Let me clue you in to my absolute favorite romance titles to date and what inspired me to get into the genre. I would recommend them for anyone who wants an introduction to the whole scene.
Firstly: Educating Caroline by Patricia Cabot (aka Meg Cabot ). Published by Pocket/ Simon and Schuster 2001.
Now, most people will know Meg Cabot as the author of the NY Times best-selling Princess Diaries series (first published by Macmillan in 2000, 15th year anniversary eek!!). These were the books I grew up with. They helped during my awkward tween years and taught me about boys. I owe a lot to them… I actually still listen to the entire series audio books from audible.
Anyway, Meg started her career writing romance under a pen-name. So her early novels are lesser known but really deserve more attention! I stumbled across them while searching for more Meg material on kindle.
So, plot: Lady Caroline Linford is horrified to find her fiancee in the arms of another woman. However, because of the rules of Victorian society, cancelling her engagement would do more damage to her and her family than to her ‘beloved’. She decides to seek help and learn the art of romance from the ‘Lothario of London’, Branden Granville. Soon, intense sparks start to fly…
I loved the character progression and pacing. I think it takes skill to develop crackling chemistry between two characters who start off as unlikely partners. There is plenty of swoon, ardent confessions and also humour. An undercurrent of mystery keeps the reader plenty to be interested in. It is a coming-of-age tale, x-rated but tasteful. I think the setting was well-researched, but after a few pages in I became so deeply involved with the characters that I did not stop to scrutinize whether something was realistic or accurate.
I am absolutely delighted to learn that Meg’s other regency romances, which were out of print have just been re-vamped as e-books! Thank you Macmillan. So I will get my hands on these and post reviews.
Not only this, but there are going to be two new Princess Diaries books this summer! One involving Mia as she prepares to marry her true love Michael Moskovitz. Yes, our dreams have been answered.
Secondly, (this is going in the order of my preference): She Went All The Way (Avon 2002)
Plot: Smart screen-writer Lou Calabrese is trapped in the arctic wilderness with arrogant and gorgeous actor Jack Townsend, after their helicopter crashes on the way to the film set and assassins are mysteriously after them. The two have to swallow their mutual dislike and try to survive. What could be better?
The pacing and character progression here was also very good. However, the characters were a little older than in Educating Caroline, which was more charming because of its sexual-awakening theme. Never the less it was both hilarious and hot.
Lady of Skye (Pocket/ Simon and Schuster 2000)
Plot: Dr. Reilly Stanton, still feeling wounded by the break-up of his engagement to a noble lady, takes up a medical post in a remote highland village on the Isle of Skye, where there is horrendous weather and rampant illness. He meets head-strong Brenna Donnegal, who has already filled her father’s role as local doctor and is not happy being replaced.
I felt that the romance here was a little slow to pick up and I could not entirely relate to the narration as it was mainly from Reilly’s perspective. However, it was a great read and there were interesting historical facts about medicine.
Ransom My Heart by Mia Thermopolis (William Morrow 2009)
This is a type of spin-off for readers of Princess Diaries, written by Princess Mia herself, and a great addition for fans who were sad about the series ending.
Plot: Set in medieval England, confident Finnula Crass captures a young earl, Hugo Fitzstephan, and holds him ransom in order to get money for her sister. He had just returned from the Crusades with a small fortune, and plays along with her scheme because of his immediate attraction to her. Soon Finnula finds herself fighting against her feelings for him.
This novel tied in nicely with the 10th Princess Diaries book and the relationship between Mia and Michael. Like Educating Caroline it is a coming of age tale. I liked the descriptions of the setting and the language used. It was well-researched. However, I felt that the love scenes were a little repetitive and the realization of emotional love was quite late compared to the other books.
Overall, I would strongly recommend any of these books as a starting point to romance and hopefully they will become your favorites as they are mine. I learnt from Meg that romance is simply about making readers happy and helping them to forget their troubles. These books certainly do that. And let’s face it, we all need that vital pick-up at some point in our daily lives.
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