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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Discussion: Never Forget Your First Time

Hi everyone, welcome to a new event on Buried Under Romance - Saturday Discussion!

They say you never forget your first time. I was eleven when it happened, under the big brass bed in my parents' guest bedroom, during a thunderstorm. I’d known I was in for something I’d never experienced before, something unknown and thrilling, a grand adventure my parents would stop if they could. My father disapproved of the whole idea, and my mother had told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was too young for something this adult, and yet…and yet, the object of my desire called to me, a siren song I could not refuse.

Between those covers –the covers of my very first historical romance novel- I found what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life. So far, so good. With book in one hand and flashlight in the other, I traveled back in time, to the misty Highlands of Scotland, took a sea journey to find myself plunged into the splendor and intrigue of the Ottoman Empire. Within those pages, I lived a life far removed from my suburban upbringing, and I learned that people who lived hundreds of years and thousands of miles away from me wanted the same things. Love, adventure, family, security, purpose and friendship are universal, not restricted to any one time or place, which means the possibilities for a great romance story are unlimited. That’s great, because we have a lot to discuss.

My name is Anna Bowling, and I'm a romance writer, romance blogger, romance reader, and most of all, romance lover. The only thing as fun as writing or reading a great romance novel is talking about them, and that's why I'm excited to be here with all of you for the first of our Saturday discussions. Every week, we'll have a new topic concerning the books and authors who contribute to the romance genre we all love, so get comfy and get ready to share your favorites. 

As this is our first time together, it’s only fitting that we examine how we got here. Though I’d always gravitated to fairy tales and myths about star-crossed lovers, my love affair with romance novels began when I stole a copy of The Kadin by Bertrice Small from my mother’s nightstand, and there was no turning back. I pilfered my mother's nightstand until she knew there was nothing that could keep me from reading my new favorite genre. I scoured the library, flea markets, bookstores both new and used, and, when the time came to begin writing my own stories, there was no doubt in my mind what genre was right for me. While historical romance is and always will be my favorite, I've read wonderful stories set in the past, present, and future, as well as in mystical worlds of the imagination. Romance novels open the door to countless lifetimes of love, and I can't think of a better way to spend my reading time. 

So, dear readers, how did you come to be buried under romance? Do you remember your first romance novel? How did you find it? What romance novel would you recommend to a reader who's new to the genre?  Tell us everything; we're dying to know. 


  1. This is such a great idea, it's always fun talking romance! I was always a reader when I was younger, but my love of romance books came when I was 12 and my Aunt was moving to Australia. She had a box of books that she was taking to the charity shop and said I could have any of them. Buried at the bottom was a bright pink book with a picture of a couple- Roarke's Wife by Beverley Barton. It was an old Mills & Boon contemporary book (honestly I can't even remember if it was very good) and it set me off on my romance journey. Then when I was about 15 I read Minx by Julia Quinn and I was lost to the world of historical romance!
    I always think that pretty much any book by Julia Quinn would be such a brilliant introduction to anyone looking to read their first historical romance. It certainly worked for me :)

  2. Brava! Awesome story...why haven't I heard of you before?! I will come back later to share with you my first experience, I have been up all night, Mary knows I am unable to sleep at times...I just wanted to say that I truly enjoyed reading your introduction to Saturday Discussion!

  3. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Juanita, I would love to hear all about your first experience. Hope you can get some good sleep soon. I'm glad we've met.

    Cerian, what a great story. Thanks for sharing it, and I think there are quite a few people who would agree about Quinn being a popular gateway to romance.

  4. I grew up in a family of voracious readers, only they were mysteries and westerns rather than romance. But seeing parents who enjoyed reading really paved the way for that same love in me. It was pleasure rather than punishment to read the assigned books throughout school, and novels like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and even The Odyssey made me want more romance. I was 16 when my friend nabbed a book from her mom's romance novel stash - The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh. We devoured it in true "we've got something forbidden" form over the course of a weekend. I could picture the powerful but troubled Marquess of Staunton and the desperately poor and seemingly plain Charity as their story toward surprising love unfolded. It was like a movie playing in my mind, all for me. I sighed, got angry, and even teared up a little as I read. This was what a story should do! It was one thing to analyze the composition and discuss the metaphors of a novel in class, but another entirely to breathe in a story and exhale the experience.
    To anyone just dipping their toes into romance, I would recommend Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels, or Stephanie Laurens' Devil's Bride (in addition to the above Mary Balogh).

  5. Hi Anna! Welcome to Buried Under Romance!

    As for me I came late into the Romance genre at 15. Well, that's late for me for my young age. But anyways, I've always said my first romance book was by Stephanie Laurens, What Price Love? bok #13 from her Cynster series, but was it really my first? No, it was not. My very Very first book was only a couple of weeks before I read Ms. Laurens' book and it was by the amazing Barbara Delinsky in her book, Twilight Whispers.

    How did I come to find it was an accident. It wasn't really an accident when I picked it up and bought the book but was more of an accident in picking it up from the Romance genre. I didn't know what the Romance genre was or what it held so tell me surprise when I started reading them, most definitely Ms. Laurens'.

    Why did I pick them up? Well, I needed a book to read for my Sophomore English class that's why. But I am curious at what my English teacher's thoughts were when HE read my summaries for every chapter of the book! LOL

    But for newcomers into the genre I'll have to say Stephanie Laurens' first 6 books in her Bar Cynster series, starting with Devil's Bride. Another great author is Lisa Kelypas and her Historical romances; Then Came You, Dreamimg of You, Scandal in Spring, Devil in Winter. And you can't forget Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series!!! Plus Madeline Hunter's The Rarest Blooms series is one if my favorites, and lastly, Shana Galen, I absolutely love her Lord and Lady Spy.

  6. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 24, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    Hi, Ki Pha, it's lovely to be here. Sounds like you had a wonderful introduction to the genre; Delinsky and Laurens are both classics. I can only imagine your teacher's reaction to that chapter by chapter summary.

    Renee, that was beautifully put, breathing in the story and exhaling the experience. I couldn't agree more that reading parents often raise reading kids. I also have to give a happy sigh at the mention of Mary Balogh. I'm listening to her More Than a Mistress now.

  7. Hi Anna! I followed you over from the Lion and Thistle. :)
    My first romance is a complicated story. I remember when I was a teenager and found Victoria Holt. I'm not sure what the name of the book was but it was about a heroine with a missing fiance and she had to travel halfway across the world to help save him. Loved it, kept reading more Holt but they tended to blur together. I also specialized in medieval romances, mainly having anything to do with the Plantagenets and England. There were a lot of bastard sons of nobles taking over run-down castles and winning the hearts of the fiery heiress. :)
    Later, I veered off into SF and mystery. I came back to romance via JD Robb and Jenny Crusie but I started reading historical again when I met Katy Cooper online. She'd written a medieval romance for Harlequin in which Arthur Tudor (King Henry VIII's older brother) never died and continued to rule England. The book, Prince of Hearts, focused on Arthur and Henry's younger brother, Edmund. And there was a sequel, Lord Sebastian's Wife. I loved them both. (You can still find them both on Amazon.) Then I started reading Regencies by Christine Merrill, a fellow fan of Jenny Crusie's, and loved them and I went back into reading romance again.
    I spent part of last winter inhaling every Amanda Quick I could find. :)

  8. I liked reading historical fiction when I was in high school back in the 70's. The first novel that steered me toward historical romance was 'Katherine', by Anya Seton. It was the story of the romance of John of Ghent, the Duke of Lancaster and his long-term mistress. Now I have to hunt it down in the public library to re-read it. I have long since lost my copy.

  9. I'M BACK! And I did get my needed sleep! Well, my first historical romance was Mine Till Midnight of the, The Hathaways, by Lisa Kleypas...My husband and I were homeless at the time, I was in my early 40' in our sister had given me the book to read and keep, from there I read every author I could find in the genre of regency period then O' My Gosh!...HIGHLANDERS! And then, MAIL ORDER BRIDES! I even read paranormal and mystery! Because I wasn't working I spent my days at the library waiting for Harry to end his work day...I was blessed to have a STARBUCKS next door to the library, I was averaging 5 novels a week, excited to talk with Harry about the storytelling and how the authors wrote their story...descriptive writing for the imagination was my favorite...

  10. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 24, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    Linda, I think I'm going to have to read that one, too. I love a love story that plays out over years like that.

    Corrina, great to see you here! I'm glad you mentioned Katy Cooper's alternate history historical romances; very inventive and very romantic. She's a great storyteller.

  11. I love "Katherine." :)

  12. How interesting, Juanita! Lisa Kleypas was my first too! :D Stranger in My Arms. :)

  13. LOL Cerian, you know, I think I read the manga form of some Mills & Boon works before I actually read any romance novels. lol~ Julia Quinn's A Night Like This was what really got me into this genre.

  14. Pride and Prejudice is probably my first "historical romance," though I've always classified it as a classic. :) I definitely need to read The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh then! I went on a Balogh marathon a while back but didn't get through too many of her 60+ novels. lol~

    I second your recommendation of Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels and Stephanie Laurens' Devil's Bride!

  15. I'm off to try to find a copy of The Kadin! Thanks for the recommendation, Anna~ :)

    So, sometime when I was 16 and in my second year of high school, I picked up my first historical romance - Lisa Kleypas's Stranger in My Arms. The pretty cover attracted me and without knowing the content of the book I picked it up and read it, and for a time, I borrowed a few other romance novels. But only 3-4. Then, in the summer before my senior year, I went to buy books on the iBooks store for the first time, and Julia Quinn's A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith #2) caught my attention, after which I began to read historical romance in huge quanities, obsessively, for the rest of the summer. I ended up reading 50 historical romance that summer, from The Bridgerton series to Lorraine Heath, to Sherry Thomas, ending with Mary Jo Putney's The Rake. Once school commenced, I continued reading historical romance - one book daily - and later decided to become a reviewer. :) The rest, they say, is history, but I will never forget my first historical romance books.

  16. Thanks for doing this discussion, Anna! I am so glad you're a part of the Buried Under Romance family now. ^_^

  17. I love Lisa Kleypas' Stranger in my Arms! I have read this multiple times as well... LOL

  18. When I was in 6th grade, I had started reading adult books (Michael Crichton and the like) but it was a year later (1998) when I found a used bookstore which sold a ton of Harlequin Romance. I started with contemporary and a few paranormals but when I picked up the very first Harlequin Historical, I was sold.

    The very first book that I read is Fortune Hunter by Deborah Simmons. This remains one of my faves. In fact, I bought another copy since I wasn't able to bring my old copy when I moved to another country.

  19. I was in 5th grade. I was snooping around in my older brother's room and found a book. The cover showed the naked torso of a man and a sword. I looked up to my brother and I figured that if he was reading it, then so should I. It turned out to be a historical romance and I was blown away. It's a shame I don't recall the title. I've had a love for historical romance since then.

  20. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Juanita, I'm so glad you got your sleep! There's nothing like a great romance to get us through the rough patches of life; happy endings gauranteed are greatly encouraging.

  21. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Mary, I have never read romance manga, but it sounds like a fun new way to experience favorite stories. Which would you recommend?

  22. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Hi, Alyn, and how cool that you came to romance through a book your brother read.

  23. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Zeee, now that's dedication, hunting down your first book in a different country. I had to give a happy sigh at the mention of a UBS. I could get lost in one of those for days.

  24. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Mary Chen, I sure am glad you picked up that first romance novel, so we could have Buried Under Romance today. Fifty historical romances in one summer sounds like the best summer ever. I'm glad I'm in the Buried Under Romance family, too. Already feels like home.

  25. I actually did this for a few other books that I loved.. LOL those available as ebook I purchased again and those that aren't I bought thru amazon.. I'm geeky like that... :)

  26. My memory is a bit dodgy on this one because I read my first historical romance as a serial in my grandmothers ladies magazines so simply cant remember.She would have a whole stack of them and I went directly to the serial every time lol.

    Furthermore she also kept a whole historical paranormal romance series of 20+ books hidden in her wardrobe.

    So I cant help but wonder if that is where I got my love of reading from.

    My first "real" historical romance book was "Highland Velvet" by Jude Deveraux wich I got from a fleamarket. Must have been oh about 14 years old or so.I remember re-readingt the already tattered and worn copy several times.

  27. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:50 PM

    You and me both. For some favorite books, I own reading copies and lending copies. One can never buy a favorite book too often.

  28. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 25, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    That's two high recommendations. Definitely going to have to read it now.



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