Historicals – Fiction and Romance - are and always have been my first love, although I do branch out occasionally and read in other genres. I’m a musician, although I don’t play as much as I used to; and I live on the East Coast of England with my husband and teenaged daughters (both of whom love to read). When I’ve not got my nose in a book, I’ve got my ears in one, as I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and am rarely to be found without my earbuds in.
And pretty much anything by Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Courtney Milan
Sharon Penman - The Sunne in Splendour - Over thrirty years old, but still the best piece of HF about Richard III in existence.
Dorothy Dunnett's Six-book Lymond Chronicles- Amazingly detailed and well-plotted HF featuring one of the most beloved fictional heroes ever created.
Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.
Anything by Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins or Charles Dickens.
What I Love in a Romance
Given I read mostly historicals, a strong sense of time and place is really important to me in whatever I read. Fluff and wallpaper historicals have their place, but I like an historical to pay more than lip-service to the monicker.
Smart-mouthed damaged heroes.
Intelligent, dignified heroines who give as good as they get without being curl-tossing TSTL foot-stampers.
Sexual tension off the charts. Some authors can do more with an accidental touch or kiss than many can with an entire sex scene. If the tension is good, then I don't need to read explicit sex scenes.
What I Hate in a Romance
Immature heroines - not necessarily young heroines (Marian in Carla Kelly's Marian's Christmas Wishis only seventeen, but very mature for her age).
Books in which the heroine runs rings around the hero as a way of making her look good. While he looks like an idiot.
Hero and heroine whose "banter" feels forced or consists mostly of insults.
Overly contrived plot-devices.
American words and phrases in books set in 19th Century England. It's not difficult to look this stuff up and find out that we don't have sidewalks, stores or pants.
A Bit More About Me
Before I started reading romances in a big way, the bulk of my reading diet was made up of 19th Century literature - Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope - probably my favourite of the lot - Wilkie Collins and a number of other, lesser known authors whose books I used to find in second hand bookshops in London. This is why, I suspect, that I gravitate almost wholly towards historicals in my romance reading; I feel so comfortable in the world of 18th and 19th Century England and Europe that it's where I like to hang out in my imagination!
Being a musician by training - and sometimes by profession - means that I am always drawn to books in which one or other of the protagonists is musical. Give me a hero who is also a virtuoso pianist and I'm reduced to a piece of mush on the carpet. (I'm looking at YOU,Valentine Windhamand YOU,Simon St. Maur!)