by Rhyll Biest
My gateway books to romance reading were novels about animals and, in particular, horses (I was horse mad as a kid) or even just novels with horses on the cover. At around twelve years of age I read Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground because of the white Lippizaner on the cover, loved the very prim and proper romantic suspense and went on to read Madame Will You Talk and then all of her books. Similarly, I was a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey and K.M. Peyton around the same age. (It’s pretty clear I spent most of my tweens reading. Time well spent!) K.M. Peyton is a prize-winning British young adult writer and since most of her novels involved horses I gobbled them up as a school brat. A number also included (very sweet) romantic elements, including her series The Flambards (now televised).
It was the dragons on Anne McCaffrey’s books lured me in, and (as most romance and fantasy readers would know) most of McCaffrey’s books had romantic elements to them, whether it was between a spaceship and her brawn, between dragon riders, or (gasp!) aliens and humans.
So, there you have it, novels that feature animals lure innocent young minds into that literary den of iniquity (guaranteed to ruin a young lady’s future) that calls itself the romance genre.