I’ve always been a sucker for a good romance. I was raised on that stuff. My mother was a reader of cheap paperback romances. As a preteen, I was mostly reading horse books or books about girls who had horses, like Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague, 1947.
I recall my mother recommending Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground, 1965 because it had horses in it. It’s classed as a romantic suspense novel; although after I read it through again a few years ago, I don’t recall much romance. I think there was a kiss or two, and the characters were husband and wife. This one apparently focused more on the suspense.
At one point I graduated to Harlequin romances. They were cheesy, quick reads, usually less than 200 pages. The Harlequins of the 1970’s were pretty tame. Violet Winspear (the Glass Castle, 1974) was a favorite author of mine. Her stories were usually about an immature, young woman forced by circumstance into an arranged marriage with a brute of a man. The brute has reasons why he is the way he is, and the heroine tames him. There would be an “I love you” and a chaste kiss at the end.
I read books like Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, 1977 and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s Shanna, 1977. Everyone at work was reading those, and they were featured prominently in bookstores. They were racier than what I’d been reading. They were also quite a bit longer (600+ pages), and they would begin my addiction with fat, juicy books. They’re the reason why I read series type books today. Series continue on the story of the same group of characters, and they become more or less, one huge book to read when read back-to-back.
I read mysteries for a short amount of time, especially cozy style like Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series, but I quickly got bored with those. I’ve tried horror, but I like sleeping at night. I‘ve read a lot of young adult books; some are better than others. I never cared much for thrillers or suspense, especially if they are violent or gruesome. Recently I’ve returned to romances. Life is too short to waste time on books that I don’t really enjoy. Romance has always been my favorite genre.
I don’t ask for much in a good romance read. I’m after a believable set of circumstances with a group of likable characters. There has to be chemistry, and there has to be a story-line that develops the characters and the romance. The ending has to be a happy one with a minimal amount of angst and absolutely no cheating.
I may read to escape reality for a while, but I still want my fiction to mirror my own life.