What Book Started You Reading Romance?

I am off to AUTHOR’S AFTER DARK. I hope to meet some of you there! I’ll try to keep this page with posts this time, as opposed to going dark during RWA. So for today, here’s a question for you:

What Book Started You Reading Romance? For me? LaVyrle Spencer’s Separate Beds – started me reading … and ultimately writing! I recently reread it and though the point of view shifts were crazy, I still loved it. What about you? What started you and have you reread and still loved? Or reread and were disappointed? Or just never reread?

38 thoughts on “What Book Started You Reading Romance?”

  1. My mother took us to the library with her when we were very young.. The book mobile (smiles in delight at that fond memory) would drive to our little burg each summer. I can’t recall when I DIDN’T read. But I discovered Harlequin romances in Jr high and was forever hooked on HEAs.

  2. Kathleen Woodiwiss books! Started with Shanna, then The Flame and the Flower. That is still my favorite. I’ve retread it many times.

  3. When I was very young I picked up books my mom and aunt were reading so it was either a Victoria Holt or Georgette Heyer.
    Have fun at your conference.

  4. I don’t remember the name of the book, but it was a Harlequin Present. It was the summer prior to starting 9th grade. Changed my life forever.

  5. My mom always had harlequins around. The title that comes to mind though is The Flame and the Flower. Tried to reread it, and couldn’t get through it.

  6. I used to read all the time after college, before kids. Then I had 3 kids in 4 years and stopped reading. Then one day, when my oldest was about 16 she was reading Twilight and could not put this book down. So on Halloween 2008 while I was passing out candy I decided to see what she was reading. It wasn’t the best writing, but the story takes you back to your first love. Since then, I have been reading constantly. Always romance because I want my happy ending!

  7. That’s so easy: A lovely lady wrote a book called “The Bachelor” and it was a “Ripa Read” book. I haven’t looked back, since.

    • I wasn’t counting the ‘teenage romance’ novels that I read in high school, lol. I love a hea because I am such a positive person.

  8. “This Heart of Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I haven’t read it in years, but since I still read her books I imagine I wouldn’t be disappointed. I like to re-read but haven’t in quite a while since my TBR pile is huge.

  9. Elizabeth Peters – Peabody series (started reading my mums library books around age 13) Interspersed with M&B/Harlequin books remember Charlotte Lamb was one of my early favorites but couldn’t name you title of the books anymore.

  10. Long story, really. My dad died on my 10th birthday. The ladies at my mother’s office knew we had to fly to the funeral. They made travel bags for my sister and I. They knew I loved to read.

    They didn’t know what a 10 year old might read so they got me two books.

    Dread Companion by Andre Norton
    Blue Jasmine by Violet Winspear

    I submit this as the reason I grew up to write paranormal romance. 😀 And a sheik romance still makes me smile to this day.

  11. Hated to read when I was a kid. Just had a hard time of it. In my 20’s I found Shana by Kathleen Woodiwiss and followed with The Flame and the Flower, The Wolf and the Dove,
    A rose in winter, The elusive flame, Ashes in the wind. I still have them all.

    • I didn’t even know she died 
      Kathleen E Woodiwiss
      Author of 14 romantic novels that sold 30m copies – her own life story was even better

      Many an author has thought romantic fiction a short cut to solvency, only to fall on the wrong side of the narrow divide that separates the plausible from the preposterous.
      Kathleen Woodiwiss, who has died of cancer aged 68, fell on the right side. Readers believed her when she wrote: “The tiny flame danced beneath her fluttering breath, and she lifted the taper high above her head as she warily approached her visitor. His translucent eyes reflected the flickering light, and the hungry yearning visible in those luminous depths was so intense it seemed almost tangible.”
      Such a passage, from Forever in Your Embrace (1992), could have appeared in any of the 14 novels she wrote, which in all sold more than 30m copies. These were romances that provided the sexy element previously discreetly hidden behind four-poster curtains. They prompted readers to say things like “I own eight of her works and I never tire of reading them over and over again” and “we named our dog Lord Saxton” (after one of her characters).
      Her own life had had the kind of plot she came to write about. Born Kathleen Erin Hogg in Alexandria, Louisiana, she was one of a close-knit family of eight strong-willed children. Her father died when she was 12. A keen reader of romances, who also relished Jane Eyre and Gone With the Wind, she was more than ready at 16 to fall for a handsome lieutenant, Ross Woodiwiss, at a dance.
      They eloped and married; he was posted to Japan a year after their son’s birth. There she found part-time work as a fashion model. She longed to write, but needed a typewriter; to buy one would give the game away to her husband, and so, when back in Kansas, she cannily presented him at Christmas with a typewriter for the poetry that he wanted to write. During his absences (sometimes for surgery), she worked at The Flame and the Flower. She admitted what she was doing to her husband.
      He was nonplussed but her sister-in-law was encouraging. The finished book was rejected by eight publishers. She stood her ground. The only advice she took from an agent was to double-space the typing when she reworked it.
      In 1966 Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls revealed that there was a female mass market for a sexy pop novel, but Woodiwiss wanted to create a book without Susann’s depressing tone. She heard a remark by western writer Louis L’Amour that writers got a better cut by selling directly to a paperback publisher. She sent The Flame and the Flower to Avon, whose Nancy Coffye picked it from the slush pile when rain kept her from the beach, and was then engrossed by the adventures of sapphire-eyed Heather Simmons, whose heart is set upon seafaring Captain Brandon Birmingham. (Eyes figure strongly in Woodiwiss’s novels.)
      The firm quickly sold 600,000 copies in 1972. She then had a worldwide audience for her hefty novels, which appeared at intervals of several years. She would not be forced to write. She did not want to be burnt out. She discovered that her lack of concentration was brought on by overactive para-thyroid glands which created calcium deposits on her joints, eyes and brain. Surgery soon reversed that, and she worked on, weathering her divorce, until her death. (She died a month after one of her three children.)
      Her novels, often 700 pages long, move from 19th-century Russia (Forever in Your Embrace) to Elizabethan England (So Worthy My Love), and each takes many turns, finding room for such forgotten words as “pommel” (part of a saddle) and “rowelling fear” (another equine term). Heroes and villains satisfy their primal urges; an abandoned sword comes in handy for stoking a fire.
      Her novels, and their genre, depend on the same emotions as those which animate Henry James’s heroines. As one of her characters reflects, on the brink of temptation, “he was more of a mind to think that feminine pulchritude was a finely devised tool of a darker realm, primarily invented for the purpose of diverting extraordinary men like himself from a path toward exalted greatness”. That sentence would not be out of place in many a respectable novel.
      • Kathleen Erin Woodiwiss, novelist, born June 3 1939; died July 6 2007

  12. 1972 a few days after the birth of my son a very good friend gave me a gift basket filled with bath salts, hot chocolate, other items and a copy of The Flame And The Flower. And that started the romance ball rolling ……………

  13. I don’t remember the title, but it was Lori Foster and I feel in love with her books. From there I started reading Carly Phillips and many others that would take hours to list. :glasses:

  14. Once More, Miranda by Jennifer Wilde was the very first romance book I ever read in 1983. I don’t even remember where I picked up the book, but I read it many times. Now, 30 years later, I still think about the story and how much I loved that book.

  15. 2 of the earliest that I remember reading were 9 Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart and Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt. (Our Junior High School or town library had these books.) Every so often I re-read them.
    Enjoy your trip.

  16. Like you I think it was a LaVryle Spencer book. I lived in Minnesota and she lives in Stlllwater, MN.

  17. Danielle Steele got me started at first. I fell in love. I stopped reading romance for a while and then found Johanna Lindsey and new I was hooked again. I love the Mallory series and that made me fall in love all over again.

  18. The Yuletide Engagement by Carole Mortimer.I’m dyslexic so it took quite a while learn, then I had a hard time finding things I liked to read and kept my interest. The book was one of my moms, It was sitting on a table and I was board waiting for my younger brother and cousin to get home from school so I picked it up and started reading it. I’ve been hooked ever sense, I was 14 at the time and I’m 22 now I hardly ever read anything elts. I absolutely love it now, it still amazes me that I find so much joy from something that took so long and was so hard to start! ~(*+﹏+*)~ <(@ ̄︶ ̄@)>

  19. when I was in middle/high school I faithfully read the babysitters club series and sweet valley high. Graduated in 98 and thru college lost touch with books. summer of 01, I picked up The Beach Club By elin hilderbrand to take on vacation with me and ive been reading romance novels ever since.

  20. I hated reading in school, so did not start until I was in my 20’s. I believe I started with Shana by Kathleen Woodwiss. Love that book, still have it. Can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read it.

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