Remember when I promised that #ThingThursday was going to be my most random day of the week in that I talk about, well, any THING?
LL Recommended Romances
GET YOUR ONE-CLICK FINGER READY!!!
See, I don't tend to do a lot of romance recommendations.
This is partially because despite getting constant promo-requests from fellow authors, I have a firm policy of not pimping/promoting a book that I haven't read (and enjoyed). It's not enough for me to share the same publisher/agent/BFF as another author ... I wish them ALL THE SUCCES IN THE WORLD, but I won't just blindly pimp it without having read it.
But the main reason I don't do a lot of romance recommendations?
I don't actually read that much romance.
I know. BLASPHEMY!
But the truth is that my reading breakdown is about 85% nonfiction / 15% romance. Not because I don't love romance -- of COURSE I do. I just don't have very much reading time these days, and when I do finally get to settle down with my Kindle, I crave brain food in the form of history or biographies or political philosophy or the latest business book.
I'm usually met with crickets when I say that.
Maybe people think I'm trying really hard to be highbrow and scholarly, I dunno, but the honest-to-God truth is that I love nonfiction. It's a little lonely out on that limb, I admit, but I'm totally okay being unpopular. We like what we like, right?! No apologies!
However . . .
I love romance too. I wouldn't write it if I didn't!
If non-fiction is the protein and vegetable section of my Kindle, romance is the dessert. And sometimes YOU'RE JUST IN THE MOOD FOR THE FREAKING COOKIE, you know?
So. Today we'll be talking about my cupcake and chocolate section. Today we talk about romance.
All of the authors listed below are on my elite pre-order list; the authors whose books I pay full price for, months in advance.
When I first picked up Beautiful Bastard, I didn't know a thing about it. I didn't know that it was classified as an erotic romance. I didn't know that Christina Lauren was actually two people (Christina and Lauren are co-writers). I didn't know that it had been optioned as a movie. I picked it partially because of the hype, but mostly because I loved the cover. I immediately understood the appeal. I devoured the book and went on to read every available Christina Lauren book. I've liked some better than others, but every single one affirms my stance that this is one of THE voices of modern romance. They're sexy, laugh-out-loud funny, well-written and have plenty of heart-squeeze moments. This checks ALL my romance checkboxes!
This is another one that I picked up mostly because of hype and cover jealousy. In all honesty, I was a little unsure about Wallbanger at first. Clayton has a very distinct style that took me a little while to get used to. But even as I was questioning it, I kept reading--it was utterly put-downable. Like Christina Lauren, it's laugh out loud funny, and has plenty of sexy, but at its heart, it's still a romance novel. I went on to read the entire Wallbanger series, and while all worth reading, Screwdrivered has one of my favorite heroes of all time.
I discovered Kleypas early on in my romance-reading career, which I actually regret, because it set the bar SO HIGH. Simply put, I think Lisa Kleypas is one the best romance authors writing today. Maybe even THE best. I'm partial to her historical romances, but her contemporaries are also pretty exceptional. My favorite is It Happened One Autumn, you really can't go wrong with anything she writes.
I have a little hero worship of Julie. A lawyer turned screenplay writer turned author? BOW DOWN. Not only that, but the woman can write. Julie James is the ultimate "bridge" author; for new-to-romance readers who are skeptical about romance, I start them out with Julie James whose female characters are wicked smart and successful, and whose writing is impeccable. Practice Makes Perfect is my favorite of all her books, but I pre-order absolutely everything of hers.
I have to give SEP credit for being THE reason I decided to write romance. I'd long considered writing romance, but my sarcastic "modern" voice didn't seem to gel with what I reading back then (Jude Devereaux, Judith McNaught, Nora Roberts). Then I discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips and realized that romance and comedy could go together. My favorite of hers is Ain't She Sweet, which has one of the most flawed heroines you'll ever read, and a wonderfully nuanced love story.
Another author who confirmed that yes, romance is allowed to have humor. In all honesty, I haven't been over the moon about her most recent series (Blue Heron), but everything before that I recommend with enthusiasm. My favorite is All I Ever Wanted, but the ending scene of The Next Best Thing makes my heart squeeze every time I think about it.
Generally speaking, I tend to stick with contemporary romance, but sometimes I'm in the mood for a juicy historical, and Sarah MacLean is ridiculously talented. If you've never ventured into the historical realm before, but are curious, MacLean is a great way to test the waters; she has all the Sexy of modern romances today, and her language is very approachable. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is probably my favorite, but I highly recommend reading all of hers in the order in which she wrote them (she has a couple different series, but there's some fun overlap between them.)
Emma Barry | Super smart, wildly under-appreciated political romances set in DC. A must read if you like your books well-researched and a little bit brainy (raises hand)
Tessa Dare | She was on my auto-buy list after knocking my socks off with her historical debut (Goddess of the Hunt), but fell off with her Spindle Cover series that I never warmed to. I recently rediscovered her newest Castles Ever After series, and she's back on my radar in a big way.
Carolyn Crane | I don't read romantic suspense very often, but when I do, Crane is my go-to. SUPER sexy.
Judith McNaught | She's retired now, and her style is decidedly old-school, but several of her books remain on my "favorites of all time" list (Perfect, Once & Always, A Kingdom of Dreams). Unfortunately, as of August 2015, her backlist still isn't available on Kindle!
Mary Balogh | Another historical author, her books don't always capture my attention, but when she's on, she's on. Slightly Dangerous is on my top 10 list.
Jill Shalvis | Easily the most consistent contemporary romance author on the planet. I don't think she's capable of writing a bad book.