Challenge Accepted: 31 Days of Romance

31Days

One of my favorite authors, Sarah MacLean, is hosting a 31 days of romance series. Basically, she’s recommending romances that she loves – one per day for the entire month of December.

I love romances, but I am guilty of sticking to my list of a dozen or so romance authors. However, there are dry spells in my yearly calendar of new releases (yes, I keep a Google Doc) and sometimes it’s good to not only branch out in terms of authors, but also genres. Which is why I’m throwing down my imaginary gauntlet. 31 romances? Challenge accepted. 

I don’t expect to read a book a day, although I really wish I could. Jobs, husbands, holidays – they are just get in the way, right? Ha.

But I will read each book and provide my thoughts. I remember when I took a writing course with Sarah, almost a year ago I think, and she assigned us books to read and study all the time. The first was Jennifer Cruises’s Bet Me and I was totally convinced I was going to hate it.

First, I usually prefer historical romances. Oh, I love me a good contemporary (Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Bell Andre – you make my heart sing). However, Bet Me featured a type of heroine in Minerva (Min) Dobbs that I hadn’t spent a lot of time with. Min isn’t your typical beautiful, thin, graceful heroine. She’s real. She’s got curves and insecurities and attitude. And never in my life had I read a romance that included so many eating scenes and where the enjoyment of food became so central to the book.  It was a huge wake up call to all the different (and amazing) romance stories out in the world. And while I prefer to imagine myself in a fashionable ball gown waltzing the night away, there is just something about Min that stays with you. Maybe because she’s literally someone I could know. Maybe because I actually can relate (I’ve got curves, insecurities, and love to eat…I mean, have you seen my Instagram feed? #FoodLoversParadise). And maybe that’s why I’ve stayed away from those types of romances…because it hits a little too close to home and I want the fantasy. But there is nothing quite as sweet as reading about someone just like you falling madly in love. So Bet Me comes highly recommended.

The second book Sarah recommended was Lily Everett’s Sanctuary IslandAnother contemporary, but it seemed a bit more familiar to me than Bet Me. But that’s where Sarah got me again. In Sanctuary Island the hero (and he really is a hero) is incredibly disfigured after a terrible accident. I had read romances in the past that featured a hero with some kind of disability, although slight. I love my alpha males. This was really the first book that featured a hero that needed healing in a completely different way. I really fell in love with this book and ended up reading it’s sequel Shoreland Drive Additionally, reading this book opened me up the Survivor Series by Mary Balogh – each of her heros suffers from a great tragedy or illness and yet fights to find love. I’m not sure I would have read these books without having first read Lily Everett – so thank you, Lily and Sarah.

And so this is why I’m excited to embark on the 31 days of romance challenge. Some of the books I’ve read and may re-read because it’s been so long, but I’m looking forward to expanding my romance horizons just a little bit more. Won’t you join me? 🙂

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