Earlier this month I re-read Pride & Prejudice for the first time in over 10 years. I had a completely different experience reading it as a 30-something historical romance reader than as a college-aged English Literature major. Somehow it was wittier, more romantic and subtle, more sly and tongue-in-cheek than I remembered it being. Of course I fell in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again and vowed to never again let so much time pass before re-reading Pride & Prejudice.
It’s officially on my read-it-again romance list, and yes, I have a real list. It’s small at the moment, just a few select favorites that I turn to every year (sometimes less, sometimes more) when I need a little something that I know I can always find within its pages.
Sometimes it’s a light-hearted romp, with nothing but two people falling in love with laughter, like Elizabeth Boyle’s Mad About the Duke or Tessa Dare’s A Week to be Wicked. They’re romance novels at their uncomplicated best. Conflict is cursory and the real reason I read them is for the banter, the witty back-and-forth, and the knowledge that these two people are already in love, they just need to discover it. I happily devour Minerva and Colin’s love-on-the-road odd-couple story in A Week, which of course uses one of my favorite romantic tropes: the bluestocking and the rake finding love. They restore my faith in romance and remind me that sometimes it’s simple and straight-forward, much as it is with Elinor and James in Mad About the Duke. These novels feel like warm cozy hugs on cold rainy days and never smile to leave me smiling like a dope for days afterward.
Other times I’m drawn to romantic angst in all its gut-wrenching, stomach-churning glory. I love feeling the kind of turmoil that comes along with unrequited love, as in Sherry Thomas’ Fitzhugh Trilogy, especially Ravishing the Heiress. Every time I read Millie’s unspoken and unending love for Fitz my heart beats faster, my nails are bitten down to nothing, and I have to stop and remind myself it’s going to be ok in the end. I have yet to review it because when I try all that comes out is…ALL THE FEELINGS!!! I recently experienced that again after reading When He Was Wicked, Francesca’s story in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I’ve just put it down but I already know I’ll be picking it up whenever I need to feel the extreme highs and lows that come with long, enduring love.
Then there are some novels whose appeal I can’t quite classify but are just so absolutely satisfying that they’re like a sleeve of Thin Mints at the start of Girl Scout cookie season. They’re just right. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Sarah MacLean’s first Love by Numbers book) is the epitome of the perfect romance for me, and again I’ll say for me, because one woman’s perfect dessert is another’s idea of worthless calories. I know that when I need them, Callie and Ralston will be there to give me a reading hangover the likes of which are unparalleled by any other I’ve ever experienced. I sing this book’s praises to everyone I want to bring over the romance dark?light? side and have already created a convert or two. Lisa Kleypas’ A Devil in Winter is also in this inexplicable category. Although I enjoyed the Wallflower series overall, I reach for A Devil more times than I can count, needing my brooding hero fix.
Now that you know enough about me to determine whether or not we could ever be friends (books say a lot about us, after all), I’m curious: What are your read-it-again favorites?
I tweeted this question and got some great responses (here are a few):
@WnRBookReviews Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale, Glitterland by Alexis Hall, Fanta C by Sandra Brown.
— Elisabeth Lane (@elisabethjlane) July 30, 2015
@WnRBookReviews Oh so many! Currently re-reading Faking It by Jennifer Crusie for the umpteenth time. Anything by Crusie, really.
— Tall Girl in Boston (@ThatTallFriend) July 30, 2015
@WnRBookReviews The Temporary Wife by Balogh, Nobody’s Baby But Mine by SEP. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.
— Mary Lynne Nielsen (@emmelnie) July 31, 2015
I’m giving away a copy of two of my favorites–A Week to Be Wicked and Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake–to two lucky commenters. To enter, leave a comment with your email address and the names of the romance novels you reach for again and again.