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Check It Out

Courier Article by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, September 16, 2001

Romance Fiction

I've been researching romance fiction in preparation for the appearance of author Teresa Medeiros, who lives in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She will be speaking at Red Bank Branch Library on Sept. 16 to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Though I'm not an avid reader of romance novels I do like an occasional break from heavier fare. A good romance is always fast, fun and leaves the reader satisfied with a happy ending. But there is a more serious side to this phenomenon and Medeiros will touch on the social and psychological issues of the Romance genre. Today's suggestions are centered around authors rather than titles. They've been highly recommended by a number of my romance-reading colleagues and library customers and are all available through your public library where romance is found not only in hardbacks and paperbacks, but also in videos, music and audiobooks.

Teresa Medeiros made the big jump from paperback to hardback romance fiction last year with the publication of The Bride and the Beast. Her latest hardback is A Kiss to Remember a Regency romp which involves a young woman about to be evicted from her home by the estranged son of her late benefactor. When she comes upon a handsome young man unconscious from a fall she gives him a kiss and, like Sleeping Beauty, he awakens but doesn't remember who he is. Our heroine takes him home and nurses him back to health and convinces him they are engaged to be married. If you enjoy lively humor, a bit of good clean sex and a lighthearted getaway, this is just the book for you. Also check out Medeiros's earlier works in paperback, especially Charming the Prince the story of an English lord who needs a woman to civilize his large brood of rebellious children.

Julia Quinn specializes in historical romances and has written three stories set in the same location and time period which all share a common family of characters. Their titles are: The Duke and I, The Viscount Who Loved Me and An Offer from a Gentleman. I think I detect a play on more famous titles here which tells me that Quinn is also has a sly sense of humor. More than 80 readers on Amazon.com have given The Duke and I rave reviews . One fan said "Jane Austen… would get a kick out of it". Many reviewers liked the fact that the usual villain was missing from this story, a nice change from the standard Regency formula.

Kristine Grayson has a number of popular fantasy romances that blend time periods on library shelves and like Teresa Medeiros she has used fairy tales as a jumping-off point for two delightful books Utterly Charming and Thoroughly Kissed both variations of Sleeping Beauty where a battle between a rival witch and wizard in the tenth century is being played out in the present day between a lady lawyer and a history professor. This is too complicated to explain.

Jill Marie Landis is another writer who has had great success in the paperback romance department and her first hardcover Summer Moon has just come out. At age 29 Kate Whittington is about to lose he only home (and teaching job) she has ever known in the Maine convent where her prostitute mother left her at age 9. On an impulse she answers an ad in a newspaper to become the mail-order bride of a rancher in Texas. This is an old plot but Landis's well-drawn characters and rich historical detail make it freshly appealing and heartwarming. If you like the works of LaVyrle Spencer and Kristin Hannah you might want to give this author a try.

Jennifer Crusie a favorite with fans of contemporary romance. Her latest, a hardback, is Fast Women which features a divorcee who discovers embezzlement, murder and love when she lands a job as a secretary at a seedy detective agency in her small Ohio town. Combining a little mystery with humor and romantic tension this book has a large cast of characters who sometimes verge on the wacky side. If you can remember not to take this too seriously and get overly analytical you will have more fun. Another highly recommended title from Crusie is Manhunting.

As a final recommendation, a reference librarian who loves science fiction as well as romance urges a look at a series by the ever-popular and prolific Jayne Ann Krentz. Crystal Flame, Shield's Lady and Sweet Starfire describe three entirely different and intriguing worlds that will transport you from the tried and true dramas on this planet to imaginative situations beyond your wildest dreams. This is escape reading at its most entertaining.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.