Saturday, February 22, 2014

Romance Authors Expose What's on Their Keeper Shelves

by Joyce Lamb)

Ah, the keeper shelf. We romance readers LOVE our keeper shelves. I've always found it fascinating to ask authors what's on their keeper shelves, because if anyone knows good romances, it's romance authors. 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 … (Stop back in at HEA tomorrow for more of authors' keepers!)

Eloisa James, author of Three Weeks With Lady X (March)

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Return Engagement by Lynn Michaels. Lynn is a terrific comic writer, who published this novel back in 2009. It's about two former teen stars, Lindsay and Noah, who meet years after their hit TV show when they both take roles in a small regional theater. This is something of a male Cinderella story, a plot I adore (another wonderful novel in that genre: LaVyrle Spencer's The Hellion).

Roxanne St. Claire, author of Scandal on the Sand (The Billionaires of Barefoot Bay)

Third book from the left on my keeper shelf is The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck. This is an absolutely haunting love story that tells the tale of one wedding dress and how it impacts the lives and loves of four women. It is so rare to find a book that transcends genre and convention, but still hits every emotional high point of a classic romantic novel. Rachel Hauck not only made me forget I'm a writer, she made me forget there was a world outside of this book. For that reason, The Wedding Dress slid right on to my keeper shelf and there it stays, except when I lend it to a friend, which is often!

Ruth Axtell, author of A Heart's Rebellion

Emily Goes to Exeter by Marion Chesney. No surprise that it's on my keeper shelf because I am a fan of Regency romances, and Chesney is a popular English writer of the traditional regency. There's something endearing about the characters in her subtle romances, her historical research is impeccable, and she knows how to evoke the Regency era. Many of her books are series, with a set of characters one grows fond of and an overarching theme that unites all the stories.

Nancy Herkness, author of Country Roads

My third-book-from-the-left keeper is One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney. Why is it on my keeper shelf? Well, c'mon, it's by Mary Jo Putney, the goddess of historical romance! This is one of my favorites of hers because the ducal hero is dying — yes, dying! — in the book, and I couldn't figure out how Ms. Putney was going to give the lovers a happy ending. I got paper cuts from turning the pages at light speed to find out how it happens, and wept when it did. Then I read it again to savor the fabulous writing and characters, especially the warm, colorful family of actors the wandering duke is embraced by.

Erin Quinn, author of The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James. Eloisa is one of my all-time-favorite writers, and every book in her fairy tale series is a keeper. Her dialogue sparkles, her characters are fabulous and her romance makes me sigh. She takes flawed characters and makes them people you want to have over for dinner. No, even better, she makes you wish YOU were one of them. Love her books. Plain and simple. Sincerely, Big Fat Fan Girl.

Glynnis Campbell, co-author of The Winter Stone (with Tanya Anne Crosby and Laurin Wittig)

Occupying the No. 3 spot on my keeper shelf is a signed copy of Penelope Williamson's Keeper of the Dream. Reading this historical romance is like enjoying a sumptuous medieval banquet. From tantalizing amuse-bouches to desserts so bittersweet they make you cry, master chef Penelope serves up her complex plot in such exquisite detail that you feel like you can taste every rich emotion. Set in enchanting Wales, the romance between Raine the Black Dragon and Lady Arianna is spiced with magic, fate, and unforgettable passion.

K.A. Mitchell, author of the Bad in Baltimore series

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. This book is so special it's on my writing reference shelf because it's the kind of book that shows me that's how you do romance, baby! As if the joy of secrets, snark and continuing characters and storylines from other series books wasn't enough, it has the kind of conflict that makes you think they are never going to be able to make things work. Plus, Colin and Penelope's first kiss is what got it on that special shelf. It's not the steam, it's the absolute wonder and magic of falling in love. Go. Read. Fall in love.

Zoƫ Archer, author of Dangerous Seduction

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Loretta Chase's Your Scandalous Ways. Chase is, of course, the master of smart, witty dialogue. I love that James and Francesca have both been around the block a few times — he's a spy, she's a courtesan — and they're perfect matches for each other. The sexual tension is amazing, the dialogue constantly crackles, and both characters eventually lose their cynicism to the power of love. They're each others' equals, which I absolutely adore.

Mackenzie Crowne, author of A Song for Sophie

Running my finger along my keeper shelf to the third book from the left, I come to She's Got Dibs by AJ Nuest. Wow, that cover never fails to put a smile on my face, but what's inside lives on in my romance reader's heart. AJ's smooth and witty writing snags you immediately and keeps you flipping pages to see what kind of mischief her characters will get into next. Tessa is a woman I can see myself sitting down with and sharing a few martinis and Dibs … well, let's just say the cover isn't false advertising. Laugh-out-loud dialogue, subtle emotion that builds to soaring and spicy romance, this HEA has it all.

Alexa Grace, author of Profile of Evil

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is The Witness by Nora Roberts. I love her intelligent, left-brain, quirky heroine and the small-town police chief hero persistent to win her over. Roberts' characterization of the take-charge freelance programmer heroine who lives alone in the Ozarks who designs a sophisticated security system to protect herself from a mob hit after witnessing a murder is excellent.

This book is on my shelf because it reminds me how important it is to create memorable characters with their own unique personalities.

Patricia Mason, author of Send Me a Cowboy

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Wolfe Waiting by Joan Hohl. Ms. Hohl was writing about alpha males when alpha males were alpha males. The Wolfe Waiting series has it all — big, bad wolves (still in their human form!), cops, cowboys and of course, the happily-ever-after.

Allison Brennan, author of Notorious

The third book to the left on the second shelf of one of my (many) keeper shelves is Born in Death by JD Robb. I have every book JD Robb has written because they are the perfect blend of romance and mystery. Every Robb book is better than the last and I wonder how she does it ... how can she make every book better??? Eve and Roarke are at the top of the best hero-couples, and I will read this series to the end ... and then read it again. And I rarely re-read books. Born in Death is particularly fabulous because Mavis has her baby ... and all the problems that brings for Eve and Roarke. Folks, no one does it better than Robb.

Julie Ann Walker, author of Hell for Leather

The title I pulled from my keeper shelf was Amber Beach by Elizabeth Lowell. Not only does Elizabeth write action, adventure, intrigue, and romance like nobody's business, but she's also amazeballs at research. Picking up one of Elizabeth's books is like taking a Freshman 101 course in whatever subject matter she's chosen to write about. In the case of Amber Beach, it's the fascinating amber market and trade. Sooo good. Sooo suspenseful. Sooo sexy. This book can be summed up in two words: Read it!

Desiree Holt, author of Attack Force

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Cry No More by Linda Howard. When I sat down to write my first novel. I expected it to be a straight mystery because that's all I read growing up. But after three months and three chapters. I knew something was wrong. Then I read Cry No More by Linda Howard and knew I'd found my muse. Diaz (my all-time-fave hero) and Milla are so perfect together. Sexy Diaz won't take no for an answer, and Milla is all I-have-a-mission-and-you-can't-stop-me. Damn, but I love these two. Big-screen movie, please.

Grace Burrowes, author of The MacGregor's Lady

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf/pile is Loretta Chase's Not Quite a Lady. Chase has a warm-hearted view of her characters, a flawless sense of pacing, and deft, graceful prose. Lady Charlotte is an unwed mother (of a secret baby, of course) way before it was popular, while Darius Carsington is a handsome, self-satisfied Regency rake who understands reproductive biology but is clueless about love. I read this one over and over, and fall in love with it each time.

Jane Lynne Daniels, author of Say it Again, Sam

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is If I Can't Have You by Patti Berg. This book made me a Patti Berg fan for-evah! Trevor, a gorgeous, dashing movie star from the '30s who vanished under a cloud of suspicion, travels decades through time to Adriana, a woman who prefers the rugged silver-screen heroes of old to the men she meets in real life. The story is so romantic and beautifully told — if you're as captivated as I am by the glamour of old Hollywood as the backdrop for a heart-melting tale of love, it will also stay on your keeper shelf!

Cathy McDavid, author of Most Eligible Sheriff

After choosing which of my two, soon-to-be-three, floor-to-ceiling keeper bookcases, my hand landed on White Hot by Sandra Brown. This book is classic SB, which is why it was an auto-keep for me, and, well, white hot. It has all of the elements I look for in a great romantic suspense. Interesting and smart heroine on a mission — check. Blisteringly hot yet mysterious hero with questionable motives — check. Family secrets — check. Plot twists and turns — check. Amazing sexual tension between the heroine and hero — check. Sexy Southern town with high humidity that makes the reader sweat almost as much as the heroine and hero — check. I literally couldn't put this book down the first time I read it and stayed up till four o'clock in the morning. Dragging my feet all day at work was so worth it!

Dee Davis, author of Hell Fire (April)

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart. Stewart is my all-time-favorite romantic suspense author. And I couldn't believe that The-Moon-Spinners was actually sitting in that position. An omen surely, since it's my favorite of her books. Stewart takes you to a place far away and then makes it so real you can smell and taste it. Her heroines are smart and feisty. Her heroes are men you want to meet in real life. And Nikki and Mark's story, set in Greece, will keep you turning pages late into the night!

Cary Morgan Frates, author of Red Soles at Night

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Vortex (Logan's story) by Cherry Adair. Which means books one and two are Undertow (Zane's story) and Riptide (Nick's story), all of the Cutter Cay series. And you may be sure I'm keeping a spot open for the soon-to-be-released Stormchaser (March, IhopeIhopeIhope)! Cherry has a way with men, and I always end up wanting to have my way with them, too. I can't wait to get the scoop on Jonah in No. 4! All those gorgeous men ...*sigh*

Jess Haines, author of Enslaved by the Others (July)

The third book from the left on my keeper shelf is Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I adore that book. It's funny, smart, sexy, and that scene with the doughnuts ... *fans self* I've read a few of Crusie's books now and have fallen in love with every one, but Bet Me is still my favorite!

Kate Douglas, author of the Spirit Wild series

First I had to figure out what shelf — they're all filled with favorites, but the one closest to my work space, second down, third from the left, had Nalini Singh's Archangel's Blade. I love paranormal, and anything Nalini writes is going to be good. She has such a powerful voice, and her characters not only come to life within the pages, they hang around long after the book is finished. Whether she writes about archangels and vampires or Psy/Changelings, she truly brings her worlds to life. I tend to reread her stories over and over again. They're wonderful!

Lucy Monroe, author of Million Dollar Christmas Proposal

The third book from the left on the top shelf of my "Keeper" library is Dark Desiring by Jacqueline Baird because she is one of my favorite authors and even her oldest books are worth keeping to re-read. I'm a huge fan of the classic romantic archetypes. Strong, larger-than-life hero and heroine who truly fights for what is important to her — doesn't just whine about it. :) Jacqueline has been writing that kind of romance almost as long as I've been alive. Picking up her books is like touching history for my second-greatest passion: romance. (My first is my family, if you were wondering. )

This is two of many of HEA curator Joyce Lamb's keeper shelves. So many books, so little space.(Photo: Joyce Lamb)