My seventh grade English teacher, a diminutive woman in stature but a powerhouse in attitude and ability to get kids engaged, had a lending library. This small wire rack rested under the blackboard, waiting for us to take a book. We could check out one book at a time. I remember picking a book titled Emily. It was part of a series known as the Sunfire Romances. The Sunfire Romance series was a collection of books dealing with young woman, usually around fifteen or sixteen years of age, in some tumultuous time in American History. You had Sabrina, a strong willed Patriot during the Revolutionary war. Veronica was a smart brassy sixteen year old living in Hawaii during World War II. Roxanne was young actress carving out a name for herself in Hollywood during the Great Depression. With these stories you got history and romance, a double whammy!
Emily dealt with a young woman from an affluent background during the turn of the century. She was torn between two loves, the handsome rich boy Worth she grew up with or the poor brooding medical student Stephen. I myself had a thing for the brooding med student, placing Keanu Reeves as Stephen in the movie in my mind. Along the way Emily learned life lessons and realized she wanted to be a nurse. Pretty good stuff when you are thirteen. You get a little thrill when she shares a kiss with her chosen man.
After that I was hooked on romances, even if I didn’t know I was reading the genre. I will fully admit I did not read Jane Austin as a girl or a teenager. In fact, my first foray into Ms. Austin’s work was when my college roommate made me sit down and watch Pride and Prejudice, the Colin Firth version. I was however a connoisseur of Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell. These authors can be classified as romance novelists in a way. Take A Tale of Two Cities for example, Sydney Carton gives up his life for the woman he loves. I mean come on; he takes her husband’s place at the guillotine. That’s romance. How about North and South? What would we do if John Thornton and Margaret Hale didn’t get together at the end of the book? See what I mean, romance. What about The Scarlet Pimpernel? Sir Percy Blakeley becomes the Scarlet Pimpernel to fight injustice, but he fights Chevelin because he loves his wife so much.
My first real romance novel, one that fell completely into the genre, was called Bandit’s Kiss by Mary Lou Rich. I was sixteen at the time and so excited to have progressed to full fledged romance. I don’t remember much about this book other than the heroine spent a lot of time in her nightgown. But I would have to say Emily and her Sunfire Romance sisters were what set me on the path of romance and romance writing. I love...love. I love hot kisses and steamy caress. I know there is probably a twelve-step program I can enter, but I don’t really want to quit romances.
The Hooded Man
When her father is brutally murdered in front of her eyes, Marian of Locksley is thrust into a world of treason and greed, where the ultimate prize is the throne of England. Left with little choice, she disguises herself as Robin of the Hood, an outlaw despised by royalty and loved by the people…and the wickedly handsome, steadfast Will Scarlet. Forced into hiding deep within Sherwood Forest, Will joins Robin Hood’s band of merry men, not realizing the fearless outlaw he follows is really the woman he desires for his own. He dares to risk everything in the fight for justice and love, longing for the day he can claim the courageous beauty. But first, England must be saved and legend must be born.
Do you remember your first romance novel? What was the first book that set your heart aflutter for a happily ever after?