Book Advice

As part of an event I’ll be doing at the WORD Bookstore in July, I’ve been asked to provide three book recommendations for people new to the romance genre. The only limitation is that the books can’t all be from the same sub-genre (i.e., no suggesting three historicals).

This seemed easy enough– until I tried to do it. Just three books to showcase the best of romance fiction? It’s one of those impossible tasks out of a fairy tale, like sorting beans into a bucket.

Right now, my tentative list is:

Loretta Chase, Mr. Impossible (Regency)
Judith McNaught, Paradise (Contemporary)
Mary Stewart, Nine Coaches Waiting (Romantic Suspense)

On the other hands, there’s:

Georgette Heyer, The Nonesuch (Regency)
Kristan Higgans, Just One of the Guys (Contemporary)
Gail Carriger, Soulless (Paranormal Historical)

But then there’s Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn and I haven’t even touched on chick lit…. Help! If you had to pick just three romance novels to suggest to a romance newbie, what would those romance novels be?


  1. Denise on June 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Sorry, I jumped the gun and didn’t read the whole entry before I commented on FB! I still loved The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Very much enjoyed The Lady’s Tutor by Robin Schone as well. Posie Graeme-Evans has a three book series starting with The Innocent that was a wonderful read too!
    Best of luck with your choices!

  2. Lauren on June 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Denise, I’m happy to have the recs in either location. : )

    Black Dagger is a great suggestion– I was trying to think of something paranormal to balance out the historical/contemporary selections.

  3. Lauren Ashley on June 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I would suggest Gail Carriger’s Soulless for sure! I found out about the book through you and I am addicted! Its a wonderful series. Love Lord Maccon hehe

    And Only to Deceive: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander (Romantic Suspense)
    It led me to Silent in the Grave:A Lady Julia Grey novel by Deanna Raybourn which was also extremely good.

    Also I just read First Comes Marriage by Mary Balough (Regency). It was a great novel and as you can tell I love series haha

  4. Christine on June 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Are we counting chick lit as romance? If so, possibly Jane Green’s “Mr. Maybe.” As for paranormal, I like Deanna Raybourn’s new book, “The Dead Travel Fast.” It has a little bit of the paranormal element without being a full-on Twilight. I also loved Danielle Steel when I was in high school, particularly the historical ones. My favorite was always “Message from Nam.”

  5. Christine on June 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Oh I saw someone on Facebook suggested Julie Garwood. I loved her Roses/Clayborne series, especially “Come the Spring.”

  6. Patti on June 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Too Good to Be True is another good one by Kristan Higgins. All of hers are good!

  7. Bess on June 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I would recommend

    ‘This Heart of Mine’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (contemporary)
    ‘The Taming of the Duke’ by Eloisa James
    ‘Outlander’ by Diana Gabaldon (historical science fiction?)

    and of course, anything by Lauren Willig.

  8. Carole on June 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Let’s see….
    I would suggest:
    ‘Bet Me’ by Jennifer Crusie.

    ‘The Duke’ by Gaelen Foley

    ‘Guilty Pleasures: Vampire Hunter Series’ by Laurell k. Hamilton. It’s a paranormal/scifi with a splash of romance. I love that series.

  9. Sara Lindsey on June 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever – Julia Quinn (Historical Romance)

    It Had To Be You – Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Contemporary Romance)

    A Hunger Like No Other – Kresley Cole (Paranormal Romance)

  10. Joanne on June 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Very difficult, indeed with only three

    For historical romance: Judith McNaught’s
    Whitney, My Love

    For paranormal/time travel romance: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander or one of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander books

    For contemporary romance: something by Julie James (Practice Makes Perfect, Just the Sexiest Man Alive)

    I’ll be interested in seeing what books make the final cut. Good luck!

  11. Allison on June 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Seriously hard to just pick 3.

    Soulless by Gail Carriger is a darn good pick for paranormal.

    for historical, I might go with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean…or maybe And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander for historical/mystery.

    Paradise by Judith McNaught would probably be my contemporary pick too, unless I chose Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie.

    hmm. Like you I feel like I shouldn’t be leaving out Lisa Kleypas. But I still think my list would be some combination of the above.

  12. Lois M. on June 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I have no idea what to do with all three slots; my introduction was a Sandra Brown book, but I don’t think I would go there, I’d go with a more recently written one. Now, three Sandra Brown books later, I picked up my first historical, and that was Lisa Kleypas. I’d definitely suggest her as a first one. I picked up Lady Sophia’s Lover, but perhaps go with one of the Wallflowers/Hathaways.

    But as the other two. . . I don’t think I have actual book suggestions, but I think category-wise, you should do a straight contemporary, and given that paranormals, particularly vampires, are quite popular, probably need to include that; though I tend to avoid all said vampires most of the time, so I really have no clue what to suggest for a title. Straight contemporary though. . . hey, how about something from Susan Mallery (though it would be torture to try to pick out one, so don’t make me! LOL) 🙂


  13. Carrie on June 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Faking It by Jennifer Crusie (really a toss up between Welcome to Temptation, Faking It and Bet Me)but Faking It has such great people in it that you love them all.

    Almost any book by Julia Quinn for historical – they are all have a great story and a sense of reality (no heaving bosoms here nor oiled man pecs gleaming) Lisa Kleypas might be a little more intermediate romance reader than beginning. Julia spends a little more time in the beginning introducing the characters.

    The Reluctant Miss Van Helsing by Minda Webber – paranormal but makes you laugh at it on purpose!

    This list is much harder than one would imagine!

  14. am7 on June 23, 2010 at 3:45 am

    sorta new to genre myself its hard,
    but (especially if only one is modern.)
    your “Night Jasmine”
    something Danielle steel
    (I am not sure I would pick Message From Nam but was thrilled to see it on here. It was one of the first romance novels I read; I was bored in study hall the monitor gave it to me to read. I read it in three days couldn’t put it down one of her rarer ones.)
    Third either Julia Quinn’s The Viscount who loved me or Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s It had to Be You.
    Of course I don’t know the new reader, but I was rather a prude when I started reading romances. For someone new to genre who might want to pick at least one novel easy on the sex.

  15. TheHoyden on June 23, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Lord of the Fading Lands-C.L. Wilson (fantasy romance)

    The Dream Thief-Shana Abe (fantasy romance) Ok, I have two fantasy romance picks but it’s a subgenre of romance that we don’t see enough of, I think! Kinda historical too & it’s probably best to read The Smoke Thief before this one.

    Hope’s Folly-Linnea Sinclair (sci-fi romance)

  16. Lauren on June 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn are my absolute favorites. Even though they are from the same genre–and even though it’s extremely hard to narrow this down to three–I would probably choose:

    “Worth Any Price” –Lisa Kleypas
    “An Offer From a Gentleman” –Julia Quinn
    “Brighter Than the Sun” –Julia Quinn

  17. Renee on June 23, 2010 at 9:44 am

    For contemporary, I completely agree with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For an entree to romance, I think she would be perfect! Jennifer Crusie is a close second though.

    Georgette Heyer I LOVE, but I don’t know it that’s the best taste of romance for the modern reader–there’s not a lot like Georgette anymore.

    LOVE Outlander series–maybe not if you’re trying to introduce a reader to the pure romance genre?

    Haven’t read them for a while, but I remember reading Mary Balogh early on and liking hers a lot. Maybe A Summer to Remember?

  18. Susan on June 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

    For historical, you have to go with either Mary Balogh or Lisa Kleypas. They both have some wonderful series, and a gift for making the characters come alive and tell a great story.

    For modern, definitely Jennifer Crusie. Bet Me, Faking It, Welcome to Temptation.

  19. Allison on June 23, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    So, I had to come back and say WOW am I glad you mentioned Just One of the Guys up there, I’d never heard of it or Kristan Higgans and decided to go grab the book from the library – loved it! I just finished reading her new book that comes out in August via NetGalley, and I’ll soon be on to another 🙂 Great rec!

  20. Sara Lindsey on June 24, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I absolutely adore Heyer, but I have to agree with Renee here. Also, Heyer isn’t really representative of the historical romances currently published – a reader wanting more books in Heyer’s vein is going to have to hunt for traditional regencies in used bookstores.

    Nine Coaches Waiting is one of my all-time favorite romances, but I’m not sure I would recommend it for the same reason – today’s romantic suspense doesn’t tend toward the Gothic.

    I think contemporary has to be either Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Jennifer Crusie (Bet Me would be my choice there). Though how does one leave La Nora off the list?

    Historical: Julia Quinn or Lisa Kleypas, depending on the sensuality level you want to recommend

  21. Jane F on June 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    As someone who is making a slow (but fun) transition into romance (from chick lit and YA… not a huge leap) I really appreciate these lists (and the weekly reading roundup). I’m finding lots of good new books!

    Key books/ authors in my transition are Lauren Willig, Patricia/Meggin Cabot, and Outlander. I would also recommend Mr. Impossible.

    While do not wish to be negative, I would caution against including Whitney, My Love. I read it early on in my transition and was put off the genre for a long time. While I understand people feel differently, I really did not feel comfortable with the “romantic” rape scene.

  22. anna on June 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I’d recommend The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (historical romance in the vein of Austen/Heyer in that there’s no sex, and the writing is clever); Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole (paranormal romance); and any of GA Aiken’s Dragon series for fantasy romance.

  23. Jessica C on June 25, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Oh what a hard decision to make! I strongly recommend that the Regency genre pick be one of Georgette Heyer’s novels (the Grand Sophy is my personal favourite, but all of them are good). She has had such a strong influence on the genre that I can’t think of another author to better represent the style. Especially since some of the more recent Regency romances (even some parts of Julia Quinn’s novels, as much as I love them) don’t properly capture the tone of the era for me – they read like modern stories just set in a different time period.

  24. Heather on June 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Oh so many to choose but here we go

    Blue Eyed Devil, Lisa Kleypas (Western/Contemporary)
    Secrets of a Summer Night, Lisa Kleypas
    Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern (Chick Lit)

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