Romance: Our Literary Inheritance

old book on the bench in autumn parkI’ve noticed an interesting pattern when we talk about how we discovered the romance genre.

For some people, romance is what I’ve called our literary inheritance. We’re introduced to a novel, or an author, or an entire bag of books (woo!) by an aunt, a mom, a babysitter, a cousin, a friend. The story so often goes that a female introduced us to the genre, and brought us into this community of readers.

The other frequent story is somewhat in opposition: people who discover the genre in spite of the efforts of a relative to keep us away from it. We hide books under beds, we sneak them in and out of our homes and bags, and we track down books to read while evading notice of a person who would try to stop us, or remove said book from our possession. I know many of us have that same story, too, and we’ll visit that side of our experience next weekend.

Since today is Mother’s Day here in the US, I wanted to focus on the first one, the introduction, the inheritance of our most favorite kind of book. Even if we found our way into the community of romance readers by ducking around and hiding from someone, once we arrived, we inherited quite a number of recommendations from one another by now, right? We all have a mighty, mighty TBR awaiting us.

I’m all for celebrating. So tell us, who introduced you to romance? Was it your mother? A sister? A friend? An individual who helped shaped you into the person you are? Would you introduce us to that person in the comments?

For every person who has been a positive influence in the lives of others, happy day to us.

Comments are Closed

  1. K.N.O'Rear says:

    Until recently I thought I didn’t read a romance novel until college on my own, but thinking back a little further I remember reading an old Harlequin Intrigue( light on the love making content) I found in my Grandmother’s huge collection usually in the back of her car or scattered haphazardly around her house. She didn’t necessarily introduce me, buy my book worm curiosity got the better of me .

    My grandma(or Maw as we and my siblings, and my aunt’s kids call her) always called them her “mystery novels ” . Today, at 67 she still works as a nurse and spoils me and her other grandchildren to death practically.

  2. katy says:

    I discovered romances through my Grandmother’s Harlequins. She was an avid reader, especially of Barbara Cartland. She referred to it as “old lady pornography”. This was in the Seventies and she has been gone for many years now, but I think that she would be shocked and delighted to see how the genre has evolved.

  3. Evaine says:

    I’ve always been a reader, eagerly aided and abetted by my mom and my aunt for as long as I can remember. I guess Mom introduced me to the historical adventure potboiler romance type of books by allowing me to read her Frank Yerby novels (The Golden Hawk is a special favourite still.) She never read Harlequins or the like back in those days in the late 60s/early 70s.

    Then, Auntie Blanche introduced me to her favourite romance writer, D.E. Stevenson by giving me books by her for every possible occasion. Got a 95% in Algebra? Have The Tall Stranger. That type of thing. *LOL*

    As far as categories, that would be my best friend Cathy – Cat as I call her still. We were no more than 13 or 14 at the time. Her family had moved away from Montreal to Toronto, but for years we spent a good part of our summer vacations together at each others’ houses. She introduced me to Harlequins and this new thing, Harlequin Presents (they were spicier!) and Barbara Cartland and yes, the Grande Dame – Georgette Heyer.

    And that’s when I introduced my mom to Harlequins, of which she devoured all versions until she passed away. 🙂

  4. KRGrille says:

    I inherited my love of romance novels from my mom and the stash of Harlequin, Silhouette, and crazysauce early 80’s Zebras that she and my BFF’s mom traded back and forth. BFF and I used to sneak them into our rooms and read them before we even hit double-digits so our indoctrination to Romancelandia came at an early and impressionable age. My love of romance continues over 30 years later thanks to a mom who never tried to stifle my reading choices. Thanks Mom!

  5. Crystal says:

    I was introduced to romance novels at what can only be described as an early age. First, like most of everyone here, I loved to read from the jump. I learned quickly and mowed through everything I could get. I think I was in 4th grade by the time that someone told my parents that I was able to read on about the level of most college students.

    Poor parents, it made me a bit of a trial to deal with. We lived about 45 minutes from the nearest bookstore, so when they would take me and let me get a Babysitter’s Club or SVH, I would usually have finished it by the time we got home. Plus, I was very grouchy if I had nothing to read.

    So about sixth grade, they gave up and just started referring me to what they were reading. I remember some Harlequins, including one with a billionaire sheik type (naturally) and the red haired American that I think might have been married to him in an arrangement (lots of beach scenes and references to her billowy, graceful clothing and curling, fiery red hair, I really wanted red hair by the time it was done). I also remember some Grace Livingston Hill. Very chaste, very Christian. One of them had a house that was terrible and the heroine came in and turned it into a complete showpiece, while being really pretty, with soft brown hair.

    I fell heavily into horror throughout middle school, lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. As high school hit, I found my way into some romantic suspense, mostly Tami Hoag (I really liked one called Ugly Duckling). There was also a Catherine Coulter called The Maze that I enjoyed. Nora Roberts was the biggie though. I think I was about 16 when I was complaining (per usual) about having nothing to read, and my mom threw her NR that she had handy at me, saying, “Oh, hell. Just read that!” I looked at it, shrugged, and went ahead, because hey, bored. It was Honest Illusions. First off, those sex scenes were “whoa, nelly!” when you’re 16. Second, it was so good. I nommed that puppy inside of a day and started pestering my mom for whatever else she had. Suffice to say, I was fine for several weeks. I still read Roberts on the regular.

    These days, I read everything, but I love my romance novels. I love them with no shame. I refer others to them. I snuck some into my sister’s pile of “hope you feel better” books I gave her when she was recovering recently from a thing. Were they straight romance novels? Nope, but the Lunar series and Daughter of Smoke and Bone have fairly strong romantic elements (I may have been a little sneaky on that, my sister is the type of person who thinks that unless what she’s reading makes her miserable, it must not be improving her). As for Mom, the student has become the teacher. Who put her onto Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare? Yeah, that’d be me. Who lets her know when there’s a new NR or JD Robb that needs her attention? Me again.

  6. Kate M. says:

    My mother brought Georgette Heyer into my life. My local library had a special set set of shelves with paperback romances, esp. Barbara Cartland and older Harliquins, nothing steamy at all. (I’m not sure they had hardcover ones at all. This was the last 70s-early 80s.) And my boyfriend’s best friend’s mom had both Harlequin and Silhouette subscriptions and I devoured those books while the boys played D & D for hours upon hours. All of those factors played a part in my enduring love for romance books.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I was also introduced to romance by my mother’s Georgette Heyer books. She had about 10 on the bookshelf – 1950’s paperbacks. I used my pocket money to buy more from the newsagent near my school. The books are all on the shelf at my mum’s and I still borrow them when I want a comfort read, although I am also building up a collection of ebooks and audio books.

  8. MelissaL says:

    My mom is the one that got me reading romance even though she didn’t read it. Mom’s escapism of choice in her last years was horror movies on vcr and mine was books.I had read cozy mysteries, space opera and the occasional fantasy. but back then I was without a good library or book store. She bought the first sack loveswept for me at a yard sale so I would have enough new books to read.

    In the 80s and early 90s Harlequin, loveswept and Silhouette gave me HEAs while mom watched Jason, Freddie and their friends stalk horny teens on TV.

  9. Susan says:

    I still chuckle when I think about how I was introduced to romance novels. My single dad came home one day with three (three!) grocery sacks full of romance novels. According to him, his secretary thought his daughters would like these books. Not only did he introduce my sisters and I to romance novels that fateful day, he introduced them to the entire population of girls between the ages of 10 and 15 in our tiny rural town. I wish I could remember her name since that secretary certainly deserves big thank you.

  10. Chele says:

    This is so weird, but … My eightysomething great grandfather. He babysat me and my sister as kids and had stacks of the following: Larry McMurty novels (eh), readers digests (ehhhhhh), and Harlequin contemporary novels.

  11. I’d have to say my parents – but accidentally! They indulged my love of reading by letting me loose in used bookstores, where I spent most of my allowance. But I’d also say… CHURCH! Yes, how weird is that? Being too shy for social events, I usually hid out in the church library where I discovered Grace Livingston Hill, the mother of inspirational romance. I moved on to mainstream romance as an adult, but that’s probably where it started!

  12. DonnaMarie says:

    Grandma was the one with the bag o’books. Mom didn’t have a lot of time for reading when we were little, so someone had to take advantage of all those Phyllis Whitneys, Agatha Christies and Victoria Holts. Then one fateful day there it was, all green and spooky. While The Green Darkness by Anya Seton is not categorized as a romance it certainly informs some of my catnip. It is the ultimate second chance romance. Then the next happy surprise all stark white with woman fleeing on horse back. Rosemary Rogers’ The Wildest Heart. I’ve never looked back. Thanks Grandma.

  13. Francesca says:

    I read historical fiction for years: Jean Plaidy, Margaret Campbell Barnes and Norah Lofts. When I was 11 or 12, I picked up a Clare Darcy (Allegra), at a Friends of the Library sale, which introduced to me Regency. Around the same time, I started devouring the Angelique books. A friend lent me Captive Passions by Fern Michaels right after it was released and shortly after that I found Bertrice Small. Rosemary Rogers soon followed.

    My mother strongly disapproved; she thought I was too smart to be reading romances, but was grateful I wasn’t reading Harlequin (I didn’t read one until I was in my twenties), but she never forbade me to read anything I wanted.

  14. Lauren says:

    I started by sneaking my older sister’s SVH,since she had already moved on to the HUGE collection of romance filing my mom’s bookshelves. I was all of 12 when I got bored with the SVH and started sneaking the romance too, mostly Judith McNaught, Jude Devereaux, Nora Roberts, Jayne Anne Krentz, and Joanna Lindsey. I say sneaked, but I realize now my mom wouldn’t have cared what I read as long as I was reading something. She was a teacher and we were all big readers in my family. Around the same time, I also remember reading a lot of diverse choices, from To Kill A Mockingbird to The Silence of the Lambs, so I think my reading level was just maturing.

  15. SandyCo says:

    A friend of mine loaned three Harlequin Presents to me back in 1977; we were in 9th grade. From that point on I was hooked. HPs remain my romance staple, and I have a keeper copy of the first one I read – “Wild Melody” by Sara Craven. My Kindle is named after the heroine, Catriona. I’ve branched out since then into other genres and series, and I’ll keep reading romances until I’m no longer able to do so. (Strange to think that Sara Craven is still writing HPs, too.)

  16. ConnieH says:

    Unlike most of the stories so far, I wasn’t a reader until almost 4th grade. I remember my mother telling me when I was much older that my father was concerned that I wasn’t reading ‘enough’. It didn’t matter what I read as far as he was concerned, but I needed to do more of it. Mom and my older sister both read mysteries, Dad read a lot of non-fiction & history. Mom nudged me into picking up my older sister’s Nancy Drew books and Cherry Ames books. My sister only had about 2 dozen or so Nancy Drew’s and about 6 Cherry Ames but it was enough to get me started. I’ve never heard anyone ever mention the Cherry Ames books before but they were a series set in WWII featuring Cherry Ames and her classmates. It followed their adventures from nursing school through various settings in their careers including military service and always involved solving a mystery just like Nancy. I never did find any more from that particular series.

    We didn’t have a book store in town but fortunately there was a local store chain that’s now long out of business that had a book section & sold Nancy Drew books. I expanded the collection exponentially. I think there were at least 100 books by the time I graduated to Gothic novels….Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Jane Aiken Hodge etc. By this time, the local mall had a book store. When we went there, I usually got bored with whatever my parents were shopping for and would wander off to the book store with allowance money in hand. There I would be found searching for my next read. Usually once I finally settled on my next read, I would pay for my purchase and wander out into the mall to find my parents sitting waiting for me outside of the book store.

    Dad would get a copy of the New York Times every Sunday after church and encouraged me and my sisters to read it to ‘find out what’s happening in the world’. There I found and interest in the world and history. But in the Book Review section I also found Johanna Lindsey. It was a small step from there to the rest of Avon’s Leading Ladies.

    I’ll confess at this point I never read Harlequin/Silhouette romances until Stephanie A. (a friend I met in college) introduced me to them around 1980. I had originally looked down on them since they were so much shorter than the “Olde Skool” romances I was now devouring. But I became a fan reading Silhouettes written by Janet Dailey, Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz.

    So, it was both parents, my sister and Stephanie A. who I have to thank for an addiction to books that lasts to this day.

  17. Angela Urrea says:

    Reading these post , I was amazed by the common thread which is the love of reading instilled by parents. My parents were denied education by economic and social pressures, but encouraged us to read whatever we wanted to read. My mom was a volunteer at the BookMobile and brought home Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden, Barbara Cartland. I’d pick up and read them while she did housekeeper task. In junior high I bought an Angelique book from Woolworth’s with my babysitting money. I discovered romance books on a road trip while in college and the author who changed things was Kathleen Woodwise. Its been dull on addiction ever since.

  18. Caroline C says:

    I remember reading ‘Gone With The Wind’ in 2nd grade – I was pretty damn precocious. My grandmother was a lifelong bag-o-books category reader and kept all the libraries and secondhand bookstores in business. my mother went through phases and there were always romances about. I think I was magnetized to romance – voracious reader, wore out the library. But one of my fondest memories was when, at 12 yrs old and probably wearing my mother out with wanting something new to read, she handed me ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ and I was so, so hooked. As Bonnie Hunt’s character in ‘Return to Me’ says, “…Kept me a virgin til, you know, whenever…” 😉

  19. Aelily says:

    My Mom. She is a big reader, and romance was one of many genres she fixated on for a time. I distinctly remember her giving me her copy of Danielle Steel’s Zola. It is one of the epics. I was hooked from that point on.

  20. Aelily says:

    I forgot to mention that I was about 12 at the time…

  21. Andrea says:

    I think it was the Reader’s Digest abridged books which introduced me to Victoria Holt. After that, I was in the library all the time.

  22. Rhoda Baxter says:

    I run a guest feature on my blog called Inheritance Books – where people talk about the book they inherited and the book they’d leave to a future generation. Most of the contributors have been romance novelists (’cause that’s who I know). Of romance authors Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer are the ones that are mentioned most often.

    Personally, I was introduced to romance by my local library. I used to commute by train, which meant lots of reading time, so each week I used to grab a selection from the ‘just returned’ trolley in the library. I read Playing James by Sarah Mason and got into romantic comedy from there on.

    (PS: If you’d like to do you own Inheritance Books post, please do get in touch! Details on my blog

  23. EC Spurlock says:

    Like #17 Angela, my mom had a lot of strikes against her when it came to reading (English was not her first language, she was dyslexic, and came from a very poor family) but she believed in reading everything that came her way and encouraged her kids to do the same. Her favorite reading material were romances (Gone With the Wind was her favorite, she had a movie edition with stills from the movie as illustrations and literally read it to bits) and comic books. I disdained both of these, being WAY too smart for all that bad writing and over-the-top emotion, and stuck to a diet of hardcore science fiction throughout my youth.

    When I went away to college I fell in with bad companions: Yvonne and Betsy. Yvonne was from Australia and later emigrated to her country of origin, Greece. She was a huge Georgette Heyer fan and loaned her collection to me, declaring I would like them much better than the standard 70s Old Skools because they were smart and witty rather than overblown. I quickly got hooked and the two of us made many a foray to the venerable Lyrical Ballad used bookstore in search of catnip which grew to include Norah Lofts and Edna Ferber (I was still into angst and irony.) Betsy lived on the floor above and devoured romances through the endless winters of her native Minnesota; she was a huge romantic in all things (when Mary Ingalls got married on Little House, we went downtown to the Grand Union supermarket and bought cake and cookies and threw a wedding reception.) Betsy gave me my first real romance book (Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram) and it went on from there.

    So thank you, Yvonne and Betsy, for introducing me to my antidepressant of choice; romances have saved my life and kept me going more often than I can say. I don’t think I ever told Mom that I started reading them; it was still too important to me to show that I had risen above my background. So Mom, on this Mother’s Day, I’ll say it now: You were right.

  24. RayC says:

    Early, fast reader too so missed the SVH and straight on to the Mills & Boons my mother would preselect. Quite early on Mum also gave me Georgette Heyer’s Charity Girl which was her favourite, but I was too young at the time to understand the writing style. Later These Old Shades and Venetia became my favourites and I found out they were my grandfather’s too. When I was 12 I had a sleepover at a friend’s house and after lights out she showed me this book of her mother’s that she had found – it was a Mills and Boon BUT not like any my mother had given me – and that and the Rocky Horror Show movie I saw at another friend’s place is how I found out about sex. This year, we discovered a cupboard full of 70s and 80s Mills and Boons and Harlequins at my aunt and uncle’s bach (holiday house)and I found out they had all come via my grandmother. Both my mother and my mother’s sister-in-law and therefore me, had discovered the genre because of my grandmother. How do we maintain the cycle of passing of books on in the ebook world?

  25. denise says:

    Mom always had Harlequins–I started by reading those!

  26. Coco says:

    I was introduced to romance by my best friend’s mother. She shared a book with my mother, and I had never seen my mother read before. It was something that interested me because it was an anomaly. I don’t recall for sure how old I was but I would say probably middle school. Maybe even later.

    I didn’t love reading, as such, before that. I was a voracious reader, of things like the phone book, or the dictionary, or the cereal box, or really anything I could get my hands on, but I didn’t read books. And I think that was ok with my mom, as she wasn’t interested in fiction, and felt secure in the knowledge that I could read, and comprehend, and thought that was enough.

    My brother didn’t read. He’s older than me by about a year and a half, and never really learned to read. He can get it done if he has to, and his comprehension is ridiculously high, but he has a very hard time sitting down and reading anything and enjoying it, he finds it frustrating. He can read manuals and understand them but reading fiction, or even nonfiction if it’s not in that kind of format, like a manual has very small pieces of information in an outline, that’s just work, a chore for him.

    So I think my mother wasn’t worried about me not enjoying reading, because she knew I could do it. In fact, well before I read for my own enjoyment, I used to read to my brother. He simply couldn’t do it, so we did it for him. (Just so you know, it wasn’t something that we were trying to hide (his inability to read), it was just the best, only, thing that worked. I’m not positive, but I believe, that this was the solution that my mother came up with with my brothers counselors and teachers.)

    Anyway, when I saw my mother reading this book, a novel, it was truly a novel experience. She seem to be enjoying it, so I thought I should probably check that out. I don’t believe she ever read another one, but I never stopped.

    My best friend’s mother shared her library with me. She like to read sagas, that first one was part of a saga but I didn’t know that. I didn’t really know what a saga was. And she had given my mother (and so me,) the latest book in the series. So I had to go read all of them. ALL OF THEM. (I’m not sure if it was Philippa Carr or Victoria Holt. She sure did like her sagas, and funnily enough I never did read Jean Plaidy, or any of her other work.) This was, of course, before the Internet, before Goodreads, before Wikipedia, I was lost. I think she had most of them, but I feel like I read them way out of order. I’m still not sure which ones they were.

    She also introduced me to Barbara Michaels, and Elizabeth Peters, Mary Stewart, LaVyrle Spencer, Judith Ivory, Sandra Brown, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Penelope Nari, Bertrice Small, and so many others. She used to read the category romances, I never did get into them much, I liked the meatier, thicker, heavier books. She did introduce me to the Harlequin Historicals, which I devoured, and which introduced me to a whole host of new authors.

    She’s the one who really introduced me to loving to read. And while I am no longer close with her daughter I am still close with her. She’s forever.

    I need to call her.

  27. DL WHITE says:

    My mom read them and I read whatever she was reading. She loves Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown. I read the Flowers in the Attic series as a very young teen.

  28. Lina C says:

    In 6th grade my mom introduced me to Danielle Steel and the world of Harlequin romance. Unknowingly…an avid reader she had a box of books she got from a friend. Mom wasn’t into the Lavyrle Spencer’s in the box but I loved them and still do. As a teen I hid my spicier reads from her And years later still do when she visits. But I love her and we will always have Danielle Steel.

  29. jimthered says:

    While I’m not a romance novel reader (thought I do love this site; go figure), I do remember that when I was in grammar school, my grandmother had massive amounts of Harlequin romances lined up under the wooden tv stand, in the space under the drawer in the nightstand, and so on. I don’t know if she ever stopped reading them or quietly added to her collection, but she has massive amounts of those thin paperbacks with the hero and heroine inside a circle on the cover.

  30. Rachel Cross says:

    I graduated from Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen to Barbara Cartland in 6th grade. Although my mom wasn’t much into reading romance herself (she was a conservative Catholic) she was open minded enough to allow me to check out what I liked to read at the library. From middle school on that meant romance. Lots and lots of romance. Contemporaries from Harlequin, Silhouette, Loveswept. Historicals by McNaught, Garwood, London and others. I’ve been a proud romance reader since 1982 and now write contemporary romance.
    Thanks, Mom.

  31. lorenet says:

    I owe my love of reading romance to some anonymous governmental person/agency who, the summer of 1976 (I think) created a snail-mail library program for those of us living in the middle-of-nowhere-Texas. I received a catalog inviting me to request books I wanted to read. I selected Shanna and The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E Woodiwiss. I then waited for these books to be mailed to my home address. After devouring these first books, I made my next selection (Sweet Savage Love and Dark Fires by Rosemary Rodgers) and returned the Woodiwiss books in a postage-paid envelope the agency had provided. That was a great summer.

  32. rayvyn2k says:

    It was a friend in high school in the 70s. Yep, my very first romance novel was “The Flame and the Flower”. Then, yep again, I read “The Wolf and the Dove”. I was 15 or 16, I think. (Another voracious reader whose parents let me read what I wanted.)

    We used to call them “trashy novels”. Heh. As I recall, a bunch of us passed them around. We were all journalism students, which is hilarious to me now.

  33. LauraL says:

    I was introduced to romance novels in my tweens by my cousin’s maternal grandmother. My cousins and I spent most of the summer at my grandparents’ farm. Our parents and “other” grandparents came to visit on weekends. Grandma Priscilla brought out bags of Harlequin novels for the “ladies” and Grandma Anna wouldn’t let the “girls” get into the books. My cousins and I would filch one or two from the bag, read them in our big shared bedroom, then sneak them back into the bags out on the sun porch. We especially liked the rich rancher stories as we were horse-crazy girls.

    In college, I studied Medieval Literature and read medieval and pirate romances for fun when not parsing out Chaucer or reading obscure German reference books. A fellow budding medievalist introduced me to Bertrice Small’s crazy sauce books. A few years later, as a newlywed I was introduced to Georgette Heyer, Belva Plain, Anne Stuart, and other authors by an elderly neighbor. She and her husband had been married 60 years and were still a lovely and romantic couple. Miss Belva turned me into a hard core romance reader and gave me the best recipe for cheese straws.

    Interesting how many have said their mothers introduced them to romance novels. My mother always read popular fiction, but considered my historical romances “trashy” books. We have an English professor in our family (not me!) and Mom became more insistent on reading “literature” late in life. She tried to lend me dreary books without happy endings and I would gracefully decline. I have recently come full circle in my romance reading, as I’ve started slipping a few cowboy HEAs into my reading rotation.

  34. Karen W. says:

    I actually discovered it on my own. I got burnt out on reading sci-fi and horror for many years, and I was looking for some good westerns. I found Rosanne Bittner, and the rest is history!

  35. Suzy says:

    I got my love of books from my family. My parents were great readers and money was tight in a family with six children. No fancy holidays, our summers were spent on the farm with trips to the library. Hot afternoons spent lying on a rug under the pear tree escaping to other worlds through books , mostly adventure books like Biggles of the Camel Squadron, and Patsy of the Wilds.
    It was until very late in the piece that I discovered romance land when one of the pink ladies brought a box of books to me during a hospitilisation.
    Included in that dog eared pile was Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen still to me the sweetest YA and a bunch of harlequins some good, Karina Bliss, and some that I wanted to throw across the room. But I am now an avid 1 Click after discovering Smart Bitches

  36. Rhyll Biest says:

    My nanna had an entire collection of Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart on her bookshelves, which I would devour every time we visited (about once a year, since she lived two hours away from the closest city, and was a 12 hour drive away from Brisbane). She thought I was awesome for liking her books and I thought she was awesome for having them.

  37. maggie burkhart says:

    My grandma Horne. She would read her romances in ladies home journal and red book. She would hide it from grandpa. I remember reading them when he was out working in the barn. One of us would sit in the window keeping a look out.

  38. Jess says:

    My grandmother was an avid Georgette Heyer fan. I still have 20+ of her paperback Heyer novels, crumbling pages held together by rubber bands.

    My mom passed the love of Heyer down to me, along with Mary Stewart. We read all the Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels together when I was about fifteen. We still share book recommendations back and forth; I’ve gotten her to read a couple of Laura Kinsales and one Courtney Milan.

    She doesn’t really approve of graphic sexytimes in novels, so around the time I got my driver’s license I started making sneaky purchases from the bookshelf at our local Goodwill – a mixed bag, to say the least! During my junior year of high school, I found several bona fide Old Skool romances there, including a Johanna Lindsey, the WTF-tastic “The Falcon and the Flower” by Virginia Henley, and something with a fuschsia and orange cover about a pirate named Morgan Black. Good times.

    It’s cool to see how many people here were first introduced to romance through the same authors, whether it was in the 1960s or the early 2000s. Long live Heyer and Stewart!

  39. Diana says:

    My mom bought me The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss when I was about 11 or 12. She didn’t read romance herself, or I don’t think she would have given me that book as it is pretty racy and rape-tastic. But it was pretty clear I was going to be a ride or die romance reader at that point, having checked out pretty much every romance novel in the library already (and trying to be secretive about it). When she found out, instead of discouraging me, she started buying me romance novels, which we would read and talk about together. Some of my best, and most revealing memories, with my mom are those book chats we had. So, thanks, mom!

  40. Karen H near Tampa says:

    My mother passively introduced me to romance novels. I got a love of reading from her and read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” at age 7 but the romance reading was not by design. In my 40s, with a degree in English, I read a lot but not romance (shudder–I was quite the snob). But I had to take a business trip to the East Coast (I was living in California at the time) and added a weekend trip to Tampa to visit my folks (and save on airfare). The bedroom I was in had a couple of bookshelves filled with Harlequins (she had a subscription in the 80/90s as I recall) that really didn’t interest me. But she had some larger historical novels by Johanna Lindsey on top of the dresser. I picked one up, recognized Fabio (remember I lived in California so knew about him), looked at the back cover, saw it was historical and I have always loved history (my second choice after English for my college major), decided I was on vacation so why not? I devoured that book, read more of books on the dresser, and have never looked back. I branched into contemporary romance when I found out that Amanda Quick, one of my favorite authors, was also Jayne Ann Krentz. I branched into paranormal when I found out she was also Jayne Castle. I read across the genres although historical is still my favorite and I occasionally share books with Mom. Unfortunately, she bends the spines so now I get her books to read from the library instead. She has switched mostly to cozy mysteries (that I also read) but my primary reading is still romance. I prefer books with hunky shirtless guys on the cover and have never hid them. However, I do love my Kindle because I can carry around thousands of books with less weight than one or two paperbacks! I’m never without something good to read. I’ve learned so much from reading romances and I am happy to enlighten people who put them down.

Comments are closed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.

↑ Back to Top