On Valentine’s Day it’s traditional for romance writers and bloggers to write about “why we should read romance.” And there are some fantastic reasons, and they’ve been discussed ad nauseam which is why I won’t do that to you here. The simple fact is that I can’t convince you to read romance if you don’t want to, and I respect that everyone has different tastes in what they read. I might never understand your penchant for reading biographies, and it’s okay if you don’t really “get” mine for reading about college kids in love.
However, I’d like to show you that the breadth of romantic fiction (not necessarily the genre of Romance) is vast enough that readers of a wide variety of tastes can enjoy both stories that they love, and stories with romance. Without further ado, here are some of my all time favorite romantic series that might or might not be actual romances:
1. Sebastian St. Cyr Series (C.S. Harris):
These historical mysteries are set in London in the early 1800s. They are dark, gritty, and full of the intrigue and politics of western Europe at the time, as well as gruesome murder mysteries. Sebastian, however, is a romantic hero for the ages, beautiful, tragic, and in love with the wrong woman. If you stick with the series, you’ll get to see him lose love and find love, and the romance is just enough to tease those of us who crave the stuff, but not so much that it’ll bore those who don’t. Grab the first book, WHAT ANGELS FEAR, here.
2. Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch Historical Mysteries (Tracy Grant):
While also historical mysteries set in England’s Regency period, this series has a more glittery feel than the St. Cyr books. It is full of spy intrigue rather than murder mystery, and also has a kick-ass heroine with a very dark secret. The romance is mature, following the relationship of an already married couple as they try to navigate being in love while also surviving very complex lives. A little like a historical Mr. and Mrs. Smith. You can get the first book, SECRETS OF A LADY, here.
3. Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries (Charlaine Harris):
If you’ve watched the True Blood series, these are the books that it originated from, but the two creations are so entirely different, you shouldn’t think about it beyond that. Sookie Stackhouse is paranormal chick lit–hilarious, light, and entirely entertaining. There is romance, but it’s part of the bigger picture of a young woman trying to find herself in a world gone mad, with vampires and other things that go bump in the night suddenly living among us. You can buy the first book, DEAD UNTIL DARK, here.
4. Outlander Series (Diana Gabaldon):
Yes, there is a TV show based on this series, and yes, the show feels very much like the books. If you don’t like the show you probably won’t like the books, but know that this series has something for everyone–time travel, history that spans centuries and continents, wars, family feuds, grit, glitter, science, magic, and my God…a romance for the ages. If you believe in one true love, soulmates, and the quest for happily ever after, you’ll want to read Outlander. These books are enormous, the storyline is epic, and the entertainment is endless. You can buy the first book, OUTLANDER, here.
5. The Luxe Series (Anna Godbersen):
This is a YA series that reads like a Gossip Girl at the turn of the twentieth century. We get to see New York’s founding elite families and the ins and outs of their outwardly beautiful, but secretly dark lives. The girls are beautiful, the boys are tortured, and the love is always just out of their reach. If you like sumptuous, tangled, and tragic stories, this three book series will keep you reading until the end. You can buy the first book, LUXE, here.
Whether you’re a romance fan or not, the breadth and depth of romantic fiction is so great that there is always a book you could love that has some love in it. And whether it’s Valentine’s Day or one of the other 364, we can never have too much love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!