I originally came to romance through fantasy novels with what AAR would now describe as “strong romantic elements.” (Ok, yes, and X-Files fanfiction. It’s a strong overlap).
Back before YA got its own major marketing classification, a lot of us teens who were good readers but cognitively still kids found that speculative fiction was a good landing pad between kids’ books and Literature For Adults. My pivotal book was Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight, which I read in sixth grade and which will be on my keeper shelf until I die. There was action! There was romance! There was psychic-bonded dragon sex!
There was no going back.
At the risk of dating myself, other of the “greatest hits” of this era in my life included:
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Black Trillium by Andre Norton, […]