I know – two posts in two days. I’m spoiling you. But I couldn’t let Valentines Day go past without mentioning some of my favourite romantic books.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I don’t care about all the posts about how you wouldn’t actually want to be with Mr Darcy in real life because I love this book. I started reading my mum’s copy of the book as soon as I’d finished watching the first part of the 1995 BBC adaptation of it and I adored it. I was in the tail-end of primary school and just flat-out loved Lizzy. My TV tie-in copy is much loved and I read it a lot. Read it and fall in love with Lizzy as much as you do with Darcy. And he grows as a person people. Everyone’s allowed to make a mistake and compared to some of the stuff romance novel heros have in their past, being a bit stuck up and arrogant is not the biggest problem ever!
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
And a prime example of how Darcy could be so much worse is the Duke of Avon. Justin’s nickname is Satanas. You’re told he’s lost a fortune at the gaming tables and then won back someone elses – someone who then killed themselves. He kidnapped a woman to try to force her to marry him. But I defy you not to be rooting for him as he turns Leon the page into Leonie the lady and restores her to her place in eighteenth century French High Society. And the way he achieves it isn’t exactly all hearts and flowers (although it is totally deserved). One of my favourite romance tropes is I’m not good enough for him/her and this is just the perfect example of that. And then when you’re done falling in love with Big Bad Justin, read Devil’s Cub and meet his son Dominic – mad, bad and dangerous to know and watch prim and proper Mary win his heart. He doesn’t think he’s good enough either. Swoon.
Stately Pursuits by Katie Fforde
Still my favourite Fforde novel (see my love letter to Fforde here), and you may start to detect a theme in my heros here. Connor is tall, dark, brooding and moody. Hetty’s mum’s sent her to look after Great Uncle Samuel’s stately home. Hetty wants to save it, Connor thinks selling it is the best solution. Cue fireworks of two different types. If you like your heros a little bit more beta, try Fforde’s Flora’s Lot and Charles the auctioneer. He’s engaged and thinks Flora is pushy. She thinks he’s uptight and change resistant. Another of my favourite tropes – I hate you, I hate you, I can’t stop thinking about your hair as Sarah McLean of Smart Bitches would say.
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is the most romantic detective story ever. After 3 books of angst and tension, Peter and Harriet are finally married. But a body turns up at their honeymoon dream house and unless they can figure out who did it Harriet is worried that Peter will be haunted by it forever. You’ll appreciate it most if you’ve read the other three books first, but once you have you’ll come back to it again and again. I’ve listened to it once this week on audiobook already. If you need more convincing I wrote a whole post about the wonders of Peter in general and Peter and Harriet in particular.
And if this still isn’t quite enough romance for you, try Eloisa James Duchess by Night featuring another of my favourite tropes – girls dressed as boys (see also the aforementioned These Old Shades) or Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake (I would suggest Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover but that’s the end of a series and a big spoiler for the earlier books) which is another great trope (heroine needs to learn about love, asks rakish man to teach her) or a bit of Julia Quinn. Try not to get hooked. American-import romance can be an expensive habit.