When I was a kid, I used to help out with the cleaning at home. I discovered serious fiction by cleaning my big brother's room very slowly, wafting a duster and devouring pages of his "classics of modern fiction." Meanwhile I found a novel called "Oil" under my dad's side of his bed. Many years later I watched a movie and recognized the tale. And under Mum's side of the bed?
That was where I found my first romantic fiction. Soon I realized books under Mum's bed were pretty much the same as Gran's magazines, except a book told the whole story while a magazine only offered a chapter a week. I liked Gran's magazines and would take whole collections to college with me, to read in my down time. I liked Mum's books too, but felt oddly guilty about reading of people falling in love. They were "safe" books of course - no long explicit details of stuff a daughter might not need to know. And they were comfortable in a way my brother's classics could never be. The worlds of romance always end up just the way they should, making the books feel like comfortable slippers, welcoming the busy daughter at the end of the day. The worlds of classics would leave me puzzled, disturbed, and pondering the meaning of life. Much deeper stuff.
Of course, modern romances have far more explicit details, and are listed on websites as "hot," "red-hot," or sometimes "sensual" or "sweet." I'm trying to learn the language so I can write the right reviews.
If my spiritual speculative romances ever get republished, I thing they'll be sensual, probably not sweet, but surely not hot... I think. Perhaps I ought to reread them sometime. But when would I find time? Meanwhile, other people's romances give me a break, a unbreakable promise of right outcomes, and a snack between novels that might demand more of my time. Romantic tales recently read include:
Warrior’s Surrender by Elizabeth Ellen Carter combines mystery, history and romance in a north-of-England package, around the time of the Norman conquest. It certainly has its "sensual" and detailed love scenes, but it also has great descriptions of time and place, and a red-herringed plot. Enjoy with some lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.
Where Love Illumines by Donna Fletcher Crow offered a pleasing mix of historical religious fiction and romance in a story of the early days of Methodism. This one's probably "sweet" since it doesn't include any more details that those books I used to "borrow" under Mum's bed. Enjoy this one with some elegant complex four-star coffee
Moving to the present day, The Best Bet by Hebby Roman, is a light-hearted fun read, set around Las Vegas, where two people, neither of them looking for love, find the best of all isn't one played with money at the tables. This one's definitely sensual rather than sweet, and it's a feel-good, pleasing read to enjoy with some pleasing, feel-good two-star coffee.
The Two Miss Parsons by Jill Marshall takes place mostly in New Zealand, and weaves a rather complex comedic romantic web as Cally and Paige depart England in order to let a daughter meet her unknown dad. Of course, this also means mom meets people loved and lost, revisits decisions of the past, and struggles with decisions that might affect everyone's future. Light-hearted, fun, and probably sensual, it's one to read with a lively two-star coffee.
Finally, here's a novel that blends science fiction, fan fiction, teen mystery, and a touch of romance. The Traveler: A Conflict of Interest (Traveler Chronicles volume 1) by William Pattison invites readers into an almost Dr Whovian world, where an alien time-traveler is intent on saving our world while his nemesis tries to destroy it to save the future. The love interest is dead in the present, but who is the student who looks so much like her, and will these two ever admit their feelings for each other. Answers probably lie in later volumes, but for now, the story's fast, fun and intriguing, best enjoyed with a lively two-star coffee.