Let's face it: not everyone loves Valentine's Day. But as an unabashed romance fan, I do — and I thought I'd share the love by checking in with some of my favorite romance authors and asking them to share their Valentine traditions, and a few of their favorite romances — because what better way to celebrate love than with the best love stories ever told?
Valentine's Day is a favorite holiday for me. When I was single, my Dad would send flowers from "a secret admirer" (not much of a secret, but awfully sweet nonetheless). After I got married, my husband and I preferred to stay in. Much more appealing than dinner at an overcrowded restaurant or gifts wrapped in pink tissue paper are homemade cards from the kiddies. We give them candy and don't make them wait till after dinner to devour it. Hubby cooks dinner; the kids are banished upstairs and we light candles. I make crème brulée in heart-shaped ramekins and give him a card I drew — stick figures of the two of us surrounded by hearts.
The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, by Elinor Lipman: An awkward surgical resident finds herself dating a fudge salesman in this brilliant combination of romance and humor. One of Lipman's very finest, which is saying a lot.
The Newcomer, by Robyn Carr. No one writes emotional big-cast stories better than Robyn Carr. Grace, intelligence, complexity and humor make this book a joy to read.
An Angel in Provence, by Nancy Robards Thompson, is the embodiment of why we love a story about starting over. Nancy Robards Thompson writes about widowhood with an honest, poignant voice, which makes Rita's journey all the more satisfying.
When I was 25, I found myself spending Valentine's Day 1500 miles away from my sweetheart. I had a feeling he'd come through with some chocolates or flowers, and indeed, when I caught my sister whispering the name of a flower shop into the telephone on February 12, I was pretty sure he'd enlisted her help. Sure enough, a dozen red roses arrived on my doorstep to mark the holiday, and as the delivery guy handed me the bouquet, I blushed and smiled, and my sister grinned and teased that she had made it all happen.
But then something unexpected happened. The delivery guy went back to his truck and emerged with another, smaller bouquet. And then another. And another. Bewildered, we checked the notes, and we realized that my sweetheart had not just sent flowers to me, he had sent them to my sister, my mother, and my grandmother.
Reader, I married him.
When Beauty Tamed the Beast, by Eloisa James. It's no secret that I'm a huge Eloisa James fan, and her interpretation of Beauty and the Beast is divine.
Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas. The scene where Derek finally admits his love for Sara — swoon!
It Had to Be You, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is outrageously smart, outrageously funny — outrageously outrageous!
Jayne Ann Krentz
It is so cool to be writing in a genre that has its own patron saint and a holiday to go with him. Okay, so the original St. Valentine met an unfortunate end. Still, it's how we celebrate the day that matters, right? As far as I'm concerned, this world could use more days devoted to the positive values associated with love — such as kindness, thoughtfulness and hope. Romance writers celebrate love all year long — but Valentine's Day is still a very nice day and I intend to celebrate it with my husband in the traditional manner: greeting cards, chocolate, roses and champagne.
Dangerous Refuge, by Elizabeth Lowell. No one, regardless of genre, does a better job of using the landscape of a story, in this case the modern American West, as a defining element of the plot.
Amber Rules, by Mel Curtis, is a clever, over-the-top, outrageous romance set against the over-the-top, outrageous backdrop of today's Hollywood.
Sleeping With the Entity, by Cat Devon. Vampires, demons and red-velvet cupcakes. Need I say more?
This is probably horrible to admit, considering I write romance novels for a living — and I really am a huge fan of love and relationships, I promise! — but I have always treated Valentine's Day the same as any other day: a work day. I write with the usual goal in mind, making no special allowances. I even shudder at the thought of going out to eat on such a holiday. The crowds, the wait for the table; I would much rather be at home, eating take out in bed, watching TV. The good news is, my hubby feels the same way, which is probably one of the reasons we are so perfect together!
Seduction on the Sand, by Roxanne St. Claire: A sexy billionaire falls for a heroine who owns a goat farm in this fun, beautifully written tale about finding love in the most unlikely places.
Crash Into You, by Katie McGarry stars a foster boy who's helpless against his attraction to the shy beauty he's determined to protect, all while racing cars and dodging bad guys. Talk about an adrenaline rush!
Shoreline Drive, by Lily Everett: Introvert male meets pregnant female in this poignant story about forgiveness and true love.
Valentine's Day — The Big Romance Day — is a wonderful day for gifts, and if you celebrate it, I hope you enjoy the day to the fullest. For me, loving someone is a daily exercise, a daily celebration, a daily acknowledgement beyond chocolates, jewelry and fine wine. I try to celebrate romance — and love — all year long, every day. So here's to Valentine's Day, and a year to come full of love.
Destiny's Surrender, by Beverly Jenkins, is historical fiction and a great romance
The Shadow and The Star, by Laura Kinsale, further sealed my love for historical romance; great brooding heroes
Tonight and Forever, by Brenda Jackson, is sexy romance that launched the fan-fave Madaris family series
And my own picks for Valentine's Day? Tessa Dare's Romancing the Duke is a simply charming historical romance, and up-and-coming author Megan Mulry had sizzling intensity in her contemporary R Is For Rebel.
Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate and the founder of Read-A-Romance Month.