My Life Changing Romance Book

To say I’ve always loved reading is an understatement. Nothing makes me happier than entering the world of a story, meeting the characters, and reading about someone else’s problems. Some of the situations I can relate to, others I can’t ever imagine being faced with. Reading how the problems were resolved—and in the case of romance—love is found has always been a favorite pastime for me.

As a teenager, my mother used to yell at me constantly for reading and tell me “to get my nose out of that book”. I used to tell her “just one more page” or “let me finish this chapter”. Ironically, I hear those same words spoken from the lips of my eleven-year old daughter. Since I can completely relate (I’m still the same way today), I generally indulge her. How couldn’t I?

As much as I read, I found this blog topic challenging and actually had to research books I’ve read. There are so many, I find it difficult to remember back to my teens (not that it was that long ago—ahem).

One of the earliest books I can remember reading—mostly because I wasn’t allowed to and had to sneak it—is Wifey by Judy Blume. They’ve changed the cover since its original publication, but this is the version I read.

What teenager wouldn’t be affected by a naked motorcycle guy jerking off on someone’s front lawn? Talk about a memorable opening scene. I don’t remember much else about that book, which maybe is very telling about where my head was—don’t judge me, I was a teenager. Curious, I picked up a copy at the library to re-read. I mean, a naked motorcycle guy is still pretty compelling all these years later, right? I see this book, for the time, being as controversial as 50 Shades of Grey is today. Especially given that its author became well-known for her children’s books.

I also remember reading a lot of teen romance. I don’t remember many, but this one stuck in my mind. Quite a bit different than Wifey, but at least I could read these around Mom.

I was a fan of Rosemary Rogers and Janet Daily. For a while, I became quite the Silhouette Romance addict, which is funny considering I don’t read many of them today. We had a paperback exchange in my hometown, and I’d pick up books at half price, read them, and return them (for credit) and buy more.

Hands down, though, Danielle Steel is the one author I read most in my younger years. She had a way of creating such interesting and believable characters. She wasn’t afraid to make bad things happen to her characters and have them work for their HEA. With the exception of her recent years, I think I have most of her books. Here are some of my favorites.


Thurston House

Once In A Lifetime


Full Circle

Like Femme Michele, I love Jude Deveraux and her A Knight In Shining Armor is probably among my favorites.

Barbara Taylor Bradford is another author I read a lot, although I’m not sure I consider her stories romance. Her books, A Woman of Substance, Hold the Dream and To Be the Best are a testament to working your way up in the corporate world and making your own success. Fern Michaels and her Texas series is similar in this notion.

If you haven’t read any of LaVyrle Spencer’s books, you should. She’s a fantastic character-based author who really makes you relate to her characters. Some of my favorites are: The Fulfillment, That Camden Summer, Twice Loved, and Morning Glory.

That’s just a touch of some of the authors I read in my earlier years who made me believe (and yearn) for love. Although, today, there are many other authors I read, I’d like to think that the stories from my past helped interest me as a reader and influence me to want to write romance novels today.

Next week, we’ll have a special guest blogger joining us. I’ll keep it as a surprise, but she’s a member of NJ Romance Writers and has a new book out this month. Don’t forget to comment this month for your chance of winning a trio of books!


Leave a comment


  1. nettrobbens

     /  July 16, 2012

    Hi Maria,

    Great post! My first taste of romance was Barbara Cartland. I used to sneak and read under the covers because I wasn’t allowed to read romance at age 12. Go, figure! But my life changing romance book has to be, “The Flame and the Flower,” by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Among my many new favorites, it is still one that I read over and over.


    • Hi Nett,

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one sneaking around to read books! I’ve never read Barbara Cartland. More to add to my ‘to be read’ pile. I think I’ve read “The Flame and the Flower” but its been so long that I don’t remember. Think I’ll have to read just in case I never did read it.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  2. Karen Bryan

     /  July 16, 2012

    Hi Maria! What a great post! I started reading romances when I was about twelve. I especially loved Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Rosemary Rogers. Thanks for the memories!


  3. Victoria Holt! That’s the author I’ve been trying to remember. That’s another book my mom took from me (that I later found and read-sorry Mom). All I could remember was the word ‘tiger’. Looking at Victoria’s back-list and her old covers, the book is “The Spring of the Tiger”. Another one I know I read, but can’t remember a thing about it. THANKS for jogging my memory!

    Twelve must be that magic age. I better watch my daughter (12 in a few weeks). Yikes.

  4. Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart were big favorites. I also read Barbara Cartland. I was lucky my father pretty much believed all reading is a positive thing and never censored my choice of books.

    • Hi Diana,

      I’ve never heard of Barbara Cartland. I’ll have to check out her books. I won’t let my daughter read the last Twilight book. Between the gore and the sex scene (although not overly descript), I told her to wait. I’m sure she’ll wear me down sooner or later. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Jenna Blue

     /  July 16, 2012

    LaVryle Spencer was one of my favorites! And of course I devoured Judy Blume–can remember sharing the “bad” parts in sixth grade with the other girls! : )
    Loving this walk down memory lane, ladies!

    • I’d forgotten about LaVryle Spencer and then remembered all these books in my basement that have been sitting there for years to give away. Of course, I started going through them and now they’re back in the “keep” pile. I hate parting with books.

  6. Such fun, revisiting the past. Like Nett and Diana, I remember reading Barbara Cartland. And I know I read at least one Georgette Heyer, way back when. Oh, and Phyllis A. Whitney…loved her, too, Diana. We need to share our libraries, lol!

    Another great list of faves, Maria. How can I ever read them all?

    My daughter always has her nose in a book, too, but unless it’s dinner time, or really late, I let her read. I’d rather have her read than watch the junk that’s on tv these days.


    • Maybe we need to pick a book from our recommendations and blog about that one month. Might be a neat way to get us to read things and compare/contrast to the writing styles of today. Hmmm….

  7. I read Wifey too, but as an adult–the scene I remember is her affair with her brother-in-law, the doctor!
    As far as reading what I wasn’t supposed to…I sneaked in some confession magazines as a teenager.
    Like Diana, as a teenager I devoured the books by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart!

    • Thanks for commenting, Roni. Looks like we have some common sneakiness among us romance writers. And, okay, I had to google confession magazines. Sorry 🙂

  8. I know it’s like beating a dead horse, but thanks to your blog, I have “scratched” my brain(and it hurt…my nails were too long) and feel Romeo and Juliet was the one book that imprinted my literary imagination.
    Of course, the opening of R & J could not quite compare to Wifey…woosh…can I have a copy? Just the opening.
    There are several references to sexual stimulation and its outward signs and a page or two concerning “party drugs.” Hah! Now you wish you paid attention in English class.
    I have a question from the “other side of the page.” AKA male perspective…My wife and daughter have been reading the same books since my little girl became a teenager.
    Is this the usual evolution?

    • Hi Joe. Thanks for bringing classic literature such as Romeo & Juliet to the mix. My daughter and I read some of the same books. Now that she’s older, we’ve read Hunger Games. And I recently introduced her to Cyn Balog’s stories. She reads and then gives to me. As for the rest of what I read…no way can she read that for a little while. Heaven help me when I get published!

      Okay, here’s a teaser from “Wifey”.

      “She looked down into the wooded backyard. He was in front of the crab apple tree, hands on hips, as if waiting for her, dressed in a white bed sheet and a stars and stripes helmet, standing next to a motorcycle.”

      I’ll keep it clean, so you’ll have to borrow is from the library to get the rest of the scene.

    • Nicole Doran

       /  July 19, 2012

      Joe – so glad I have’s Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy kid in this house…thank goodness. LOL

  9. Wow, “Wifey” is one Judy Blume book I don’t ever think I’ve read. Sounds like I need to check that one out from the library. Love the idea of that opening scene! I remember “Are You There God,…” and some of her others. Talk about racy material to a pre-teen. 🙂

    Lots of good recommendations here!

    • I can’t believe you haven’t read it. You should check it out. It great reading it again. There are scenes that just have me crack up laughing. It’s written in first person so you really get inside the main character’s mind with both her sad reality and her fantasies.

  10. Nicole Doran

     /  July 19, 2012

    Great post! I too remember Judy Blume and the “racy” parts as a teen/pre-teen. Kathleen Woodiwiss was life changing for me too for sure. And, I used to devour all of my mom’s Johanna Lindsay books – the pirates, all those historical lords (the Mallory men…whew!) Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • Hi Nicole,

      My mom didn’t read while I was a kid, so I couldn’t raid her stash of books. Now, I’ve hooked her into reading and we compare authors. It’s pretty neat. I like Johanna Lindsay as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hi Maria, “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” remember that one? I read it at just the right age, too. Interesting how our first authors seem to be the same. Michele

    • Hi Michele. I remember reading that one, too. I loved all her books. Even today, kids still read them. My daughter read her “Fudge” series and loved them. She has a way of reaching out to both kids and adults.


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