A male friend of mine recently said to me “women read romances because they are dissatisfied.”
I kinda laughed at that at the time, mainly because I knew this particular friend was a fan of my work. But the more I thought about it, the more the suggestion rankled, because it is something that my sister authors in this genre get a lot. It’s not entirely untrue. Who doesn’t want a little extra romance in their lives? But it’s a little reductive, don’t you think? Just another example of how the romance genre gets unfairly minimized.
If someone is a mystery fan, do you assume they feel stupid, so they have to read books that make them feel smart?
If someone is a thriller fan, do you assume they feel weak, so they need to read a book that makes them feel strong and invincible?
Of course not. So why then, do people assume that romance fans aren’t getting their itch scratched?
It really is annoying.
I can’t speak for everyone who reads romances. But I can tell you why I do. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of falling in love. It is, simply put, the best thing life has to offer. The sense of connection. The thrills. The good sex. The push and pull of the emotional tension of two people, wrapping their lives around each other. Romances give you all those things, along with some kind of exciting storyline to go along with it. It is escapism in its purest form, lighting up those dopamine pathways in your brain and giving you all the feels. A good romance novel is better than Prozac, honey. They’ve gotten me through many a crappy day. And I think many avid romance fans would tell you the same thing.
If you don’t have a partner in your life, a book boyfriend can give you hope. If you’re dating someone in your life you’re unsure about, they can show you what a man who loves you really looks like. If you’re in a happy relationship, they’re good, too. Because no relationship, no matter how good, can match those euphoric, heady, early days. You wouldn’t even want it to, really. No, in this case, you have the deepness of a relationship that sustains and nurtures over time. But you can always revisit that little new relationship jolt in a nice, steamy romance novel. And you can read that novel secure in the knowledge that no matter how bad things get, it will always work out in the end.
Sounds like a win across the board to me. And if it scratches your itch, so much the better.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve read that have really knocked my socks off lately. Not all of them are recently released books, mind you. But they are some of the books on my reference shelf—books I go to again and again because they inspire my writing. They are sexy, steamy, angsty fun. Maybe you’ll love them as much as I do.
Off the Clock by Roni Loren
I have a confession to make. Academics are my secret catnip—the combination of smart and sexy and nerdy, all in one. And boy does this erotic romance deliver. Two hot scholars working in a sex rehab clinic. Read with a portable fan and a tall glass of water.
The Memory Thief by Emily Colin
Gorgeous writing that almost feels like literary fiction. A woman is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, through the body of another man. Story doesn’t quite go like you expect, but a happy ending, nonetheless.
Kristen Ashley Walk Through Fire
Second chance romances are probably my favorite subgenre, because the angst is built in. Throw that together with the growly biker heroes Kristen Ashley writes, and well, there you go.
Kathryn Kennedy My Unfair Lady
A disagreeable, dissolute lord tries is hired to teach a nouveau riche Western belle how to navigate in the ton of Victorian England. The tension between these two is surprising and funny and just delicious. Sex scenes are really terrific, too. Hoo!
Bec McMaster Of Silk and Steam
Bec McMaster is the most technically perfect writer in the paranormal genre, in my opinion. The steampunk world she creates here is beautiful, the plots are twisty and perfect, and the love story is deep and emotional. Have read every book in this series more than once. The heroines in these books are brave, smart and powerful in their own very unique ways. Truly stunning work.
Someone to Love Mary Balogh
This book really knocked my socks off. Story of a woman who grows up in an orphanage only to find out that her father was a very wealthy Duke whose last marriage was bigamous—making her legal heir. Oh the relationships in this one are riveting. It’s amazing.
Elizabeth Hoyt Sweetest Scoundrel
I’ve never met an Elizabeth Hoyt book I didn’t like. They bring just the right amount of steam to the historical genre. And I love me the hero in this one—a crass, dirty-talking theater owner, who helps the heroine, a survivor of terrible trauma, get over her past.