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A Noble, Romantic Quest

And what is this quest, you ask? Well, I was an English major, and I’ve read plenty of stories detailing quests. Among my favorites were those of Arthurian knights looking for the Holy Grail, or Psyche trying to get back to her Cupid. Alas, this quest is not so classic, nor is it that kind of romantic, though I consider it rather noble in its own way.

I want to find truly awesome romance novels.

Now, a little background: I am not a romance reader. While I’ll admit to rolling my eyes at some passages I’ve seen or been shown, I’m not intrinsically opposed to them. I think that, like all books, there are good ones and bad ones. I gravitate toward urban fantasy, young adult, and suspense novels, because I enjoy the subject matter they tend to explore–worlds unlike our own where myth and magic come alive, finding yourself before your life has already been decided, escaping from danger and ridding the world of truly evil people…there are just so many possibilities!

I also enjoy a healthy dose of romance in just about all things fiction, whether that be books or movies or TV. So why do I eat up movies like When Harry Met Sally and While You Were Sleeping, root for Buffy and Angel to hook up (again), wonder why Wyatt Cain didn’t just kiss D.G. already, and yet when I go for a novel, it’s never based on the romance alone? What is it about the romance-centric story that puts me off?

Well, I don’t think it actually does.

I’ve read a few romance novels (see below), and I’m almost always pleasantly surprised–when said books make it onto my TBR list based on recommendations, anyway. So really, maybe the problem is that I just don’t know how to pick ’em. I see pretty covers, and I assume they’ll equate to a book I’ll like. Unfortunately, that method doesn’t seem as useful as it is when I read fantasy novels. There are some downright gorgeous historical romance covers, but they’re often the ones that sound the least appealing when I read the cover copy.

So. In short, I’m going to collect recommendations, search for them if I have to, and I’m going to read a ton of romance novels and find my Holy Grail. I’m not going to limit the sub-genre of romance, because I’m not widely-read enough to know for sure what I do and do not like. I have my suspicions, but who knows? Something awesome just might surprise me. (And I LOVE being smacked upside the head with a book I don’t expect to like, but end up loving.) My only limitations are this: no inspirational (i.e. religious) romance,  no YA (I read plenty of that already), no “classics” (I’m already a big Pride & Prejudice fan), and no erotica. I’ll read any time period, normal or paranormal, small town or foreign country. Any length, series or not, cheesy or not. I’ll try any trope at least once, any author at least once. I plan to track and review them here, for my amusement and, hopefully, yours.

What I have read:

  • Silver Lining by Maggie Osbourne
  • Pandora’s Daughter by Iris Johansen
  • Dying to Please by Linda Howard
  • River’s End by Nora Roberts
  • Everyday, Average Jones by Suzanne Brockmann

Um, yeah. These are honestly the only ones I can remember. If there were others, they didn’t make much of an impression. Though, to be fair, I have a terrible memory for books.

Any suggestions, oh great interwebs? Give me the best of the best!