When someone who doesn’t know me well discovers I read paperback romance novels, I often fall a few levels in their estimation of my intelligence. Since the Book Review section of the Sunday New York Times targeted the romance genre this week, I feel more confident to admit I have left a trail of Jude Deveraux behind in my travels.
Robert Gottlieb’s article “In the Mood for Love” supplies a tantalizing resource for romance lovers. He notes of his choices, “the sex is great…” and, oh yes, some historical facts appear, usually from the medieval to the nineteenth century.
Well-built dashing Regency Period Dukes are my favorite heroes, and Gottlieb suggests a few I haven’t read:
- Governess for the Brooding Duke by Bridget Baron
- Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
- Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
- The Duchess by Danielle Steele
Modern romance novels, late twentieth century to present day, tend to be more politically correct. Although the heroine may still swoon, she is also more likely to have her own career, and “may even be the boss.” Catherine Bybee’s Fool Me Once features Lori, a successful attorney. Caridad Pineiro’s female lead owns a famous retail chain in One Summer Night. Easy to read and satisfyingly short, romance paperbacks are “harmless,” according to Gottlieb, and “profitable” for authors and publishers.
A few authors – some who use pseudonyms – have enjoyed a wide readership, despite the reputation of romance falling below the prestige of literary fiction. You never know who is writing. Diane Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, featuring a swashbuckling eighteenth century Scottish Lord, has a Ph.D. and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write adventure romance stories.
Need more suggestions for romance stories? National Public Radio (NPR) has a list of 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances.