How did I start reading Romance?

I already wrote a post about how I started writing Romance, and the story is more or less the same, but I wanted to explain a bit more about the books that have brought me here.

With this goal in mind, I have chosen twelve books (or rather series) I discovered during that first year of my life as a Romance reader. You may already know most (or all) of these, especially if you’re interested in diverse books with LGBTQ+ characters, but know that some of these series are still being published. Maybe you’ll find out they are now longer than the last time you read them. Speaking from experience here.

Basically, I fell in love with Romance novels because they have my favourite subgenres (Fantasy, Historical…) with a focus on characterization that I haven’t found in any other genre. I enjoy reading about people and the different relationships they have, and Romance gives me that in bunches. There are so many different works and authors out there, that you can find anything you need. Even if you didn’t know you needed it, which has often happened to me.

If you want to find interesting plots with great characters and a guaranteed happy ending that will make you feel better about life, look no further: Romance novels have you covered.

So maybe we have different tastes and you won’t find what you’re looking for in the books I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader, but go ahead and leave a comment if you want to share your opinion or request some other recs. I’ve read much more since then, so I may be able to help!

I won’t make you wait any longer! These are the books/series I devoured in that first year:

 

Covers of twelve series I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader.
Twelve series for twelve months.
  • Whyborne & Griffin: You might remember this series, because I’ve mentioned it’s the one that made me start reading Romance. It’s still one of my favourites and I re-read it pretty often. A Paranormal Romance series set in the city of Widdershins, where many are enthusiasts of secret societies and the occult. Imagine a shy philologist, a resourceful detective and a deadly archaeologist fighting ancient sects and Lovecraftian horrors. Can you guess how excited I was to find out this series existed?
  • A Charm of Magpies: Another amazing Paranormal Romance series, this time set in England, and with a couple of spin-offs that are as good as the original series. It all starts with a reluctant lord that has inherited an earldom after his father and brother die in suspicious circumstances. After the curse that killed his family tries to put an end to his life, he is forced to request the help of magician Stephen Day. What he doesn’t know is that Stephen Day had previously met his family. If he’d known, he’d have guessed he had a good reason to hate them all and no reason to help him.
  • The Cadeleonian Series: As traumatic as the ending of the first book was, I do love this fantasy series. Ginn Hale’s world-building and narrative are superb. Each description of a swordfight or a horse race is a masterpiece in its own, and I’m looking forward to the last two books of the series. Spanish people like me will notice some names and historical facts come from our own history.
  • Captive Prince: Not an easy series to read, this one. Fantasy, with a world-building so detailed that it feels like a historical novel sometimes (and, in this case, it is Australian people who will perceive the influence of their own history). The well-known trilogy tells the story of a prince who is forced to become a pleasure slave in a different country, and how he learns to survive a court full of enemies and intrigues, and discovers an ally in the last person he expected to.
  • Scarlet and the White Wolf: This Fantasy series started as a gay retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but at this point you’ll only see some traces of it in the first novel, because the world-building is huge and the plot twists abound. The main character of the story is a young peddler who wears the red cloak of his guild. He travels a lot due to his profession, but he finds himself trapped inside his hometown when the only usable mountain road is blocked by a bandit known as the Wolf of Omara.
  • Society of Gentlemen: My first Historical Romance series, and one of my favourite series ever. Set in Regency England, the series covers various relationships that have to overcome class difference in certain ways. Anything I can say about it will fall short, so just know that I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Reawakening: I loved this Fantasy Romance series about a family of dragons, and it’s still my favourite dragon shifter series. In it, dragons have been asleep for centuries, but are now waking up to a new world they don’t recognize. Their oldest enemy seems to be alive, though hiding somewhere, and they’ve lost most of their power. But the thing about dragons is… only love can make them strong enough to fight back.
  • All for the Game: One of those series that helped create more Romance readers, especially since the first novel is free and it’s a sports series. What I found most interesting about this series is that the sport it talks about was created by the author. The series is full of angst and can be a bit hard to read, depending on your mood.
  • Fellfire Summer: Another series you can start for free (and the short stories can be found for free as well). Blayre is the first Romance author I’ve met in person, and the one who gave me an amazing rec list for beginners. Her first Fantasy Romance was very fun to read and her characters are so charming… The trilogy ends up having two m/m couples and one f/f couple, which I appreciated A LOT.
  • Tigers and Devils: Another sports series. Film festival organizer meets closeted Australian football player (and he actually plays Australian football, which has different rules I didn’t know about until I read this series) and they fall in love. Of course, every relationship has its ups and downs, but it’s even more difficult when one of you is a famous athlete, and the other has been openly gay for years.
  • Aisling: Another superb Fantasy Romance. The world-building is vast, the mysteries and plot twists are everywhere. Nothing is what it seems, but everything makes sense in the end. I loved the celtic/western hints, the development of the characters and the slow-building romance. I haven’t seen this series being recommended that often, but maybe that’s because it’s only been re-released quite recently. Now that it’s available once more, you should give it a chance. I know I’m going to re-read it soon.
  • Enlightenment: This was my second Historical Romance, and it’s also a Regency one, but it’s set in Scotland. A lawyer and a lord enjoy a quick sexual encounter thinking they will never meet again, but fate has other plans: mainly, making them cross their paths again and again until they fall in love. But will love be enough to make them sacrifice everything they’ve fought for just so they can be together? Anyway, if you’ve read the original trilogy, you might be surprised to know that there’s a new book now with a different couple.

 

So that is all for now! Have you read any of these? If you want to know about trigger warnings, just let me know, but I can already warn you about Captive Prince and All for the Game, since both series have LOTS of TWs.

About Romance

It’s about time I wrote a post about the genre I want to explore, isn’t it? You may remember that, when I talked about the books that changed my life, I mentioned that one of them made me rediscover a genre I thought was too homogeneous for me: Romance.

Twenty years ago, I was an avid reader of Science-Fiction. Ten years ago, I read nothing but Fantasy. Now I find it hard to read anything that’s not Romance. I have to confess that, before that book changed my life, I’d tried reading some books and comics with romance elements, my favourite being Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. However, after a while I started thinking that they were all similar; I didn’t feel represented by any of them (in my defense, I mostly read physical books in Spanish, and there was not an ounce of diversity to be found back then). I thought it would always be the same. Never have I been so glad to be proved wrong.

Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started reading new books, I realized that Romance had actually become the most open and complete literary genre. There’s variety (fantasy, paranormal, historical, sci-fi, contemporary…), diversity (characters who are POC, LGBTQ+, disabled, depressed…) and hope (happy endings are the norm). Romance readers and authors have been leading a loud revolution that you may not have noticed (if you don’t know anyone who’s part of the community), but —I believe— it’s making the world a better place. Of course I’d want to do anything in my power to help! The problem is… that a little is never enough for me, so now I’ve turned to writing.

To be honest, I never thought I’d end up this way. As a person with anxiety, zero self-confidence and a different mother tongue, I know it’s gonna be hard. But hard is not impossible, so I had to try. And who knows, maybe my weaknesses can help me write something that will help people like me. Even if it’s just one person, that would make all hardships worth enduring.

 

Old book with pages bent inwards forming a heart.
Photo shared by congerdesign. Creative Commons.

 

Why do I write in English?

Someone recently asked me if I was going to write in English or Spanish. And the truth is… I don’t know.

Well, I know what I want, but my feelings are complicated. I want to write in English, but English is not my First Language, so I wonder if I should and if my writing would be any good.

Writing in Spanish is weird for me, though. I’ve read and studied Literature in English for decades, so Spanish sounds weird to me sometimes (Especially explicit language, which sounds too technical or too cheesy). Still, I would be able to tell if my writing is crap in Spanish, right? Maybe.

For me, the main reason to write in Spanish is that… I want to write Romance with  LGBTQ+ characters, and it’s something one can’t easily find in Spanish. I love helping and I want to help Spanish speakers find stories that will make them happy (which is why I became a translator, but that’s another story).

However, I love writing and reading in English, and if I was confident about both my English and my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate: I’d write in English first, and then see if I want to publish anything in Spanish as well.

Maybe that’s what I should do. Just follow the Fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy. After all, there are proofreaders, editors and beta-readers out there. I wouldn’t be alone.

Spanish_Armada_fireships
Launch of English fireships against the Spanish Armada. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

What do I write about?

First of all, thank you for all your likes, comments and questions! It was a surprise to find so much support and encouragement after just a few posts.

Some of you have asked me about the actual contents of my notebooks. In other words, you wanted to know what I write about. I don’t know if you meant everything that makes it into my notebooks or what may become a book one day, but I’m assuming it’s the latter.

I’m still reticent about giving details because I’m not sure about anything I do… and I’ve changed plot and characters too many times to ignore the very real possibility that it may happen again. I’m aware that nothing is set in stone… but I can give you (and myself) some general ideas.

These are the stories I’d like to finish one day:

  • A fantasy romance with a disabled MC.
  • A paranormal/historical romance set in Madrid, Spain.
  • Another fantasy romance with an MC trapped in someone else’s body.
  • A paranormal/historical romance set in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.

Since I love fantasy, historical and paranormal romance, I want to write those, but I keep having ideas for other contemporary stories with main characters and situations that’d be fun to write. Perhaps even a superhero romance…

Maybe I should start with those, since the research wouldn’t take that long? I could write a short story first….

As you can see, I can’t make up my mind.

 

Alcala_de_henares_plaza_cervantes
Alcalá de Henares. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons