A combination of whining to my friends that I can’t find anything to read that’s not meh, and this conversation over at the Smart Bitches’ blog led me to the library, where I checked out Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught, which somehow, despite my having devoured books like this in my teens, I must have missed.
Exactly what my reader’s heart was craving. Here was a book that wouldn’t let me read two sentences, make the short kid’s lunch, read a paragraph, go out and get the mail, read a page, wash the dishes and so on. Here was a book that made me curl up on the couch with my fleece blanket and lose myself in the story. No breakneck pacing, no dead people, no talking heads set in some blank Twilight Zone of setting.
Historical romances were my first love. Jude Deveraux and Linda Lael Miller and Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood and probably my favorite—definitely in the top 5 of an All-Time list—Laurie McBain. They wrote stories about strong, Alpha men and spunky women amidst grand and lavish settings you could lose yourself in. Books you could sink your teeth into.
I’m not really sure when I wandered away from historical romance. Originally, that’s what I dreamed of writing. But, while I love to read about them, I have no patience for researching Dukes and Earls and peerage laws and period clothing. So I wrote westerns. Very unoriginal ones with outlaw heros and schoolmarm heroines. Fortunately, I stopped doing that.
It became obvious to me at some point that nobody wants the historicals I wanted to write—Russian historical romances spanning the hundreds of years of Romanov rule—and I decided to try a contemporary category. My historical romance reading went downhill from there. Everything from reading to know the line to keeping up with the market to my favorite historical authors turning to contemporary has brought me to a point where I can probably count the number of historical romances I’ve read in the past several years on one hand.
I’m almost afraid to go on a historical romance glom, though. I don’t want the magic to be gone. I don’t want to find chick lit in gowns or romantic suspense with swords instead of guns. I don’t want watered-down beta pirates or heroines who don’t tremble just a little.
So for now I’m going rummaging in the back of the bookshelves. I think I’ll read a Laurie McBain book next, and then revisit the Montgomery men. Then…who knows.