Three Cheers for Category Romance

It is no secret that I love romance novels. I started reading Harlequins when I was 13, eventually branching out to longer romance novels and then the subgenres of romance as time went on. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve read a lot of category romance.

That changed this week as I experienced the next step in the Uterus Chronicles (Episode 3, not yet written). After surgery, in the hospital, the first day I couldn’t do much but deal with the waves of pain and the waves of pain relief in the form of Percocet. Once my vision settled down though (everything rolled upwards – impossible to read the entire first day), I was ready to be entertained.

Though my hubby was ready and willing to entertain me, my brain wasn’t really in a chatty mood so I turned to the stack of category novels I’d brought with me. About half of them I’d picked up at the Romance Writers of America Conference in late July.

They were perfect. Fast reads, just detailed enough to drag me out of my circumstances, and yet short enough to give me a sense of accomplishment when I was done. I don’t remember when I read what, but from Wednesday through Friday, I read nine category-length novels. (There was no way in hell I was able to put my own words on paper; this seemed to be the next best thing.)

Here’s a sampling of what I read:

cover of Night After Night by Kathy LyonsNight After Night by Kathy Lyons , Harlequin Blaze April 2012

I picked this up at conference the night of the booksigning. I’d met Kathy Lyons at RT in Anaheim 2011, and found her to be a hoot and a half. I’d nabbed one of her plastic cell phone holders, and use it every day at the day job, so I had to tell her about it. That she writes for Blaze is a bonus. (And I bumped into Brenda Chin while talking to Kathy, so that was fun!)

The novel? Loved it. An intriguing premise of two strangers sharing intimate dreams, which freaks out our sexy military hero; outside of sex, what secrets is he unknowingly sharing as he sleeps? Our heroine is no slouch in the dream department; nor is she a “typical” heroine, in that she has real physical issues. This novel weaves to a very satisfying, very romantic ending.

Tall, Dark & Reckless by Heather MacAllister  Harlequin Blaze, July 2012cover of Tall, Dark and Reckless by Heather MacAllister

I started reading this one prior to surgery, and didn’t finish it until a couple of days later, so it took me a bit to get back into the rhythm of it. That said, I enjoyed it. Mark’s a journalist who tends to go with his gut (i.e., get a bit reckless in the field). Piper is a compatibility expert hired to find the perfect partner for Mark. Now, any reader of category knows these two will get together in the end. What was interesting was HOW they got past all their barriers to accept they belonged together.

This novel had the danger element in a Mexican drug trafficker that Mark needs to put down.  While it wasn’t military, it had a military – or at least special ops – feel to it. Putting Piper in with a guy like Mark felt kinda like Carrie Bradshaw showing up in a Mission Impossible movie. Well, not really, but I had my doubts going into it. The writing, however, made everything work, so Kudos to Heather!

cover of More Than He ExpectedMore Than He Expected by Andrea Laurence Harlequin Desire, July 2012

Another book I picked up at RWA 2012, I must say this book charmed the socks off me.  Who wouldn’t love a playboy who melts, gets all protective and aroused around a pregnant woman? And not just any pregnant woman, but the one he had a no-strings-attached affair with, 8 months ago? Alex the wealthy, hardworking playboy and Gwen the nurse are two wonderful characters, and their story is a delight to read.

The baby isn’t his (but I can’t say more). As these two renew their acquaintance at a house party in the Hamptons, sparks fly, and it only takes a few days for love to flare between them. After I finished it, I put this book down with a happy sigh. Well-written, it evokes a lifestyle I’ve envied, and I truly enjoyed watching Gwen get pampered and Alex losing his heart to her.

Exquisite Acquisitions by Charlene Sands Harlequin Desire, August 2012cover of Exquisite Attractions by Charlene Sands

This book has a little bit of everything in it that I love. Auction houses, New York City, Hollywood, Cowboys, huge cattle ranches. Wealthy rancher Carter McCay hits up the auction house to buy one of the famous Tarlington diamond rings. He gets one ring, but not the girl…Macy Tarlington just wants to hide, and grieve, until the hoopla around the auction of her legendary actress mother’s things dies down.

Carter rescues Macy from a flock of paparazzi and invites her to escape to Wild River Ranch. She accepts this offer from a stranger, and both of their lives are changed forever. This is a jewel of a book, filled with surprises and delights as well as two strong main characters. I enjoyed every inch of their romance.

At a time when I was in and out of pain, when my brain cells were still shaking off  anesthesia and I didn’t want to talk or watch TV but was desperate for a way out of my own head, category romance came to my rescue. There is just no way I could have followed bigger stories set on other planets (for instance) with multiple characters – my brain couldn’t have, WOULDN’T have, been able to process it.

My thanks and gratitude to all category writers everywhere.

~~~

Do you read category romance? Do you have a favorite line?

Thanks for stopping by! 

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14 Responses to Three Cheers for Category Romance

  1. Robena Grant says:

    Fabulous, Christine. Thanks for the overview. I don’t read a lot of category but I always pick up Charlene Sands, Lynne Marshall, and Carol Ericson’s books. As you mentioned they are a fast read. Perfect for when you’re deep into your own writing, or copyedits, but need a break. I’ve been known to stretch out on the couch around 3pm thinking I’ll read a few chapters and then I miss dinner, snack on everything around, and read until the book is finished.
    Glad you’re feeling better and can put hospital behind you. Take it easy though. Don’t rush things. I can see more reading in your near future. ; )

  2. Dear Christine – So glad you are on the mend. Here’s to a speedy recovery, my friend. I hope you’re up and about soon and putting your lovely words to paper. You’re so sweet to include my book in with your category reads. I love reading category too..the stories are amazingly compelling and sometimes complex, yet always deliver grand emotion and happy endings.

    Take care and hope to see you soon!!

    Charlene

    • Christine says:

      Charlene I am a total fan of yours! I’ve got a couple of Lynne Marshall’s books, too, that I read while still in the hospital – just haven’t gotten them up on the blog yet, but it’ll happen.

  3. Please feel better soon!!! I ended up buying the books after reading this post – they all sounded so good, glad you could take your mind off things with some happy reads. Best wishes!

  4. Brinda says:

    I ate, drank, and slept category romance as a teen. Later, I branched out to other genres, but I’ll always love category. I hope you are recovering well. I’m sure the romance reading helped. :)

    • Christine says:

      Of COURSE reading romance helped me get better. It dropped my blood pressure, raised my hemoglobin levels, and enabled me to get out of the slammer< ?strike> hospital, lol.

    • Christine says:

      Of COURSE reading romance helped me get better. It dropped my blood pressure, raised my hemoglobin levels, and enabled me to get out of the slammer hospital, lol.

  5. 1) I hope you’re feeling better and continue to with each passing day. *hugs* May this mark the end to your health challenges.

    2) I don’t tend to read category except for a few I’ve picked up at conferences, but I’ve found sweet traditional Regencies, which are also quick, fairly straightforward love stories, are great for when I’m sick or waiting for my migraine pills to knock me out. Perhaps I’ll stock up on categories as well for such reading emergencies!

    • Christine says:

      Teresa, I swear this is it. I am done, now, with the health issues! Only good news and healthy attitude from here on out.

      As for reading category, I read more of it when I had a local bookstore. Now that I don’t, I don’t pick it up as often, unless a friend’s book comes out and then of course I will. But since I’ve been wanting to dive back into category, I really need to read more category, yes? Hence the focus! Hugs dear!

  6. Maria Powers says:

    I used to read more of it, but occasionally I go back to it just the way you did. At a time when you need a good read, but a quick one. I loved them when I was younger and I appreciate them now because they are there when I need a pick me up now.

    • Christine says:

      I wish Harlequin would put the category novels in grocery stores. I would SO add a book or two a week to my grocery cart, and I bet I’m not the only one.

  7. Thanks for the great review, Christine! I saw it over on Amazon as well and I really appreciate the kind words. I’m so glad you picked up a copy of More Than He Expected at RWA and enjoyed it. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Since I published, one of the only times I get to read is when I’m sick or recovering, so I understand.

    Andrea

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