I'm a bit different than Erica and Jaime, in so much that I eat, breath, and live in historical romances. Okay, maybe I don't live in historical romances, but man, that was my greatest dream growing up. I wanted so badly to have a time machine and go back to my favorite time periods to smell and taste and see all that was missing in the books I was reading. A close second was to live in a historic home (which I did!) and try to recapture the nostalgia of days gone by...but the reality is an old house is a lot of work! So we moved. :)
Before I began to write full-time, I could count the books I read outside historical romance on my right hand. Two. Sweetwater Gap, by Denise Hunter and The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.
Okay, that's not entirely true. As a child, I devoured The Babysitters Club books, by Ann M. Martin.
But, I digress.
As an adult, I couldn't get enough of historical romance. When I was about thirteen, my aunt handed me Love's Long Journey, by Janette Oke.
From there, I found Tracie Peterson, Judith Miller, and Lauraine Snelling.
As I matured and the Christian publishing industry expanded, I discovered some of my favorite authors. Lynn Austin (her Refiner's Fire series is among my all-time favorite), Cathy Marie Hake, Siri Mitchell, Deeanne Gist, Mona Hodgson, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and on and on.
About eight years ago, I picked up a book called The Lady of Milkweed Manor, by a debut author named Julie Klassen. I could not put the book down. It was so different from all the others. It was a bit darker and dealt with harder issues. It was my first glimpse into a newer trend in Christian publishing, and I liked it. Julie was the very first author I ever contacted. I loved that she was from my home state of Minnesota. I wrote her an email and she graciously responded, but it would be several years before we met in person and became friends.
Julie is one of my "do-not-miss" authors. I read every book she publishes. Some of my other "do-not-miss" authors are Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund, and Laura Frantz. They are at the top of my list of current favorites, and I don't see them coming off that list any time soon!
A recent discovery is Lori Benton. Oh, my, word! Her book, The Wood's Edge, was my all-time favorite book of 2015. The sequel, A Flight of Arrows, releases in April and I cannot wait! I've already told my family I'm taking a day vacation when that book falls into my hand. Her writing is stunning and I can't get enough.
The classic I return to time and again is Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. There is a reason this book continues to be on the bestseller list. It's amazing. It's almost always the first book I hand to people who have not yet read Christian historical romances. I have hooked many a friend and family into the historical romance genre with that story.
The books that shaped my adolescence and confirmed my desire to write about MN history were Little House on the Prairie books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Betsy-Tacy books by Minnesota author Maud Hart Lovelace. I've read almost all of these books to my own girls and we've visited Laura's home on the banks of Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, MN and Maud's home in Mankato, MN. I love the feel of these books and the devotion Laura and Maud had for their homes. It encouraged me to write about my own hometown and to dig deep into the lives and events that shaped central Minnesota. What I found was a goldmine of ideas!
I have so many other favorites, but these are just a few that have shaped my love for historical romance. Since becoming a writer, and meeting all sorts of other writers, I have broadened my horizon and read within many genres, but historical romance will always have my heart and soul.
What about you? I'd love to know if you've read any of these books. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors?
**Speaking of my favorite books and authors! I have a winner of The Painter's Daughter, by Julie Klassen from my review two weeks ago! The winner is Diane Estrella! Congrats, Diane! I'll be contacting you soon.
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