I just spent the week on a gloriously relaxed vacation. It was fantastic. I did nothing but eat and drink. And read. And what better thing to read on vacation then some smutty, trashy romance novels?
I decided instead of finding some new romance novels at the library (I can’t control for quality that way!) I would dig up some of my very favourite romances from when I was young. To my horror, not a single one of the books I wanted to read were available at the library, that’s how old they are. That’s how old I am. I was forced to buy the ebooks from Amazon. Although, only bringing my Kindle with me on vacation was bliss and something I would definitely consider doing again. In no particular order, here are my favourite romance novels from a time when the thought of holding hands with a boy would make me blush:
Petals in the Storm, by Mary Jo Putney
When it comes to historical romance, Mary Jo Putney is the bomb. I loved her books, usually based in the early nineteenth-century, and her “Fallen Angels” series (which Petals in the Storm is a part of) revolves around the British fighting Napoleon, or doing espionage against him, or whatever.
Petals in the Storm is actually the second book in the series, but it was the first one I ever read because my library didn’t have the first one, Thunder and Roses. This follows the impossibly handsome Duke of Candover as he pursues Margot Ashton, his former fiancee and now spy-extraordinaire. You have to love these romances where everyone is so beautiful and so rich. While the couple fight to uncover a plot to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, they fight with each other and their stubborn feelings of love for each other. In the end, true love conquers all. Fab, I was really happy to read this again.
Desire, by Amanda Quick
I think Desire was one of the first “sexy” romances I ever read, and even though it’s fairly tame as these things go, when I was thirteen I was pretty impressed, let me tell you. My eyebrows spent a lot of time up in my hairline.
This is another historical fiction, but earlier, set in the Dark Ages when men were always knights and either totally evil or pure at heart, although of course very troubled and sexy.
This definitely doesn’t have a lot of “reality” in the historical aspect, but that’s not why we read these things, right? Lady Clare of Desire, a small island that develops perfumes, must throw her lot in with the Hellhound of Wickmere, a sexy but troubled knight. They marry, they fight, they save each other from an evil magician. In the end, true love conquers all.
I just have to mention that Amanda Quick always had a really annoying way of making all of her heroines intelligent but naive, so they would talk during sex and point out all kinds of things that are really better left unsaid. Also, she would always pick old-lady names for her heroines, like Agnes or Prudence. It used to bother me when I was younger, because I thought real lady heroines should have much nicer names, like Tiffany or Brittany (haha, did I just age myself even more?)
The Reef, by Nora Roberts
I will admit that I have read my fair share of Nora Roberts books. Not so anymore, largely because I think they are annoying. You read the first page and you automatically know not just how the book will end, but all the plot turns in the middle. Also, the characters have a kind of earnestness that irritates me.
But I used to like her books, so I thought I’d revisit the first Nora Roberts I ever read, The Reef, because I remembered really liking it. I was … moderately pleased. I knew the plot turns and ending after the first page, but since I read it before, how could I fault it for that. And it’s about treasure hunters and set in the Caribbean, so extra points on the perfect escapist read.
The characters were still somewhat annoying, so I think that’s just how Roberts writes. Fair enough. One thing I do like about her writing is she always has a pretty strong emphasis on female friendship, which I like. It does get old, though, that the two heroes who are obviously completely in love with each other ALWAYS have to start things off by hating each other. But, in the end, true love does conquer all. It’s just not all that surprising.
Jewels, by Danielle Steel
Danielle Steel’s Jewels was one of my favourite romances, and I think one of my favourite books growing up. It’s a little surprising because it does not follow the typical romance plot (couple meets, hates each other, has adventures, falls in love, something scary happens, they confess their love to each other and live happily ever after). It follows the life of Sarah Whitfield, a woman who is impossibly lovely and impossibly rich through her rather blessed life.
It was published in the early-90s, but still has a great 80s vibe by the end. Back in the 90s, I really disliked stuff about the 80s, but now I can’t imagine why. It sounds like it would have been fantastic. Jewels starts in America in the 30s, and follows her as she moves to Europe with her second husband, the Duke of Whitfield, and they live in a chateau in France. While she talks about how hard her life was, and sure, being occupied by the Germans during the war would probably be pretty hard, in all I think Sarah is a little bit whiny. All everyone talks about is how brave she is, so I’m in the minority. She does start a jewelry business to help out those in need after the war, and becomes even more impossibly lovely and rich.
But while the book is about love, or has a lot in it, true love does not conquer all. So while it’s talking about the life of the rich and famous, there are still hard times and hard decisions, and because she’s looking back over her life, you see the good and the bad. This is still a deliciously good trashy book and I am SO happy to reread it. I recommend it to anyone who wants a delightful escape from reality for a few hours.
Word of the day:
Obfuscation: to confuse, bewilder or stupefy