Thursday, February 14, 2008

Falling in love all over again...with books, of course!

Today, Valentine's Day, is the international holiday of Love (or, if you're cynical, a marketing ploy aimed to hit us where it hurts - our pocketbooks. 'If you really loved me, you'd...'. But I prefer to think of it as the holiday of Love.) And on this festival day, it is only appropriate to engage with the ones you love, to reassure them of your love, and to show your commitment and devotion in some way (it doesn't have to cost money!) Well, I plan to do all of that for my husband. But it occurs to me that I have another love affair, even longer standing than my marriage. I speak, of course, of my devotion to books. In the romantic air of the day, what could be more appropriate than mentioning a few of my favorite romances.

For young adults, and young at hearts, Beauty by Robin McKinley is a wonderful re-telling of a classic fairytale. The growing friendship, and blossoming romance, between Beauty and her Beast re-affirms all of our longings for true love. Crown and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith introduces another love story, between unlikely characters. A noblewoman turned rebel is balked at every turning by a lackey of the corrupt king. So why does she find him so fascinating? Read and find out! For something a little closer to home, try The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. When free-spirited Kit travels to her Puritan relatives in the colonies, she finds herself torn between two different men offering two very different lives. An accusation of witchcraft, and a threat to a dear friend, force Kit to make her choice once and for all.

Fantasy lovers should try Mercedes Lackey's The Fairy Godmother, first in her series about the 500 Kingdoms. Elaina was born to be a Cinderella, but her Prince Charming is only a young boy when she leaves her cruel stepmother. So instead the local Fairy Godmother takes her in, training her to be the new Fairy Godmother. When she meets the stereotypical second brother, who tries to trample her, she turns him into a donkey. How on earth can he ever be redeemed?

If Victorian England, in all its finery, appeals to your imagination, try the romances of Stephanie Laurens, or Amanda Quick. In Devil's Bride Stephanie Laurens introduces the Cynster family, each of whom will have their own intense and thrilling love-story. Amanda Quick's quirky novels, including Second Sight, The Paid Companion, Ravished and many others will delight anyone looking for characters who aren't perfectly beautiful, perfectly handsome, disgustingly wealthy, or convieniently royalty in hiding. Her love stories are funny, suspensful, and delightfully possible!

Amanda Quick also writes as Jayne Ann Krentz when her heroes and heroines are facing the modern rat race instead of Victorian strait-laced life. Grand Passion follows a hard-edged business man, used to being on his own, as he is drawn into the family and love of a warm and caring woman. Falling Awake looks at the possibilities of psychic dreamers, who fall in love long before they meet in person.

For those who thrill to the darker things in life, Dark Prince by Christine Feehan introduces the Carpathians, a noble immortal race who can become the monstrous vampires of legend if they don't find their lifemates in time. Christina Dodd writes of a family of shapeshifters, cursed by their ancestor's deal with the devil. Touching Darkness begins the quest of four siblings to find a way to undo the demonic pact.

Finally, my own personal comfort books. The inspirational romances of Grace Livingston Hill are simple, wholesome, and sweet. Written in the early 1900's, they remind the reader of happier times and simpler joys. The Best Man, Not Under the Law, Tomorrow About this Time, and more than hundred others can enchant your own inner world.