Gateway to Romance: Elisabeth Rose

by Elisabeth Rose

Fifteen by Beverley Cleary was the first book I read that had everything a young teen wanted and I loved it. It was published in 1956 but doing a search today reveals it as still available and ranking well.

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It seems too good to be true. The most popular boy in school has asked Jane out — and she’s never even dated before. Stan is tall and good-looking, friendly and hard-working — everything Jane ever dreamed of. But is she ready for this?

Suppose her parents won’t let her go? What if she’s nervous and makes a fool of herself? Maybe he’ll think she’s too young. If only she knew all the clever things to say. If only she were prettier. If only she were ready for this…

With her usual warmth, perceptiveness, and humour, Beverly Cleary creates the joys and worries of a young girl’s first crush.

That book made me want to be fifteen so I could have all those exciting experiences Jane was having. I must have been about thirteen when I read it, way back in the early sixties and it kindled a desire to read more books about romance. I can’t remember any other titles but I’ve never forgotten Fifteen.

At about the same time my cousins introduced me to Georgette Heyer. I stayed with them for summer holidays and they had all her books which I devoured pretty much non-stop. My uncle was mighty peeved when we all went to the Davis Cup tennis tie at White City and I took Devils Cub with me and read during a match. Since then I’ve always loved historical romance.

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We didn’t have romance books at home although there were plenty of books in the house and everyone read. Mum and Dad preferred crime—books, not the activity—and we belonged to the library where I discovered to my delight that almost every book I read had a romance in it somewhere. A few years later, as a student, I found piles of old Mills and Boons at a friend’s coast house—the perfect summer holiday reading. And romance was front and centre.


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One honeymoon, one vanished husband, one desperate wife—and the cop who is tasked to help her, but can’t seem to keep his thoughts on the job.

Honeymooner Nikki Spenser emerges from the surf at Surfers Paradise and can’t find her husband, her towel, or her clothes on the beach. Carlos has disappeared from her life as suddenly as he entered it.

In despair, Nikki returns to Sydney where she is contacted by Detective Luke Emerson, a reminder from her past she thought never to see again. Luke informs her that the man she married so recklessly in Las Vegas three weeks prior doesn’t exist. Everything she knew about Carlos is a lie, and Nikki realises she knows nothing about her husband—not where he is, not even who he is.

As Nikki and Luke chase down tenuous leads, they soon find themselves plunged into an ever-widening sea of international crime and violence, and Nikki is faced with the hard questions—how much of her love is based on lies, and how much is true?

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