Meet Reviewer Rike Horstmann Rike’s Top 10 Romance List
About Me Favorite Romance Novels

When I was about 12 and had once again run out of books, my father directed me to his Georgette Heyer collection. I fell in love with These Old Shades, and that was that. Reading romance in Germany in the early 1980’s was restricted to what was available in translation: Georgette Heyer, a few bodice rippers I did not take to, loads of contemporary gothics and Victorian gothics. When I was 16, a misspelled allusion in a Caroline Courtney regency led me to Jane Austen, whose novels were just then being republished in translation. Simultaneously, the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice was shown on German TV, and I was truly hooked. I date my decision to study English literature to that period.

Studying English lit while reading romance on the side was a schizophrenic experience. I still read Restoration plays, 18th century novels, and poetry of all ages for pleasure; studying Shakespeare and writing my doctoral thesis on Spenser’s Faerie Queene were simply wonderful. But I hated feeling ashamed of my private reading matter. According to my otherwise excellent professors (male and female alike), a happy ending in a book was either ironic, hollow or in very bad taste. It took me a long time to understand that there is nothing inherently inferior about a happy ending or a love story. I did not come out of the closet as a romance reader until I was in my 30’s.

By then, I had discovered the internet both as a source of books, new and second-hand, and as a place where one may exchange information and opinons regarding anything, including romance. It was truly revolutionary to discover how many intelligent, well-read and discerning women and men read romances. My favourite romance genres nowadays are traditional Regencies, European historicals, SF and fantasy romances, alternate reality and mysteries.

I live near Frankfurt, Germany, and work as a high school teacher. My husband, who only reads literary fiction, observes my enthusiasm with slightly baffled tolerance. We share a passion for soccer and Star Trek, however! I still lend most of my romance novels to my father, which is an excellent justification for buying so many. Besides reading, surfing the internet, and watching TV (soccer mostly), my interests are collecting Jane Austen sequels, book-binding, solving logical puzzles, cycling and seeing my nieces and nephews as often as I can.

Absolute Favorites

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair
The Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

Favorite Classic

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Belinda by Maria Edgeworth
Evelina by Fanny Burney

Favorite Short Stories

The Best Christmas Ever (A Regency Christmas III) by Mary Balogh
Sunshine for Christmas (A Regency Christmas II) by Mary Jo Putney
The Reckless Miss Ripley/Dashing Through the Snow (A Regency Christmas Eve) by Diane Farr

Favorite Romance Authors

All-Time Favorite Romance Authors

Georgette Heyer
Mary Stewart
Linnea Sinclair

Best Discovery/Buried Treasure Authors

Susanna Fraser
Elizabeth Ashtree
Sheila Simonson

My Biggest Glom

Carola Dunn
Stella Riley
Mary Balogh

Personal Reading Tastes Favorites by Sub-Genre

What I’m a sucker for in a book: Characters who act with common sense and consideration what the implications of their actions are (moral and otherwise), not-so-beautiful heroines and heroes, beta heroes, older couples, younger heroes, heroes with a profession, heroines likewise if it fits with the period, scientists, European historicals set on the continent, best friends romances, marriages/engagements of convenience, sex that is not always perfect, heroes called Tom or Oliver.

What I don’t particularly care for in a book: Wallpaper history unless the book is very amusing or very gripping, spy stories unless well done, the overabundance of dukes, speaking names for heroes like Chase, Dare, Chance, Hunt, Hawk, Wolf etc., ahistoric names in general, unusual spelling of names in historicals, revenge plots, time travel.

What drives me absolutely nuts in a book: Heroines who refuse the hero’s marriage proposal although they love him (especially when they face penury otherwise and/or have slept with him and could be pregnant), heroes who can’t take no for an answer, middle-class heroes who turn out to be a duke’s heir on the second-to-the-last page, the wrong use of titles and forms of address in historicals, deus ex machina solutions, instant virgin sex goddesses, sex scenes that read like a manual, sex scenes that seem to be inserted afterwards because the editor demanded it.


Frontier or American Historical:

Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow
Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow

European Historical:

Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
Hazard by Jo Beverley
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
A Christmas Bride by Mary Balogh

Traditional Regency:

The Five-Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken
The Improper Governess by Carola Dunn
A Lady for Ludovic by Sarah McCulloch
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer


Alinor by Roberta Gellis
In Pursuit of the Green Lion by Judith Merkle Riley


Reconcilable Differences by Elizabeth Ashtree
Not Without Her Family by Beth Andrews

Alternate Reality:

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair
Esther Diamond series by Laura Resnick
Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly

Favorite Characters Favorites by Plot Type

Favorite Hero

Frederick Standen, Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Race de Vere, Hazard by Jo Beverley

Favorite Heroine

Penelope Featherington, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Eliza Austerleigh, A Natural Attachment by Katherine Kingsley
Delphie Carteret, The Five-Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken

Most Tortured Hero

Frances Crawford of Lymond, Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
Matthew Bering, Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour by Carla Kelly
Charles Everett, Lord Falconer, Lord Falconer’s Wife by Lynn Kerstan

Strongest Heroine

Sophy Stanton-Lacy, The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
Bratchet, Shores of Darkness by Diana Norman

Favorite Couple

Thomas Conway, Earl of Clanross, and Lady Elizabeth Conway, Lady Elizabeth’s Comet by Sheila Simonson
Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, and Bathsheba Wingate The Perfect Gentleman by Loretta Chase
Arthur Vanderlin, Marquis of Blakeney, and Minerva Montrose, Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville

Best Villain

Duke of Andover, The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer

Cabin or Road:

Scandal’s Daughter by Carola Dunn
Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase
The Sergeant’s Lady by Susanna Fraser
Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas


Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart


Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede
Falling for Chloe by Diane Farr
The Country Gentleman by Fiona Hill


Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
St. Raven by Jo Beverley

Favorites by Mood

Comfort Reads:

The Varleigh Medallion by Sylvia Thorpe
Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

Most-Hanky Reads:

Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly
The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh
The Arrogant Lord Alistair by Sheila Walsh

Guilty Pleasure:

Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Grenelle by Isabelle Holland
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart


Most Disappointing Books

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Worst Books

My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy
The Decadent Duke by Virginia Henley
The Naked Earl by Sally MacKenzie

Purple Prose-iest Book

Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Authors I Have Given Up On

Eloisa James
Candice Hern

Authors Others Love That I Don’t

Gaelen Foley
Stephanie Laurens
Nonnie St. George

Most Annoying Lead Character

Duke of Torquay, The Duke’s Wager, by Edith Layton
Jane Lovering, A Secret Passion, by Sophia Nash

Non-Romance Favorites

Favorite Author

William Shakespeare
Terry Pratchett
Diana Wynne Jones

Favorite Book

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett

Favorite Classic Novel

Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
The Old Mam’selle’s Secret by Eugenie Marlitt
Gösta Berling’s Saga by Selma Lagerlöf

Favorite Mystery

The Iron Hand of Mars by Lindsey Davis
Wolf in the Shadows by Marcia Muller
Split Code by Dorothy Dunnett

Favorite Fantasy

Earthsea novels by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Favorite Women’s Fiction

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Favorite YA Book

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Igraine the Great by Cornelia Funke
Attolia series by Megan Whalen Turner

Favorite Set of Connected Books

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Falco mysteries by Lindsey Davis
Sharon McCone mysteries by Marcia Muller

Book Most Often Reread

Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett
Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Favorite Nonfiction

Wild Swans by Jung Chang
I Only Say This Because I Love You by Deborah Tannen

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