There's been a lot of talk (from Nicole, Meljean, and Candy) in the last week about the books that introduced people to romance, which has compelled me to reflect on my own early romance reading. The first romance book I ever read was Nobody's Angel by Karen Robards. A friend gave it to me in 8th grade. It was the one with this cover:
I remember that I was fascinated with that book. My parents never talked to me about love or sex, so I learned A LOT from that book. I knew my mom would flip if she saw me reading it, so I hid it under my bed and read it at night after I was supposed to go to bed.
After that one, I didn't read another romance for a while because my friend didn't have any more (I don't know why not), until I found some more while babysitting for a neighbor. I remember picking up Season of the Sun by Catherine Coulter and Silver Angel by Johanna Lindsey. The kids would go to bed at night, and I'd read romances.
From there, I got them from the library. I used to go by myself and come home with a backpack full of romance books. I'd hide them in my room and read them on the sly. My mom never paid that much attention to what I read back then, so it took her about two years to catch on. In between, I devoured books by Robards, Lindsey, Coulter, Sandra Brown, Heather Graham, Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, Betina Krahn, and other prolific early-90s romance authors. Somehow, I never did read a Nora Roberts at the time. I was definitely a fan of historicals. Sandra Brown and Diana Palmer were the only contemporary authors I remember reading at the time.
After my mom caught me reading one when I was about 15, I was forbidden from them in a while (my mom thought they were porn and was HORRIFIED when she caught me reading one). I didn't read romance at all again until basic training, when the girls in my unit would hide them in our clothes and lockers and read them at night with flashlights. We would even lift up the ceiling tiles and hide them there! Anything for our romance books! That second time around I found better authors!
I try to read pretty widely -- I like historical, contempory, paranormal, futuristic, time travel, whatever sounds good. But there are some major authors I've never read, including:
Barbara Cartland -- not really interested
Betty Neels -- ditto
Georgette Heyer -- probably sacrilege, and I have one on my TBR, but I don't know when I'll get to it
Janet Dailey -- I never got around to reading any of hers, and after the plagarism scandal a few years ago, I probably never will
Susan Elizabeth Phillips -- I hear great things and then I hear bad things about her books, so I keep putting it off, but eventually I will read one
Lavyrle Spencer -- for some reason, she doesn't really interest me. I know she used to be big, but I never did pick up one of her books
Diana Gabaldon -- I've heard enough about Outlander to know that it's not for me
Connie Mason -- I've moved beyond her type of book, and I don't want to go back
Dorothy Garlock -- another one I don't know why I missed
Jude Devereaux -- like SEP, I hear really good things and really bad things about her books
Kathleen Woodiwiss -- probably not my cup of tea anymore
Judith McNaught -- I probably would have read her books eventually, but I've heard so many horrible things about Whitney, My Love that I don't think I ever will
Elizabeth Lowell -- I've been meaning to read her historicals (anyone have a good suggestion?)
Suzanne Brockmann -- I try to avoid books with military heroes/heroines because most are just to unbelievable for me after being in the Army myself