Jen Reads Romance (on Twitter and on the web for your “what to read next” needs) posted a list of romance questions. I’m not answering on Twitter (for obvious reasons) or following any of the rules because I don’t have the requisite Twitter likes (for obvious reasons) and drew a blank on several questions I therefore deleted and because I’M A REBEL, DAMMIT. Also, I am bad at answering questions because of the “it’s not an answer unless I address every conceivable angle, which means there is no easy answer” thing that has plagued me all my life, so this should be fun for everyone!
(Any links below go to Amazon and are affiliate-coded.)
First romance you remember reading: I remember reading gobs of category romances in a house we moved out of when I was in second grade (1982), but since I can’t even remember titles of things I read last month, specifics are lost to time. Probably not the first, but some memorable experiences from the early days: One book had a heroine named Jenna or Jana with long, honey-colored hair who was staying at the hero’s family’s orange grove in Florida (educational! I learned so much about smudge pots!). There was a sick kid. They went to Rogers Christmas House, which is an actual place that I later visited (the original village, not the reopening at the fancy manor). She gave the hero a massage with her sweater off so she wouldn’t get baby oil on it. Another book had a jewelry maker/runaway hotline worker with a Siamese cat named Yaffa. The hero’s son had run away and was crashing with somebody at MIT and earning money writing papers for lazy students, and he called the hotline and asked her to let his dad know he was okay. She wildly overstepped her bounds and did that, and the dad tracked her down to bully her into leading him to his kid. She overstepped her bounds again to go rescue a girl whose “boyfriend” turned out to be a pimp, and hero daddy went along for muscle. Yet another book had an heiress who had run away and was working as a waitress, and the private investigator hired to find her handcuffed her to the sink pipe in a hotel bathroom so she wouldn’t escape (because nothing says “romantic hero” like kidnapping and nonconsensual bondage—I knew that was fucked up even as a kid). It turned out the relatives who had hired him were evil and wanted her brought back so they could kill her and get her money.
Last romance you read: I am currently reading The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan.
The romance you are most likely to recommend to a newbie/The romance you are most likely to recommend to another romance reader: That’s a tremendous responsibility. Fill out this eHarmony survey first so I can make a good match with your interests and values.
An overrated romance you wish people would stop talking about: Eh. People can talk about whatever they want. I’m good at noping out when I’ve had enough.
An auto-buy author: I have no such loyalties at this point. I was burned too many times back in the days of innocence and wonder, either by deteriorating quality or genre shifts that don’t do it for me. A great read puts an author on my watch list, but every book has to win me all over again.
An author you used to love that you’ve since abandoned: Sherrilyn Kenyon. She was my introduction to paranormal romance, for which I will always be grateful, but I started to feel like she was phoning it in.
Best book with your favorite trope: There was a lllllllllllllllot of mad dog/fearless kitty in my early paranormal days, where it works best for me. A regular dude trying to pull off vampire/werewolf levels of angst is just a raging dick. Mommy issues don’t compare to being entombed and left to starve for seven centuries or whatever, so calm the fuck down, Kevin.
Most hated trope: Anything based on huge deceptions, such as secret babies and secret identities.
A book you liked even though it has the trope you hate: The closest we’re going to get here is Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey, and it doesn’t really qualify (or else I’d hate it because I really, really hate life-altering lies). Georgie disguises herself as a cabin boy, but James recognizes her from a previous encounter, so the only deception is him pretending to go along with her deception, which seems equitable.
A book that everyone else loved that has you scratching your head: Oh, the list I could give. Recently, Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. I need to know if people like that book before I take any recommendations from them because whoadamn I hated it.
A book that has a character that reminds you of yourself: Ruth in Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her has several traits I share.
A romance cover you love (post a pic!): This was the final Lindsey cover pre-Fabio, so Tony really didn’t look like the rest of the Malory family. I’m into dude shoulders, so…
A book you’ve reread more than twice: See above. There’s a lot of secret sauce in Tender Rebel.
Best romance audiobook: I have auditory processing issues that make audiobooks unenjoyable for me. I need text in my eyeballs.
Best romance/romcom movie: I’ll go with something probably no one has ever seen and say Prelude to a Kiss. Young Meg Ryan body swaps with a bitter old man on her wedding day. Young Alec Baldwin is appalled by his bride’s abrupt personality change, has to find the old man’s shell in which the woman he loves is currently dwelling, and wrestles with whether he can still love her if they can’t get her body back. It’s a great exploration of what, exactly, it is that you love about someone.
Favorite hero: Colin Ames-Beaumont from Meljean Brook’s Demon Moon. Such a brat! Such manpain! So much “I’m a cad, you can’t give me any responsibility, FINE, I’LL BE THE BLOODY HERO.”
Your all time favorite romance: I’m going to go with Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase today, if for no other reason than it takes a bunch of things experience has taught me are crappy and MAKES THEM WORK, and it was delightful to have bad expectations knocked on their ass. It inspires me to examine crappy things in books and see if they CAN be done correctly.