I’ve been listening to a lot of the Wicked Wallflowers over the last few weeks. I have been a late adopter of Jenny and Sarah’s podcast and I LOVE IT. If it’s not in your ears yet, what are you waiting for?
Anyway, in their podcast, they’ll generally ask guests what was their first romance read and it got me thinking… what was MY first romance read. It certainly wasn’t Forever by Judy Blume – which I remember fondly, but DOES NOT have a happy ever after.
It wasn’t any of the Sweet Valley Highs I burned through as a teenager and which, frankly, became a little too dramatic and more like a teenage Days of Our Lives than I preferred!
It wasn’t any of the other BRILLIANT books I read at school including Lilith Norman’s Climb a Lonely Hill or Ruth Park’s My Sister Sif – if you’ve not read either, do yourself a favour. They’re great, and have stuck with me since I read them in primary school!
I also can’t really count my mother’s books that I stole away and read all the good bits from when I was WAY TOO YOUNG to be doing so. That catalogue included Lace by Shirley Conran, Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz and a book called Facades by Stanley Levine and Bud Knight that I really SHOULD NOT have been reading, although it taught me what Quaaludes were, and the word milequetoast. Lace also has the most inappropriately hedonistic scene involving a Sheik and a goldfish, but I digress…
It was <insert drum roll> the Chesapeake Bay saga from the Queen, Nora Roberts.
I read the four books in the series on a plane in the early 2000’s, which was no mean feat given they came in two volumes, each about 2” thick. No Kindle app in the early naughties! But I DEVOURED them, and they were then lugged around the USA because I was not leaving them behind. Those massive copies (in that thick, trade paperback size) still have pride of place on my bookshelf.
For those who haven’t read them, the Chesapeake Bay saga follows three brothers (in name, not in blood) unravelling the story of how they came to have a fourth brother, after their foster father passes away. Of course, in so unravelling, each comes to find their significant other – some who have been under their noses and others who have come from further away. But what I loved was that the family was a key part of the story and the general banter and that the relationship between the brothers was as much about the HEAs as the romances were.
I’ve never quite completed Nora’s back catalogue (somewhat surprisingly) although her Brides Quartet, and the InnBoonsboro series are books I’ll often re-read. But those Quinn brothers were my entry into Romancelandia, and were probably my first book boyfriends (I had a soft spot for the artist baby brother). He was an artist and, well, ‘paint me like your French girls’ is a definite thing for me!
Who was your gateway into Romancelandia? Have you been a long time resident or a new arrival?
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