All It Took Was A Book

AND THE JUNE CONTEST WINNER IS:   RoseAnn DeFranco!   Please send Jaye an e:mail offline to claim your Hugh Jackman prize!

Reminder:  Please comment for the month of JULY for your chance of winning a trio of books!


This month, the Violet Femmes will be answering the question:

What was the first romance book that changed your life?

Violet Femme:  Michele

This was a challenging question to address because so many books have influenced me as a reader and as a writer. Summers spent lathered in suntan lotion, sitting out on the family deck, sipping ice tea, and reading have added quite a plethora of novels I’ve grown to love.

Sigh. So many to choose from.  If I’d responded to this question in the late 1980’s, my response would have been The Wolf and The Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’ve read this novel so many times the pages are frayed and the cover is gone.

But the book that stands out in my mind as the one is Judith McNaught’s A Kingdom of Dreams.

A Kingdom of Dreams is a story about a feisty, Scottish heroine, Jennifer Merrick, who is abducted from her convent school by an English warrior, Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore, known by his enemies as “The Wolf”.

Jennifer Merrick is the best heroine ever to grace the pages of romance and the reader immediately adores her within the first few pages. The story opens with her having a conversation with God, promising to “never be willful or impulsive again.”  And God answers—dubiously. Jennifer has no business being in a convent but her father banishes her from home since her stepbrother had “circulated his horrible tale.”

Royce “The Wolf” Westmoreland is feared by all. King Henry had him fighting the Scottish in Cornwall, England and rumors circulate about his malevolence. More evil than the devil himself, Scottish children are told “the Wolf will get you” if they don’t behave. To please him, Royce’s brother kidnaps their enemy’s two daughters, Jennifer and her stepsister, and dump them—surprise—into Royce’s encampment.

The story grabs the reader and pulls her eagerly along after that.

“Jennifer was a Merrick, and a Merrick never admitted to fear of any man.”  Placed within the company of The Wolf, Jennifer not only holds steadfast to her sense of self, but she does everything possible to escape him and make her clan proud. She creates havoc with Royce’s clothing, outwits his soldiers, and steals his prized horse.

Royce has never encountered someone so . . . daring. Between his rage for her, he begins to like Jennifer for her beauty and for herself. He comes to want her like no other woman before. Sure, he has his moments where he strikes terror in the hearts of men, and is displeased with Jennifer. This hero is ferocious yet has a heart.

Aside from two wonderfully rich characters, what I love about this book is how the author incorporates poignant, reflective moments into their romance. Jennifer describes inventing of a Kingdom of Dreams, where she’s regarded by her clan in a more loving, and more heroic, light. And Royce empathizes with her, and loves her more for the shadows from her past. In these moments, the two characters grow and discover the essence of each other hidden beneath the roles that they play. This is the key to this superbly written romance, which still stands the test of time.

I you haven’t read A Kingdom of Dreams, you are missing out on one of my favorite books of all time.  I highly recommend you it. Happy reading,

Violet Femme Michele

Judith McNaught

              A Kingdom of Dreams


Here are a few additional authors who have also had a huge influence on me from an early age. I focused on authors from years past; there are numerous authors from the 1990’s to present that I’ll share with you on a future post!   

Rebecca Brandewyne

             Love, Cherish Me

Shirlee Busbee

              While Passion Sleeps

Johanna Lindsey

             Gentle Rouge

              Tender Rebel

Karen Robards

             Loving Julia

Rosemary Rogers

             The Wildest Heart


These two authors are my early favorites:

 Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

           *The Wolf and The Dove

             A Rose in Winter

Judith McNaught

             Whitney, My Love

Almost Heaven

Leave a comment


  1. hieubietusa

     /  July 2, 2012

    I have to admit the book that seemed to shape my opinions on romance and even writing was created by Shakespear, Romeo and Juliet. The incredible thing was that I did not like to read. My father enjoyed reading anything and as I scanned through his selections there was R & J. How I could even finish it is the amazing part? The Ole’ English seems unreadable now, though at about ten or eleven I stuck with it.
    I don’t know if this will explain my tales to those that have read them…Poe was another influence.
    Oh Oh…too much information…Where is Freud?
    Another Romance Novel, though no one realizes it, Last of the Mohicans, by JF Cooper. If you read the original, my father had some library, and get through the incredible use of early English, there is an intense romance surrounded by unrequited love, racial hatred and a love triangle that tops any list.
    Thanks for the post…I enjoyed the memories.

  2. Jennablueauthor

     /  July 2, 2012

    Like you, Michele, it was Woodiwiss for me! Woo, did those books open my eyes! And ever after romances became my first choice!

    • Hi Jenna, it was tough picking which Woodiwiss book. It’s interesting how writing has changed, though I love her beautifully evoking descriptions. Michele

  3. Hi Joe, I agree. There are so many books I’ve read that influence my writing (and my preferences in reading). I love One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles – both arguably romances. I guess for this post, I focused on strictly Romance books (genre). Thanks for posting! Michele

    • Oh, I love 100 Years of Solitude. You just gave me the book I was looking for for my post next week. Thanks!


      • Hi Jaye, love the mysticism in Marquez’s writing. We’ll have to do a post on top five books from all genres and see how many we have in common! Toni Morrison is another favorite author, another Jersey girl too. Michele

  4. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  July 2, 2012

    I’m a winner! This is so exciting. I’ll admit to a slight moment of sadness when I realized that the mug was Hugh-free. As I told Janet, this will replace my Mrs. Darcy mug at work…it raises a few eyebrows. I find it rather depressing when I have to EXPLAIN the mug. Sigh!

    I’m struggling with that one book question. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book in my hand growing up. Honestly, I don’t think it occurred to me back then that I could write. It was later in life when I left my theatrical pursuits behind that I realized that I HAD to write. I needed something in the form of a creative outlet. Since we’re talking inspiration…and the goal is to pick ONE book…I’ll have to go with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice with Emma and Sense and Sensibility tied in a close second. P&P gives us an unforgettable Hero and Heroine set in the beautiful backdrop, society restrictions and class distinctions…you can never go wrong with Austen!


  5. Oh, I remember that Judith McNaught book! You’re making me want to dig it out and read it again. She had so many good ones. Great choice!

  6. Hi Joanna, the tricky part selecting WHICH romance book, out of SO many choices, came down to the question: Does the book stand the test of time? I’m not sure some of the books I mentioned would be published today because writing (and content) has changed. However, A Kingdom of Dreams is pretty much perfect even for contemporary times. Michele

  7. I have a vague recollection of reading that Judith McNaught book. And although I’ve read Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, I don’t know that I’ve read those. Something tells me that by the end of the month, I’m going to have a new list of books to add to my already LONG list of books to read.

  8. I just moved and let me tell you, I have BOOKS! I’ll lend you every single title Kathleen Woodiwiss wrote. 🙂


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