Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 28 January 2017

Romantic Reads 2017




❤️❤️With Valentine's Day fast approaching, romance is in the air as we share our beloved romantic reads, with Linda and Neil also revealing some perfect dreamy locations to snuggle up. We'd love ❤️ to hear what you'll be reading (or re-reading) this Valentine's Day too...


Rae – As soon as it was decided we would share our favourite romantic reads, I knew I would chose Jojo Moyes runaway bestseller, Me Before You. In many ways Me Before You tears up the romantic fiction rulebook. For starters Will Traynor makes an unconventional hero, being a cynical quadriplegic, paralysed from the chest down, struggling to come to terms with his new life following a horrific motorcycling accident. Whilst bright, witty, Lou Clark, coasting directionless through life, is nothing like the driven, polished, stick thin women Will’s known in the past. Without creating a spoiler, the very plotline doesn’t follow a traditional romantic read. And yet… it’s a gloriously uplifting, punch-in-the-gut kind of novel, reminding us that love really knows no barriers.



Victoria - A romance novel that stayed with me for a long time is Redeeming
Love by Francine Rivers. Set during the Californian gold rush of 1850, it tells the story of Angel who was sold into prostitution as a child and survives by growing to hate men. She meets the religious Michael Hosea, who falls instantly in love with her. He believes it is a sign from God that his destiny is to marry and rescue her from her tragic existence. Slowly and steadily, through love, kindness and his dogged determination, he does. Redeeming Love is categorized as a Christian book, however, don't let this put you off if you are a non-believer or of a different faith. This is a powerful story, where the heroine struggles to feel worthy of being rescued, yet the hero refuses to give up. I loved the writing style of the author and the love, patience and loyalty Michael shows her. Some have found the circumstances of their marriage unpalatable, but I had no concerns and nor have the thousands of other readers who have devoured this award winning book in the past. I love it because I fell a little in love with Michael too, as when life gets tough we all need a hero who will catch us when we fall.


Linda - my fave romantic read is The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller.

Ignore the snipey reviews if you look this book up on Google/Amazon/wherever. It's like with many great romantic books (I'm thinking Gone with the Wind here) and there are those who read it who consider themselves too literary or something for such a novel, or that, perhaps, pure romance is too lightweight. But if you want to be transported to a different place, a different time, a set of emotions you thought you'd long buried then this is the book for you. It tells the story of Francesca Johnson, a married but lonely housewife, and Robert Kinkaid, a National Geographic photographer who comes to the area to
create a photographic essay on the iconic covered bridges of Madison County. They fall in love, helped along by the fact that Robert Kincaid has a romantic soul and a way with words to tell Francesca so. It's a very short book - more a novella at just over 170 pages - and is a mix of forbidden romance, mysterious beauty, and poignant sadness. The film is good but the book is better, and I'm left wondering how many little girls were named Madison because their mother had read this book??

And my most romantic location?

A beach in the moonlight. Preferably, this will be a soft sandy beach which still holds its warmth from the day, and the air will be balmy. What I love is the beam of light that powers towards you when you stand on a beach (the love of your life holding your hand, of course) as the moon rises - it has a unique sort of energy that stirs the soul. But if I can't have a warm underfoot, sandy, beach then I'll settle for any beach at midnight... winter beaches with a rough sea are good if the romantic couple are wrapped up warm.


Jennie - I don’t read many historical novels these
days but one I’ve read and re-read is KATHERINE by Anya Seton so many times I’ve lost count. Published over 60 years ago it has never lost its appeal and these days is regarded as an all-time classic.

Katherine Swynford, the naive orphan of a poor knight, arrives at the court of Edward III when she is just fifteen and it’s not long before she comes to the notice of the married John of Gaunt who is the love of her life.

Anya Seton was renowned for the amount of research she did for her books and what I love about Katherine is the fact that it is based on historical fact and the love between these two people was real. As the mistress and eventual wife of John of Gaunt her children were the direct ancestors of the Tudors and theStuarts. If you like historical fiction I urge you to read it and lose yourself for several hours in the medieval world of power, pleasure and passion Katherine found herself living in.


Gill - When choosing my favourite romantic read, I was going to go with one of my two all-time favourites: Jane Austin or Georgette Heyer. But then I realised that my go-to romance writer at the moment is Jennifer Crusie, someone a lot more recent and a little less known. Author of American romantic comedies, her plots, dialogues, characters and humour are all spot on. It’s hard to pick which is my favourite but I’ll go for Fast Women, possibly because it was the first Crusie book I read and I was so delighted to discover this new writer. My only complaint is that she hasn’t had any new books published since 2010. Come on Jennifer!


Jennifer (not Jennifer Crusie) - When Rae asked me for a few sentences on my favourite romantic reads, my mind went blank. With a question like that it always does: I can’t think of the last book I read, or indeed any of the books I’ve read in the past year. I vaguely remember taking a Jeffrey Archer book on my honeymoon in case there was a dull moment, but I don’t think that’s the kind of answer she was looking for. 

I’m going to go back to an old favourite — or rather, a series of old favourites, a very, very slow-burn romance. When, in Dorothy L Sayers’ detective novel, Strong Poison, Lord Peter Wimsey sees

Harriet Vane standing in the dock on trial for her life, it’s love at first sight for him. But the relationship is deliciously complicated by Harriet’s independence, her unconventional lifestyle and her natural dislike of being obliged to him for saving her life. 


She loves him. (Of course she does.) But it isn’t as easy as that — and so the author doesn’t need to tie up the romance alongside the end of the case. And yes — Peter and Harriet finally achieve their happy ever after, several books down the line.
Neil - Romantic reads are slightly out of my league, however I do find some of the locations that I visit have an air of romance surrounding them. Eilean Donan Castle is your iconic poster castle for romantic Scotland, it ticks all the boxes - loch, hills, the illusion of being remote.  But its not just the image when visiting this castle, there is an atmosphere around the castle and it was at night that it truly showed it self. When I returned to take some night shots of the castle all lit up, I did not expect to hear the sound of bagpipes floating over the still night air as a wedding took place. It was then I understood why so many people found this place romantic.
I am lucky to live in a country that is romanticised, with stunning castles and beautiful vistas round most corners.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland



Hope everyone enjoys a little romance this Valentine's Day ❤️❤️❤️

9 comments:

  1. I loved reading this. Some of the books I have read but forgotten (e.g. 'Katherine') and I now need to go and seek them out again. Others I hadn't even heard of. Yes, the TBR pile definitely got bigger, but I see that as a good thing :)

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    1. It's similar to having a nose along a friend's bookshelf - always a satisfying experience!

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  2. I loved Jennifer Crusie's Welcome to Temptation, Gill.

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    1. Oh yes! Maybe I'll have to re-read that one now :)

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  3. It is like looking at someone else's bookshelf! Something I love to do which is why I enjoyed reading the post so much. ;)

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this blog and hearing about your favourite reads. I have not read anything by Jennifer Crusie so will have to try her books. Rae puts forward a good case for trying Me Before You reminding us love can cover a multitude of emotions and situations.

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    1. Thanks for popping by, Gwen. Remember to have tissues at the ready as you read towards the end of Me Before You! I howled!

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  5. I like the look of Jennifer Cruises books.

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  6. Love how varied the responses have been to this. I love many modern American (and Canadian) writers so Jennifer Crusie is top of my 'must buy' list.

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