Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!
If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!
Reading Romance is Like a Box of Chocolates: Varied and Delicious
However, when I walked in the door, I discovered the choices were endless. I couldn’t sort one candy out from the next! Then I learned I could create a “Choose Your Own Box” of chocolates. That simplified the process for me. I decided to create a box of chocolate truffles, my favorite chocolate confection.
Mmm, truffles: soft on the inside and velvety hard on the outside, meltingly good on your tongue, a surprising variety of flavors, and best of all the entire eating experience is orgasmic! Well, that might be over the top, but they are awfully good.
I proceeded to select chocolates that I knew I would like, the “sure bets” or auto-buys such as raspberry chocolate, double chocolate, and caramel. Next, I chose flavors that were more exotic, complex flavor combinations: strawberry cheesecake, grand marnier, and amaretto.
Lastly, I added the adventuresome truffles; the flavors I’d never had before, but wanted to try. Into the box went champagne, margarita, and ancho chile. When I got home, I would be able to choose a truffle to match my mood: comforting, complex, or adventuresome. Reading romance novels for me is a lot like a “choose your own box” of chocolates, especially when considering the eclectic nature of my bookshelves.
First there are the auto-buy authors. The authors whose books I turn to when I need a warm hug and a clear happily ever after. My sure bet authors and a favorite book or two written by each, include:
- Lisa Kleypas – lisakleypas.com (at Amazon) – too many books to name, but I will mention the characters Derek Craven and Sebastian St. Vincent, who appeared in Dreaming of You and Devil in Winter, respectively (sigh!)
- Julia Quinn – juliaquinn.com – The Viscount who Loved Me; Kate and the mallet of death scene!
- Loretta Chase – lorettachase.com – love the Carsington brothers
- Eloisa James – eloisajames.com – I named a dog after Leopold Dautry, the Duke of Villiers in A Duke of Her Own
- Julie Anne Long – julieannelong.com – The Pennyroyal Green series
- Jennifer Crusie – jennycrusie.com – Bet Me, ah Min and her shoes, and then there’s Davy curing Tilda of her vibrator addiction in Faking It
- Susan Elizabeth Phillips – susanelizabethphillips.com – seriously, all of her books, although I really enjoyed her most recent book, Heroes Are My Weakness
- Brenda Novak – brendanovak.com – the Whiskey Creek series
These are just a few of my auto-buy authors. This list is long and I’ve greatly edited it! I am generally not a re-reader of books. Honestly, there are just so many books I want to read and more are published every day. But I have read the books these authors have written, many times over. They are the ultimate comfort reads.
Next are the books that are more exotic and complex. These are books that challenge my imagination and my thinking. Many are fantasy books composed of remarkable world-building, advanced technology, magic, and psychic abilities. They are often series books. Beloved authors who fall into this category are:
- Ilona Andrews – ilona-andrews.com – the Kate Daniels series
- Nalini Singh – nalinisingh.com – the Psy-Changeling World
- Meljean Brook – meljeanbrook.com – The Iron Seas (steampunk) series
- KJ Charles – kjcharleswriter.com – A Charm of Magpies series
- Linnea Sinclair – linneasinclair.com – a science fiction romance author whose character, biocybe Brandon Kel-Paten in Games of Command, is a worthy hero
Authors whose books have broadened my world view, taken me to new places and introduced me to more
authors along the way include
- Sonali Dev – sonalidev.com – her A Bollywood Bride and The Bollywood Affair are emotional rollercoasters
- Harper Fox – harperfox.net – all of her books are beautifully written, but I especially like Brothers of the Wild North Sea
- Josh Lanyon – joshlanyon.com – Come Unto These Yellow Sands, another emotional, beautiful story
Again, there are many authors and books I’ve left off the list, but these titles are among my favorites.
Lastly, there are the adventuresome books. Books on this list include those I probably wouldn’t have read if not for a suggestion by some other reader maybe on Facebook or RARM (thank you Bobbi for its creation!) or a chance read of a blog post somewhere. I sampled the author or tried the first book in a series and was hooked. Sometimes I’ll plan to save the book(s) to savor during a vacation or trip. In this category I happily place:
- Susanna Kearsley – susannakearsley.com – I’m still haunted by The Winter Sea and her newest, A Desperate Fortune, made me cry happy tears
- Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – korval.com – the Liaden Universe series; I’m in love with Val Con, but he belongs to Miri, heart and soul
- Megan Whalen Turner – meganwhalenturner.org – her Queen’s Thief series begins with The Thief, a young adult book; it’s a smart, challenging read, and subsequent books in the series are oh-so-wonderful
- Michelle Diener – michellediener.com – her books, Dark Horse and Dark Deeds, are science fiction/fantasy romance
- Grace Draven – gracedraven.com – Radiance and Eidolon also fantasy
On any given day, I might be in the mood for a comfort read or a more complex, exotic book or I might want to try something I’ve never read before. The beauty of reading romance novels is that I always have that choice. Oftentimes there are too many books from which to choose, but the selection is always unique, and happily-ever-after never gets old. #LoveRomance
I struggled with book recommendations, because, of course, I’ve already recommended many! However, I decided to recommend these three authors in particular.
First, I would like to recommend Susanna Kearsley. Ms. Kearsley’s books are a fascinating blend of a contemporary and an historical storyline. There is also an element of paranormal in her stories. I mentioned earlier that The Winter Sea still has a special place in my heart. That book, and its connected story, The Firebird, were my vacation reads last summer. They are beautiful stories! And her newest, A Desperate Fortune, has one of the most romantic endings I’ve ever read. Truly, it made me cry. It’s a special story. That’s all I’ll say.
My second recommendation is The Others book series, written by the dark fantasy author, Anne Bishop. There are four books in the series so far, the fifth is to be published in March 2017. The world building in her series is really incredible; you have to truly suspend disbelief as you read. The books are an alternate view of humans and their place in the world of The Others. It’s fascinating. The growing bond between the human, Meg, and one of the shape-shifters, Simon, is also mesmerizing.
Lastly, one of my favorite book series ever, is The Queen’s Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner. This, too, is a fantasy series. It is clever, surprising, and exceedingly well-written. I believe it is often listed as a young adult book series. However, I found the stories to require careful reading as they are filled with political intrigue, gamesmanship, twists and turns, and a wonderful love story.
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.
I feel surrounded by romance and love when I’m with my husband. Every week my husband and I go to bed with another couple. In a good week it might even be with two different couples. My husband doesn’t complain too much; we have some pretty amazing adventures together, the group of us. I should explain that those other couples are in romance novels. And while my husband doesn’t mind sharing me with a fiction couple, that’s really the extent of his (our!) daring. My husband, who is also my best friend, checks in daily to follow the trials and tribulations of my main characters; he asks if we need to make a stop at the local bookstore as we’re driving past (before we even leave the house, he’ll ask me if I have my book list); and he makes sure I have enough reading material when we travel. My husband tells me he does this because what gives me joy, gives him joy. This is daily, in the trenches, romance. I love this man. He is my real-life hero.
Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.
One of the reasons I’ve counted on book review sites, author sites, and people who’ve become facebook friends for romance book recommendations is because I don’t have that someone special in real life with whom I share a love of romance books. Too often I’ve gotten the funny looks from my co-workers or family members about reading “those” books. So while I proudly tell people I read romance novels because I love happy endings, well-crafted stories, and strong protagonists, I don’t usually talk to them about specific titles or authors. I count on my facebook romance friends for that opportunity to share.
Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?
My husband and I met while we were on active duty in the Navy. We had some wonderfully romantic evenings walking along the harbor in San Diego. One of my favorite evenings was spent having dinner in a restaurant on the water at sunset and then walking on the boardwalk after the sun had gone done. The warm, salty air, the sound of the waves breaking on the sand, and the feeling of being in the right place at the right time has come to mean romance in my heart. After almost 26 years of marriage, anytime we’re by the water I go to that happy moment.
Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?
Choosing a favorite romantic couple from a book would be like trying to choose a favorite child; it can’t be done! But, on reflection, I think I would say my favorite romantic couple is my maternal grandparents. They’d known each other since the 9th grade. However, even though they dated all through high school and college and my grandfather went to law school, my great-grandfather considered him to be from the wrong side of the tracks. As a result, my grandma was sent on a grand tour of Europe after college in the hope she would forget about my grandpa. My grandparents missed each other dreadfully during that time apart and expressed their love for each other in eloquent love letters which my mom still has. Needless-to-say, they did get married when my grandma returned from her trip.
Tell us about your dream date.
My husband and I went on a cruise around the British Isles six years ago with my mom, my sisters, my brother, and our kids. It was the first cruise I’d ever been on and it was my first time to the British Isles. Ever since that trip, it has been my dream to get back to that part of the world with just my husband and me. That would be my idea of an extended dream date.
Patty Vasquez is generously giving away 2 Amazon gift cards (US only, apologies to international friends). To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST Aug 7, 2016.
(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have giveaways and events throughout the year.)
Patty Vasquez will begin her 24th year of teaching this fall. She has taught second through fifth grade, but has been a fourth grade teacher for the last 10 years. A former naval officer, Patty left active duty when her husband retired. They relocated to Minnesota (her home state) from San Diego, where they raised their three children. In addition to her husband and family, Patty loves her dogs, trips to northern Minnesota, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, walking, yoga, and her tattoos (romance readers are not stereotypes- LOL). She plans to retire in four years when she can take that romantic trip to the British Isles and endlessly indulge in her love of reading.
Buy Patty Vasquez’s recommended books:
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