First Friday's With The Crew..."The First Romance I Read Was..."

Do you remember the very first romance you read? Do you remember where you were and what you were doing? How old were you?


I remember Mom letting me walk to North Island by myself (I was 12 and quite independent) because our public library's Bookmobile would be parked there all day!  Summers were busy around our house with the four of us kids driving Mom crazy most of the time, in between doing our chores and then helping Mom garden or canning peaches, tomatoes, chili sauce or making jam, etc.

I remember the warmth and beauty of the bright summer day changing as I stepped into the bookmobile--library card in hand. It was cooler and smelled faintly of old books. I couldn't have been happier! Searching through the titles, one jumped out at me: Lost Island by Phyllis A, Whitney. Mom was pretty stern about only taking out one book, and leaving the rest for other library patrons on the Bookmobile's stops that day.

My world irrevocably changed that day through the power of Phyllis A. Whitney's words. I fell in love with Lacy and Giles and a new genre for me: Romance. I returned the book on time, but kept thinking about it. My Dad bought me the paperback copy. I still have it and have read it too many times to count and taped the binding at least a half dozen times over the years. I had to take a pic of the cover...check out the price back in 1970...95 cents ;) 

What was the first Romance you read?


My enjoyment of reading stretches back to a summer spent in southern Missouri with my grandmother. Thus, began a life-long love of eclectic reading that ranges from The Boxcar Children to Alfred Hitchcock, from Dr. Zhivago to dictionaries. (Yes, I still love perusing dictionaries for new words and Thesaurus as well- but, that’s another topic) Fast forward to junior high (just after dinosaurs became extinct)) and as an impressionable and shy student librarian,(all through my junior high/high school career) I was also deeply passionate about many things.

I discovered the book Five Smooth Stones, by Ann Fairburn, which by definition today may not have been considered a “romance”-rather an historical fiction. Set during the American Civil Rights movement, it told the story of a young couple, of different backgrounds, struggling with the obstacles of race and prejudice and trying to hold on to a love that, at the time, was not widely accepted at the time. The struggle was real. Their love even more so.

Their passion for each other, their character, and desire to make the world a better place made such a profound impact on me that it inspired the first book I ever penned--pages and pages in a three-ring notebook-a story that would never see the light of day.

This book set me on the path to loving character-driven stories where ordinary people placed in extraordinary situations rise up to overcome their obstacles-internal and external-to achieve their HEA. It was the inception of the belief I carry now in my writing and in my life that #lovewillfindaway.


As usual, I'm breaking the rules a little because I honestly don't remember the very first romance I read. I fell in love with love stories from some of my earliest-ever books. My dad was a HUGE reader--both to himself and out loud to my brothers and to me. He also would bring us books from the library that were not what we would have chosen ourselves but ones he was sure we'd like. And we always did. Any book that  had love and happy endings was my favorite. Then I started falling in love with the heroes of books I read. My first true love met in the pages of a book was Alec Ramsay--hero of Walter Farley's Black Stallion series. 
But...real romance books is what we're remembering! My grandma had a collection of 50 or 60  Grace Livingston Hill books. GLH wrote what we now call inspirational romance, and these were hard and fast "altar call" stories--where the hero and or heroine came to faith in the pages of the very sweet romance! I devoured these like M&Ms! 
The first specific romance I remember in vivid detail is LaVyrle Spencer's "Hummingbird." The story of a spinster who takes in a wounded train robber, who turns out to be the exact opposite of what she expects has THE greatest sex scene ever (a 180-degree change from Grace L. Hill's stories, and a wonderful eye-opening experience) and is romantic from start to finish. I'd been hooked on romance from an early age--but LaVyrle's stories made me a lifelong junkie. And Hummingbird, dated as it is now, was the true gateway drug!


  1. I love all of the stories of their first books! It is neat to see what books authors first read to get their kick start in writing. Peggy Clayton

    1. Thanks, Peggy, but Lost Island only whetted my appetite to read more romances by Phyllis A. Whitney and then on to Victoria Holt. While I'd always loved writing poetry and short stories in school, it wasn't until I'd run of out books to re-read that my frustrated hubby asked me why I didn't write one myself...it was as if a window opened inside of me and blew all the cobwebs away...I sat down and began to write my first book...hard to believe it was 25 years ago ;)

  2. I fell in love with romance in high school after reading Angelique by Sergeanne Golon, a French man and wife who colloborated. Angelique's father sold her to a very disfigured man so he could pay his gambling debts. The man was very kind and she came to love him. I'll never forget it. From there I discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss. Oh my dear Lord! What great stories all of those were. They set me on a path to fulfilling all my secret fantasies.

    1. Isn't is wonderful how the books we read touch us and have us remembering characters who've become close friends? There are characters that have lived with me for years, thanks to the power of the authors that I love to read. My favorite Kathleen Woodiwiss book is A Rose in Winter. I had the pleasure of meeting her years ago at an RT Convention. It's always interesting to hear how other authors are inspired and write.

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