Monday, 9 February 2015

Recommended Romantic Reads for Valentine's Day

It's that time of year when love is in the air and Valentine's Day will soon be upon us. Looking for a gift more meaningful than roses? Less calorific than chocolates? Or perhaps you're just searching for the next good read. Well, search no further because the Novelistas have got together and come up with a selection of romantic novels which come highly recommended:

Valerie-Anne Baglietto
The book I chose, without any hesitation, was Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Not a conventional love story, by any means, but I think it should be essential reading for anyone who wants to write romance. (Or anyone who enjoys an innovative, fast-paced fairy tale aimed at young and old alike.)

Forget the usual conventions of a love story, the old clichés, the traps we fall into. You won't really find them here. And yet it was very much a love story that kept me turning the pages. A brilliantly addictive romantic narrative, proving we don't need those clichés after all.

The hero is an infamous wizard; vain, shallow, spoilt, ambitious and a heartbreaker. He can't help falling for every pretty face he sees. The shy, retiring heroine spends most of the time under a spell, looking - and feeling - like a wizened old woman. 

Weak, flawed hero. 
Mousy, wrinkled heroine with a walking stick. 

But sometimes, when we're shielded by a mask, we don't care how we act and we're certainly not going to be intimidated. In fact, we might actually discover that love can make us braver than we imagined, and the power to break an evil spell might lie where we least expected it...

Beth Francis

I recommend My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart. This is an intriguing, at times terrifying, story set against vivid descriptions of the Greek mountains. I read this book when it was first published in 1962 and still remember the heroine's hair-raising drive up the mountain road to Delphi. Like many of Mary Stewart's books it's now available as a Modern Classic.

Johanna Grassick

I've got so many favourite romantic novels it's hard to choose, but this is one I read recently and I read it very quickly - always the sign of a good book: The Perfect Affair by Claire Dyer. 

It's a wistful book, beautifully written, which interweaves two stories, past and present, of love against the odds. I'd never read this author's work before, but I'll certainly look out for her in future.

Juliet Greenwood

I chose The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, which is a wonderful story about a woman’s two loves. Her first love is born of idealism and inexperience, and a romantic ideal of what love should be, and ends in disaster. Her second love is a healing love with a sweet and gentle man who loves her for herself and all she has been through. It’s a deeply romantic read about the worst, and the best, of love, and about two people who, against all odds, are able to find each other. A romantic read for all seasons!

Cheryl Lang

There are so many books I could have chosen. I loved Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. The political background, the turmoil of revolution. The barren, snowy wastes, and all the time the love triangle. It has it all. Wilbur Smith’s books always grab me too.

And yet…

Just recently I’ve read a few books, the themes of which have stayed with me. One is Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald. There are various covers for this book, but I like this one. Set in India at the start of the Indian Mutiny and the siege of Lucknow. The story twists and turns against a very detailed background of time and place. The privation the heroine endures during the siege is made so real. She is surrounded by disease, starvation and death. The romance is for the most part long distance, but you feel for her. In a living hell she wonders if the man she loves has managed to survive somewhere in India.  An epic read.

Louise Marley

I’m not very romantic and I don’t like reading what I think of as a ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of book. I do love romances, but there has to be something else going on, such as comedy or suspense – the kind of thing I like to write! One of my favourite authors is Anne Stuart and my all-time favourite book by her is Fire and Ice (#5 in her Ice series).

The story is about Jilly Lovitz, who has gone to visit her sister in Tokyo but arrives to find an empty house and a gang of Russian assassins who are after her brother-in-law. Jilly is rescued by Reno, an agent for the mysterious Committee, and so begins a chase around Tokyo as they try to keep one step ahead of both the Russians and the Japanese Yakuza.

The reason I love this book is the hero - Reno, a red-headed, tattooed punk, who is flamboyant, outrageous and completely fearless. (That’s him sitting on top of my Kindle!) Fire and Ice is a fun read (definitely not to be taken too seriously) with lots of action, some very steamy scenes and funny moments. I loved it.

1 comment:

  1. MY BROTHER MICHAEL by Mary Stewart is one of my all time favourite reads. But I also love her THE MOONSPINNERS and THIS ROUGH MAGIC. My copies are getting a bit tatty because they're old and I've read them more times than I can remember.


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