GS (without the STA): Recommendations Needed

Every so often I get a slap-upside-the-head reminder as to how big and important and powerful romance novels can be. Case in point: the following message from Bitchery reader N, who asks for your collective help in assembling a reading list:

Several people have suggested that I ask you and your readers.

I am looking for a book which may not exist.

I have a friend whose mother is a battered wife. She reads romance novels.

I am looking for a romance novel which I can lend her which has the
following themes/ideas/plotpoints/whatever-you-want-to-call-them:

-woman leaves abusive spouse
-woman is okay on her own
-woman finds true love with non-abusive man

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Novels that portray the healing of fair and respectful love and the triumph of people over abusive pasts? There are more than a few in romance, obviously. My first recommendation, Montana Sky by Nora Roberts, which features three women in varying stages of strength, one of whom is on the run from an abusive, obsessive spouse.

However, books aside, please know, N., that I hope your friend’s mother finds her own strength to move to a place of safety and healing very, very soon.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Alix says:

    “Blue-Eyed Devil” by Lisa Kleypas. It just came out in March and it’s a gem.

  2. 2
    Kimberly Anne says:

    “Heaven and Earth” by La Nora.  It was my first Nora Roberts novel, and not only sucked me into the trilogy it begins, but got me reading romance again after several years away.

  3. 3
    MS Jones says:

    Dance Upon the Air is another NR book with a woman who successfully escapes an abusive husband.  But if the friend’s mom is a romance novel reader then she’s probably already familiar with the Roberts oeuvre.

  4. 4
    azteclady says:

    I just saw a post at JC Wilder’s blog about The Power of Love anthology from Berkley.

    Best of luck for this lady!

  5. 5
    snarkhunter says:

    I think Kimberly Anne was also thinking of “Dance Upon the Air”—Heaven and Earth is the sequel and focuses on a different character.

    But that would be my number one recommendation. It does a lot with the character’s suffering and her growing strength. It also shows her difficulties with trust and her moments of backsliding—without judgment. I think it does a much better job than Montana Sky, as much as I enjoy that book, because it is more focused on that one character.

    I sincerely hope this story has a happy ending. :/

  6. 6
    Isacat says:

    Don’t Tell by Karen Rose, the heroine has to fake her own death to run away for an abusive husband.
    Good wishes for her mom.

  7. 7
    MelanieM says:

    Present Danger by Susan Andersen is another with this theme.

  8. 8
    snarkhunter says:

    I might also suggest, with some reservations, Jenny Crusie’s Crazy for You. That one’s really about a stalker, but Quinn’s difficulties in getting out of that relationship do relate directly to the abusiveness that was inherent in it. (I don’t know that what’s-his-name…Bill?…would’ve battered Quinn had she stayed, but it would’ve been an emotionally abusive situation.)

    I have reservations, though, b/c as much as I enjoy that book, I think it’s a little too light-hearted on the whole subject. Or…I don’t know. It’s not even that. There’s a lot of enabling in that book…

  9. 9
    Lara says:

    Most of Catherine Anderson’s books involve women getting out of bad relationships. Sweet Nothings is the one that comes first to mind.

  10. 10
    Lindsay says:

    Another Catherine Anderson that fits the description is Only by Your Touch. It features a heroine who leaves an abusive husband and falls for a very kind man.

  11. 11
    Mel L. says:

    Baby Love by Catherine Anderson (heroine flees a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship with her stepfather ).  This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland (its a Scotish historical.)  Shelter Moutain by Robin Carr (its the second in a series of 3). Sandra Marton’s Raising the Stakes. And Sandra Brown’s Sunset Embrace (a western historical.)

  12. 12
    Cyn says:

    I want to second the recommendation for Blue Eyed Devil.  It’s really a wonderful book.

  13. 13
    Barb Ferrer says:

    GODDESSES OF KITCHEN AVENUE by Barbara Samuel.  Four POVs, each told in a slightly different style and while none of the relationships are depicted as physically abusive, there is emotional belittling going on in one of the relationships and in another, the woman has to recover from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. ALL of the women depicted have to find their own inner strength with which to overcome adversity and overall, it’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

  14. 14

    I’ll third Blue-Eyed Devil.  For me personally, I find books with heroines coming from abused relationships hard to read—cuz it makes my blood boil to ever see a woman that powerless.  But I think Lisa Kleypas handled it beautifully, with compassion and wisdom.

  15. 15
    KCfla says:

    Put me down for recomending “Dance Upon the Air” by LaNora.  That one really deals with abuse/recovery without sugar-coating the problems.

    And add my prayers that the friend’s Mom finds the strength to get out of that relationship- and when ready- finds a much better one.

  16. 16
    LiJuun says:

    I’ve been there.  I had a very sick ex-husband.  Books are very powerful things, and N has a fantastic idea here.

    Although the writing is sort of cornball at times, The Summer House by Jude Deveraux is really good for this.  It’s about three women in rough situations that are given the opportunity to change their pasts.  This book more than any other romance novel, helped me feel better about the situation I escaped from, and which still gives me nightmares today.  I’ve re-read it countless times.

    The one book, though, that changed my life and finally allowed me to begin the healing process was Why Does He Do That, by Lundy Bancroft.  I think everyone, male or female, abused or not, should read this book.  I swear, it saved my life.  It talks about what’s going through his mind.  I couldn’t see how that could help me before I read it, but believe me, it’s the only thing that really worked.

    Also?  Although it’s a bit lighthearted, as Snarkhunter said above, Jennifer Crusie’s Crazy for You scared the bejeebus out of me.  It might have been a little too well written.  Just a thought.

  17. 17
    Kassiana says:

    Saving Grace by Julie Garwood has the main heroine get out of an abusive relationship as well, and repudiating the idea that women are less in the eyes of God. I’ve always liked this book and it’s one of the few I read when I was younger and less selective that’s withstood the test of time.

    I’d also second Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr.

  18. 18
    EmilyV says:

    I would like to reccomend ‘Enchanted Afternoon’ by Susan Wiggs, she has a few books written that deal with this issue, but I think this one is my favorite.  It is a historical, and very powerfully written. 

    Best of luck….sometimes I forget how much books really do for our lives….

  19. 19
    Emilyv says:

    ahhhh! I would also like to second ‘saving grace’ by Julie Garwood.  Absolutely amazing.

  20. 20
    Karen says:

    This is an older book and may be hard to find, but I would recommend Long Night Moon by Theresa Weir.  It might not be to everyone’s tastes, because the heroine does technically commit adultery with the hero while she’s still married to the abusive husband, but I found it very moving.

    If she likes historicals, she might enjoy another older one, A Promise Of Love by Karen Ranney.  It’s graphic at times but the hero is very wonderful and caring.  I found it very moving and heartfelt.


  21. 21
    R. says:

    [What this woman really needs is a restraining order, a lawyer, and a good course in self defence.]

    All those titles sound like good suggestions.  But the book I’d like to suggest is not a romance novel, nor a novel at all:

    Why Men Love Bitches, by Sherry Argov

    Yeah, this one actually works.

  22. 22
    R. says:

    Let me clarify my post above—

    Why Men Love Bitches is more about the woman fixing herself than attempting to salvage a relationship with a man who clearly is not worthy of her [or any woman, for that matter].

    growth14—how does it know??

  23. 23
    Dechant says:

    Probably not quite the same situation, but Secrets in Texas by Carrie Weaver follows a former battered spouse who manages to find love in, of all things, a fundamentalist LDS setting. (She’s undercover with the hero.)

  24. 24
    Melissandre says:

    I agree with the person who recommended This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland.  It is more about a woman escaping an abusive father, but the themes of healing are there for both the hero and heroine.  Let me also recommend The More I See You, also by Lynn Kurland.  This book deals more with abuse the hero suffered, but it’s still a great book about one person overcoming a history of abuse to find love and trust.

  25. 25
    Deanna Lee says:

    I second “Saving Grace” by Julie Garwood.

    It has a beautiful message about inner strength and love.

  26. 26
    Julie Leto says:

    I’m so excited to be able to recommend a book I just finished, GARDEN SPELLS, by Sarah Addison Allen.  What a fabulous book!  The sister is escaping an abusive relationship and finds love with a wonderful, kind man.  And the abusive hubby gets his comeuppance in the end.  I think that was my favorite part.  Magical book.

  27. 27
    limecello says:

    I’m going to add on to the BED suggestions, because not only does Lisa Kleypas do a good job with it, but she has numbers and hotlines for people to use at the end of the book. Also, very very vaguely, Lucy Monroe touches on the subject in her book Ready – it’s a side story, which results in the heroine getting caught in her situation.

  28. 28
    robinjn says:

    For me, the most realistic novel about spousal abuse is Black and Blue by Anna Quindlan. It’s not a romance, it’s fiction. But very well written and powerful. But it’s graphic and may be too dark for someone living through this crisis right now.

  29. 29
    Sandra D says:

    Summer of Roses by Luanne Rice deals with women hiding/running from then dealing with an abusive spouse, learning to trust and fall in love again, and basically get on with life. And the husband gets his in the end, in a highly satisfying way.

  30. 30
    snarkhunter says:

    Ooh, good call on Julie Leto’s part. Garden Spells is a wonderful look at recovery from abuse.

    Barbara Michaels’s Shattered Silk is another good one—again, the relationship from which the heroine is escaping is not a physically abusive one, but it is absolutely emotionally abusive, and her healing process is a fundamental part of the book and the mystery.

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