GS v. STA: Aussie in France Needs Epic Man-titty - STAT!

Bitchery Exchange Student Mads is an Aussie in France, and she needs le help! She is looking to build a reading list of bodice-rippingly-good saga romances for her reading pleasure.

Recently I got the opportunity to become and exchange student in France- and voila, here I am. I’ve been in France for six weeks now and despite the freezing, disgusting weather (I’m Australian; this is my idea of hell. Well, this and that Hoff strippy, trippy thing you posted) I’m really enjoying France. But I have an incredibly obvious problem: A lack of books. I tore through the Quinn and Kleypas I brought with me and I’ve been indulging in ebooks since.

Here is my question. My anecdote wasn’t long and rambley without reason- I need Smart Bitch help.

I would really love to read some epic romance. I’m sick of regency, my usual romance fodder, and I’d love to try something with a bit more kick. I’m open to paranormal but my true love is always going to be historical. I’ve been thinking about the long and rather terrible epic sagas of the 80’s like Jane Feather and other authors.

I was just wondering if the very capable bitchery could help me out: I have far too much time on my hands with nothing to do but drink Chocolat Chaud and enjoy the French hotties (Quel Horreur!) and I’m in serious need of very long romance novels, preferably with a good plot line in addition to being a bodice ripper.

Well, I’ll leave this in your capable hands.

First, you might like Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris about an Aussie lady who marries a Parisian man and learns to cross naturally exuberant Australian friendliness with French culture. It’s hilariously awesome.

But saga romances? I confess I am a complete sucker for one of the first romances I’ve ever read: Blaze Wyndham. It may not be in print or easy to find, but it’s bodice-rippery and saga-licious like damn and what.  What’s your pick?

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  1. 1
    Lucy says:

    It’s not bodice-rippery, but the Outlander series is the most epic of sagas. Six deliciously long books starring the best hero the romance genre has ever seen, Jamie Fraser. I consider them required reading!

  2. 2
    Katie Ann says:

    I highly second Lucy’s Outlander suggestion.  There series is already well over 6,000 pages, which should last you a while.

  3. 3
    MaryKate says:

    I suggest The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. So, so awesome. And deeply epic.

  4. 4
    Caroline says:

    I third the two above! A fantastic epic! I am part way through book 5, with book 6 anxiously waiting, and book 7 is supposed to be out next year *anxiously bites lip*

    I may also delve into her other series based around Lord John Grey. Not sure if they are romance-centric, but look quite good!

  5. 5
    Stacy says:

    I’ve got to recommend “For My Lady’s Heart” by Laura Kinsale. It’s absolutely epic, and very beautifully written.

  6. 6
    fiveandfour says:

    In addition to the Outlander series, I’d also recommend the Guardian series by Meljean Brook.  It starts with Demon Angel, continues with Demon Moon and Demon Night comes out (at least in the U.S.) this month.  That combines epic and paranormal all in one delicious package.

  7. 7
    Randi says:

    I’d like to suggest my first ever bodice-ripper series: Rosemary Rogers’ Ginny and Steve series. I believe there are 4 on Ginny and Steve and a fifth that is about their daughter. It’s historical and covers just about every country, including France!

  8. 8
    Nik says:

    Try Elizabeth Chadwick: epic, historical (medievil, not regency), romantic, but not really bodice-ripping.

  9. 9
    Melissandre says:

    Might I recommend Kathleen E. Woodiwiss?I don’t know how epic it is, but she is certainly historical and…somewhat terrible in that 70s/80s romance kind of way.  Her most memorable for me is “The Flame and the Flower,” which is set during the Regency, but isn’t a Regency (if that makes sense).  I also remember not hating “So Worthy My Love,”  “Petals on the River,” and “The Wolf and the Dove.”  I recently heard that Woodiwiss had died, and it looks like all her books are being republished anew, so they shouldn’t be too hard to aquire.

  10. 10
    MplsGirl says:

    Kathleen Woodiwiss is good for a saga. “Shanna” will take you from the carribbean islands to colonial America, and “A Rose in Winter” will take you to northern Europe and England.

    ‘Nother vote for the Outlander series.

    For an engrossing pseudo-historical saga try Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, starting with Kushiel’s Dart. It’s epic and hot, full of intrigue, mystery, betrayal, lust, love and a whole lot more.  (It’s set in an alternate medieval to renaissance Europe, one that imagines what it would have been like with magic and a pantheon of gods.)

  11. 11
    Stacy says:

    Oh, Kathleen Woodiwiss is so good! My two favorites from her are “A Rose in Winter” and “Ashes on the Wind.”

  12. 12
    Lucy says:

    Caroline, I’m a diehard Gabaldon fan so I tried reading the Lord John books. They’re more mystery fiction than anything else. While I love John’s character in the Outlander books, I wasn’t thrilled with the John books. I guess I need Jamie and Claire to stay interested. :)

  13. 13
    Marg says:

    Definitely agree on Gabaldon, Chadwick (especially The Greatest Lion and The Scarlet Lion), Paullina Simons!

    Another suggestion I would make are The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. The second one, in particular, is excellent!

  14. 14
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I would say Monica McCarty writes very sweeping, old-school romance (minus the “rape ‘em till they love it” asshat heroes). And since she came out back-to-back-to-back you can get your hands on three THICK books all at once.

  15. 15
    Melissandre says:

    You might also like “Lady of the Forest” by Jennifer Roberson.  It is a retelling of the Robin Hood myth from Marian’s point of view.  Robin Hood comes back from the Crusades all emotionally wounded and stuff: you just want to hug him and make it better.  While not terribly epic, it is really thick.  At nearly 800 pages, it should last, what, two days?

  16. 16
    raspberry_wench says:

    Yeah, definitely give Outlander a try if you haven’t yet.  The first time I was all “JFC, WTF with the TIME TRAVEL and the WHAT and WHAT and the HOW and the….oh, fine, hot guy in a kilt. I accept.”

    Seconding anything by Laura Kinsale. She’s fantastic.  I also liked The Tea Rose, and in a similar vein is Passage Home, by Alison McLeay.

    To go all old skool, if you haven’t read The Thorn Birds (although I can hardly imagine anyone on this site hasn’t) you just have to.  Ditto Pillars of the Earth.

  17. 17
    Ann says:

    What about Belva Plain.  Isn’t Evergreen a sweeping epic?

  18. 18
    Emeline Greene says:

    Can enough be said about “Outlander”? Totally a must-read. I’ve got three copies of the first book; one for keepsies, two for loan-outs. The girls at my stitch-n-bitch are deeply entrenched in the Gabadonian mystique.

    This is a bit random and not romance, but I feel compelled to toss Stephen King’s magnum opus into the ring: “The Dark Tower” series, beginning with “The Gunslinger.” Roland of Gilead is deeply romantic. There are seven books, and each one is bigger than the last. Very epic.

  19. 19
    Laidybyrd says:

    Don’t know if they qualify as epic but Mary Jo Putney has a couple of series that are wonderful: the Bride trilogy, the Fallen Angel series (which has seven books).  Also love Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster novels and her Bastion Club.

  20. 20
    Marjorie Liu says:

    Sara Donati’s “Wilderness” series, which starts with “Into the Wilderness,” is one of my forever favorites, a book I can read over and over again.  And it features a cameo from the characters in “Outlander”!

  21. 21

    Well, since you are in France you might like to try Anne Golon’s Angélique series (I’ve only ever seen the films, but I know several people who also enjoyed the books). Or Victoria Holt’s The Devil on Horseback (not a saga, but one of the old Gothic romances).

    And if you’ve never read Penelope Williamson’s Keeper of the Dream, you should do that straight away. :) It’s a truly lovely medieval romance.

  22. 22
    KellyMaher says:

    Ohh, ohh, ohh, Susan Johnson’s early ones, especially the ones with the footnotes.  My favorites are:

    Pure Sin – unconnected to any of the others as far as I can tell
    The Braddock-Black series – 1. Blaze, 2. Silver Flame, 3. Forbidden (my fave), 4. Brazen
    The St. John series – 1. Sinful, 2. Taboo, 3. Wicked, 4. Touch of Sin
    The Kuzans – 1. Seized by Love, 2. Love Storm, 3. Sweet Love, Survive

  23. 23
    Marjorie Liu says:

    Oh, I forgot her!  Penelope Williamson is excellent!  My favorite is “The Outsider.”  Also check out LaVyrle Spencer’s “Morning Glory.”

  24. 24
    sazzat says:

    No specific book recs, but if you’re looking for romance paperbacks in Paris, the WH Smith on Rivoli usually has some.  And they’re open Sundays (and they don’t mind people hanging around their newsstand, reading magazines – in fact, it seems to be a Sunday ritual).  Tea and Tattered Pages in the 6th has used paperbacks, including some romance.  Bonne Annee!

  25. 25
    Leah says:

    Most of these have been said already, but definitely Diana Gabaldon, the Thornbirds, and Sara Donati if you like historicals and Jacqueline Carey and C.L. Wilson for fantasy.

  26. 26
    Katidid says:

    Can I second Demon Angel and Demon Moon by Meljean Brooks? DA was number one on my annual top 10 list. And it’s sort of historical – Hugh and Lilith live for centuries!

  27. 27
    nitenurse says:

    The Angelique books are a good read and they were thick.  France to Quebec, sex, lust, and costumes.  Sergeanne Golon was a husband and wife team who wrote them.

    They can be hard to find in English, so how good is your French?

  28. 28

    No specific book recs, but if you’re looking for romance paperbacks in Paris, the WH Smith on Rivoli usually has some.

    There’s a WH Smith in Paris??? NOT FAIR! There’s no such lovely thing in Frankfurt (at least not to my knowledge), and the Marks & Sparks we had closed two or three years ago (not that they sold books—for me, the main attraction was the food hall and those lovely, lovely, lovelely English sandwiches).

  29. 29
    Elizabeth says:

    Since you’re in France, what about the Dark Queen series, by Susan Carroll?  The first on is “The Dark Queen,” followed by “The Courtesan” and “The Silver Rose.”  There’s another one, “The Huntress,” which I haven’t read yet, but I think that it’s part of the series, too.  They’re good, even if you like the real Catherine de Medici (the evil “dark queen” of the titles).

  30. 30
    Rachel B. says:

    I enjoyed those Susan Johnson books, but all I can remember from them is a bunch of fairly rapa-licious sex, and one scene that involved a huge blue glass dildo. Humina!

    Actually, if you want something epic, really amazingly epic, you want Dorothy Dunnet, starting with Game of Kings and rambling through six immense volumes to the happy ending. In between, you visit Scotland, England, France, various ports on the Levant including Istanbul and of course Imperial Russia. Supporting characters include: monarchs, eunuchs, knights, smugglers, nuns and a truly creepy mummified corpse.

    The hero, blonde-n-nasty Crawford of Lymond, is the BESTEST HERO EVAR!!!

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