I was a romance reader long before I was a romance writer – actually, since I used to sneak Mills and Boon books from my mother’s beside table at the precocious age of 12.
By 13, I’d graduated to Shirley Conran and Jackie Collins, and she’d ‘graduated’ to just handing them to me.
At high school, I read every Sweet Dreams book ever written along with all the other teenage girls in existence. As an adult, I discovered chicklit – mostly romcoms, but also the more heartfelt side of the genre.
And when I read my first Lindsey Kelk book in January 2013, I knew two things. First, I wanted to read all her books (there were 5 then; there are soon to be 13). And second, I wanted to write romance novels.
I still read widely across the genre and wanted to share some (old and new) favourites with you.
The first in the Tess Brookes series (my fave chicklit series ever) – this book is hilarious. Buy it here. Kelk’s book that started my love affair with romance writing is I Heart New York, and you can now pre-order the 8th ‘I Heart’ book, I Heart Hawaii.
Outlander is, simply, one of the most beautifully-written books I’ve ever read; the prose is sublime. Couple that with a love story that transcends time, it is an absolute must-read. And if you’ve been living under a kilt, there’s also a television show – perhaps the sexiest one on air. I am up to #7 of Diana Gabaldon’s series.
Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series is terrific, and I devoured book 1, Neanderthal Seeks Human. I am only 3 books in (there are 8, each focussing on a different member of the knitting circle), but the way she crafts distinct characters through first person is just terrific.
How I adore Frances Mayes’ writing. She evokes place like no other. Women in Sunlight is not your typical romance novel, as it’s not the primary theme, but I love the approach in this novel which explores love, sex and romance in your 60s.
The Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my favourite books – ever. This story will simply take your breath away.
The 3rd in the trilogy, this was actually my favourite of the moving, yet hopeful ‘Me Before You’ series. An original concept brings Louisa and Will together in a the most devastating ‘meet cute’ ever. Buy the first one here.
Traversing generations, Allende has woven a beautiful and epic love story in The Japanese Lover.
Some other lovely romantic reads I’ve loved over the past few months are: Her Brooding Scottish Heir (my first foray into M&B in decades) by Ella Hayes; French Kissing (sexy, funny, dreamy) by Lynne Selby; A Room at the Manor (heartfelt and lovely) by Julie Shackman; A Village Affair (laugh out loud) by Julie Houston; One Way Ticket to Paris (rekindling true love) by Emma Robinson, and Lottie Loser (romance with a dramatic twist) by Dana L. Brown.
I’m making myself stop there and if you think that’s a lot of books, you should see my TBR (to be read) list!
Happy Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day or just plain old February 14th.