Friday, April 29, 2011

An Ardent Reader of Romance Books

Or How to Entertain Your Mind and Relax with Romance during Holidays

Ever since, as a young university student in early 1980’s, I did a study on the plotlines of Mills & Boon romance books for my literature studies at Umeå University in Sweden, I have been interested in what romance books represent to women of our times. Statistics say a lot about it.

Apparently somebody buys a Harlequin Mills & Boon book every five seconds somewhere in the world (Journalist, 2008) and even through tough economic times the sales figures stay steady, currently being over $10 billion each year and rising (US statistics). The best seller lists continue to be dominated by romance authors. According to Romance Writers of America’s industry statistics, romance books come second only after movie tie-in books in the favourite categories (2010). Poynter, another online source of book sales statistics, show that when it comes to book sales, the same is true all over the world (Poynter, 2008). Romance book sales hold up the book printing industry with their profit returns. So, why is it so hard to give romance books their due as a continuation of fairy tale tradition to adult literature?

The romance books genre has evolved since their introduction in early 1970’s with books by authors such as Catherine Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers. They inspired a whole new generation of writers to romance book writing. Since then the romance book genres have expanded to cover many types from fantasy and paranormal to strictly contemporary, the newest trends being the vampires and angels. There is something available for everyone’s taste .

Still romance books are dismissed basically as good literature and many feel guilty when indulging themselves in the pleasure of reading them, yet every third woman who reads books, reads romance (Lee, 2008).

I moved my favourite romance books next to my favourite Greek classics a long time ago in rebellion to the comments I received from some people who thought that reading them was not a suitable occupation for a serious educated person. On the contrary, in her article ‘Guilty Pleasures: Reading Romance Novels as Reworked Fairy Tales’, Lee (2008) states that 42% of those who read romance books hold “at least a bachelor’s degree”. This proves that I am not alone in my thoughts about the importance of romance books as women’s favourite literature. However, I attest to the fact that there has been a huge development and improvement in the quality of romance books since the 1970’s. I believe that one day some of them will be classics just like Jane Austen’s and Charlotte Bronte’s ‘trash books’ from the 19th Century are now considered to be.

So, just for the fun of it I have here composed a list of 50 of my favourite romance books of mixed genres. These books have been collected over the years and they remain in my bookself to be read again and again. Hopefully they can provide a starting point to someone who is looking for an enjoyable read over a holiday period just as I was doing over this Easter:

1. Fantasy:


J.R.Ward (2005-) The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, Piatkus (9 books so far)*
Linda Howard & Linda Jones (2010) Blood Born, Ballantine Books*
Kathy Love (2006) Fangs But No Fangs, Brava Paranormal Romance (part of series of 4 books)


Rhyannon Byrd (2008-) The Primal Instinct Series, HQN (6 books so far)
Linda Howard, Linda Winstead Jones & Beverly Barton (2008) The Raintree Trilogy, MIRA*
Nora Roberts (2006), The Circle Trilogy, Piatkus
Sharie Kohler (2008-) The Moon Chasers Series, Pocket Books Paranormal Romance (4 books)
Lora Leigh (2005-) The Breeds Series, Berkley Sensation Paranormal Romance (8 books so far)

2. Contemporary:

Linda Howard (1995), After the Night, Pocket Books Fiction*
-- (2001) Open Season, Pocket Books Fiction
-- (1996) Shades of Twilight, Pocket Books
-- (1997) White Out in Upon a Midnight Clear Anthology, Pocket Books (Novella)*
Nora Roberts (1998) Homeport, Jove Fiction
Rebecca Brandewyne (1996) Dust Devil, MIRA
Fiona Brand (2000) Cullen’s Bride, Silhouette
-- (2002) Blade’s Lady, Silhouette*
Miranda Lee (1998) The Boss’s Baby, Harlequin Mills & Boon
Emma Darcy (1999) Having Leo’s Child, Harlequin Mills & Boon
Suzanne Simms (1992) Not Her Wedding, Silhouette
Margit Sandemo (1982) Yli kaikkien rajojen, Oy Kirjaviihde*
Catherine Spencer (1998) The Secret Daughter, Harlequin Mills & Boon
Sandra Brown (1988) Slow Heat in Heaven, Warner Books*
-- (1984) Bittersweet Rain, Warner Books*
Jayne Ann Krentz (2000-2002) Eclipse Bay Trilogy, Jove Fiction
Peggy Moreland (1997) Rugrats And Rawhire, Silhouette
Susan Napier (1998) Honeymoon Baby, Harlequin Mills & Boon


Susan Mallery (2001), Married for a Month, Pocket Star Books*
Marion Lennox (2004) The Last-Minute Marriage, Harlequin Mills & Boon
-- (1999) Marrying William, Harlequin Mills & Boon*
Barbara Daly (1999) Great Genes! Harlequin Mills &Boon
Jennifer Labrecque (2000) Andrew In Excess, Harlequin Mills & Boon*
Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1997) Nobody’s Baby But Mine, Avon Romance
-- (2001) This Heart of Mine, Avon Romance*

3. Suspense & Mystery:

Elizabeth Lowell (2006) The Wrong Hostage, Avon*
-- (2001) Moving Target, HarperCollins
Nora Roberts (1998) The Reef, Piatkus*
Linda Howard (2000) A Game of Chance, Silhouette
-- (2005) Killing Time, Piatkus (Sci-Fi)
Jasmine Cresswell (2000) The Inheritance, MIRA
--(2000) The Refuge, MIRA

4. Historical:

Margit Sandemo (1997), Ritarin Tytär, Oy Kirjaviihde*
Jasmine Cresswell (1980) The Blackwood Bride, Harlequin Mills & Boon*
Sophie Jordan (2006) Once Upon A Wedding Night, Avon Historical Romance
Susan Sizemore (1994) My First Duchess, Diamond Books
-- (1992) Wings of the Storm, Diamond Books (Time travel)*
Linda Howard (1992) The Touch of Fire, Pocket Books (Western)
Kathleen Woodiwiss (1977) Shanna, Futura
Marlene Suson (1997) Scarlet Lady, Avon Historical Romance
Julie Garwood (1996) The Secret, Pocket Star Books*
-- (1997) The Wedding, Pocket Star Books

* = special


2010. 2009 ROMStat Report [Online]. Romance Writers America. Available: [Accessed 25/04/2011 2011].
JOURNALIST. 2008. MIlls & Boons still Tomancing readers. Northern Territory News/Sunday Territorian [Online]. Available: [Accessed 24/04/2011].
LEE, L. J. 2008. Guilty Pleasures: Reading Romance Novels as Revorked Fairy Tales. Marvels & Tales, 22, 52-69.
POYNTER. 2008. Book Industry Statistics [Online]. Available: [Accessed 25/04/2011].