Sunday, February 23, 2014

Romance Authors Expose More of What's on Their Keeper Shelves

by Joyce Lamb)

HEA asked some of our favorite authors to take a look at the second shelf of their keeper bookcase and pick out the third book from the left. Here's what they found … (Check out yesterday's post with more of authors' keepers.)

Carolyn Brown, author of The Cowboy's Mail Order Bride

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Family Blessings by LaVyrle Spencer. It's a paperback released in 1994, and the pages have been read many times. We own all of her books and still read her vibrant stories especially this second-chance-at-love story with Lee and Christopher, her son, Greg's best friend before he was killed in a tragic accident. A story of ordinary people coming to grips with real problems, they prove that love doesn't always look at birth certificates. LaVyrle is my inspiration to write about real people.

Suzanne Brockmann, author of Do or Die

The Comeback of Con MacNeill by Virginia Kantra — in fact, many of Virginia's books occupy the left corner of that particular shelf. Soon to join them will be Carolina Man (coming March 4), a book with a military hero to die for! I love every word that Virginia writes, and she's long been a keeper author for me. Her scenes between the incredibly realistic children in her books and her alpha heroes always make me laugh and cry — sometimes both at once!

Brenda Novak, author of Come Home to Me

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. My sister passed me this book many, many years ago. I had just caught my daycare provider drugging my kids with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day while I was at work, so I had quit my job and was looking for some way to make a living from home. The story brought me some blessed relief during one of my darkest moments. I remember closing it and thinking, "I wonder if I could ever write a book." And here I am 50 books later! I owe a lot to that fabulous story!

Anne Calhoun, author of Jaded

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Brazen by Susan Johnson. Susan writes glorious historical and contemporary romances that walk the line between super-sexy and erotic. I love the heroines in control of their own destiny, the strong, confident, sexy heroes, and the sheer beauty of the language. Brazen tells the romantic story of a dissolute duke (who's also in British intelligence), an artist heroine (who stows away on his yacht destined for Italy), set against the backdrop of war. I come back to this book again and again!

Elisabeth Naughton, author of Hold On To Me

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Perfect by Judith McNaught. The spine is torn, the cover is bent and weathered, and several pages are falling out. One look and you can tell this book has been read and read and read some more. This is the kind of book you never want to end, and every time I read it (which is at least once per year, maybe more) I fall in love with it all over again. It was written in the early 1990s, and today, it breaks every romance-writing rule out there — there are long sections of introspection, head-hopping, several chapters of backstory that don't need to be there, and it's way too long … I think it's over 600 pages and could easily end around page 450. But there's something magical about this book that pulls you in, grabs hold, and won't let you go. The rules don't matter when the characters and story are this compelling. This is the book I compare every one of my books against. My goal as an author is for readers to fall in love with my books the way I fell in love with this one.

Bec McMaster, author of My Lady Quicksilver

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Revelation by Erica Hayes. I'm totally addicted to The Walking Dead at the moment, and Hayes' Seven Signs series reminds me a little of that — crossed with Supernatural. Luniel's a smokin' hot Fallen Angel searching for redemption and Morgan's a cynical doctor who might just be able to stop a biblical plague bringing the dead to life. Throw them into the middle of the Apocalypse and you have a deliciously dark, sexy romance that is totally addictive.

Beth Williamson, author of Circle Eight: Nicholas (writing as Emma Lang)

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Only His by Elizabeth Lowell (I have a number of EL's Westerns on that shelf!). Only His was the first Western romance that pulled me in so hard, so deep, that I never wanted to leave. Caleb and Willow. Oh my. The fishing scene? *swoon* I've read it many times, but this copy is pristine. Who knows when I may need a fresh injection of Caleb Black? Love, love, love the entire series. #happyreader

Diana Cosby, author of His Enchantment

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Black Out by Annie Solomon. I love, love, love this mega-fast-paced romantic suspense that kept me on edge the entire read! WOW!!! No surprise that a book of this caliber won the RITA! Loved the explosive edge and the sexual tension between Margo Scott and Jack Wise as they struggle to discover who wiped Margo's memories and set her up for murder. Amazing read!!!

Mia Marlowe, author of Between a Rake & a Hard Place

The third book on the second shelf proves I don't alphabetize my keepers! LOL! It's Delicious by Sherry Thomas. It's a keeper for the wonderful food porn (the heroine, Verity, is a world-class chef!) as well as the infamous bathtub scene, but mostly because of Ms. Thomas' lyrical prose. It's like a Mozart sonata, never a note wrong.

Lena Diaz, author of Tennessee Takedown

The third book on one of my MANY keeper shelves is Son of the Morning by Linda Howard. Most of it takes place in contemporary times and follows Grace St. John, a scholar widow on the run. Watching her transition into a street-wise scrappy fighter is incredible and emotional. While translating an ancient Gaelic text to prove who murdered her husband, she reads about Niall, a Knight Templar. They both fall in love with each other through dreams and the magic of the medieval text. They don't physically meet until page 261 when Grace follows instructions in the text to travel back in time. Truly an amazing, unique story.

Judith Arnold, author of Dead Ball

I've got three "keeper" bookshelves and the books are stacked two deep! The third book on the second shelf of the middle bookshelf is Lucky by Jennifer Greene, and when I counted the books and pulled the book off the shelf, I had to muster all my willpower not to settle into an easy chair and read it all over again. This book was truly daring. Its heroine is the mother of a disabled newborn. Her husband doesn't want to deal with the baby's potential challenges, but the heroine crosses paths with the hero, who shows her the compassion, the respect, and the love for the baby that the baby's own father refuses to offer. I don't want to include spoilers here, so I'll just say this is an amazing novel. If you've read it, it's probably on your keeper shelf, too.

Candis Terry, author of Sweetest Mistake

The third book from the left on the second shelf of one of my many keeper shelves is Truly, Madly, Yours by Rachel Gibson. I love this book so much I actually have two copies because one is falling apart from so many rereads. I adore the fun, wicked banter and sexual tension between Nick and Delaney. The conflict in this book is heartbreaking, and there are several parts where, even though I've read the book a million times, I still cry. Nick is an amazing hero.

Hope Tarr, author of Operation Cinderella (Suddenly Cinderella Series)

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is actually a new-ish addition: In the Arms of the Heiress by Maggie Robinson. With pitch-perfect dialogue and pacing and refreshingly set post-1900, it's no wonder the book is a RT Book Reviewers Choice Award nominee. Louisa and Charles are a delicious case of opposites attracting and the plot takes the "marriage of convenience" trope and gives it a much-needed face lift. I especially adored that Louisa is a non-virgin and the one of them with the money and social standing. A mold-breaking romance all 'round. LOVED.

Becky Lower, author of Blinded by Grace

The third book on my keeper shelf is A Night Like This by Julia Quinn. Actually, just about any book on the shelf would be a Julia Quinn one. I've bought and lost a lot of the Bridgerton series during my many moves, but as soon as the boxed set comes out, I'm there. This one is about a secondary character from the original Bridgertons, Daniel Smythe-Smith. He's an earl, the heroine, Anna Wynter, is a governess. But love is blind to class distinctions and Daniel prevails when he spies Anna at his family's annual musicale. Great reading!

R.T. Wolfe, author of Savage Deception

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf if The Witness by Nora Roberts. Nora is way up on my favorite-author list. Her characterization is diverse and real. This book isn't about a beautiful woman and the perfect stud. It's complex and intense, incorporating tainted people and a lovely town. A young girl with an eidetic memory witnesses a murder and goes into witness protection. As an adult, she moves to a small town where her past follows her and the local sheriff is suspicious of her. What a nail-biter!

Deborah O'Neill Cordes, author of Dragon Dawn

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Queen of the Summer Stars by Persia Woolley, the second novel in her Guinevere trilogy. This series brings to life the legendary High Queen of Britain, from her tomboy youth, to her marriage to the honorable, yet distant, King Arthur, to her secret love for the incomparable Lancelot. A dramatic and romantic tale, I highly recommend this beautifully written trilogy.

Clay and Susan Griffith, authors of The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire Book 3)

Susan: I'm a sucker for old-fashioned romance movies. They're like crack to me. So when Anne Stuart, sly author that she is, chose that theme for her latest book, Catspaw, it was an instant buy back in 1985. It lived up to its promise in every way. Her hero was an ex-cat burglar. Damn it! Suddenly he was Cary Grant to me in To Catch a Thief. And the beautiful thing was that the two lead characters were dynamic and fascinating. There was an instant spark between them that lasted through the entire book and even a sequel, Catspaw. Yes, I have both of them on my shelf, forever and always.

Katie Lane, author of Match Made in Texas

The third book on my keepers shelf is Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. What can I say? SEP never disappoints. Her stories are filled with endearing characters and hilarious moments that keep me reading until my husband yells at me to turn off the light. Breathing Room covers all the bases with the added treat of a dark, handsome movie star villain who has no problems seducing the sassy heroine right from the get-go. Set their love story in beautiful Italy and you've got a winner, winner romance dinner.

Shona Husk, author of Lunar Reunion

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is I Burn for You by Susan Sizemore. This was the first romance novel I ever read. Until this book I didn't even know romance was a genre. I Burn for You had everything I was looking for in a story: vampires, danger and, most important, a happily ever after for the hero and heroine (something the fantasy novels I'd read up until then lacked). It was this book that made me decide that I wanted to write paranormal romance instead of fantasy novels.

Katherine Garbera, author of Bound by a Child

The most worn-out copy on my keeper shelf is the very first romance novel I read. It's called Winter's Flame by Johanna Lindsey. I was 13 years old when I read it the first time and riding on a Greyhound bus from my grandparents' house back home. The hero was so strong, so alpha and the heroine feisty and sure of herself in a way that ignited my imagination. This book started my love affair with romance reading, and I went on to discover many other favorites such as Fanta C by Sandra Brown and Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mountain. The heroes are strong and determined, the heroines strong in their own right and able to make these men fall on their knees. And of course they are hot, hot, hot.

Patricia Rice, author of Notorious Atherton

My keeper shelves are severely diminished by a cross-country move. A 30-year collection has been reduced to keepers written by my friends, so it's not surprising that the third book from the left is The Autumn Bride from Anne Gracie, a recent purchase. All Anne's books are filled with delightful characters and fabulous situations — this one has the heroine caught in a poignant bit of breaking-and-entering — but this story in particular is deserving of being listed on both the Library Journal's and NPR's best books of 2013. Anne understands that true love not only encompasses lust, but all the family and entanglements that two people bring to a relationship. To me, that's a perfect romance!

Did you miss yesterday's post about our keeper shelves? Check it out here.