by Maddie Jane
No single book led me into romance. I was an early enthusiast of the genre, diving in as a child, rejoicing when Gilbert Blythe finally won Anne Shirley, and happy enough when Jo March found Professor Bhaer (even if I wished she’d chosen the younger, richer Laurie instead). Author Barbara Willard wrote beautifully romantic historical fiction—I read The Lark and the Laurel over and over and spent weeks waiting my turn for library copies of the other books in the series. Five years ago, I finally tracked down a copy for my daughter, only she wouldn’t read it because the cover was boring!
I discovered Mills and Boons as a twelve-year-old and a school friend with five older, romance-mad sisters kept me constantly supplied. The little pink books were most conveniently the same size as the pockets on my school uniform. I’d walk to school and back, head down, reading, in much the same way you see teenagers now with their phones in their hands.
I had to say goodbye to the supply train of M&Bs when my friend and I went to different high schools, but my love of the HEA was firmly cemented. Obsessive binge reading, where I had to read everything by the favourite author of the moment began about then too, and hasn’t stopped.
I read widely during my high school years. All sorts of authors and a variety of genres. The books I preferred shared the common factor of a love story, somewhere, even if it was buried. At university I studied nineteenth century literature and my bookshelves from that time are full of novels by Gaskell, Eliott, Bronte and Hardy, all with notes scribbled in the margins. The shelves are a real trip down memory lane, a reminder of what I’ve loved to read and why. Squeezed in beside the classics are Jilly Cooper, Fiona Walker and Marian Keyes for the humour, Paullina Simons and Diana Gabaldon for the sexy bits (until I just wished their characters would stop going at it every opportunity) and Sara Donati for the romance and adventure. I recommend Into the Wilderness as Donati’s best book, IMHO. I tried to get my daughter to read this, but it was “too fat”. Seriously? Doesn’t she know that’s a good thing?
I mainly read on my Kindle now (fat books, no problems!) and the only thing stopping the old paperbacks from fading completely to white is the thick layer of dust coating them. But even if they aren’t touched very often I still can’t bear to part with them. Who knows? Maybe my daughter or one of her friends will pick one up and read it, even if the covers are washed out and a bit dated now. Inside the covers is the real magic.
Maddie Jane lives near the beach in Christchurch, New Zealand, with her husband, three children and a very hairy dog. She has a journalism qualification as well as a degree in history and English literature from Canterbury University. She started reading romance novels when she was far too young and hasn’t stopped. When she isn’t reading or writing she likes walking on the beach and planning her characters’ happy ever afters. She enjoys holidays, movies with happy endings and spending time with her family and friends.
Maddie’s latest book combines travel, romance, and a very, very special dress.