been assigned.

There are authors I know I read, but I don’t remember the books. Big, juicy novels with over-the-top heroes and plots that were much less enlightened than our current crop, but my weren’t some of those books fun?

I know I read a Kathleen Woodiwiss or two, some Judith McNaught and LaVyrle Spencer, and I’m pretty sure I caught some Jude Deveraux titles in their first editions, at least at the library. 

So what about you? What great authors and books did you read that you’ve never forgotten or that remain hazy in your memory but warmed your heart? What were some of your favorite books when you were a younger reader?

I think today’s romances are better written, have more empowering messages and certainly have a more dramatic impact on the publishing industry. But there’s something about those Old School romances that were unlike anything we’d ever read before, or will ever read again.

If you were a fan of those sprawling, epic family dramas, you might want to try J.R. Ward’s Bourbon Kings trilogy. I’ve written about it a couple of times, but it bears repeating. I’m hoping to see more of the “naughty rich family being redeemed through love” from other authors, but this one was simply delicious.

A couple newer titles you might want to check out:

Indecent Exposure People have been recommending Tessa Bailey to me for some time and I finally had the chance to read one recently, Disorderly Conduct,  the first in her Academy series which focuses on three roommates in the NYC Police Academy. This was a really good read and Bailey is a great writer, packing emotion and intention in every sentence. I just got an ARC for the next title, Indecent Exposure, which tells roommate Jack’s story. Jack is the son of a prostitute and a ladies’ man who drinks too much and gets through life by numbing his emotions. He’s just met a girl who actually makes him want to do better than the bare minimum, but she’s a teetotaling Olympic gold medalist—and also his firearms instructor, so totally off-limits. Right?

Let me tell you, I opened the book to just peek, since Jack was intriguing in Book 1, and the sexual tension practically set the pages on fire. Yum!

If you’re in the mood for holiday romances, there are a ton to choose from, and I’m sure I’ll have a post devoted to them soon. But I wanted to highlight Jill Shalvis’ Chasing Christmas Eve, my favorite title so far in the Heartbreaker Bay series. Writer Colbie Albright is escaping her crazy personal and professional life for a quick pre-Christmas break, but when her intention to head to some warm tropical island falls through, she boards the next plane to anywhere. "Anywhere" winds up being San Francisco, where she falls into a fountain and into the arms of sexy Spence Baldwin. Their crazy chemistry leads to a no-strings attached holiday affair, but as her two weeks vacation slips away, is it possible to create something less fleeting and more real?

Both sweet and angsty, with Shalvis’ typical genius for dialogue and characters we can’t help but cheer for. Fun and romantic.

What are you reading these days?

#HappyReading #ReadARomance

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