Take a Peek: Romance Novels

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Take a Peek: Romance Novels

It’s safe to say romance novels have always been around: from trashy bodice rippers to popular romance books with a supernatural twist, this genre presents material that is easily readable and highly appealing. True, with their steamy covers these titles may be hard to whip out in public (smartphones and eReaders come in handy for these situations) but you may be surprised by what you find the next time you pick up a book like these.

Take for instance the Guild Hunter’s series, which begins with Angel’s Blood by New York Times best-selling author Nalini Singh. Readers often remark about the diversity of characters that she presents in her series. Elena Deveraux, the golden hued, fierce vampire hunter is charged with her biggest case to date – tracking down an archangel gone rogue. Readers who enjoy stimulating alpha male characters will definitely find something appealing in Elena’s love interest, Raphael, but Singh’s sexy works are underscored by a serious attention to creating realistic alternative worlds.  

I’m a bit of a traditionalist, however, as I enjoy historical titles. Try one of Elizabeth Hoyt's novels from the Maiden Lane series  like Darling Beast. In a field awash with protagonists who illustrate innocence, this narrative epitomizes characters who own their sexuality. Elizabeth Hoyt and Tessa Dare are two romance authors who like to turn clichéd plots into something engaging or downright funny. Granted, some readers might initially be attracted to Hoyt’s use of eroticism (don’t be surprised if it gets a little hot when you're reading.) 

Tessa Dare plays with male/female imagery as well. One of my favorite books is When a Scot Ties the Knot, which is part of the Castles Ever After series. Don’t be put off by the burly man in a kilt on the cover, because you’ll miss a laugh out loud romance! Madeline Gracechurch is perhaps the only female who invented a suitor who coincidentally happens to be alive and in need of a bride. Just to give you a small hint: don’t miss the hero’s sassy clansman whose romance advice puts Jane’s Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to shame.  Let’s just say the famous scene in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice when Colin Firth strips has nothing on their suggestions to our grumpy hero when it comes to his lady love.

How about two authors who go even further with pleasing mash-ups of traditional bodice rippers with the supernatural: it’s like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, only more! Elizabeth Boyle is one my favorite romance authors due to her cheeky combination of humor and passion, and nowhere is that on better display than her novel Tempted by the Night. Hermione Marlow had been in love with Lord Rockhurst for years – not that he ever noticed her. But this regency era batman might just learn something new when he gets an unwitting new sidekick. Readers may enjoy antics similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer but should also appreciate Boyle’s light hearted prose.

Teresa Medeiros’ novel After Midnight takes scandalous behavior and mixes it up with plenty of drama. Fans of series like Twilight but who are looking for something more mature will relish this sensual mystery. What’s a woman to do when she finds herself falling for her sister’s beau, who may also be a vampire? The Dark Shadows ambiance alone is sinfully enticing!

Romance novels come in all shapes and sizes (no pun intended.) Lest someone convince you that this genre is not high-brow enough, check out the Popular Romance Project, which has been funded by organizations like the National Endowment for the Humanities; it examines the impact of the romance novel as a genre on both culture and communities. So as you venture forth remember: Valentine’s Day may come once a year, but romance is always in the air at the library.