I started out, like so many others with the Brothers Grimm fairytales as retold via the Ladybird books, a much more sanitised version of the rather dark fairytales.
I can’t remember which one I loved best, but it might have been Sleeping Beauty.
And then as I got older and into teen years I devoured all of Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High books, along with Virgina Andrew’s Flowers in the Attic series – can you imagine a young adult book about incest today?!
Sue Barton student nurse was also a favourite –
I’ll never forget how she meets her hero, bumping into him on the stairs, dropping books everywhere. And Flambards also played a huge role, I loved Christina and how she managed to fall in love with pretty much every man around her, and they with her.
And Joan Lingard and her stories of love across the divides in war torn Northern Ireland.
And the incomparable Judy Blume! Where would we have been without ‘Ralph’ and Forever?!
And then there was Mills and Boon. Sigh. Many an English class was spent racing to the end of the chapter we had to read of Wuthering Heights so that I could finish the latest Penny Jordan or Emma Darcy book. They were and are the perfect size for reading over two school days, and now? Two hours!
And interspersed amongst all of those were the fabulous epic works of Barbara Taylor Bradford, Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz, Jilly Cooper – Rupert Campbell Black anyone??! And the Queen, Jackie Collins - Lucky Santangelo has to be one of the fiercest heroines around.
If these wonderful authors can’t set one up for life with their masterful, ingenious heroines who settle for nothing but the best then I don’t know what can.
In latter years I’ve discovered the amazing world of Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series. Jamie Fraser, be still my beating heart. This has to be the time-slip novel to end all time-slip novels?
And also in no particular order; Victoria Dahl, Tiffany Reisz, Anna Campbell, Megan Hart, Eloisa James, Kresley Cole and her amazing Immortals after Dark series…
The worlds these authors create – veering from erotica, to historical to paranormal, provide so much more than mere escapism. They are worlds to submerge yourself in and emerge feeling renewed, invigorated and inspired…
In a very small way, I like to think that I contribute to those worlds and I like to think that somewhere a teenager is reading one of my books under her desk in a school – ahem – while not neglecting her Wuthering Heights of course, which is also part of the great romance lexicon!
So, I say thank GOD for romance and romance authors. The world would be a much duller place without it and them.
Who were your favourite romance authors or romance books? Do you have a seminal one?
When Da silva Breaks The Rules - Harlequin Presents, July
Getting Off - Harlequin Cosmo Red Hot Read, August