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So if I had a daughter, I would totally encourage her to read historical romance novels. However I don’t. So I’ll encourage you!
The books that whetted my appetite and lured me like a siren at sea formed my opinion of what a good romance novel should be.
Enjoy my Top Five Classics
1. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught
this is the first romance novel I ever read. It’s a classic, hands down. Elizabeth Cameron is running out of options in order to save her beloved Havenhurst property. She is on the marriage mart to make an advantageous match to save her brother and servants from debtors jail. Whisked away to a risqué weekend party she meets Ian Thornton. It’s instant attraction and bad decisions and a malicious friend. The weekend ends with Elizabeth’s banishment for being wanton. Fast forward a couple of years and things have changed for Ian and Elizabeth. Ian has prospered, becoming very wealthy, which is the opposite for Elizabeth. She is destitute. Her ridiculous uncle has the brillant plan to contact all her former suitors from her come out and see if one will finally take her off his hands. Through a mix up, she ends up with Ian. Things don’t go well, but then they do. They go very well. Only when tragedy is about to happen, Ian steps up and swoops in on his proverbial white horse to save her. Of course this isn’t their happily ever after yet. They almost lose one another yet again.
This story is so full of second chances it is heartbreaking. The love Ian and Elizabeth have for one another is truly inspiring. The sex scenes are classy and yet descriptive. The secondary characters enhance the plot and add depth and substance to the story. It’s a remarkable journey they take and it is so full of passion and hope.
M2. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss
This story has it all! Fiery spoiled brat, handsome strong hero, death sentence, time at sea, servitude, pirates, murder, passion.
Its hard to write a description for this book because it is an epic tale. A marriage of convienence that was never to be. A willful, spoiled woman who got way more than she bargained for. At times I hated the main character Shanna as she could be such a stubborn brat, but the deep abiding love Ruark had for her made her redeemable. This story encompasses so many romance genres – England, pirates, a Caribbean island, the new world, it feels like so many stories in one. The plots moves quickly and along with a murder mystery to solve it keeps the action racing.
The passion between Shanna and Ruark is beautiful. They are a perfect match for one another. It feels like sparks are jumping off the page whether they are fighting or making up. The author writes with such passion that it makes you want to be on Los Camellos and as if Ruark was stealing into your bed at night. So well written, it embodies a realistic tone of the times and yet lets you be whisked away in a beautiful love story.
3. It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas
This is the second book in a quartet by Kleypas and by far the best. It takes place in the early 1800s in a time when being an Earl meant power and glory. Marcus, Earl of Westcliff and Lillian Bowman, an American heiress hate each other intensely. Of course the flip side to hatred is passion and love. The book is a thoroughly enjoyable read of their anomosity and attraction to one another. Their story is full of spine tingling romance and exasperation. I actually cheered when they finally gave in to their base pleasures. Kleypas writes sex scenes so well. Detailed and thorough, but not sleazy. There is a lot of emotion and reverence between the characters. It was fun watching them fight their attraction to one another and to submit to love. I particularly enjoyed the attention to detail about the large estate Marcus owns and the awareness that the good old days of tennant/lord business was ending. The historical details are fascinating in this book. But mostly it’s the love story between the two that makes it an incomparable read.
4. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
another book by McNaught makes this list. There is some controversy surrounding this books as some reviewers have protracted that there is a rape scene between the two leads. I abhor violence against women and always watch carefully to see how an author treats rape in books, holding my feminist views up to whether or not I’ll continue to read. However with this book, read many years before the Internet and online reviews by the masses, I never equated it to rape.
The story is a complex love match between a manipulative man and the young woman he longs to have. Whitney is head strong and challenging. Clayton longs for her and is willing to bide his time and let her play her games in order to be the last man standing. I found this to be a tender love story, yet tempestuous and heart wrenching. With McNaught, there is a formula. Once the happy couple reconciles themselves to being together, something will rip them apart. Of course there will be a happy ending, but the journey to get there is fraught with nail biting and thigh clenching moments. They are a passionate couple. Once again, the sex scenes are well written and descriptive, yet not raunchy. Whenever I read this story I feel winded from the highs and lows of the emotional roller coaster the author takes you on.
5. Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas
Another book by Kleypas. She writes so well in her older novels. This book is about a beautiful woman Sophia who seeks revenge on the man she perceives ruined her life. Being a romance novel, of course he didn’t, but that’s the premise behind their amazing love story. Sir Ross Cannon is the magistrate of the Bow Street Runners and an honourable man. Sophia wheedles her way into his life in order to ruin him for sending her younger brother to the gallows years before. Love and attraction blossom and grown into a hot crescendo between the two before the truth comes out. Lots of plot twists and turns lead them on an incredible journey of redemption. This book is hot. Let me repeat that HOT. The sex scenes scorch the pages and its thrilling that the ‘Monk of Bow Street’ is undoing his fly any chance he can get. The mystery angle adds depth to the story and makes the characters three dimensional. Sophia and Ross fight injustice and learn to find a way to cross not only social classes, but the law and deception. This story makes you yearn and long for a romance like this to happen to you. Did I mention it was really, really HOT?