Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Top Ten List

Over the next few months, we at Romancing the Past plan to blog about our favorite historical romances. Here's my Top Ten, in no particular order:

Wild At Heart (Patricia Gaffney, 1997) - A man raised by wolves and the daughter of the scientist who’s studying him, in 1890’s Chicago. The hero is delicious, and I love Gaffney’s writing style.

In for a Penny (Rose Lerner, 2010) - In the interest of full disclosure, Rose Lerner is one of my critique partners, but even if the author were a complete stranger I would’ve fallen for her deft writing and utterly human characters in this fresh take on the Regency marriage of convenience tale.

The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer, 1950) - My favorite of Heyer’s prolific output for Sophy’s exuberance and the delightful wit that pervades the whole book.

One Perfect Rose (Mary Jo Putney, 1997) - Though I read trad Regencies and YA romances in high school, I took a break from the genre in college and the next few years thereafter. This was one of the first books I read upon returning, and its story of a duke who thinks he has only months to live and decides to take a break from duty while he comes to term with the news has stayed with me.

Mr Impossible (Loretta Chase, 2005) - Egypt, archeology, scholarly heroine, beta-but-badass hero, Loretta Chase. What’s not to love?

To Love and to Cherish (Patricia Gaffney, 1995) - The hero is a vicar; the heroine starts the book married to his childhood friend. A heartbreaking, moving, and ultimately hopeful story.

The Shattered Rose (Jo Beverley, 1996) - I’m always a fan of Jo Beverley’s rich, well-researched historicals, but this medieval is my favorite. The hero returns from the crusades to find his wife, believing him dead, has moved on with her life. Not an easy story, but sometimes easy is just what I don’t want.

Heaven and Earth (Kathleen Eagle, 1990) - Kathleen Eagle is one of the few authors who can make me read contemporary or Western settings. Very early in her career she wrote a few Harlequin Historicals, and I wish she’d done more because they’re so good. If you can track down a copy of this story of a missionary widowed on the Oregon Trail and the Metis trapper who rescues her, give it a read.

The Rules of Gentility (Janet Mullany, 2007) - A playful romp of a Regency told in first person, alternating between the hero and heroine’s point of view. I’ve used it as a conversion tool on readers who don’t otherwise read romance.

Shattered Rainbows (Mary Jo Putney, 1996) - Military history geek that I am, my favorite part of this book is the Waterloo sequence in the first half, but it’s a great read from start to finish with an especially appealing hero and heroine.

Looking back at my list, it occurs to me that the mid to late 90’s was something of a golden age for historical romance. But I’m enjoying plenty of what I’m reading now, too--I’m just hesitant to put a book on my Top Ten list until I’m sure it’s not just enjoyable at that moment, but memorable years later. (Even In For a Penny qualifies on that count, since I read it in our critique group over a year before it was published.)

What about you? Have you read any of my choices? What are your all-time favorite historical romances?

Susanna Fraser is the author of The Sergeant's Lady (available now) and A Marriage of Inconvenience (April 11, 2011). You can visit Susanna's website here.


Caridad Pineiro said...

THE WOLF AND THE DOVE and SHANNA are two of my favorites. Also a number of the Laura Kinsale books. Thanks for sharing yours! Good luck on your new release.

Barbara said...

I've read MR. IMPOSSIBLE and I've got RULES OF GENTILITY on my 'to read' pile...

I'm terrible about all time favorite romances because I'm always so excited about finding new authors (loving Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan right now!).

Do admit that I adored THE SERGEANT'S LADY and can't wait for A MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE -- don't see it available for Kindle yet, *sniff*.

Wendy Soliman said...

I haven't read any of your favourites but, like you, I enjoy Jo Beverley and, of course, Georgette Heyer. Must make a note to look for some of them and see if our tastes concur.

Judy Croome said...

I've read the Patricia Gaffney's, but my favourite of hers was To Have & to Hold. Very intense. Flowers in the Storm by Laura Kinsale is one that moved me deeply. There's been so many historical romances I love, impossible to list them all. Mary Balogh's Summer to Remember and Thief of Dreams always make me cry. Love Georgette Heyer (Venetia) and Jane Austen. Mostly, my modern favourites are from the 90's as well, because of the real alpha heroes (not politically correct alphas!) I can hardly wait for Claire Robyns next historical, because her alphas are really alpha! Yum! My gentle husband would probably faint if he knew the heroes I liked in my fantasy books!

Judy (South Africa)

Barbara Longley said...

My all time historical favorite is RANSOM by Julie Garwood. I like a bunch of her historicals, actually, but that on I've read about a dozen times, and I go back to it whenever the mood strikes me.

Susanna Fraser said...

Caridad, I love Laura Kinsale but haven't read the Woodiwiss books.

Aw, thanks, Barbara! Believe me, I'm checking Amazon ever day to see if MARRIAGE is up for preorder yet, and I'll shout it to the world when it is. :-) I enjoyed the one Courtney Milan book I've read so far, and Tessa Dare is on my list to try.

I'll be interested to compare notes, Wendy.

Interesting that you say that about 90's heroes, Judy, because I'd say I have so many favorites from that era because that's when you start having heroes who *aren't* the alpha type you describe. I tend to like my heroes either beta-but-badass or what you'd probably call a politically correct alpha. :-) Good thing there's such a variety out there now, so many different kinds of readers can be happy, huh?

Judy Croome said...

Too true, Susanna - variety is the spice of life! Every individual voice is like a single instrument; and why have an instrument when you can have a whole orchestra making beautiful music? :)
Judy (South Africa)

Susanna Fraser said...

Barbara, I know I read some Garwood in the 90's, but I don't remember which ones.

I like your orchestra analogy, Judy.

Taryn Kincaid said...

The only one on your list I've read is One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney. Guess I'm old school, like Caridad. Originally got hooked on romances with Woodiwiss. Read a lot of Putney and Balogh, too, and the skinny Regencies they used to have. And then all the one-word titled Amanda Quicks! McNaught, Coulter, Garwood, Lindsay. Loved them all. And LOVE Kinsale. Her writing is among the best and richest around, in my opinion. Seize the Fire planted in my mind the trope of "what if the hero doesn't think he's heroic?" and that's stayed with me a long, long time. You can see the echoes in Adam in Healing Hearts!
(And now that I've given you my list, I guess this is not a topic I'll be doing any time soon!)

Patricia Preston said...

One Perfect Rose was a favorite of mine.

Leonie Anderson said...

I've enjoyed most of Virginia Henley's books, as well as most of Mary Balogh's, but the first historical romance books I read were those by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I'm thrilled that Carina has such a talented stable of historical authors; I especially enjoyed Claire Robyn's debut novel, Betrayed, and can't wait to read her next book!

Anonymous said...

I loved Betrayed too.
An older favourite is Barbara Erskine's Lay Of Hay--although it's not strictly historical as the story happens in the present too.

Janet Ch.

Susanna Fraser said...

So fascinating to read everyone's choices! And now I'm thinking about a blog post, either at some future date here or on my own blog, about varieties of alpha and beta heroes. I have a lot of favorites who I'd call alpha, but wouldn't necessarily be called so if you moved them out of mystery/science fiction/fantasy/real life into a romance novel. And I came up with the term "badass beta" off the top of my head while working on this post, and I'd like to play with it a little more.

Taryn Kincaid said...

I love the idea of the "badass beta." Sometimes the boys are just not easily defined. Arthur...Lancelot...what would they be? Not sure I can classify them! I hope you do discuss that here!