I’ve been so busy talking about Danger Gals, that I haven’t mentioned much about the Romance genre. My novels could indeed be classified as Romance because there’s always a love story involved and I aim for emotionally satisfying endings. Five years ago I’d say that wasn’t enough, that Romance required a third criteria, that being an emphasis on emotional conflict and growth of the two main characters. I still think this trifecta of criteria is definitive of most of the books in the Romance genre, but the field has embraced hybrids of Romance in the last few years. Rather than diluting the genre, I think this admission has broadened the genre’s appeal. So in celebration of that, I offer my Top Five Favorite Romance Novelists.
1. Laura Kinsale. I love love love love Kinsale’s books and if The Lucky One ever comes out I will snatch it up off the shelf in 10 seconds flat. I’m not the only one who loves The Kinsale, and I agree with Candy that Seize the Fire is the book I’d recommend to someone who has never read a Romance, primarily because it subverts nearly every stereotype ever tossed at the genre. It was Candy’s Lightening Review round on Kinsale that inspired this post.
2. Suzanne Brockmann. Brockmann’s heroes swear like sailors, because in fact that’s what they are: Navy SEALs. These guys are incredibly testosterone-laden alpha heroes — all with hearts of gold. I loved all of Brockmann’s books, but there’s a dead heat tie for my ultimate favor between quirky Kenny Karmody (computer geek) and lonely John Nilsson (linguist). Among her no-slouch-either heroines you’ll find a helicopter pilot, a linguist, an FBI sharpshooter, a pediatrician, a political activist, a movie producer and a White House staffer.
3. MaryJo Putney. Again, this is an author I’ve glommed on, meaning that I’ve read her entire backlist. Her Fallen Angels series stands out for me among her other novels, most especially Shattered Rainbows with it’s emotionally and physically tortured hero Michael and Rock-of-Gibraltar heroine Catherine.
4. J.R. Ward. What’s not to love about 7-foot tall warrior vampires? Ward’s books are intense, over-the-top, otherworldly fun. And I haven’t even mentioned the blood-sucking yet. If you love the paranormal and vampires, you’ll love Ward’s books. She could have stopped there, but she takes it to another level as the women in this ‘verse forge a new future for themselves by transforming their insular culture to embrace gender equality. But I really adore those vamps.
5. Diana Gabaldon. Her novels are at least 800 glorious pages of Highlander Jamie-love and sometimes in Gaelic. He’s a lover not a fighter, but man can that guy kick ass when he wants to. And Claire is a darkly witty chronicler of 18th century Scotland.
There are many more Romance novels and novelists that I’ve spent some great time reading, not the least of which are Jenny Cruisie, Susan Wiggs and Janet Evanovich, and books by the talented ladies listed in my blogroll. The authors on the list above, however, really hit a nerve with me, and did so early on in my reading life. These were novelists whose stories I couldn’t get enough of; I’d finish one and couldn’t wait to start another.
Next up, my Top Five Favorite Science Fiction/Fantasy Novelists.