Ask A Wench—My First Romance Book

These Old Shades 2-AnneAndrea here. In this month's Ask A Wench, we're all dishing on the first romance book we ever read. The answers and musings are so much fun, I won't waste time on a flowery intro—let's just jump right into the stories! (But be sure share what YOUR first romance book was in the comments!)

Anne: The first romance (in the sense of a love story) I read was These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer which I borrowed from my local library when I was eleven. I didn't really think of it as a romance at the time, just a really good book with a lovely happy ending. I loved the various characters and the brilliant humor and the story, which contained so many things I later discovered were popular tropes in romance. The story contained elements of the "chick-in-pants", "Cinderella," "The Lost Heir," "The Secret Identity," the "Innocent and the Jaded Rake" and more, which all made for an enticing and engrossing read. I went on to read (and reread) all her other books.

The impact it had on me is pretty obvious. Georgette Heyer is the reason I write Regency-era historical romance. I don't try to imitate her — that would be impossible — but because of her, and because I discovered her books so young, I almost feel as if I grew up in that particular Regency World and it feels a bit like home to me. It wasn't until years later, when I was setting out to become a writer,  that I learned that there was a whole genre devoted to historical romance, and when I discovered that publishers were publishing Regency-era romance, I knew then it was what I wanted to write. And so I did.

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Hidden in the wardrobe

MagpieNicola here. Today I’m talking about wardrobes. This seems to fit rather nicely with Anne’s piece a couple of days ago about those unpleasant bugs that can hide in cupboards and drawers and eat your favourite clothes, and also with our recent AAR on lost treasures.

Why wardrobes? Well, recently I was talking to an author and publisher about re-discovering the romance books of my youth. By youth I’m talking about the very first books I read that could be described as being romantic, before I devoured Georgette Heyer or Jilly Cooper. I was about twelve years old. They included family sagas, romantic suspense – I remember Spindrift by Phyllis Whitney – and The Property of a Gentleman by Catherine Gaskin. I loved discovering the Gothic suspense of Victoria Holt, and packed amongst the historicals were some of the raunchy 1970s contemporary novels. What an education they were.

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