Like most people, my reading preferences and tastes are quite broad. Biographies, success, mystery, religious, financial, history, suspense, politics, classics, western, fantasy - you name it, I've read it. That is, I thought I'd read it all. There was only one genre that I hadn't delved into - romance*. All of that changed 6 months ago when I picked up a novel at the library. I had no intention of reading silly romantic fluff, but I did want to write a novel and I figured if I was going to write a novel, I should probably read one (for the last several years my reading material had been about 99% nonfiction). I grabbed the first thing on the library shelf that looked interesting. It just so happened to be A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano (see my review for that novel here). And that was it. I had no idea of the near obsession that would follow. Yes, they're predictable; yes, they can be a little cheesy; and no, they're not usually exceptionally well written....but, they are entertaining, they are educational, and (for the most part) they have happy endings.
Anyway, here are my top ten picks for the romances I have read thus far:
10. Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
When a navy linguist gets involved with a handsome naval officer, she's thrown into a world she never imagined which includes kidnapping, drug smuggling, and murder. Set in 19th century Philadelphia, the reader learns a great deal about the powerful opium lobby and why shutting them down was like swimming against the tide. This is a sequel to the book The Lady of Bolton Hill.
9. In Too Deep by Mary Connealy
This is the second book in "The Kincaid Brides" series. When her husband dies and leaves her destitute, a young widow accepts the marriage offer of a local rancher. Little do they know that her deceased husband has left behind a trail of evil deeds and vengeful enemies. With their faith and lives on the line, can they overcome their fears and create a trusting marriage?
8. The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund
This story is based on the real life experiences of Narcissa and Marcus Whitman. Two individuals desire to be missionaries, but the church denies them both service for the same reason: they're unmarried. The two agree to a marriage of convenience to fulfill their dreams, but neither expects to find love along the way. Can their relationship remain platonic as they learn to trust and depend on one another?
7. Claudia by Diana Wallis Taylor
Claudia is the wife of Lucius Pontius Pilate. While the love story is sweet and tender, I was really captivated by the descriptions and historical details of this book. We may never know why Pilate allowed the crucifixion of the Savior or why Claudia tried to intervene on His behalf, but this novel presents both Pilate and Claudia in a very interesting, and human, way. Very well researched and quite entertaining.
6. To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
This was just a lovely book to read with very realistic characters. See mom's review of this book here.
5. At Every Turn by Anne Mateer
Of all the leading ladies, Alyce Benson is the one that I identify with best. She has a big heart and good intentions, but she's impulsive, ambitious, and more than a little reckless. She aspires to things that "nice" young ladies just don't do in 1916 America and despite her faith and her righteous desires, things just don't work out for her the way she wishes they would. A fun and exciting book that left me wanting to learn more about old cars. I even went to a couple car shows after reading it. If you want to learn more about the automobiles featured in this book, read my post on the subject here.
4. Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
Like all of Karen Witemeyer's books, this one is set in Texas. A young woman trespasses onto land owned by four hermit brothers to warn them of danger, only to be threatened at gunpoint. After an accident leaves her in the brothers' care, her reputation is in ruins and the only way to salvage it is to marry one of them. When she catches them drawing straws for the task, she feels a sense of dread at being a "short straw bride". A very touching story with both serious and lighthearted moments.
3. Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake
If you like funny, quirky romantic comedy, then this book is for you. When a teenage girl disguises herself as a boy to work on her uncle's ranch, things get awkward. And hilarious. Especially when she starts to develop feelings for the tough foreman who's intent on making "a man" out of her. With plenty of laugh out loud moments, this book is difficult to put down.
2. The Miner's Lady by Tracie Peterson
The Panettas and Calercos have been feuding for generations. When Isabella Panetta falls in love with Orlando Calerco, she enlists her sister, Chantel, as a reluctant conspirator. As Chantel works to keep Orlando's brother, Dante, from discovering the truth, the two also fall in love. What will happen when their families discover their 'betrayal'? See my review here.
1. Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund
This book was definitely darker than most of the romances I have read. Based on the 18th century love story of Abigail and John Adams, this book is full of mystery, intrigue, danger, and witty dialogue. My love of history, romance, and the Adams made it impossible to put down. Again, you can read my review here.
*When I say romance I specifically mean Christian romance (I have no interest in the other type of romance).