Weekly Reader

We have changed this feature to a monthly one. Feel free to peruse more than a year's worth of weekly submissions below, but be sure to check out our revamped Reader of the Moment.

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November 2, 2001:
I loved to read in high school, but would have never picked a romance novel. My friends would have made fun of me, so I read mythology and some fiction. Soon enough boys became my major concern in life and reading was definitely not a top priority.
My first romance novel reading experience was actually an accident. I commute via train to work in the city and a friend who rode the train finished So Speaks The Heart by Johanna Lindsey while riding the train. She looked up sighed, and said that it was one of the best books she had ever read. She handed me the book to me and said "here read it, you'll love it." Well a book that could make someone sigh like that couldn't be all that bad, so I read it, I loved it! It's been somewhere around 10 years since I read that book and I'm now addicted to romance novels. I have a keeper section, a trade section, a wish list, and around 200 TBRs.

I started out tentatively only looking for other books by Johanna Lindsey. I loved the historical novels and told myself I was only reading the historicals and not those silly contemporary romances and never one of those silly harlequins. I moved on to Julie Garwood and Amanda Quick. I found a used bookstore. I didn't even know that they existed. My favorite used bookstore went out of business and I purchased three paper grocery bags full of books at very discounted prices. In those bags was the Only series by Elizabeth Lowell. I loved the Lowell historicals so much that I picked up one of her contempories. I was told I absolutely had to read a Nora Roberts novel so I picked up Rebellion, which got me started on the MacGregors and it just snow balled from there. And yes I now read Harlequins and Silhouettes.

It doesn't matter the size of the book or the genre anymore. I mainly look for good authors and I'm always on the look out for a new author to add to my list. I read websites like AAR and even a bad review can lead me to a good book. If the reviewer says, I really didn't like this, but this happens to be something that I do like, I read the book anyway. The internet has opened up a whole new world of information for my romance reading addiction (and yes if you ask my husband he would claim it's an addiction). I even read romance novels while exercising. I purchased an exercise bike specifically because my hands would be free to hold a book while I exercised.

I love reading romance. I can read stories based in mythology, history, mystery, and the list goes on. There are books to make you laugh and some to make you cry. Whatever the mood, there's a romance novel out there to satisfy it. I'm hooked and love it.

-- Janez Bajda

October 12, 2001:
The first thing I'd like to state is that, with this missive, I am officially coming out of the closet as a romance reader. There; it is done now and I feel better. How did this, well, obsession begin? In the early 90's, right after graduating from college, I was having a rough time finding a job and an even worse time figuring out what I really wanted to do with my life. Being a voracious reader, I thought maybe a nice book would help me take my mind off things. I wanted something easy, mindless. I thought to myself, "How about on of those romance things? That should be mindless enough." So I "slunk" back to the romance section of the local Waldenbooks. Through some sort of divine providence, I happened to pick up Silk and Secrets by Mary Jo Putney. Jeez, I thought, this is really good. Then I found out it was part of a trilogy. I read the other two. I loved them. They were well written, adventurous, and very romantic. Sadly, though, I was an incredible snob and quickly returned to more "worthy" literature. (Boo! Hiss!)

For about eight years, I hardly read romance. I read authors like A.S. Byatt, Susan Sontag and Susan Minot. Why? Well, I thought I was too smart to read romance. (Sorry - I was an elitist!) But slowly, I came around. I read books like My Sweet Folly by Laura Kinsale. Wow. This book engaged my mind and my emotions. Then I read Ransom by Julie Garwood, also great, and Perfect by Judith McNaught. The list goes on, until one day, I was a full fledged romance reader.

Now I am making up for lost time and discovering wonderful authors. My absolute favorite is Judith Ivory. Her books are amazing. Some have even made me cry. That is saying something. I'm not known for being overly emotional! And Connie Brockway. Why didn't you guys tell me about her? Huh? If you are not moved by As You Desire, well then, I just don't know what to say! (Well, we do have a DIK review of As You Desire online, April!) My final hang-up is those awful "clinch" covers. I still have trouble buying those. Some great books like Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase are burdened by those silly things. Ah well, you really cannot judge a book by its cover, can you! I've even began dabbling in (gasp) series romance, which at one time I would not have touched with a ten foot pole. Progress!

Now that I am "out," I would like to ask that you don't judge me too harshly because of my past opinions. I am proud to be a romance reader. Now, if only there was a Romance Readers Pride Parade I'd be all set.

--Glomming like a crazy woman, I remain, April Daubenspeck

October 5, 2001:
In the summer after I turned 13 or 14 my stepsister handed me a Judith McNaught book. I don't remember if it was Whitney, my Love or Almost Heaven, but I fell in love with it. At that time I read a couple other of McNaught's books, but after school started back up I forgot all about the beloved books.

When I was 18 I got married and had my first son. It was a rough couple of years watching my friends going out and enjoying the party scene and me at home being the happy little housewife. That is when I remembered my love of books again. When the baby took his nap I sat out on the front porch and read. I loved my son and husband, but for an 18 year old, the reality was a little too much, I needed some form of escape, the books became my fantasy world. I still read Whitney, my Love, Almost Heaven, and Once and Always about every two years or so.

I soon found out that there were other authors out there that I could enjoy; Joanna Lindsey, Jill Bartlett, Catherine Coulter, Julie Garwood (who is one of my favorites), and the list goes on forever. I have become a favorite at the local bookstore and get teased about how much time I spend reading. My neighbors probably think that I live outside (even in the winter). I become so immersed in the books that I think of nothing else until the book is finished. Over this past summer I read about 75 books and at least 70 of them were historical romance.

I recently started college classes, and I have a strict rule that I'm not allowed to read any of my novels while school is in session, because I know that my studies would suffer. By the way my major is in Literature. If I'm going out to get a job at least I'll still be able to read. I have now been married for eight years, and have three very handsome boys. I feel that I am half way sane because of my love for my books. I love finding new authors and remembering my favorites.

-- Cyndi

September 28, 2001:
I can't remember when I didn't read. Some of my first memories are sitting in my Dad or Grandma's lap being read Golden books. I discovered Georgette Heyer in high school, and was hooked.

I read romances voraciously for the next fifteen years. My Dad and I would sit for hours reading, he westerns, me romances. When we ran out of our own books, we switched. He's gone now, but not before he had read everything by Lindsay and Woodiwiss, and I had read everything by Louis L'Amour. The most amazing thing was that my Mom, who never read, finally joined us in her fifties, and started reading romances and westerns along with us. (If you can't beat em, join em)

In my thirties I got snobby, (probably a result of having friends sneer at my choice of reading material), and switched to bestsellers, biographies, science fiction and non-fiction. I believe that you become wiser as you age. And it showed in my forties, when I switched back to romance. Life is traumatic enough, and I finally realized that it was better for me as a person to read books about people that I actually liked, and that had endings that were happy and satisfying.

I am sitting in my office at home, a large bedroom with floor to ceiling bookcases on all walls, which holds my 6,000+ book romance collection. I carry a romance book everywhere I go. I read them on the corporate jet when myself and the other executives at the company I work for go on business trips. And I dare anyone to sneer at all... (I have actually gotten a couple of the guys to read some romances under the guise of the books being "suspense" or "vampire fiction", and smile secretly when they give the book back and tell me how much they liked it. If I could only figure out how to slip in a historical...)

And finally, my main personal life goal is to have enough personal desert isle keepers when I retire to be able to read a romance I love every day for the rest of my life!

-- Deborah Blaker

September 14, 2001:
I use to read some when I first got out of high school and then got away from it as I got older, I think because my eyes were going bad slowly. Then, a couple years ago, we were cleaning out a file cabinet at work and I came across a bag of old books. Most of them were romance novels and I started reading them right away. I had just recently gotten glasses (for my 39th birthday, I might ad). After that batch I was hooked, so I started going to the library and finding romance novels there... it was a totally new experience for me. I became an addict, sometimes reading three books in a weekend! My addiction to romance novels escalated when I started finding sites like this one on the internet. I believe All About Romance was the first site I found that started me into the "search" mode of looking for specific types of books, or books by specific authors using the Special Title Listings. Once I make a list of the books I want to read, I go the library catalog online and find where the books are (it saves driving time). There's also a used bookstore nearby that has scads of old books! I starting keeping a log of all books I read, along with a short synopsis of them that I share with my friends. I also keep a running list of books I'm looking for and keep it with me at all times.

The first author I combed through was Judith McNaught (Kingdom of Dreams and Paradise being my favorites). I've also read just about all of Julia Quinn, Julia London, Patti Berg, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Jo Putney, and the list is endless. And, I absolutely love Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books. I also started reading Janet Evanovich. She's a hoot... a little crime, a little love! This of course is just the tip of the iceberg! When I find an author I like, I will read as many of her books as I find. Right now I'm reading Christina Dodd.

Recently I started writing my own book, just to see if I can, and it's been a difficult process for me... fun, but difficult! It may turn out that I'm a romance reader, not a writer!

-- Karen Johnson

September 7, 2001:
I became a full-fledged bookworm when I was seven. I was in the second-grade and my class had a reading contest that I wanted to win. I like to tell people that no, I actually didn't win the contest, but I found something better: a love of books and reading. I used to read in the car a lot and while waiting in lines and while my brothers were fighting over the Atari, the Commodore 64, the Nintendo. I cut my teeth on a lot of young adult series in elementary school: Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, then Madeleine L'Engle and Cynthia Voigt, the Newberrys, etc. I just naturally gravitate towards novels featuring female protagonists and generally purchase novels that primarily have a female perspective. Those early female protagonists segued into romance heroines. The first really romance-focused novels I read, I think, were young adult historical romances in a series called Sunfires, where a teenage girl was torn between two men and they were named after the heroine, like Caroline, Roxanne, Susannah.

No one in my family, except for an aunt, reads for recreation-- I used to beg to go to the library and then my mom would take me and wait in the car. So I checked out a lot of books from my church library, where I had better access. They stocked Janette Oke, Gilbert Morris, Catherine Marshall, a series of inspirational romances called Sundance(?), so I tore through those. I also read Eugenia Price's Savannah series; To See Her Face Again is my favorite.

I remember I was in the seventh grade and looking through the paperback section at a grocery store when the floral bouquet on the cover of Judith McNaught's Almost Heaven caught my eye. I also picked up a Zebra regency: A Virtuous Lady by Elizabeth Thornton. Looking back, I feel fortunate that the first romances I picked up just swept me away. And like so many other people, those first two books hold a special place in my heart. I went on and read everything by McNaught and Thornton. When I was in a used bookstore, a lady recommended Danielle Steel and pulled out Family Album. I read some of hers. My biology teacher wrote me out a list of romance authors like Victoria Holt and Anya Seton. I still have that list somewhere. I didn't know anyone my age who liked to read,so I was always looking for new authors. I decided to be really disciplined and not take my romances to college, because I was there to study. But in the second semester I brought some back to school with me and lent some of my favorites to friends on my hall. I was glad to share the wealth, but I had a hard time getting them back.

When I was ten, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a librarian. While in college, I decided that my career vocation hadn't changed, even though for the past few years I had been reading a lot of stuff I wouldn't have picked out for myself. I graduated with a Masters in Library Science last August and am now a librarian. And I'm going to post some flyers tomorrow about a Linda Howard book signing at a local bookstore. The beat goes on....

--Melissa Speed

August 24, 2001:
My romance reading roots go way back. I started reading romance when I was 15. I started with writers all of whom had last names starting with "W." I read Jennifer Wilde and Kathleen Woodiwiss. I loved these books but as you can imagine they were limited in number. School demand forced me to read other books.

I returned to romance books in my 20s. I wanted to branch out and would only read books recommended by my favorite authors. I had read some books and found them to be less than what I wanted. The Internet has really helped me. I am on several reading group lists and this has helped me find authors I absolutely adore in many different sub-genres.

Before I would only read historical romances. Now I read and enjoy paranormals, science fiction, contemporaries and hstoricals as well. Most important to me is the role romance plays in my life. In the days Of hectic rushing from one place to another, romance gives the opportunity to relax and let go. When the going gets tough, the tough read a romance and then can go out and do what needs to be done.

-- Debra Guyette

July 27, 2001:
My first experience with romance novels was off-putting, to say the least. My seventh grade teacher, who always lent me books and recommended authors and titles, asked me to stay after class one day. She handed me this book with the most awful torrid clinch cover imaginable! I was so embarrassed that I didn't know what to say. She told me I should try it and let her know how I feel and so I grabbed the book and shoved it deep into my backpack and ran.

When I got home I sat in my room, locked the door, and leafed through. The book was horrible and the sex was too kinky for me. I felt like I was reading a porno! I think I was way too young at the time for that kind of book and I never finished it. I gave it back to my teacher the very next day and said nothing. She asked me if I liked it and I blushed and stammered, not knowing what to say. How could my teacher read this kind of stuff I thought?

Happily, I did try reading romance two years later when I was in high school. I happened on Carla Kelley, Mary Balogh and Regency Romances. I liked the fact that they did not contain sex (for the most part:)and they introduced me to an entirely new historical era. I discovered that I actually liked the sex scenes so I began to read Jude Deveraux, Catherine Coulter, and Julie Garwood.

I now read a variety of romance authors in different genres but I primarily like historicals. My favorite authors are Laura Kinsale, Mary Balogh, Carla Kelley, Madeleine Hunter and Mary Jo Putney. I am glad that one terrible book (I still wonder what book it was and who wrote - I suspect it was Bertrice Small or Johanna Lindsey) did not put me off a genre that I have come to love so much!

-- Amina

July 20, 2001:
When I was in eighth grade, we sat in alphabetical order and I sat across from a girl named Sparkle Wall. I noticed that every week she would have a different book. Being an avid reader (and somewhat of a nerd), I asked her one day what she was reading. She gave me a copy of Blaze Wyndham, by Beatrice Small - one of her more tame romances. After that I was hooked and Sparkle and I were friends.

Throughout that year, I borrowed tons of romance novels from her, working through most of Johanna Lindsey, Catherine Coulter and Kathleen Woodwiss. After I moved on to high school, I discovered a used book store where most of the employees were romance fans. They got me hooked on Mary Jo Putney, Connie Brockway, Patricia Gaffney and Nora Roberts. Once I came to college, I had access to the Internet and began reading theromancereader.com and eventually, likesbooks.com. Despite being an English major and having to read tons of books for my courses, I always had time for romance novels in between.

At college, I made friends with a hallmate who also read romances and began trading them actively with her and discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Cruise. I also managed to convert two good friends to romance readers. I am still an active romance reader ten years after Sparkle introduced me to the genre and as a graduate, am interested in possibly studying romance in graduate school, an idea which has been encouraged by several of my professors.

--Maura Seale

July 13, 2001:
My romance reading roots started when I was about sixteen. I read Gone With The Wind over Christmas break. Since we lived in the country, we did not have a public library, but we did have a bookmobile. I started reading Phyllis Whitney (My Brother Michael, Airs Above Ground, The Moonspiners,etc.), Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, and Victoria Holt.

Eventually used bookstores came into being and my mother and I started buying Harlequin Romance books by the grocery bag full. Back then they were British, Canadian and Australian virgins who were Nurses, governesses, companions, etc. We also read Emilie Loring, I bet very few people have even heard of her today. They were wonderful. I will occasionally find some of her books at the used bookstores. My, they seem awfully tame compared to books of today.

But the world of romance didn't really open up until my aunt got me started reading Rosemary Rogers, talk about an eye opener...Wow! I was hooked. I had to read everything she wrote. Of course reading Rosemary Rogers led to Kathleen Woodiwiss...be still my heart, and any romance I could get my hands on. Today...it's only gotten "worse." My habit has exploded. My "to read stack" would have to go with me when I die in order to read them all. There are so many wonderful romance writers today it is very hard to choose what to read. I think I'm already in heaven...

--Margaret Murray-Evans

July 6, 2001:
The first romances I recall reading were Barbara Cartland’s. A friend gave me some for my 17th birthday. I read them, but they didn't strike a chord. A decade passes, my roommate somehow got on a mailing list for Harlequin Romances. She got four books a month, and let me read them. This was much better. Some competent, opinionated women. I don't think I could have made it through my last semester at library school if not for the romance rack at the Waltham Public Library. Not only did they get Harlequin Romances, they had Harlequin Presents, and Harlequin American.

I didn't start buying romances right away, and the decision was based on the back cover or familiarity with the author's other books. Now I am a dedicated Regency reader, but will branch out to other areas. My favorite author is Mary Balogh. It took a few books before I realized, "Hey, this book, which I enjoyed, was written by the same person who wrote another book I enjoyed." The first Balogh I remember is A Masked Deception, then Red Rose. I have only ever disliked two Balogh books, Lady with the Black Umbrella and Thief of Dreams. If you want, I can go on about my favorite Balogh plots, couples, heroes and heroines.

Other authors I buy are Diane Farr and Carla Kelly. I have enjoyed the Bar Cynster series by Stephanie Laurens though the plots seem to have a sameness to them after a while. I also have some of the Malloren series by Jo Beverley.

Upcoming is my third move in two years, and I weed my collection when packing up books, so I don't have an many on my keeper shelf as I used to. Also there is the space problem. My husband is a reader as well, though not of romance. We both double stack books on the shelves for lack of more shelves to spread out.

Right now, I'm going through a period where I'm mostly rereading those books I already own. That will change though, especially because I'll be much closer to a UBS specializing in romance. A friend and I toyed with writing a romance of our own, since then I have a greater appreciation for coming up with names for all the characters. And I had a terrible time writing dialogue. The 15 pages we wrote are resting quietly in a filing cabinet.

-- Katherine DuGarm

June 29, 2001:
I've been reading since before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and my grandmother used to tell me that he would sit in the cafe (she owned and operated), in an isolated corner, trying very hard to read snatches of his comic books in between doing errands. I get my love of reading from him. He was the one to read to me before bed, and I loved it.

In my younger years I read Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Barthe DeClements. Middle school brought me to a semester as a library helper - and introduced me to Ellen Conford and Paula Danziger. To this day, I search for their backlists so that if I ever have children they will read them too. I didn't realize it then, or maybe I did, but I enjoyed these books b/c of their elements of romance. I loved the Babysitter's Club, but they were soon overshadowed by Christopher Pike, and other Young Adult "horror" novelists. My friend and I were the first in our age group to read him (we were reading him in 8th grade - while our contemporaries were still stuck in Sweet Valley), and I believe that it was the romantic element in all of his books, more so that the mystery or horror, that kept me hooked on him.

I continued on in high school with him and others like Richie Tankersley Cusick. When they started writing Adult fiction, I read those too. My Best friend loaned me her Anne of Green Gables books ( I had already seen the movies, and loved them - hated them after reading the books ), and I loved Anne and Gilbert. What a story. I read everyday, and my classmates used to tease me about having a different book in homeroom every morning. I loved the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boy mysteries - so wanting Nancy and Frank to get together, terribly disappointed when they didn't. Glommed the River Heights' series (set in Nancy's hometown--not mysteries at all), and was extremely disappointed when they quit writing them.

I was a senior in high school when my best friend introduced me to a Book she said she knew I'd adore. She told me, it's a romance. All I could think was, oh, please, not one of those where she's a secretary, and her boss jumps her on page 4. She brought her copy of Jude Deveraux's Knight in Shining Armor, and I kept it for months. I finally pulled it out one day, and boom. Couldn't put it down. I loved it. I gave her copy back to her, and read one more, The Duchess. I enjoyed it, but quit reading traditional romances in favor of a series of Inspirational Romances by Robin Jones Gunn , that another friend recommended. When I was a freshman in college, I was nervous, didn't know anyone. This girl and I got to talking to in English class one day, and I discovered She was a huge romance fan, and she loved Jude Deveraux. Off I went to the local SuperWalMart to get a Jude Deveraux. I picked up Sweet Liar - which to this day remains one of my favs, and one I've read more than once. We talked about it, and that started my addiction. And yes, it's an addiction. When you can't go out of the house without stopping by the bookstore, it's an addiction. When you spend hundreds a month (mostly on used books), it's an addiction. (The "You know you're a bookaholic when" list you guys have fits me to a "T"). That year of school, I read at least three a weekend. I'd stay up all night, just to finish, go to sleep, get up and start a new one. Once I'd finished Jude's backlist, I was scared. Who next? I picked The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood, and glommed her. Then it was Judith McNaught. I found I loved the "connected" ones, and I absolutely hated to read a series out of order. I think this should be printed on all series books - something like, Book two in such-and-such series. It'd make it easier on all us series-crazed folks. If I find I've picked up a series one by mistake, and it's not number 1, I'll quit reading it, and go out and find the rest of the series before I read it.

The day I discovered used bookstores, I was in heaven. My friend and I still talk books, although I find a lot on my own and recommend them to her (she does the same for me as well). I love Diana Gabaldon, couldn't put down Johanna Lindsey's Mallory novels, glommed Catherine Coulter and still love her, Debbie Macomber, Jill Barnett, Christina Dodd, Linda Lael Miller, Nora Roberts, Amanda Quick, Julia Quinn. The day I discovered AAR, I increased my lists. Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley (my roommate - who I introduced to romance - and I Looked for months for a cheap copy of My Lady Notorious), Linda Howard (thank You for putting me on the trail to the Mckenzie's!), Jennifer Crusie and now Suzanne Brockmann (I just read Heart Throb. How great was that?!?) and Stephanie Laurens. I now have a tbr pile that spans an entire bookshelf (two stacks deep). While I always had a stack, it was never this bad. My roommate wishes I'd never brought her into the romance fold, she's now So addicted. But that's how it is. Our friends make fun of us, but we don't care. My other friends say,”But it's just not reality”. And I look at them and say, “Stephen King and John Grisham are?” I know the romances aren't real. That's what makes them fun! I read to wrap myself in a whole new world. I don't read for reality. I'll leave that to those interested in non-fiction. For seven years, and pushing eight, I haven't tired of the romances. I can't get rid of any I own, and I never check out from the library. I buy them all and keep them. When my parents moved across state, my aunt told the movers that they best be extra careful with the books, b/c they were my "babies." The movers smiled sweetly, and carefully packed each and every one, putting several sheets of moving paper on the top and bottom of each box (I believe there were about 6 or 7 boxes, and that was three years ago).

When it's a dark, stormy day or night, or even when it's a beautiful day out, it's always nice to curl up with a book you know will end great, and just sit back and let the author pull you in to this fabulous world she's created. Thank you to all you wonderful geniuses out there. And thank you to all you other romance "junkies" like myself that keep sites like this one up and running. I will never stop buying and reading!

-- Stephanie Campbell

June 22, 2001:
I learned to read almost as soon as I could walk, since my mother was heavily into "enrichment," and this was in 1951! I read almost all the time as a very young child, since I had severe asthma and could do very little physical activity, and almost nothing outdoors. As I got into the junior high school age group, I began to read more selectively - it had to be printed before I would read it! I read westerns, horror, fantasy, heavily into science fiction! But - no romances. I think I read one "nurse" type book and thought it was too stupid for words, and once I might have tried a Barbara Cartland. In 6th grade I could write better than that! I grew up thinking that all romance books were like that.

Even as an adult, I was never attracted to romances - until my husband was stationed in Germany, and I had to wait 10 months to join him there! At about 8 months into the wait (when we didn't know when the end was coming) I was desperate! I picked up a paperback at a junk store - Captive Bride, by Johanna Lindsay. Wow! I was so thrilled! At least, I thought, I wouldn't forget what I was missing! But that was it, for 2 or 3 more years. The next romance book I picked up was several years later, at a garage sale, called The Tiger's Bride by Celeste deBlasis. That is SUCH a cool book, and I never see it reviewed or mentioned anywhere!

Now - though I still have my westerns, and my Stephen King, and my fantasy, and my science fiction - I also have my 1647 "keeper" romance books that I add to each month! My poor husband keeps asking me to get rid of all but my very favorites, and I try to explain to him, "These ARE my favorites!"

--Mary Mason

June 15, 2001:
My inspiration for delving into reading was inspired by a fictional character. Belle, from Disney's version of "Beauty and the Beast" taught me to enjoy reading. In high school, I wasn't interested in Mark Twain or Ernest Hemmingway. My favorite subject was boys. And though Twain and Hemmingway were boys, they weren't in my homeroom, so to me they may as well have not existed. Little did I know I was missing out on one of life's simple pleasures.

After having seen "Beauty and the Beast" I wanted to escape into a world of "far-off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise..." I had already been above the reading level of children's story books, but that is where I began my passion for reading. I had a nice collection of Golden Books with titles of the classic fairy tales. But soon, my passion dwindled, and I was introduced to a new hobby. A colleague hosted a rubber stamp party and soon that became my new hobby. It took over all my free time, and the tools I collected took up much of my space. I did have a subscription to a stamping magazine that advertised a book about a woman that ran her own rubber stamping business. I figured I would give it a try. That book was Lonely Hearts by Annie Kimberlin. I found that book and my life has never been the same since. I really enjoyed her book, and found Romeo and Julia, another of Kimberlin's cute stories.

So, I found myself interested in romance novels. I didn't know where to begin. My friends read other genres, so I didn't have even word-of-mouth to rely on. So I spent a good amount of time reading the back covers and skimming through the pages. My favorite author became Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have read almost all of her books. I really enjoyed First Lady.

Here I am, a few years after reading my first romance, and there is no other way that I love to spend my spare time. And just like Belle, I can be described, "With a dreamy, far-off look. And her nose stuck in a book."

-- Alycia Mabutas

June 8, 2001:
As a sixteen year old, I hope to provide a new perspective for other romance readers on reading. I have always been a reader and always will be, just like the rest of my family. I started out with Goosebumps and Fear Street series by R.L. Stine, and of course there were Babysitter's Club books too. I even attempted Jurassic Park in the third grade, and did finish it, though I didn't understand the majority of what was going on. By sixth grade I had graduated to Stephen King books, and thought myself to be quite mature. However, there seemed to be a little something missing from these books, something I couln't put my finger on, but knew instinctively was not there.

I found out what I was missing when I got bored one day in eighth grade and my mother handed me a book by Diana Gabaldon. Outlander, a tale of time travel, mystery, adventure, and love opened my eyes to the genre I was really meant to read. I discovered that I am a romantic at heart and that romance novels would fulfill my reading needs. After I finished Diana's published books (during finals when I should have been studying) I needed something else, so I browsed through my garage and found Kathleen Woodiwiss, Iris Johansen, and Kristin Hannah. Before long I discovered Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood, Amanda Quick, and many others who are now some of my favorites.

All my friends know I read romance, and make fun of me for it all the time. It doesn't offend me, as it is all in fun, but I wonder if all the steroetypes of our beloved genre were removed and they decided to read one instead of flipping through it looking for sex, that they might actually enjoy one. I have lent books to friends of mine, and converted them to romance readers. Romance novels are for those of us who need to read something happy with a good ending guaranteed. They are an excellent mood booster and take the reader away from their own life for a time, and show them a new world with a new story to go with it. I get home from school, and think, "Shall I visit Regency England, the future, medieval Scotland, or a harem today? Do I want to read the tale a of knight in shining armor, a troubled cowboy, or a wealthy tycoon?"

Romance novels are my escape. I am now a sophomore in high school, and in between school, sports, and homework, I still find time to read books by some of my new favorite authors - Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, Dara Joy, Jill Barnett, and many others. I hope to discover many more authors in the future and to continue reading and opening myself up to new worlds in the present, past, and even the future. Someday, I hope to even have my own romance with a hero of my dreams, who is not perfect, but is human, and we will learn and grow together and live happily ever after.

--Sara Minnich

May 25, 2001:
I never was one to read. A friend of mine where I worked brought me a book right before a Fourth Of July vacation and begged me to read it. So I did. It was Warrior Of The Sun by Kathleen Drymon. I liked it and asked her for another one and she brought me Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Wolf And The Dove. I was one hundred percent, staight to the bone, HOOKED! What can I say other than Wulfgar is and always will be my favorite! Whew! What a man!

I went through a Woodiwiss craze and bought all of her books and they're all on my keeper shelves. Notice I said shelves because five years later there are a lot of keepers. I found Johanna Lindsey and went thru the same process with her. The only books not kept were the futuristics. I just can't get into them. Medievals are my all time favs. But I take spells with regencies, westerns, Indians, the different war periods and lets not forget those ravishing Vikings! Sandra Hill is the best when it comes to those men! Now when I say medievals I mean England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, anywhere between 1000 - 1500. William The Conquer and the Plantagenents are favs.

Along with the authors listed above, more favs are, Heather Graham aka. Shannon Drake, Marsha Canham, Roberta Gellis, Tanya Anne Crosby, Julie Beard, Jude Deveraux, Julia Quinn, Shana Abe, Jo Beverly, Linda Needham, Marlene Suson, Claire Delacroix, Viginia Henley, Samantha James, Nancy Richards-Akers, Lois Greiman, Veronica Sattler, Susan King, Julie Garwood, Shelly Thacker, Jill Barnett, and Connie Mason. Gosh, there are so many more and not enough space!

As for time travel, my first was A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. That one has stayed in my heart. I like Karen Marie Moning too. I like medieval and Viking time travels because the story lines are so funny with the men coming to our time and seeing things they never imagined, and women from our time going back and being strong enough to survive with the best of them.

As for my husband, well he said that he would like to strangle Theresa for giving me that first book but I have him reading now. Maybe he'll pick up something from Wulfgar. MMMMMM!

--Leah Whisenant

May 18, 2001:
My name is Diane and I first started reading romance novels when I was around 12 years old. My cousin Pam left one of her Mills and Boon books in the lounge room and I just picked it up and started reading. My grandfather was still alive then and I can remember him telling my mum that those books were not for little girls to read because the front cover of the book had a girl wearing a bikini and he thought it was a rude book.

This didn't stop me from reading romance books and I over the years went from the Mills and Boon novels to any romance novels. I read them on the train going to and from work and during the late night feeding's of my kids. I have my favourite authors and when I see a book written by one of them I usually just buy it then and there.

I prefer to read medieval, Lovespell, futuristic and novels in a series as I then can keep reading about my favourite characters and see how they continue to develop. My only problem is finding stores that sell these books as where I live in Australia only a few bookstores sell them and I haunt the used bookstores as more often then not I will find a book there before I find it at a store selling it new. This is very annoying as when I read the back pages of a book it normally gives a look at up coming new releases and it sometimes takes me months if not a year or more to find a particular book, however I keep looking and I am over the moon when I do find them

I just love to read or should I say I live to read and romance novels are the best way to forget the world for a time while I read.

-- Diane Astin

May 11, 2001:
Growing up, the only genre I enjoyed and bothered to read was horror. Stephen King and Dean Koontz were my all-time favorites! I still buy their books the moment they are released, but over the years my tastes havechanged.

After my son was born, I decided it was worthwhile to become a stay home mom and found I had extra time to devote to books. So I picked up the latest King and Koontz books and soon had read them all. One day, I was at my parent's house and it was a warm, sunny spring day. Sitting on the back deck with my mom, I was desperate for something to read, so I grabbed one of my dad's books. My dad is one of the few members of the male population that admits to reading romances. He adores historical romances! That book was Lavyrle Spencer’s Twice Loved, and I instantly became hooked in the era, characters and dialogue. So I worked my way through all of her books and craved more. Wanting to find more authors, I joined a Yahoo Reading Group and met a woman who started suggesting new authors for me to try and since that day I am totally hooked on romances. Once I discovered local library book sales where you could pick up used paperbacks for ten to twenty-five cents my shelves rapidly filled with a variety of books. Now to my husbands dismay, I have over 700 books on bookshelves scattered throughout the house.

Meanwhile, a long time dream has been realized. I have hooked up with two online E-Magazines who read and review books. Now I am discovering plenty of new authors and having a blast sharing my opinion of a variety of romance and mystery books! On one site, I have also taken on the role of Prize, Mystery and E-Book coordinator. I enjoy spending time doing what I love and getting to meet authors! One thing I never stopped to think about, these authors are people just like me and most of them enjoy hearing from their fans!

-- Tracy Farnsworth

May 4, 2001:
My reading roots started at the tender age of 12 when I found an old copy of Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore. The first half was about "John and Lorna" as children but the second half was very romantic! There is a scene where John and Lorna are at the altar and getting married - someone shoots and Lorna gets hit and almost dies. I am surprised that this scene hasn't been stolen by another author! Then I found Jane Eyre at the Central Library. I read it three times before I returned it. This was another 2-part story - Jane as a child and Jane grown-up. Then I discovered Georgette Heyer; I read These Old Shades and fell in love with her writings. My next favorite was The Grand Sophy followed by Silvester or the Wicked Uncle.

When I would read one of my romances, my siblings would make fun of me. I had to hide the covers. If I couldn't shield the covers, I had to disappear to the porch. They called them my "lover books". My family still makes fun of me for reading these books. How unkind. (I had started reading Harlequins.) I recently saw my 17 year old niece reading a Catherine Coulter book (you know, with explicit sex) and horrified, I told her mother, my youngest sister. My sister read the book to see what her daughter was reading and was equally stunned; however, Sis got hooked too! My niece was blasé about the whole thing!

I am still reading voraciously and since I got my computer, a whole new world of new authors opened up for me - Foley, Quinn, Balogh, Beverley, Ranney & regency writers. I have TBR books falling all over the place. I no longer buy paperbacks three for $1 at flea markets - of just odd titles of authors I have not read. I will never find the time! I read somewhere that a certain reader never re-reads a book because she can't see the sense of it - I guess she must have a phenomenal memory! My favorite hobby is re-reading favorite books....there is always something I missed.

-- Frances DeGuire

 

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