Reading For Pleasure: My Top 5 Favorite Authors

By now, most people know I’m a lover of romance novels. I’ve been trying for years to break down some of the stigma and erase the shame. The truth is, I need romance novels to survive, and if they didn’t exist, I would have to invent them. The very reasons I need them all year round is what makes them so great for summer vacation beach reading: They take you away from your daily reality, they erase whatever little niggling annoyances are bouncing around your brain, and in the end they give you a shot of something strong (perhaps dopamine?) and empowering to send you back into the fray, recharged and ready to take on whatever challenge is before you.

So here are my top 5 favorite romance authors. Another truth: I don’t care what the title of the book is, I just care who wrote it…because the author has created the world I am entering, and after reading a few of her books, I know her world. I recognize many of the characters and look forward to whatever adventures and scandals lie between the pages. I’m not putting my daughter Maya on this list (it wouldn’t seem fair), but she does have a new book coming out this fall! From Avon! And her first two books were delightful as well. Suffice it to say she is my most favorite romance author of all.

1. Eloisa James—Right now she’s on the best-seller list with A Duke of Her Own, the story of Villiers—which we have all been breathlessly awaiting. It’s one of many books that are part of her latest series. The point is, books by Eloisa James (by day, Mary Bly, Shakespearean professor), are funny, poignant, sexy, and filled with surprises.

2. Julia Quinn—She’s funny, sparkling, and delightful. Her newest book What Happens in London is not my all-time favorite of hers, but honestly, who cares. They are all really great.

3. Loretta Chase—I will never be able to hear the term “privy counselor” again without laughing (at least to myself). And her book Lord of Scoundrels is often hailed as one of the all-time greats.

4. Gaelen Foley—I haven’t read her latest, My Wicked Marquess—but it’s on my reading pile, right after I finish with a new author (who I won’t recommend until I’m done reading). When you read more than 40 romances a year, as I do, you need new authors in the lineup all the time. Gaelen Foley is someone I might not run to, but when I finally do read her, I am always really glad I did.

5. Susan Elizabeth Phillips—If you’d told me a few years ago that I would wait, with bated breath and longing, for contemporary romances about football heroes, I would have scoffed, laughed, and rolled my eyes. But she makes it all so over-the-top funny, and somehow interesting, that I can’t help but love her stories.

My personal theory is that The New York Times separated its paperback bestseller list into two separate lists so serious literary fiction wouldn’t have to get polluted by popular romance fiction (and other good stuff). And then they wonder why everyone is depressed all the time! My recommendation: Avoid pills, read a book with a happy ending instead. And they’re available without a prescription right in your local supermarket!

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17 Responses to Reading For Pleasure: My Top 5 Favorite Authors

  1. Maya August 17, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    I heartily endorse romance novels, and these authors!

  2. June August 17, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    Definitely an emotional getaway!
    And I was thinking you were going to recommend something more like “The $64 Tomato” by William Alexander. It made me roll with laughter at the truth and irony of gardening in the Northeast (and other areas, too!)

  3. Noelle August 17, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    I just finished reading “The Last Promise” by Richard Paul Evans. A wonderful read….I think you’ll enjoy it even if it is written by a male….
    I noted that all the authors you had chosen were female. If you haven’t
    read any by R.P.E., you are missing out!!!

  4. dina August 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Oh my – I’m a total addict. Have you tried Francine Rivers yet? Her book Redeeming Love is perhaps the BEST romance I’ve ever read. Sigh!

  5. Steph August 17, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    One of my favorite authors growing up was a romance novelist named Victoria Holt. She wrote the best historical romance novels, but sadly, most of them are out of print. If you ever stumble across one in a used bookstore, it’s definitely worth a read!

  6. June August 18, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Victoria Holt…I think I must have read every one of those years ago. I loved those but haven’t looked for them in a long time. Thanks for reminding me to maybe try to find them again. Good read!

  7. Helen August 18, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    I believe Victoria Holt also wrote as Jean Plaidy and all her books were very popular in UK

  8. Heather August 18, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    I just finished rereading all my Bertrice Small books and am currently working my through the Kathleen Woodiwiss ones. You’re right – they are great escapist reads, especially if the author has the gift of bringing the characters and time period to life. I’m thinking after Woodiwiss, moving on to Jude Devereaux – it’s been a while since I’ve read those lol

  9. Ellen August 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    I love Loretta Chase, but my most favorite author of all is Mary Balogh. Her older out of print books are somewhat collectible, and go for outrageous prices on ebay. If you are into regency period books, she has the best plots, the best characters you will find in any romance book period.

  10. maria (farm country kitchen) August 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    I LOVE Kathleen Woodiwiss and Mary Balogh too!

  11. Molly August 20, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    The book “eat, pray, love” by Elizabeth Gilbert is a fun read.

  12. khadijah October 20, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    you didnt add julie garwood and johanna lindsey i love their books. AS FOR SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS she is juat great esp “it had to be you” my favourite of all time

  13. Vanessa November 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Add Debbie Macomber to that list…it’s all feel-good knitting and baking and happy endings…

  14. Linda November 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    As an English teacher, Romance novels are my secret guilty pleasure. I read them when my brain is fried from work stress. Much better than vegging out on trash t.v. Katherine Eagle, when she is writing about Native American men, is one of my favorites.

  15. Sue January 26, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    Girls, try Nancy Thayer and Judith Henry Wall, great authors and reads. I have several Victoria Holt books (gothics) and yes, she did write historical fiction books as Jean Plaidy. Jean’s books were re-released as paper backs and can be found in book stores.

  16. Vivian February 1, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    I have read alot of romance novels, but the two authors that knocked my socks off were Judith McNaught and Jane Feather.

  17. Cathy May 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    My favorite comfort reads are Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. I’ve read many of them over and over. Interestingly, they’re DH’s comfort reads, also. (He started reading them because I was giggling over them.)

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