Five Books Everyone Should Read is a new feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.
This is going to be hard. My 5 books probably changes with the years, so I’ll try not to feel too guilty about including some books and leaving others out. I tend to read across a lot of genres, and I started my reading life with a lot of fantasy novels, inspired by The Hobbit, which we listened to on audio when I was in primary school (that’s the Australian equivalent of elementary school). Then I discovered romance. And then I started writing romance…
Anne McCaffrey’s DragonFlight
HOW CAN ONE GIRL SAVE AN ENTIRE WORLD?
To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.
But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .
I’m pretty sure my aunt gave me this book to read. I DEVOURED it, followed by the rest of the Pern books. I loved the romance, the world of Pern, the action, the prickly, stubborn heroine and the noble, determined hero…Sigh.
Jennifer Crusie’s Anyone But You
For Nina Askew, turning forty means freedom–from the ex-husband, freedom from their stuffy suburban home, freedom to focus on what she wants for a change. And what she wants is something her ex always vetoed–a puppy. A bouncy, adorable puppy. Instead she gets…Fred.
Overweight, middle-aged, a bit smelly and obviously depressed, Fred is light-years from perky. But he does manage to put Nina in the path of Alex Moore, her gorgeous, younger-by-a-decade neighbor.
Alex seems perfect–he’s a sexy, seemingly sane, surprisingly single E.R. doctor–but the age gap convinces Nina that anyone but Alex would be better relationship material. But with every silver-haired stiff she dates, the more she suspects it’s the young, dog-loving doc she wants to sit and stay!
This is the book that changed my life. I had been trying to get published for a while, writing Regency romances (so, so bad!) and trying my hand at Harlequin Presents type books. They were what I tended to read, so that was what I was trying to write. Then I picked up Anyone But You, one of the launch books (if not THE launch book) for Harlequin’s Love and Laughter line. This book was like a revelation to me. The characters in it where normal, not millionaires and secretaries, and it was so funny and sexy and there was so much attitude leaping off the page. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is the book where I understood what “voice” was for a writer, and seeing what Ms Crusie had so masterfully done made me realize that I should put more of myself into my writing and not try to sound like everyone else. I still love this book. It’s gorgeous.
Lisa Kleypas’s Travis family trilogy – Sugar Daddy, Blue Eyed Devil, Smooth Talking Stranger
Here together for the first time in a convenient ebook bundle, the first three books in New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas’ beloved series featuring the Travis family:
Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas. Hardy Cates’ ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty Jones is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them. Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans and soon Liberty finds herself under the spell of a billionaire tycoon. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past. Two men. One woman. A choice that can make her or break her. A woman you’ll root for every step of the way. A love story you’ll never forget.
Hardy Cates is a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston’s oil industry. He’s got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind. Haven Travis refuses to set out on the path her wealthy family has chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.
Smooth Talking Stranger
Jack Travis leads the uncomplicated life of a millionaire Texas playboy. But no one has ever truly touched his heart or soul. Until one day, a woman appears on his doorstep with fury on her face and a baby in her arms. It seems Jack is the father and this woman is the baby’s aunt. The real mother has abandoned the child to her more responsible sister. And now, Jack is being called upon to take responsibility for the first time in his life.
Yes. I am totally cheating including these three books under one heading. They remain my go-to comfort reads, as well as the books that inspire me when I think about the kind of writer I’d like to be when I grow up. Funny, sexy, smart, moving… I could go on and on.
Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye
Marlowe befriends a down on his luck war veteran with the scars to prove it. Then he finds out that Terry Lennox has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife, who he’s divorced and re-married and who ends up dead. and now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe.
– I went through a stage where I gobbled up everything Raymond Chandler ever wrote. His books are so of their time, and they practically define the whole noir fiction genre. I picked The Long Goodbye because it’s got the amazing blonde quote in it. Someone has very kindly created a page all of its own for it over at Good Reads. Yes, it’s probably terribly misogynistic, but it’s so freakin’ noir… http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33504-there-are-blondes-and-blondes-and-it-is-almost-a
Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter
THE HIGH STAKES OF LOVE
Skilled in the art of card playing, Deborah Grantham, a gambler’s daughter, uses that skill as her sole means of support as mistress of her aunt’s elegant and exclusive gaming club in 18th-century London. The beautiful young must find a way to restore herself and her aunt to respectability, preferably without accepting either of two repugnant offers. One is from an older, very rich and rather corpulent lord whose reputation for licentious behavior disgusts her; the other from the young, puppyish scion of a noble family whose relatives are convinced she is a fortune hunter.
Lady Mablethorpe was aghast. Her young son Adrian was marrying Miss Deborah Grantham–a gambling-club wench! Thus she sent her trusted nephew, the vastly wealthy, clever, and imperturbable Max Ravenscar, speeding to the faro tables to buy the hussy off. To Ravenscar’s surprise, Deborah turned out to be remarkably handsome, witty, and–he could scarcely believe it–well-bred. Nevertheless, he expected she’d be grateful far the price he offered to give up her young suitor. Arrogant Ravenscar comes to buy her off, an insult so scathing that it leads to a volley of passionate reprisals, escalating between them to a level of flair and fury that can only have one conclusion….
I discovered Georgette Heyer when I moved into a friend’s house and discovered her mother’s extensive collection. I practically did a backstroke through those books, I immersed myself in them so completely. I can still remember the decadent pleasure of finishing one and then walking up the hallway to grab another one off the shelf. The kind of on-tap self indulgence we enjoy every day now with e-books. I’ve picked Faro’s Daughter because I love the battle of wills between the hero and heroine. I love the code of honor that they share. I love that their wrangling is foreplay. There’s a scene where the heroine’s sniveling brother tries to suck up to the hero by releasing him from imprisonment, and the hero is so contemptuous of him for betraying his sister, he refuses to take advantage of what’s happened. Instead, he waits for the heroine to come visit him in his “cell”, a sort of courtesy to her… Just thinking about how much these two people understand each other makes me smile.
Thanks so much for asking me to play today! I loved thinking about these books and why I love them so much.
About Sarah Mayberry:
Sarah Mayberry is the New York Times best selling author of more than 35 books. When she’s not writing romance, she writes scripts for TV and works as a story consultant to the Australian and New Zealand film and television industries. She’s is happily married to another writer, and they live together by the Bay in Melbourne, Australia, with a small furry Cavoodle called Max. Visit her at her website: www.sarahmayberry.com
Check out Sarah’s latest release: Anticipation