Sybil made an entry on her blog about a library sale she attended. In her entry, she casually mentions picking up a Nora Roberts book, although she has never read Nora Roberts. Later in the comments, Nicole adds that she has never read Nora Roberts or other romance staples such as Linda Howard and Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz (although she has read her in her Jayne Castle incarnation) *scccreeeechhh*

What? What!! I’m not sure, but I think we might have to take away Sybil and Nicole’s Romance Reader’s membership cards**. Okay, maybe we don’t have to go that far, but it did make me think about those old, beloved romances.

No really, I’m not sure why I was so shocked by this, it’s not as though I am Nora Roberts most ardent fan, although I Heart the J.D. Robb books 4evah and eveh! And even though all of the authors mentioned by Nicole are on my keeper shelf, I know that they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, especially in today’s glutted market. But the market wasn’t always so saturated with choices of authors, genres, cover art, and themes. If memory serves, it used to be more… one track. What I call “romance of the eighties” You know the ones, sweeping historicals that were often innacurate but oh so delicous in their tales of forbidden love, lusty contemporaries where the hero is uber-alpha male and heroine is often a virgin, old western romances with savage indians assimilating their blonde-haired, blue eyed captives into their culture with ease and just the right amount of arrogance… well, you get the picture. These books were… big. Maybe grandiose in their ideas, descriptions, and overdone clinches. Everything was more- more dramatic, more hair, more unrealistic ;)These are the romances that garnered romance its reputation as “smut” and for “lonely housewives eating bon bons” But they were fun and they were what I cut my romance baby teeth on. These are the books and authors that got me through my painful adolescent years, through the trauma of losing my mom, and that garnered me my reputation for being a “bookworm.” I’d be a different person if not for these sometimes over-the-top romance novels with their torrid covers and endless supply of purple prose.

But intellectually, I know there are readers out there who didn’t start their love of romance as early as I did, who didn’t love those romances of the eighties and who would just as soon never be exposed to that type of romance. But, in some ways, I wonder if readers aren’t missing an intangible something by not reading some of the pioneers of romance. If perhaps, there’s is a small part of the romance reading experience lost by not being able to appreciate just how far romances have truly come. And there are some true romance classics that are, in my opinion, wonderful books and stand the test of time for story, plot, and characterization.

At the same time, I’m sure there are people who would gasp in the same shock that I felt, if I said I’d never read a Barbara Cartland book. Well, not that I recall anyway. And there are probably other authors that my fellow romance readers think every card carrying member should have read that I have never picked up.

Here’s my question for readers: Are there any authors that you think every romance reader should have at least tried to read? Any authors that instill such a sense of nostalgia in you, that you can’t imagine anyone having NOT read them?

And would anyone care to give Sybil and Nicole some recommendations for good Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, JAK/Amanda Quick novels that they might try?

**I wanted to point out that even though this blog entry was inspired by Nicole and Sybil’s comments and my feelings of horror LOL, I don’t have any idea of their romance reading roots/beginnings and this entry isn’t directed at them or anyone else in particular. It’s more of a general musing on things prompted by poor Sybil (I call her poor Sybil since I shamelessly used her to jump-start my blog entry) having never read Nora Roberts (although I’m feeling more shock that Nicole has never read Linda Howard since one of her books is in my top ten all time favorites )

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