Wednesday, November 14, 2012

That Old Feeling -- The romance novel you've never forgotten

Everyone who really loves romance novels, or novels in general, has a book/books they love. Most can still remember it/them, even though they only read it once. I also know a number of us have that old book we love so much, yet can't recall for the life of us the title or author of that book. In my lifetime, I've probably read a kajillion romance novels, (yes, I said kajillion,) but I only remember a handful that touched me so much I remember them after all these years.

There are some websites that can help. For example, I was able to find the first romance novel I ever read--Passion's Proud Captive, a yellowing hand-me-down I borrowed from my sister. It was an epic romance filled with bad accents, 90% hero/heroine separation, and lots of rapey rapeyness (I mean, the heroine is raped by at least 5 different men through the course of the book, and the hero rapes a woman who isn't even the heroine. Come on.) I thought I must be remembering it poorly, but when I read it again, I realized I hadn't.

The book was full of tension and adventure, but still, after re-reading, it was a wonder I ever read another romance. lol. But I'm glad I did, because it led to some of the ones I love most. 

Since not all the novels I read when I was younger made me cringe, I have a number titles I wish I knew, so I thought it would be fun to share with you. If you know what book this is, feel free to share. If you have a book you love and can't remember the title, feel free to leave a description. You never know. I, or one of the other readers, might remember it.

When I was young, I loved medieval romance novels, and I find it very sad that they are so rare nowadays. I'll have to do a post on how sad it is that historical romance has narrowed so much. Though it is nice to see things coming back into fashion with the ebook. I missed old westerns, viking novels, and pirates too. But I digress.

My forgotten medieval -
The plot-
The heroine's keep is attacked and taken by the hero. She is tall and known for being kind of horse faced. (love the unattractive heroine in an old novel, didn't happen often back then.) She tries to escape by cutting her hair and hiding as a boy. Cutting her hair brings out her beauty, but she doesn't know it. Of course, the hero discovers her and takes her captive. She surprises him by being strong in the ways only men were back then. She even wields a sword like a man.

Why I remember it-
I love the uniqueness of such a flawed heroine. She's also very against type. That sort of strength is great to see, because women are portrayed as damsels in distress during historical war times, yet Joan of Arc kicked some major butt, and women manned cannons in the civil war. I was nice to see this sort of nod to the strong woman so long before the age of girl power.
*spoiler alert*
The most unique part of this story was the end. This was the first (and only) romance novel that I've read that ended as it did. The hero and heroine are battling against the villain, all of their freinds are dead, and they are turned back to back, to fight to the death against the villain's band of men who have them surrounded and have orders to kill him and rape and kill her. You don't actually see them die, but with the odds, survival is unlikely. Yet it's not entirely an unhappy ending, despite my babylike sobs. They were together, in love, and fighting to the end side-by-side. Well, back-to-back anyhow, to the end.

What a romantic novel. I only wish I could remember the name.

The Kiss, Francesco Hayes The Yorck Project
I also recall a novel set probably in the Regency or Georgian period.
The plot-
The heroine (I think her name is Anne or something like that) has been in love with the hero forever. (I love crush stories!) He's about to marry her cousin (Henrietta?) and she is pouting outside the engagement party. He comes out to see her and starts telling her it will all get better with time. She is sad and trying to take it all in stride, but then he kisses her. They fall to the floor in a disarray and get caught. Naturally they are whisked off to the chapel, but he leaves her at the steps of the church and takes off. The story begins in earnest years later when he returns to find a strong woman. He falls in love and has to win her back.

Why I remember it-
It's a crush story, hello! I remember several stories that were about crushes. There's something about all that unrequited passion suddenly being requited. Yum.
However, this book stands out the most because the level of passion and longing in that first tension filled scene was astounding. And when he kisses her, it's all released in such a flood of desire. Though the author leaves them after they fall to the ground, you can just feel what it would be like for the heroine, to want a man that badly and then finally have him kiss her when she's almost given up hope.

There were some really fun old reads back in those days, if you could avoid the rapey raperson novels, and the novels with the a-hole alpha heroes--you know, the type that would rape the heroine because "she's so beautiful naturally she must be a whore. Oh wait, she's a virgin?" Ugh.

So, feel free to share some of the stories you loved years ago, whether you recall the name or not. I'd love to hear about your favorites and why you remember them after all these years.


  1. I noticed your question about the title on AAR and it is possible it could be a book called "Daughter of Lir" by Diana Norman. The ending that you described was exactly the ending of this book. It was more of an historical fiction with a young educated Irish woman (nun?) in the Middle Ages who was brutally raped as an example and then rebuilt her life and was later loved by a spy for Henry, King of England.Her name was Finn.

    1. Thanks so much for the suggestion. I looked online and found enough info to add to what you have here. Sadly, I don't think it's the same book. In the book I referenced, the hero takes the heroine prisoner from the beginning of the book and she's with him until the end. I'll have to see if I can find a reasonably priced version of that one though, because it seems like a powerful novel from the descriptions I've read.
      Thanks again for the comment.