First Loves

String of hearts
Susanna here, and with Valentine’s day approaching, I thought I’d share some of my earliest romantic reads—ones that captured my heart in my youth, and continue to hold it.

They’re not all historical, but they all hold pride of place in my bookshelves.

And while it’s not, by any means, a full list (there would be too many titles!), here are five of my “first loves” that, after all these years, remain my favourite comfort reads:

THE FIRST YEAR, by Lucilla Andrews

The First YearThis is the book that, for several years, made me consider becoming a nurse (I even did a stint as a candy striper in my mid teens—does anyone remember candy stripers?)

There is no adequate measure for the love I bear this book. Lucilla Andrews was a brilliant writer, with the rare gift of writing believable people, and while many of her books are on my keeper shelf, this one remains my favourite.

It’s the story of Rose Standing, a young probationary nurse at a busy London hospital, who finds the challenges of completing her training made yet more complicated by her growing feelings for the Senior Surgical Officer, Jake Waring.

Rose is just the best character. She’s funny and fearless, imperfect, and easy to like. If you’ve never read Lucilla Andrews, The First Year is where to start.

THE BLUE CASTLE, by L.M. Montgomery

The Blue CastleThis is not only one of my favourites, it’s one of my treasures, dating from the time in the early 1970s when my mother owned and ran a bookshop in the little town where I grew up.

The penciled price inside the cover, written in my mother’s lovely and familiar hand, tells me she would have sold this for $2.49, and gained a profit. But instead she let me take it from the shelf, and bring it home.

I love pretty much everything L.M. Montogmery ever wrote. Like many a Canadian girl of my generation I was brought up with Anne Shirley and Green Gables and the handsome Gilbert Blythe, and count those books among my favourites (also loving, maybe just a little more, the story of their daughter, Rilla).

But my favourite of Montgomery’s heroines is neither Anne nor Rilla, but Valancy, with her dreams of her Blue Castle and its imaginary prince who, after she first meets Barney Snaith, changes “from a being of grim jaw and hair with a dash of premature grey to a rakish individual with overlong, tawny hair, dashed with red, dark-brown eyes, and ears that stuck out just enough to give him an alert look but not enough to be called flying jibs. But he still retained something a little grim about the jaw.”

In my Hall of Fame of heroes, Barney Snaith still sits right up there with the Pickle Man from the film Crossing Delancey (and those who know me know how high that puts him).

THE ROAD TO KALUGA, by Dinah Dean

The Road to KalugaOh, I love this novel. I found it in 1978 on the shelves of my then local library, and must have taken it out half a dozen times to read it again and again.

It's got nearly everything I love: intriguing history, romance, a road trip, politics, swords, and a man in Very Cool Boots.

Set in the Napoleonic War, it tells the story of Major Lev Orlov who, wounded in battle himself and knowing that the wounded left behind in Smolensk will be made captives or killed, takes it upon himself "to lead a company of wounded Russian soldiers away from the battle-scarred city" and across perilous terrain to safety in Kaluga. Along the way, he also takes on responsibility for the young Countess Irina Barova, and what happens afterwards makes for one of my favourite reads.

This is, by the way, the exact copy I read all those years ago. I'd searched for years for a copy without success (this was pre-Internet), so when my own book Mariana was first published in 1994, I went back to that library and talked the librarian into letting me trade a signed hardcover copy of Mariana for this copy of The Road to Kaluga, which was languishing down in the storeroom, unloved and on its way to the annual book sale. It has been very well loved ever since.

(It's also been published under the title Flight From the Eagle, and has sequels, though I admit I love this book so much I was afraid to spoil that by reading those sequels. I wanted to leave Lev and Irina the way they were, with the life I imagined for them).

BRIDE OF THE MACHUGH, by Jan Cox Speas

Bride of the MacHugh2My mother still remembers vividly the day when, as a teenager, she was ill in bed and, seeking a diversion, opened the newspaper to find a condensed version of Bride of the MacHugh. She loved it so much she sought out the book in her local library, and loved the full version even more. Years later, she found a second-hand copy on sale and added it to our family bookshelves.

I still remember vividly the day when, as a not-quite-teenager, I came home from school on an already-darkening winter afternoon and, seeking a diversion, scanned the titles of the books on the second shelf down in our kitchen and settled on Bride of the MacHugh. I took it up to my room, snuggled under my covers, and found myself so magically transported I'm not even sure I made it down for dinner.

This is my own paperback copy (my mother's is a hardback), and you can see how many times it's been read, and how much it's been loved. There's good reason for that.

THIS ROUGH MAGIC, by Mary Stewart

RoughmagicI'm always hard-pressed to choose a favourite among Mary Stewart's novels, but This Rough Magic always stays close to the top of the heap. My mother was actually reading this (newly published) while she was pregnant with me, so we figure that's why I fell so much in love with it. This is vintage Stewart, with a clever and capable heroine, a wonderful supporting cast of fully fleshed-out characters, a breathtaking Greek island setting, an insider's view of the world of the theatre, the threads spun by Shakespeare's The Tempest so artfully woven right into the story…and Max.

For a long time, Max stood as The Hero against which to measure all heroes, for me. Not just handsome, but funny, intelligent, and so refreshingly normal. And I know exactly what Lucy, the heroine, means when she tells him accusingly, "…And now there you sit looking at me, and all you do is look—like that—and my damned bones turn to water, and it isn't fair…"

It's been 42 years since the first time I read This Rough Magic, and Max is still setting the bar pretty high!

*****

So those are five of my "first loves", for Valentine's week. What are some of your own? And did any of yours come to you, as mine did, with the help of your mother? Do you read them differently now, or do you still enjoy them as much as you ever did

 

145 thoughts on “First Loves”

  1. Ah, book loves! I own that same edition of BRIDE OF THE MacHUGH, and love your story of rescuing the forlorn copy of THE ROAD TO KALUGA. And what romance writer doesn’t love Mary Stewart? My first Mary Stewart was THE IVY TREE, which I read in condensed form in one of my mother’s women’s magazines. I LOVED the plot twist, and have been ever enthralled by her writing ever since.

    Reply
  2. Ah, book loves! I own that same edition of BRIDE OF THE MacHUGH, and love your story of rescuing the forlorn copy of THE ROAD TO KALUGA. And what romance writer doesn’t love Mary Stewart? My first Mary Stewart was THE IVY TREE, which I read in condensed form in one of my mother’s women’s magazines. I LOVED the plot twist, and have been ever enthralled by her writing ever since.

    Reply
  3. Ah, book loves! I own that same edition of BRIDE OF THE MacHUGH, and love your story of rescuing the forlorn copy of THE ROAD TO KALUGA. And what romance writer doesn’t love Mary Stewart? My first Mary Stewart was THE IVY TREE, which I read in condensed form in one of my mother’s women’s magazines. I LOVED the plot twist, and have been ever enthralled by her writing ever since.

    Reply
  4. Ah, book loves! I own that same edition of BRIDE OF THE MacHUGH, and love your story of rescuing the forlorn copy of THE ROAD TO KALUGA. And what romance writer doesn’t love Mary Stewart? My first Mary Stewart was THE IVY TREE, which I read in condensed form in one of my mother’s women’s magazines. I LOVED the plot twist, and have been ever enthralled by her writing ever since.

    Reply
  5. Ah, book loves! I own that same edition of BRIDE OF THE MacHUGH, and love your story of rescuing the forlorn copy of THE ROAD TO KALUGA. And what romance writer doesn’t love Mary Stewart? My first Mary Stewart was THE IVY TREE, which I read in condensed form in one of my mother’s women’s magazines. I LOVED the plot twist, and have been ever enthralled by her writing ever since.

    Reply
  6. I’m thrilled to read your list; I have never encountered anyone else who loves “The Blue Castle” as I do (heck, I’ve never encountered anyone else who’s read it!) and I’m with you, a devoted fan of Anne of Green Gables, but most especially her charming daughter Rilla. I first read “This Rough Magic” when I was 13, and totally wore out my mom’s paperback copy, which I appropriated. Max Gale… and you quoted my favorite speech from Lucy, the heroine, about him… Thanks for the others you listed, which I’ve never encountered, but will be looking forward to reading!

    Reply
  7. I’m thrilled to read your list; I have never encountered anyone else who loves “The Blue Castle” as I do (heck, I’ve never encountered anyone else who’s read it!) and I’m with you, a devoted fan of Anne of Green Gables, but most especially her charming daughter Rilla. I first read “This Rough Magic” when I was 13, and totally wore out my mom’s paperback copy, which I appropriated. Max Gale… and you quoted my favorite speech from Lucy, the heroine, about him… Thanks for the others you listed, which I’ve never encountered, but will be looking forward to reading!

    Reply
  8. I’m thrilled to read your list; I have never encountered anyone else who loves “The Blue Castle” as I do (heck, I’ve never encountered anyone else who’s read it!) and I’m with you, a devoted fan of Anne of Green Gables, but most especially her charming daughter Rilla. I first read “This Rough Magic” when I was 13, and totally wore out my mom’s paperback copy, which I appropriated. Max Gale… and you quoted my favorite speech from Lucy, the heroine, about him… Thanks for the others you listed, which I’ve never encountered, but will be looking forward to reading!

    Reply
  9. I’m thrilled to read your list; I have never encountered anyone else who loves “The Blue Castle” as I do (heck, I’ve never encountered anyone else who’s read it!) and I’m with you, a devoted fan of Anne of Green Gables, but most especially her charming daughter Rilla. I first read “This Rough Magic” when I was 13, and totally wore out my mom’s paperback copy, which I appropriated. Max Gale… and you quoted my favorite speech from Lucy, the heroine, about him… Thanks for the others you listed, which I’ve never encountered, but will be looking forward to reading!

    Reply
  10. I’m thrilled to read your list; I have never encountered anyone else who loves “The Blue Castle” as I do (heck, I’ve never encountered anyone else who’s read it!) and I’m with you, a devoted fan of Anne of Green Gables, but most especially her charming daughter Rilla. I first read “This Rough Magic” when I was 13, and totally wore out my mom’s paperback copy, which I appropriated. Max Gale… and you quoted my favorite speech from Lucy, the heroine, about him… Thanks for the others you listed, which I’ve never encountered, but will be looking forward to reading!

    Reply
  11. I own and love “This Rough Magic” although I’m not sure it’s my favorite Stewart. Like you (it isn’t limited to Canadian girls, but those south of your border are denied the national connection) — Like you, I’m a fan of L. M. Montgomery, but I had never heard of “The Blue Castle.” I’ve got to try it.
    My very first loves are considered children’s books, but to me they are ageless: Little Women and ALL the Little House books. My sister and I were children as the Little House books were first published, so we read each one as it was published. Our parents and our aunt read the books as soon as we had finished.
    Another early love was a British romance, published in the U. S. as a “gothic.” The British Title was “Happy Now I Go.” The paper back had some sort of gothic title, which I never remembered even though that was the name I had. The paperback fell apart. I found a used hardback from Britain, so now “my” name and the book name agree. (It’s a romance set during the blitz. The author is a house name “Theresa Charles.”

    Reply
  12. I own and love “This Rough Magic” although I’m not sure it’s my favorite Stewart. Like you (it isn’t limited to Canadian girls, but those south of your border are denied the national connection) — Like you, I’m a fan of L. M. Montgomery, but I had never heard of “The Blue Castle.” I’ve got to try it.
    My very first loves are considered children’s books, but to me they are ageless: Little Women and ALL the Little House books. My sister and I were children as the Little House books were first published, so we read each one as it was published. Our parents and our aunt read the books as soon as we had finished.
    Another early love was a British romance, published in the U. S. as a “gothic.” The British Title was “Happy Now I Go.” The paper back had some sort of gothic title, which I never remembered even though that was the name I had. The paperback fell apart. I found a used hardback from Britain, so now “my” name and the book name agree. (It’s a romance set during the blitz. The author is a house name “Theresa Charles.”

    Reply
  13. I own and love “This Rough Magic” although I’m not sure it’s my favorite Stewart. Like you (it isn’t limited to Canadian girls, but those south of your border are denied the national connection) — Like you, I’m a fan of L. M. Montgomery, but I had never heard of “The Blue Castle.” I’ve got to try it.
    My very first loves are considered children’s books, but to me they are ageless: Little Women and ALL the Little House books. My sister and I were children as the Little House books were first published, so we read each one as it was published. Our parents and our aunt read the books as soon as we had finished.
    Another early love was a British romance, published in the U. S. as a “gothic.” The British Title was “Happy Now I Go.” The paper back had some sort of gothic title, which I never remembered even though that was the name I had. The paperback fell apart. I found a used hardback from Britain, so now “my” name and the book name agree. (It’s a romance set during the blitz. The author is a house name “Theresa Charles.”

    Reply
  14. I own and love “This Rough Magic” although I’m not sure it’s my favorite Stewart. Like you (it isn’t limited to Canadian girls, but those south of your border are denied the national connection) — Like you, I’m a fan of L. M. Montgomery, but I had never heard of “The Blue Castle.” I’ve got to try it.
    My very first loves are considered children’s books, but to me they are ageless: Little Women and ALL the Little House books. My sister and I were children as the Little House books were first published, so we read each one as it was published. Our parents and our aunt read the books as soon as we had finished.
    Another early love was a British romance, published in the U. S. as a “gothic.” The British Title was “Happy Now I Go.” The paper back had some sort of gothic title, which I never remembered even though that was the name I had. The paperback fell apart. I found a used hardback from Britain, so now “my” name and the book name agree. (It’s a romance set during the blitz. The author is a house name “Theresa Charles.”

    Reply
  15. I own and love “This Rough Magic” although I’m not sure it’s my favorite Stewart. Like you (it isn’t limited to Canadian girls, but those south of your border are denied the national connection) — Like you, I’m a fan of L. M. Montgomery, but I had never heard of “The Blue Castle.” I’ve got to try it.
    My very first loves are considered children’s books, but to me they are ageless: Little Women and ALL the Little House books. My sister and I were children as the Little House books were first published, so we read each one as it was published. Our parents and our aunt read the books as soon as we had finished.
    Another early love was a British romance, published in the U. S. as a “gothic.” The British Title was “Happy Now I Go.” The paper back had some sort of gothic title, which I never remembered even though that was the name I had. The paperback fell apart. I found a used hardback from Britain, so now “my” name and the book name agree. (It’s a romance set during the blitz. The author is a house name “Theresa Charles.”

    Reply
  16. Somehow I missed some of your favorites though I was a voracious reader. Loved Jan Coxe Spears , especially My Lord Monleigh. I do wish her books were available as ebooks. Loved all of Mary Stewart. This Rough Magic was at the top of the list. Selinko’s Desiree was and is a favorite. Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, Jubilee Trail and Calico Palace. Ellswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. Costain’s The Black Rose is wonderful and loved all of his daughter’s historical novels. Most of Georgette Heyer. Loved Jane Aiken Hodge Regency’s and 2 set in Savannah—Savannah Purchase and Judas Flowering. Seton’s Katherine. So many more. As I grew older—all of Roberta Gellis. Thankfully all of the Word Wenches sustain those wonderful writing traditions and keep my To Be Read Shelf full. But I still return to these old favorites when I can find them.

    Reply
  17. Somehow I missed some of your favorites though I was a voracious reader. Loved Jan Coxe Spears , especially My Lord Monleigh. I do wish her books were available as ebooks. Loved all of Mary Stewart. This Rough Magic was at the top of the list. Selinko’s Desiree was and is a favorite. Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, Jubilee Trail and Calico Palace. Ellswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. Costain’s The Black Rose is wonderful and loved all of his daughter’s historical novels. Most of Georgette Heyer. Loved Jane Aiken Hodge Regency’s and 2 set in Savannah—Savannah Purchase and Judas Flowering. Seton’s Katherine. So many more. As I grew older—all of Roberta Gellis. Thankfully all of the Word Wenches sustain those wonderful writing traditions and keep my To Be Read Shelf full. But I still return to these old favorites when I can find them.

    Reply
  18. Somehow I missed some of your favorites though I was a voracious reader. Loved Jan Coxe Spears , especially My Lord Monleigh. I do wish her books were available as ebooks. Loved all of Mary Stewart. This Rough Magic was at the top of the list. Selinko’s Desiree was and is a favorite. Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, Jubilee Trail and Calico Palace. Ellswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. Costain’s The Black Rose is wonderful and loved all of his daughter’s historical novels. Most of Georgette Heyer. Loved Jane Aiken Hodge Regency’s and 2 set in Savannah—Savannah Purchase and Judas Flowering. Seton’s Katherine. So many more. As I grew older—all of Roberta Gellis. Thankfully all of the Word Wenches sustain those wonderful writing traditions and keep my To Be Read Shelf full. But I still return to these old favorites when I can find them.

    Reply
  19. Somehow I missed some of your favorites though I was a voracious reader. Loved Jan Coxe Spears , especially My Lord Monleigh. I do wish her books were available as ebooks. Loved all of Mary Stewart. This Rough Magic was at the top of the list. Selinko’s Desiree was and is a favorite. Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, Jubilee Trail and Calico Palace. Ellswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. Costain’s The Black Rose is wonderful and loved all of his daughter’s historical novels. Most of Georgette Heyer. Loved Jane Aiken Hodge Regency’s and 2 set in Savannah—Savannah Purchase and Judas Flowering. Seton’s Katherine. So many more. As I grew older—all of Roberta Gellis. Thankfully all of the Word Wenches sustain those wonderful writing traditions and keep my To Be Read Shelf full. But I still return to these old favorites when I can find them.

    Reply
  20. Somehow I missed some of your favorites though I was a voracious reader. Loved Jan Coxe Spears , especially My Lord Monleigh. I do wish her books were available as ebooks. Loved all of Mary Stewart. This Rough Magic was at the top of the list. Selinko’s Desiree was and is a favorite. Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth, Jubilee Trail and Calico Palace. Ellswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. Costain’s The Black Rose is wonderful and loved all of his daughter’s historical novels. Most of Georgette Heyer. Loved Jane Aiken Hodge Regency’s and 2 set in Savannah—Savannah Purchase and Judas Flowering. Seton’s Katherine. So many more. As I grew older—all of Roberta Gellis. Thankfully all of the Word Wenches sustain those wonderful writing traditions and keep my To Be Read Shelf full. But I still return to these old favorites when I can find them.

    Reply
  21. I love The Blue Castle! It is one of my all time favorite books. My favorite Mary Stewart kind of depends on my mood, but I usually go with Madam, Will You Talk.
    When I was a teenager, my mom introduced me to M. M. Kaye’s “Death In…” books. Since then, mystery with a little bit of romance has been my favorite genre. I own every one of them and although they are dated, I still love to go back to them for comfort re-reading.

    Reply
  22. I love The Blue Castle! It is one of my all time favorite books. My favorite Mary Stewart kind of depends on my mood, but I usually go with Madam, Will You Talk.
    When I was a teenager, my mom introduced me to M. M. Kaye’s “Death In…” books. Since then, mystery with a little bit of romance has been my favorite genre. I own every one of them and although they are dated, I still love to go back to them for comfort re-reading.

    Reply
  23. I love The Blue Castle! It is one of my all time favorite books. My favorite Mary Stewart kind of depends on my mood, but I usually go with Madam, Will You Talk.
    When I was a teenager, my mom introduced me to M. M. Kaye’s “Death In…” books. Since then, mystery with a little bit of romance has been my favorite genre. I own every one of them and although they are dated, I still love to go back to them for comfort re-reading.

    Reply
  24. I love The Blue Castle! It is one of my all time favorite books. My favorite Mary Stewart kind of depends on my mood, but I usually go with Madam, Will You Talk.
    When I was a teenager, my mom introduced me to M. M. Kaye’s “Death In…” books. Since then, mystery with a little bit of romance has been my favorite genre. I own every one of them and although they are dated, I still love to go back to them for comfort re-reading.

    Reply
  25. I love The Blue Castle! It is one of my all time favorite books. My favorite Mary Stewart kind of depends on my mood, but I usually go with Madam, Will You Talk.
    When I was a teenager, my mom introduced me to M. M. Kaye’s “Death In…” books. Since then, mystery with a little bit of romance has been my favorite genre. I own every one of them and although they are dated, I still love to go back to them for comfort re-reading.

    Reply
  26. What an enjoyable post, Susanna; it’s always fun to learn about someone’s old favorites.
    One of my favorite books as a teen was The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I loaned it to one of my daughter’s teenaged babysitters and never got it back. I found another copy some years ago, but frankly I’m afraid to reread it for fear that the magic will be gone. (I’d known there was a sequel but I just learned that there are actually four follow on books. I guess I wasn’t the only fan!)
    It’s not romance but books my mother loved that I and subsequently my daughter also enjoyed are the Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi.

    Reply
  27. What an enjoyable post, Susanna; it’s always fun to learn about someone’s old favorites.
    One of my favorite books as a teen was The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I loaned it to one of my daughter’s teenaged babysitters and never got it back. I found another copy some years ago, but frankly I’m afraid to reread it for fear that the magic will be gone. (I’d known there was a sequel but I just learned that there are actually four follow on books. I guess I wasn’t the only fan!)
    It’s not romance but books my mother loved that I and subsequently my daughter also enjoyed are the Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi.

    Reply
  28. What an enjoyable post, Susanna; it’s always fun to learn about someone’s old favorites.
    One of my favorite books as a teen was The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I loaned it to one of my daughter’s teenaged babysitters and never got it back. I found another copy some years ago, but frankly I’m afraid to reread it for fear that the magic will be gone. (I’d known there was a sequel but I just learned that there are actually four follow on books. I guess I wasn’t the only fan!)
    It’s not romance but books my mother loved that I and subsequently my daughter also enjoyed are the Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi.

    Reply
  29. What an enjoyable post, Susanna; it’s always fun to learn about someone’s old favorites.
    One of my favorite books as a teen was The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I loaned it to one of my daughter’s teenaged babysitters and never got it back. I found another copy some years ago, but frankly I’m afraid to reread it for fear that the magic will be gone. (I’d known there was a sequel but I just learned that there are actually four follow on books. I guess I wasn’t the only fan!)
    It’s not romance but books my mother loved that I and subsequently my daughter also enjoyed are the Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi.

    Reply
  30. What an enjoyable post, Susanna; it’s always fun to learn about someone’s old favorites.
    One of my favorite books as a teen was The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I loaned it to one of my daughter’s teenaged babysitters and never got it back. I found another copy some years ago, but frankly I’m afraid to reread it for fear that the magic will be gone. (I’d known there was a sequel but I just learned that there are actually four follow on books. I guess I wasn’t the only fan!)
    It’s not romance but books my mother loved that I and subsequently my daughter also enjoyed are the Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi.

    Reply
  31. Of the books you all have listed so far, some (Jan Cox Spears and Dinah Dean’s Russian novels) I never made it through, and others I never heard of at all 🙂
    I think the first book that I read and reread was MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which I loved for the romantic setting (18th Dynasty Egypt) and the central couple, a wily, blue-eyed slave girl and a young lord. The history in the novel was correct then as far as was known, though views of the Hatshepsut/Thutmose coregency have shifted somewhat since. It was the character of the young woman brought from Canaan to make a state marriage with Thutmose that stuck with me the most; she cared nothing for wealth and position but just wanted to be allowed to go home and see her brothers again. In those days it was hard to buy books; paperbacks were at the liquor store, but for a hardback I had to go downtown and special order it. That was not practical, so I did the next best thing; I checked it out from the library over and over again. I now have a much thumbed ex lib copy on my shelf.
    After that I found the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books and read those to bits, again from the library.
    The first book I remember that was primarily a romance was JANE EYRE, which I liked, but it was presented in school as Literature, and it took a while for it to grow on me. I didn’t find Jane Austen until college, and, since I’d been raised on science fiction and tense, economical pulp style writing, I found it slow and off-putting at first, until I went facepalm, this is an imagined world just like Barsoom, and then I was okay with it.
    It wasn’t until I was back in college on my second run at it that I found romance writing, especially regencies. Now THE COCKERMOUTH MAIL by Dinah Dean is one of my cherished classics, but I still haven’t made it through those Russian books 🙂

    Reply
  32. Of the books you all have listed so far, some (Jan Cox Spears and Dinah Dean’s Russian novels) I never made it through, and others I never heard of at all 🙂
    I think the first book that I read and reread was MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which I loved for the romantic setting (18th Dynasty Egypt) and the central couple, a wily, blue-eyed slave girl and a young lord. The history in the novel was correct then as far as was known, though views of the Hatshepsut/Thutmose coregency have shifted somewhat since. It was the character of the young woman brought from Canaan to make a state marriage with Thutmose that stuck with me the most; she cared nothing for wealth and position but just wanted to be allowed to go home and see her brothers again. In those days it was hard to buy books; paperbacks were at the liquor store, but for a hardback I had to go downtown and special order it. That was not practical, so I did the next best thing; I checked it out from the library over and over again. I now have a much thumbed ex lib copy on my shelf.
    After that I found the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books and read those to bits, again from the library.
    The first book I remember that was primarily a romance was JANE EYRE, which I liked, but it was presented in school as Literature, and it took a while for it to grow on me. I didn’t find Jane Austen until college, and, since I’d been raised on science fiction and tense, economical pulp style writing, I found it slow and off-putting at first, until I went facepalm, this is an imagined world just like Barsoom, and then I was okay with it.
    It wasn’t until I was back in college on my second run at it that I found romance writing, especially regencies. Now THE COCKERMOUTH MAIL by Dinah Dean is one of my cherished classics, but I still haven’t made it through those Russian books 🙂

    Reply
  33. Of the books you all have listed so far, some (Jan Cox Spears and Dinah Dean’s Russian novels) I never made it through, and others I never heard of at all 🙂
    I think the first book that I read and reread was MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which I loved for the romantic setting (18th Dynasty Egypt) and the central couple, a wily, blue-eyed slave girl and a young lord. The history in the novel was correct then as far as was known, though views of the Hatshepsut/Thutmose coregency have shifted somewhat since. It was the character of the young woman brought from Canaan to make a state marriage with Thutmose that stuck with me the most; she cared nothing for wealth and position but just wanted to be allowed to go home and see her brothers again. In those days it was hard to buy books; paperbacks were at the liquor store, but for a hardback I had to go downtown and special order it. That was not practical, so I did the next best thing; I checked it out from the library over and over again. I now have a much thumbed ex lib copy on my shelf.
    After that I found the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books and read those to bits, again from the library.
    The first book I remember that was primarily a romance was JANE EYRE, which I liked, but it was presented in school as Literature, and it took a while for it to grow on me. I didn’t find Jane Austen until college, and, since I’d been raised on science fiction and tense, economical pulp style writing, I found it slow and off-putting at first, until I went facepalm, this is an imagined world just like Barsoom, and then I was okay with it.
    It wasn’t until I was back in college on my second run at it that I found romance writing, especially regencies. Now THE COCKERMOUTH MAIL by Dinah Dean is one of my cherished classics, but I still haven’t made it through those Russian books 🙂

    Reply
  34. Of the books you all have listed so far, some (Jan Cox Spears and Dinah Dean’s Russian novels) I never made it through, and others I never heard of at all 🙂
    I think the first book that I read and reread was MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which I loved for the romantic setting (18th Dynasty Egypt) and the central couple, a wily, blue-eyed slave girl and a young lord. The history in the novel was correct then as far as was known, though views of the Hatshepsut/Thutmose coregency have shifted somewhat since. It was the character of the young woman brought from Canaan to make a state marriage with Thutmose that stuck with me the most; she cared nothing for wealth and position but just wanted to be allowed to go home and see her brothers again. In those days it was hard to buy books; paperbacks were at the liquor store, but for a hardback I had to go downtown and special order it. That was not practical, so I did the next best thing; I checked it out from the library over and over again. I now have a much thumbed ex lib copy on my shelf.
    After that I found the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books and read those to bits, again from the library.
    The first book I remember that was primarily a romance was JANE EYRE, which I liked, but it was presented in school as Literature, and it took a while for it to grow on me. I didn’t find Jane Austen until college, and, since I’d been raised on science fiction and tense, economical pulp style writing, I found it slow and off-putting at first, until I went facepalm, this is an imagined world just like Barsoom, and then I was okay with it.
    It wasn’t until I was back in college on my second run at it that I found romance writing, especially regencies. Now THE COCKERMOUTH MAIL by Dinah Dean is one of my cherished classics, but I still haven’t made it through those Russian books 🙂

    Reply
  35. Of the books you all have listed so far, some (Jan Cox Spears and Dinah Dean’s Russian novels) I never made it through, and others I never heard of at all 🙂
    I think the first book that I read and reread was MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which I loved for the romantic setting (18th Dynasty Egypt) and the central couple, a wily, blue-eyed slave girl and a young lord. The history in the novel was correct then as far as was known, though views of the Hatshepsut/Thutmose coregency have shifted somewhat since. It was the character of the young woman brought from Canaan to make a state marriage with Thutmose that stuck with me the most; she cared nothing for wealth and position but just wanted to be allowed to go home and see her brothers again. In those days it was hard to buy books; paperbacks were at the liquor store, but for a hardback I had to go downtown and special order it. That was not practical, so I did the next best thing; I checked it out from the library over and over again. I now have a much thumbed ex lib copy on my shelf.
    After that I found the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books and read those to bits, again from the library.
    The first book I remember that was primarily a romance was JANE EYRE, which I liked, but it was presented in school as Literature, and it took a while for it to grow on me. I didn’t find Jane Austen until college, and, since I’d been raised on science fiction and tense, economical pulp style writing, I found it slow and off-putting at first, until I went facepalm, this is an imagined world just like Barsoom, and then I was okay with it.
    It wasn’t until I was back in college on my second run at it that I found romance writing, especially regencies. Now THE COCKERMOUTH MAIL by Dinah Dean is one of my cherished classics, but I still haven’t made it through those Russian books 🙂

    Reply
  36. Some of my early reading was a bit outside the norm. I read Thackeray’s Vanity Fair about the same time I was reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My first actual favorite romance was Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. After that, I encountered Betty Neels, and to this day I look for any of her books I might have missed! My favorite real life romance was the biography of Abigail Adams and her life with John Adams! Just don’t ask me for the title. I read so many books that I tend to remember authors not titles! Oh yes, I nearly forgot my very favorite (multiple reread) Jane Eyre! I have read this over several stages of my life starting in Jr. High, and have a different take-away each time!

    Reply
  37. Some of my early reading was a bit outside the norm. I read Thackeray’s Vanity Fair about the same time I was reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My first actual favorite romance was Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. After that, I encountered Betty Neels, and to this day I look for any of her books I might have missed! My favorite real life romance was the biography of Abigail Adams and her life with John Adams! Just don’t ask me for the title. I read so many books that I tend to remember authors not titles! Oh yes, I nearly forgot my very favorite (multiple reread) Jane Eyre! I have read this over several stages of my life starting in Jr. High, and have a different take-away each time!

    Reply
  38. Some of my early reading was a bit outside the norm. I read Thackeray’s Vanity Fair about the same time I was reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My first actual favorite romance was Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. After that, I encountered Betty Neels, and to this day I look for any of her books I might have missed! My favorite real life romance was the biography of Abigail Adams and her life with John Adams! Just don’t ask me for the title. I read so many books that I tend to remember authors not titles! Oh yes, I nearly forgot my very favorite (multiple reread) Jane Eyre! I have read this over several stages of my life starting in Jr. High, and have a different take-away each time!

    Reply
  39. Some of my early reading was a bit outside the norm. I read Thackeray’s Vanity Fair about the same time I was reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My first actual favorite romance was Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. After that, I encountered Betty Neels, and to this day I look for any of her books I might have missed! My favorite real life romance was the biography of Abigail Adams and her life with John Adams! Just don’t ask me for the title. I read so many books that I tend to remember authors not titles! Oh yes, I nearly forgot my very favorite (multiple reread) Jane Eyre! I have read this over several stages of my life starting in Jr. High, and have a different take-away each time!

    Reply
  40. Some of my early reading was a bit outside the norm. I read Thackeray’s Vanity Fair about the same time I was reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My first actual favorite romance was Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. After that, I encountered Betty Neels, and to this day I look for any of her books I might have missed! My favorite real life romance was the biography of Abigail Adams and her life with John Adams! Just don’t ask me for the title. I read so many books that I tend to remember authors not titles! Oh yes, I nearly forgot my very favorite (multiple reread) Jane Eyre! I have read this over several stages of my life starting in Jr. High, and have a different take-away each time!

    Reply
  41. I really got into this particular edition/posting. Looked for each one w Amazon/Abe’s Books, etc. More than half were unattainable for me due to budget constraints. I did find The Nurse series is now available as ebook. $3.99 to $5.99 each book. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane. These are how I started….

    Reply
  42. I really got into this particular edition/posting. Looked for each one w Amazon/Abe’s Books, etc. More than half were unattainable for me due to budget constraints. I did find The Nurse series is now available as ebook. $3.99 to $5.99 each book. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane. These are how I started….

    Reply
  43. I really got into this particular edition/posting. Looked for each one w Amazon/Abe’s Books, etc. More than half were unattainable for me due to budget constraints. I did find The Nurse series is now available as ebook. $3.99 to $5.99 each book. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane. These are how I started….

    Reply
  44. I really got into this particular edition/posting. Looked for each one w Amazon/Abe’s Books, etc. More than half were unattainable for me due to budget constraints. I did find The Nurse series is now available as ebook. $3.99 to $5.99 each book. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane. These are how I started….

    Reply
  45. I really got into this particular edition/posting. Looked for each one w Amazon/Abe’s Books, etc. More than half were unattainable for me due to budget constraints. I did find The Nurse series is now available as ebook. $3.99 to $5.99 each book. Thanks so much for the trip down memory lane. These are how I started….

    Reply
  46. It’s so much fun to find people who have read The Blue Castle! Valancy is one of my best-loved heroines. My favorite Mary Stewart is Wildfire at Midnight. I even went to the area on the Isle of Skye where the story takes place, so I could picture it better in my mind. 🙂

    Reply
  47. It’s so much fun to find people who have read The Blue Castle! Valancy is one of my best-loved heroines. My favorite Mary Stewart is Wildfire at Midnight. I even went to the area on the Isle of Skye where the story takes place, so I could picture it better in my mind. 🙂

    Reply
  48. It’s so much fun to find people who have read The Blue Castle! Valancy is one of my best-loved heroines. My favorite Mary Stewart is Wildfire at Midnight. I even went to the area on the Isle of Skye where the story takes place, so I could picture it better in my mind. 🙂

    Reply
  49. It’s so much fun to find people who have read The Blue Castle! Valancy is one of my best-loved heroines. My favorite Mary Stewart is Wildfire at Midnight. I even went to the area on the Isle of Skye where the story takes place, so I could picture it better in my mind. 🙂

    Reply
  50. It’s so much fun to find people who have read The Blue Castle! Valancy is one of my best-loved heroines. My favorite Mary Stewart is Wildfire at Midnight. I even went to the area on the Isle of Skye where the story takes place, so I could picture it better in my mind. 🙂

    Reply
  51. Some of my earliest books that I read and reread were the Cherry Ames series. I had already decided I was going to be a nurse about age 4, so my parents humored me by giving me books about nursing. I was shocked when I got into nursing school and discovered that nursing was not like what was described in those books anymore. It was a faithful report about how it was in the 30s and 40s. But things had changed a lot by the 70s when I entered the school. But still, the caring heart of nursing was beautifully illustrated in those books.

    Reply
  52. Some of my earliest books that I read and reread were the Cherry Ames series. I had already decided I was going to be a nurse about age 4, so my parents humored me by giving me books about nursing. I was shocked when I got into nursing school and discovered that nursing was not like what was described in those books anymore. It was a faithful report about how it was in the 30s and 40s. But things had changed a lot by the 70s when I entered the school. But still, the caring heart of nursing was beautifully illustrated in those books.

    Reply
  53. Some of my earliest books that I read and reread were the Cherry Ames series. I had already decided I was going to be a nurse about age 4, so my parents humored me by giving me books about nursing. I was shocked when I got into nursing school and discovered that nursing was not like what was described in those books anymore. It was a faithful report about how it was in the 30s and 40s. But things had changed a lot by the 70s when I entered the school. But still, the caring heart of nursing was beautifully illustrated in those books.

    Reply
  54. Some of my earliest books that I read and reread were the Cherry Ames series. I had already decided I was going to be a nurse about age 4, so my parents humored me by giving me books about nursing. I was shocked when I got into nursing school and discovered that nursing was not like what was described in those books anymore. It was a faithful report about how it was in the 30s and 40s. But things had changed a lot by the 70s when I entered the school. But still, the caring heart of nursing was beautifully illustrated in those books.

    Reply
  55. Some of my earliest books that I read and reread were the Cherry Ames series. I had already decided I was going to be a nurse about age 4, so my parents humored me by giving me books about nursing. I was shocked when I got into nursing school and discovered that nursing was not like what was described in those books anymore. It was a faithful report about how it was in the 30s and 40s. But things had changed a lot by the 70s when I entered the school. But still, the caring heart of nursing was beautifully illustrated in those books.

    Reply
  56. Oh, I love the Ivy Tree, too. And I wish magazines would bring back the condensed novel, don’t you? It was such a great way to discover new authors. They don’t seem to do it anymore. One of my novels (The Shadowy Horses) was condensed by Readers’ Digest way back in the day, which was a fascinating experience (and very humbling, since you could see how the story carried on fine when they took out so much of it 🙂 but then even Readers’ Digest stopped doing it. Such a shame.

    Reply
  57. Oh, I love the Ivy Tree, too. And I wish magazines would bring back the condensed novel, don’t you? It was such a great way to discover new authors. They don’t seem to do it anymore. One of my novels (The Shadowy Horses) was condensed by Readers’ Digest way back in the day, which was a fascinating experience (and very humbling, since you could see how the story carried on fine when they took out so much of it 🙂 but then even Readers’ Digest stopped doing it. Such a shame.

    Reply
  58. Oh, I love the Ivy Tree, too. And I wish magazines would bring back the condensed novel, don’t you? It was such a great way to discover new authors. They don’t seem to do it anymore. One of my novels (The Shadowy Horses) was condensed by Readers’ Digest way back in the day, which was a fascinating experience (and very humbling, since you could see how the story carried on fine when they took out so much of it 🙂 but then even Readers’ Digest stopped doing it. Such a shame.

    Reply
  59. Oh, I love the Ivy Tree, too. And I wish magazines would bring back the condensed novel, don’t you? It was such a great way to discover new authors. They don’t seem to do it anymore. One of my novels (The Shadowy Horses) was condensed by Readers’ Digest way back in the day, which was a fascinating experience (and very humbling, since you could see how the story carried on fine when they took out so much of it 🙂 but then even Readers’ Digest stopped doing it. Such a shame.

    Reply
  60. Oh, I love the Ivy Tree, too. And I wish magazines would bring back the condensed novel, don’t you? It was such a great way to discover new authors. They don’t seem to do it anymore. One of my novels (The Shadowy Horses) was condensed by Readers’ Digest way back in the day, which was a fascinating experience (and very humbling, since you could see how the story carried on fine when they took out so much of it 🙂 but then even Readers’ Digest stopped doing it. Such a shame.

    Reply
  61. Thanks to Susanna, and everyone for sharing your favorites. I’ve read “The Cockermouth Mail” and now I see that I’ll have to seek out “The Road to Kaluga”. I was not aware of romance as a genre when I was young, so I’m catching up with a lot of the books listed later in life. However I did enjoy M.M. Kaye’s mysteries, which led me to her long novels like “The Far Pavilions” and “Shadow of the Moon”.

    Reply
  62. Thanks to Susanna, and everyone for sharing your favorites. I’ve read “The Cockermouth Mail” and now I see that I’ll have to seek out “The Road to Kaluga”. I was not aware of romance as a genre when I was young, so I’m catching up with a lot of the books listed later in life. However I did enjoy M.M. Kaye’s mysteries, which led me to her long novels like “The Far Pavilions” and “Shadow of the Moon”.

    Reply
  63. Thanks to Susanna, and everyone for sharing your favorites. I’ve read “The Cockermouth Mail” and now I see that I’ll have to seek out “The Road to Kaluga”. I was not aware of romance as a genre when I was young, so I’m catching up with a lot of the books listed later in life. However I did enjoy M.M. Kaye’s mysteries, which led me to her long novels like “The Far Pavilions” and “Shadow of the Moon”.

    Reply
  64. Thanks to Susanna, and everyone for sharing your favorites. I’ve read “The Cockermouth Mail” and now I see that I’ll have to seek out “The Road to Kaluga”. I was not aware of romance as a genre when I was young, so I’m catching up with a lot of the books listed later in life. However I did enjoy M.M. Kaye’s mysteries, which led me to her long novels like “The Far Pavilions” and “Shadow of the Moon”.

    Reply
  65. Thanks to Susanna, and everyone for sharing your favorites. I’ve read “The Cockermouth Mail” and now I see that I’ll have to seek out “The Road to Kaluga”. I was not aware of romance as a genre when I was young, so I’m catching up with a lot of the books listed later in life. However I did enjoy M.M. Kaye’s mysteries, which led me to her long novels like “The Far Pavilions” and “Shadow of the Moon”.

    Reply
  66. Mary, My Lord Monleigh is a favourite of mine, too. And even though Jan Cox Speas’s books are out of print, her family has made My Love, My Enemy (the one set during the War of 1812) available as an ebook, from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Love-Enemy-ebook/dp/B004NSVQMG/wordwench-20
    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read any of Molly Costain Haycraft’s books (which is unforgivable, really, since her father and I were born in the same city). I should fix that straight away. Do you have a favourite you would recommend I start with?

    Reply
  67. Mary, My Lord Monleigh is a favourite of mine, too. And even though Jan Cox Speas’s books are out of print, her family has made My Love, My Enemy (the one set during the War of 1812) available as an ebook, from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Love-Enemy-ebook/dp/B004NSVQMG/wordwench-20
    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read any of Molly Costain Haycraft’s books (which is unforgivable, really, since her father and I were born in the same city). I should fix that straight away. Do you have a favourite you would recommend I start with?

    Reply
  68. Mary, My Lord Monleigh is a favourite of mine, too. And even though Jan Cox Speas’s books are out of print, her family has made My Love, My Enemy (the one set during the War of 1812) available as an ebook, from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Love-Enemy-ebook/dp/B004NSVQMG/wordwench-20
    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read any of Molly Costain Haycraft’s books (which is unforgivable, really, since her father and I were born in the same city). I should fix that straight away. Do you have a favourite you would recommend I start with?

    Reply
  69. Mary, My Lord Monleigh is a favourite of mine, too. And even though Jan Cox Speas’s books are out of print, her family has made My Love, My Enemy (the one set during the War of 1812) available as an ebook, from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Love-Enemy-ebook/dp/B004NSVQMG/wordwench-20
    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read any of Molly Costain Haycraft’s books (which is unforgivable, really, since her father and I were born in the same city). I should fix that straight away. Do you have a favourite you would recommend I start with?

    Reply
  70. Mary, My Lord Monleigh is a favourite of mine, too. And even though Jan Cox Speas’s books are out of print, her family has made My Love, My Enemy (the one set during the War of 1812) available as an ebook, from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Love-Enemy-ebook/dp/B004NSVQMG/wordwench-20
    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read any of Molly Costain Haycraft’s books (which is unforgivable, really, since her father and I were born in the same city). I should fix that straight away. Do you have a favourite you would recommend I start with?

    Reply
  71. Kareni, you would probably find that the magic isn’t gone. It will be a different experience, reading it, but then every time you read any book it’s a different experience.
    I love sinking into my old favourites, and can still find magic in them.

    Reply
  72. Kareni, you would probably find that the magic isn’t gone. It will be a different experience, reading it, but then every time you read any book it’s a different experience.
    I love sinking into my old favourites, and can still find magic in them.

    Reply
  73. Kareni, you would probably find that the magic isn’t gone. It will be a different experience, reading it, but then every time you read any book it’s a different experience.
    I love sinking into my old favourites, and can still find magic in them.

    Reply
  74. Kareni, you would probably find that the magic isn’t gone. It will be a different experience, reading it, but then every time you read any book it’s a different experience.
    I love sinking into my old favourites, and can still find magic in them.

    Reply
  75. Kareni, you would probably find that the magic isn’t gone. It will be a different experience, reading it, but then every time you read any book it’s a different experience.
    I love sinking into my old favourites, and can still find magic in them.

    Reply
  76. Janice, The Cockermouth Mail is another of my favourites, but I didn’t add it to my shelves until much later, after I’d had my kids. It’s an annual Christmas re-read for me, now (again, probably owing to the Very Cool Boots).
    And aren’t libraries wonderful? What would we do without them, honestly?

    Reply
  77. Janice, The Cockermouth Mail is another of my favourites, but I didn’t add it to my shelves until much later, after I’d had my kids. It’s an annual Christmas re-read for me, now (again, probably owing to the Very Cool Boots).
    And aren’t libraries wonderful? What would we do without them, honestly?

    Reply
  78. Janice, The Cockermouth Mail is another of my favourites, but I didn’t add it to my shelves until much later, after I’d had my kids. It’s an annual Christmas re-read for me, now (again, probably owing to the Very Cool Boots).
    And aren’t libraries wonderful? What would we do without them, honestly?

    Reply
  79. Janice, The Cockermouth Mail is another of my favourites, but I didn’t add it to my shelves until much later, after I’d had my kids. It’s an annual Christmas re-read for me, now (again, probably owing to the Very Cool Boots).
    And aren’t libraries wonderful? What would we do without them, honestly?

    Reply
  80. Janice, The Cockermouth Mail is another of my favourites, but I didn’t add it to my shelves until much later, after I’d had my kids. It’s an annual Christmas re-read for me, now (again, probably owing to the Very Cool Boots).
    And aren’t libraries wonderful? What would we do without them, honestly?

    Reply
  81. Thanks for the wonderful piece, Susanna. Now I have more books to hunt down! My mother most certainly did NOT inspire any romance reading; she disparaged the genre and still sniffs a bit in annoyance when her book club picks one with too much of “that” stuff. So I had Nancy Drew and Ned as my first romantic heroes (ack!). Fortunately, my grandmother had a Good Housekeeping subscription, and way back in the day, it used to publish shortened or serialized versions of books similar to the abridged versions described above. I remember my delight when I read my first Danielle Steel story there. Once bitten, though, I quickly moved on, and I think Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss cemented my commitment to the genre. I found Mary Stewart at my library and fell deeply into fan worship, from which I’ve never emerged. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  82. Thanks for the wonderful piece, Susanna. Now I have more books to hunt down! My mother most certainly did NOT inspire any romance reading; she disparaged the genre and still sniffs a bit in annoyance when her book club picks one with too much of “that” stuff. So I had Nancy Drew and Ned as my first romantic heroes (ack!). Fortunately, my grandmother had a Good Housekeeping subscription, and way back in the day, it used to publish shortened or serialized versions of books similar to the abridged versions described above. I remember my delight when I read my first Danielle Steel story there. Once bitten, though, I quickly moved on, and I think Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss cemented my commitment to the genre. I found Mary Stewart at my library and fell deeply into fan worship, from which I’ve never emerged. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  83. Thanks for the wonderful piece, Susanna. Now I have more books to hunt down! My mother most certainly did NOT inspire any romance reading; she disparaged the genre and still sniffs a bit in annoyance when her book club picks one with too much of “that” stuff. So I had Nancy Drew and Ned as my first romantic heroes (ack!). Fortunately, my grandmother had a Good Housekeeping subscription, and way back in the day, it used to publish shortened or serialized versions of books similar to the abridged versions described above. I remember my delight when I read my first Danielle Steel story there. Once bitten, though, I quickly moved on, and I think Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss cemented my commitment to the genre. I found Mary Stewart at my library and fell deeply into fan worship, from which I’ve never emerged. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  84. Thanks for the wonderful piece, Susanna. Now I have more books to hunt down! My mother most certainly did NOT inspire any romance reading; she disparaged the genre and still sniffs a bit in annoyance when her book club picks one with too much of “that” stuff. So I had Nancy Drew and Ned as my first romantic heroes (ack!). Fortunately, my grandmother had a Good Housekeeping subscription, and way back in the day, it used to publish shortened or serialized versions of books similar to the abridged versions described above. I remember my delight when I read my first Danielle Steel story there. Once bitten, though, I quickly moved on, and I think Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss cemented my commitment to the genre. I found Mary Stewart at my library and fell deeply into fan worship, from which I’ve never emerged. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  85. Thanks for the wonderful piece, Susanna. Now I have more books to hunt down! My mother most certainly did NOT inspire any romance reading; she disparaged the genre and still sniffs a bit in annoyance when her book club picks one with too much of “that” stuff. So I had Nancy Drew and Ned as my first romantic heroes (ack!). Fortunately, my grandmother had a Good Housekeeping subscription, and way back in the day, it used to publish shortened or serialized versions of books similar to the abridged versions described above. I remember my delight when I read my first Danielle Steel story there. Once bitten, though, I quickly moved on, and I think Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss cemented my commitment to the genre. I found Mary Stewart at my library and fell deeply into fan worship, from which I’ve never emerged. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Reply
  86. I treasure all my Dinah Deans, collected over many years from secondhand bookshops and op shops. Flight from the Eagle isn’t an exact reprint of Road to Kaluga. Mills & Boon republished Kaluga but in order to make it fit their size parameters they whacked off the first few chapters. So you miss a bit about Lev post-battle, then his getting to where he meets Irina.
    Dinah Dean had a really complicated publishing history. She wrote under three names, including the Jane Hunt one that actually fits into the Russian sequence. The author name varies on some of her books depending on the edition. Then there’s the one that was only ever published in German…
    Count me in as another Blue Castle fan!

    Reply
  87. I treasure all my Dinah Deans, collected over many years from secondhand bookshops and op shops. Flight from the Eagle isn’t an exact reprint of Road to Kaluga. Mills & Boon republished Kaluga but in order to make it fit their size parameters they whacked off the first few chapters. So you miss a bit about Lev post-battle, then his getting to where he meets Irina.
    Dinah Dean had a really complicated publishing history. She wrote under three names, including the Jane Hunt one that actually fits into the Russian sequence. The author name varies on some of her books depending on the edition. Then there’s the one that was only ever published in German…
    Count me in as another Blue Castle fan!

    Reply
  88. I treasure all my Dinah Deans, collected over many years from secondhand bookshops and op shops. Flight from the Eagle isn’t an exact reprint of Road to Kaluga. Mills & Boon republished Kaluga but in order to make it fit their size parameters they whacked off the first few chapters. So you miss a bit about Lev post-battle, then his getting to where he meets Irina.
    Dinah Dean had a really complicated publishing history. She wrote under three names, including the Jane Hunt one that actually fits into the Russian sequence. The author name varies on some of her books depending on the edition. Then there’s the one that was only ever published in German…
    Count me in as another Blue Castle fan!

    Reply
  89. I treasure all my Dinah Deans, collected over many years from secondhand bookshops and op shops. Flight from the Eagle isn’t an exact reprint of Road to Kaluga. Mills & Boon republished Kaluga but in order to make it fit their size parameters they whacked off the first few chapters. So you miss a bit about Lev post-battle, then his getting to where he meets Irina.
    Dinah Dean had a really complicated publishing history. She wrote under three names, including the Jane Hunt one that actually fits into the Russian sequence. The author name varies on some of her books depending on the edition. Then there’s the one that was only ever published in German…
    Count me in as another Blue Castle fan!

    Reply
  90. I treasure all my Dinah Deans, collected over many years from secondhand bookshops and op shops. Flight from the Eagle isn’t an exact reprint of Road to Kaluga. Mills & Boon republished Kaluga but in order to make it fit their size parameters they whacked off the first few chapters. So you miss a bit about Lev post-battle, then his getting to where he meets Irina.
    Dinah Dean had a really complicated publishing history. She wrote under three names, including the Jane Hunt one that actually fits into the Russian sequence. The author name varies on some of her books depending on the edition. Then there’s the one that was only ever published in German…
    Count me in as another Blue Castle fan!

    Reply
  91. I absolutely love this post and all the comments. I started out loving mysteries, of course, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Then I found Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart. LOVE. Then Georgette Heyer! Really though my all time favorite book that I read over & over was The Door Between by Ellery Queen. Close second was Anya Seton’s Green Darkness. Ah – Books!

    Reply
  92. I absolutely love this post and all the comments. I started out loving mysteries, of course, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Then I found Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart. LOVE. Then Georgette Heyer! Really though my all time favorite book that I read over & over was The Door Between by Ellery Queen. Close second was Anya Seton’s Green Darkness. Ah – Books!

    Reply
  93. I absolutely love this post and all the comments. I started out loving mysteries, of course, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Then I found Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart. LOVE. Then Georgette Heyer! Really though my all time favorite book that I read over & over was The Door Between by Ellery Queen. Close second was Anya Seton’s Green Darkness. Ah – Books!

    Reply
  94. I absolutely love this post and all the comments. I started out loving mysteries, of course, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Then I found Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart. LOVE. Then Georgette Heyer! Really though my all time favorite book that I read over & over was The Door Between by Ellery Queen. Close second was Anya Seton’s Green Darkness. Ah – Books!

    Reply
  95. I absolutely love this post and all the comments. I started out loving mysteries, of course, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden. Then I found Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt & Mary Stewart. LOVE. Then Georgette Heyer! Really though my all time favorite book that I read over & over was The Door Between by Ellery Queen. Close second was Anya Seton’s Green Darkness. Ah – Books!

    Reply
  96. Awwww…someone else who finds the pickle man in Crossing Delancey to be a perfect hero, and for so many reasons.
    Thanks for resurrecting that memory and sharing your other loves.
    My favorite adolescent reads were mostly historicals by Costain, Shellabarger and whoever wrote the pre-Alamo life of Jim Bowie. That one may have been my first romance novel.
    No, wait a minute. I read my first actual romance novel in the early 80’s–Zemindar, by Valerie Fitzgerald. I went on and on about it in a couple of Wench columns a couple of years ago, and am happy to report it’s now available in the US and UK in both e-book and print editions.
    It’s an amazing, sweepingly romantic, and sometimes horrifying, fictional story of survivors of the Indian Mutiny in India, and possibly my very favorite hero of all time…
    …except for maybe your own unsung hero, the quiet, big-hearted, noble WWII spy who was killed in the first pages of Every Secret Thing, but who inhabited every page of the story that followed.

    Reply
  97. Awwww…someone else who finds the pickle man in Crossing Delancey to be a perfect hero, and for so many reasons.
    Thanks for resurrecting that memory and sharing your other loves.
    My favorite adolescent reads were mostly historicals by Costain, Shellabarger and whoever wrote the pre-Alamo life of Jim Bowie. That one may have been my first romance novel.
    No, wait a minute. I read my first actual romance novel in the early 80’s–Zemindar, by Valerie Fitzgerald. I went on and on about it in a couple of Wench columns a couple of years ago, and am happy to report it’s now available in the US and UK in both e-book and print editions.
    It’s an amazing, sweepingly romantic, and sometimes horrifying, fictional story of survivors of the Indian Mutiny in India, and possibly my very favorite hero of all time…
    …except for maybe your own unsung hero, the quiet, big-hearted, noble WWII spy who was killed in the first pages of Every Secret Thing, but who inhabited every page of the story that followed.

    Reply
  98. Awwww…someone else who finds the pickle man in Crossing Delancey to be a perfect hero, and for so many reasons.
    Thanks for resurrecting that memory and sharing your other loves.
    My favorite adolescent reads were mostly historicals by Costain, Shellabarger and whoever wrote the pre-Alamo life of Jim Bowie. That one may have been my first romance novel.
    No, wait a minute. I read my first actual romance novel in the early 80’s–Zemindar, by Valerie Fitzgerald. I went on and on about it in a couple of Wench columns a couple of years ago, and am happy to report it’s now available in the US and UK in both e-book and print editions.
    It’s an amazing, sweepingly romantic, and sometimes horrifying, fictional story of survivors of the Indian Mutiny in India, and possibly my very favorite hero of all time…
    …except for maybe your own unsung hero, the quiet, big-hearted, noble WWII spy who was killed in the first pages of Every Secret Thing, but who inhabited every page of the story that followed.

    Reply
  99. Awwww…someone else who finds the pickle man in Crossing Delancey to be a perfect hero, and for so many reasons.
    Thanks for resurrecting that memory and sharing your other loves.
    My favorite adolescent reads were mostly historicals by Costain, Shellabarger and whoever wrote the pre-Alamo life of Jim Bowie. That one may have been my first romance novel.
    No, wait a minute. I read my first actual romance novel in the early 80’s–Zemindar, by Valerie Fitzgerald. I went on and on about it in a couple of Wench columns a couple of years ago, and am happy to report it’s now available in the US and UK in both e-book and print editions.
    It’s an amazing, sweepingly romantic, and sometimes horrifying, fictional story of survivors of the Indian Mutiny in India, and possibly my very favorite hero of all time…
    …except for maybe your own unsung hero, the quiet, big-hearted, noble WWII spy who was killed in the first pages of Every Secret Thing, but who inhabited every page of the story that followed.

    Reply
  100. Awwww…someone else who finds the pickle man in Crossing Delancey to be a perfect hero, and for so many reasons.
    Thanks for resurrecting that memory and sharing your other loves.
    My favorite adolescent reads were mostly historicals by Costain, Shellabarger and whoever wrote the pre-Alamo life of Jim Bowie. That one may have been my first romance novel.
    No, wait a minute. I read my first actual romance novel in the early 80’s–Zemindar, by Valerie Fitzgerald. I went on and on about it in a couple of Wench columns a couple of years ago, and am happy to report it’s now available in the US and UK in both e-book and print editions.
    It’s an amazing, sweepingly romantic, and sometimes horrifying, fictional story of survivors of the Indian Mutiny in India, and possibly my very favorite hero of all time…
    …except for maybe your own unsung hero, the quiet, big-hearted, noble WWII spy who was killed in the first pages of Every Secret Thing, but who inhabited every page of the story that followed.

    Reply
  101. I’m late in reading this, but appreciated the nice post– especially the love for The Blue Castle and LM Montgomery books. As a pre-teen I really liked Anne of the Island, but re-reading this recently, I didn’t care for it much at all– oh well, our tastes change as we grow (I’ll have to re-read Rilla of Ingleside and see if I still like it)! A couple of first loves I wanted to mention and share– one of my favorites as an early teen was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt– a beautiful coming of age story with a hint of romance. One of the first contemporary historical romances I read was Minerva by Marion Chesney– I remember being drawn to it on the “new books” section on the library shelf in the mid-80s. The cover was great– kind of a pink (maybe dusty mauve?) with the drawing of a woman in a regency gown. This started me on regency romances– a genre I still like over 35 years later!

    Reply
  102. I’m late in reading this, but appreciated the nice post– especially the love for The Blue Castle and LM Montgomery books. As a pre-teen I really liked Anne of the Island, but re-reading this recently, I didn’t care for it much at all– oh well, our tastes change as we grow (I’ll have to re-read Rilla of Ingleside and see if I still like it)! A couple of first loves I wanted to mention and share– one of my favorites as an early teen was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt– a beautiful coming of age story with a hint of romance. One of the first contemporary historical romances I read was Minerva by Marion Chesney– I remember being drawn to it on the “new books” section on the library shelf in the mid-80s. The cover was great– kind of a pink (maybe dusty mauve?) with the drawing of a woman in a regency gown. This started me on regency romances– a genre I still like over 35 years later!

    Reply
  103. I’m late in reading this, but appreciated the nice post– especially the love for The Blue Castle and LM Montgomery books. As a pre-teen I really liked Anne of the Island, but re-reading this recently, I didn’t care for it much at all– oh well, our tastes change as we grow (I’ll have to re-read Rilla of Ingleside and see if I still like it)! A couple of first loves I wanted to mention and share– one of my favorites as an early teen was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt– a beautiful coming of age story with a hint of romance. One of the first contemporary historical romances I read was Minerva by Marion Chesney– I remember being drawn to it on the “new books” section on the library shelf in the mid-80s. The cover was great– kind of a pink (maybe dusty mauve?) with the drawing of a woman in a regency gown. This started me on regency romances– a genre I still like over 35 years later!

    Reply
  104. I’m late in reading this, but appreciated the nice post– especially the love for The Blue Castle and LM Montgomery books. As a pre-teen I really liked Anne of the Island, but re-reading this recently, I didn’t care for it much at all– oh well, our tastes change as we grow (I’ll have to re-read Rilla of Ingleside and see if I still like it)! A couple of first loves I wanted to mention and share– one of my favorites as an early teen was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt– a beautiful coming of age story with a hint of romance. One of the first contemporary historical romances I read was Minerva by Marion Chesney– I remember being drawn to it on the “new books” section on the library shelf in the mid-80s. The cover was great– kind of a pink (maybe dusty mauve?) with the drawing of a woman in a regency gown. This started me on regency romances– a genre I still like over 35 years later!

    Reply
  105. I’m late in reading this, but appreciated the nice post– especially the love for The Blue Castle and LM Montgomery books. As a pre-teen I really liked Anne of the Island, but re-reading this recently, I didn’t care for it much at all– oh well, our tastes change as we grow (I’ll have to re-read Rilla of Ingleside and see if I still like it)! A couple of first loves I wanted to mention and share– one of my favorites as an early teen was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt– a beautiful coming of age story with a hint of romance. One of the first contemporary historical romances I read was Minerva by Marion Chesney– I remember being drawn to it on the “new books” section on the library shelf in the mid-80s. The cover was great– kind of a pink (maybe dusty mauve?) with the drawing of a woman in a regency gown. This started me on regency romances– a genre I still like over 35 years later!

    Reply

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