The very first highland romance I ever read was Johanna Lindsey’s A Gentle Feuding. As romances went in the 1980s, I thought of this one as rather risqué. By today’s standards, of course, its rather tame, but it was always my little guilty pleasure and I kept the book for many years after finding a copy in the local used bookstore. It was really this book more than most that led me to seeking out romance novels.
Once I found my copy, I clutched that book with me and walked into the local library trying very hard to pretend I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed to be presenting one of those novels to a group of 85-year-old women (the library was run by volunteers).
I mean, seriously. It talked about manhood and thrusting! And the cover. My god the cover had practically a whole exposed breast on it! (I’m ignoring for a moment, of course, that all Ms. Lindsey’s covers at one point featured buff, stunning, gloriously naked men artfully covered by the heroine’s hair and dress.) Fortunately one of the ladies at the reference counter took pity on me and helped me pick out a few others that I might like (may all the gods bless her silvery white hair for eternity).
I dove in headfirst. I read every romance novel that library had, starting with all the historicals. And once I was through with those, I joined the book club at the used bookstore to get the best deal on trade-ins. While I always was on the lookout for my all-time fav romance novel, A Gentle Feuding always had me forever seeking out similar novels, hoping for ones that talked about clans and arranged marriages and battles where the hero was injured and nursed back to health by the heroine who hadn’t really loved him until that very moment he lay dying. *swoon*
I moved away from these historicals some time around my second year of university, mostly because of my rising love and exploration of fantasy and science fiction. I only had so much time to read when I wasn’t studying. Frankly, it wasn’t until about three years ago that I really started getting back into highlander historicals when I unexpectedly started in on another series containing a book I rank among the top five romances I’d save from a burning building: Jennifer Ashley’s “Highland Pleasures” series, featuring the Mackenzie clan. The first book in a whole series of clansmen? Count me in for the long haul! When I secretly confessed my highlander obsession to a fellow romance reader, she immediately pointed me at Maya Banks’s “Montgomerys and Armstrongs” series.
At that point the highland romance ball was well and truly rolling again and has been holding me in thrall since. The Montgomerys and Armstrongs were quickly followed by Ms. Banks’s “McCabe” series. Of course I read Kresley Kole’s A Hunger Like No Other as soon as it was out. And last year’s camping vacation had me finally starting in on Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, though I’ve admittedly not made it as far through that series as I’d like. Last week when I traveled to California to the main offices of my shiny brand new dayjob (hooray!), I took six books on the plane with me, five of which were highlander historicals: all three books in Lynsay Sands’s “Devil of the Highlands” series, Adrienne Basso’s How to be a Scottish Mistress, and Karen Ranney’s The Devil of Clan Sinclair. I finished the last of those five books on the return flight to Michigan.
And now I’m out. What should I read next, my friends? Should I continue to work my way through the Outlander series? Should I just start working my way down the Goodreads list of top highlander novels? Help me choose! What would you read next?