Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Let's get it started in here!

While my friends here in bloglandia are avid romance readers (hi all!!!), my local pals are not of the same persuasion. There is one who dabbles in the world of romance, venturing out on the Nora Roberts branch of the Romance tree. Otherwise, my friends quite actively avoid romance (expect, perhaps, to mock it.) I'm not sure what exactly it is that that makes them scoff at the most purchased genre in publication. Is it the bad euphemisms (sword of virility, plushy love glove, purple-headed staff)? Is it bodice-ripper connotations? Is it the blush inducing cover art that they fear bringing on public transportation? What is it that keeps them from reading an entire genre of literature? I believe that much of it is ignorance and the misconception that a romance novel is a slapped together, second rate story with sex. The belief that gratuitous sex makes up for a lack of quality writing.

So how do we disabuse them of this notion? By recommending fabulous reading material, of course. By providing these skeptics with the starter pack of romance novels. This begs the question: What would be in your "Starter Pack of Romance"? For me this would have to include:

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard
The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne (yes, I finally read it!)

But what else would I add? This will require some serious consideration. You would want to provide books with quality writing that span a variety of sub genres. You may want to provide a specific order in which they should be read, starting with the least graphic sex, leading up to the most explicit. Maybe start with an urban fantasy that includes romantic elements (Mercy Thompson, perhaps) and end with an erotic novel (Ellora's Cave?)

For all those out there that we love who do not share our reading preferences (and they are legion), what would be in your starter pack? Pick 5-10 titles. You can explain you reasoning or just provide the list, but tell me, how would you get them started?


Bev(QB) said...

Shannon, I think the best way is to start with baby steps:

What genre do they normally read? Start there and give them recs that add a romantic element rather than a book that is romance centered.

Futuristic sci-fi? Try Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (there may be others, but that's not a sub-genre I'm a big fan of)

Fantasy? Try Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series or Anne Bishop's Black Jewels

Your idea for Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series is also an excellent starting point that will ease them into romantic elements.

Suspense? Definitely go with Linda Howard or Elizabeth Lowell, particularly the later books where the romance plays a lesser role to the suspense.

If they particularly like police procedurals, I KNOW there are some out there with romantic elements, but damned if any are popping into my head right now.

But, like I said, the key is to start with the genre they read the most and gradually add in books with more romance.

little alys said...

I cater to friends and their tastes and in my encounters, I usually look at authors and pick books that the specific friend may or may not like.

Maybe Lisa Kleypas or Julia Quinn for historical.

Nalini Singh, Robin Owen, Marjorie Liu or Meljean Brooks for sci-fi/fantasy and paranormal.

Donno, I'll think on it some more. :)

Christine said...

Great topic, Shannon. I'll give some more thought to my suggested starter pack and either come back or make a post on my blog. Either way, I'll let you know...

But in the meantime, I think Bev's suggestion is a great one. Find out what elements are a common trend in their current reading genres and make a few suggestions from there.

To fill in Bev's blank on police procedurals: How about the In Death series by J.D. Robb?

Stacy~ said...

I agree that it's important to find out what the person currently enjoys reading and go from there. If they like women's fiction or even stuff like Jodi Picoult, they might enjoy Lisa Kleypas' "Sugar Daddy".

Fantasy - definitely Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy or C.L. Wilson's "Lord of the Fading Lands".

Military suspense - nobody better than Brockmann, imho.

Futuristic and/or cop stories, I also agree on JD Robb, starting with "Naked In Death".

Historical epics? Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series.

Westerns? Why not be daring and go for Sarah McCarty's "Caine's Reckoning"?

Humor? Janet Evanovich's Plum series, or even MaryJanice Davidson's "Undead & Unwed".

Hope that helps.

Bev(QB) said...

Just thought of another good one to start someone off-- Catherine Coulter's FBI series is romantic suspense and police procedural.

The later ones particularly have less romance and, unlike many of those we've all mentioned, the men play as important a role as the women and there is usually a lot of good natured banter between them.

Since you didn't say if any of your friends have dangly bits, books with prominent male leads might be a good place to start the guys off on the path to romance.

Kristie (J) said...

I always think of Naked in Death by JD Robb. It's a suspense - but romantic enough for them to get hooked.

Katie(babs) said...

CL Wilson and Meljean Brook definitely.

Ana said...

I would suggest Julia Quinn. I was not a romance reader until recently and she was the one to convince me. The Duke and I or The Lost Duke of Whyndham would be my recommendations.

As for Fantasy, definitely Lord of the Fading Lands.

Carolyn Jean said...

Great question! I would MOST definitely start them with Bitten by Kelley Armstrong if they are used to more literary fare. That is by far the most literary of the paranormals - more so than Briggs, I'd say - excellent writing and HOT. You could also start them on a Sookie Stackhouse.

Outlander is also an excellent gateway book.