Playground Monitor here, with today's guest blogger. I "met" Kati at the blog of our mutual friend Michelle Buonfiglio. Kati lives in Washington, D.C. where she's an event planner for an environmental organization. She's been reading romance for over 25 years and is active in several romance communities. She is a reviewer and columnist for Romance Novel TV. You can visit her at her blog, Adventures in Katidom. Please give a big Playground welcome to our guest today.
I’ve been reading romance a long time, over 25 years. And those who know me well know there is little more that I enjoy than recommending books that I think they’ll love. But these are experienced romance readers. What happens when it’s someone who has never read romance? Or what if they have a disdain (that generally they can’t explain) for romance? What happens then? How do we get them to give the genre that we love so much a chance?
For me, I base my recommendations on what I know about them. If they read sci-fi, I might recommend someone like Ann Aguirre, who wrote the amazing Grimspace and its follow-up, Wanderlust. Both books are set in a gritty future-world where space travel is the norm and there are certain people who are gifted with an almost psychic ability to “jump” space ships from place to place. Or Linnea Sinclair, who writes wonderful sci-fi romances that feature strong, tremendously smart heroines and the sexy, domineering men who love them.
If the person is a fantasy reader, I might suggest C.L. Wilson’s incomparable Tairen Soul series. The series is deeply imaginative and magical and it captures the essence of “if you can dream it, you can make it so” of fantasy writing. Or, perhaps I’d suggest Elizabeth Vaughan’s Warlords of the Plains series, which are some of my all time favorite books. The books are set in a slightly alternate world that has a Native American flavor to it. The story is both a love story between a man and a woman, but also a nuanced portrayal of a woman who is a fish out of water and trying desperately to adjust and thrive in a new and foreign land. As readers, we discover her new world as she does.
If the potential reader loves mysteries, I might suggest the In Death series by J.D. Robb, which features a slightly future world, and a gritty homicide cop, her billionaire husband (one of the greatest heroes ever written in romance) and the beloved cast of secondary characters who work with her. The series has over 30 books in it and describes some pretty vivid murders, so it might appeal to a lover of the gory mystery book. If they want something with a little more heat, I’d recommend Dying to Please or Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard. Both have great mysteries, a very strong romance component, and Howard’s trademark sexual tension.
My latest conversion was my best friend, Amy. She was always slightly derisive of my love of romance. Not in a mean way, but more in that, “Kati, I can’t believe how much romance you read” kind of way. But this year, as she was getting ready to go on a business trip, she called me from Books-A-Million. She was casting around for something to read and wanted a suggestion. Amy happens to have been an art history major. So I suggested Nora Roberts’ The Three Fates. The book surrounds the search for three small, priceless pieces d’arte, the Three Fates. It also features some of the things that Roberts does best: strong smart heroines and delicious, Irish (!) heroes. Amy bought it, read it practically in one sitting, and called again. Now she needed something to read while on vacation. I handed over Homeport by Roberts again. She gobbled that one up, and came back to me. Now it was time to change it up. I’d recently read Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins, a new to me author who had recently won the RITA award for one of her books. I’d thoroughly enjoyed Just One of the Guys, and thought Amy might too. She called me and said, “I was crying on the plane over the book. And I finished it! Now I’ve got to find something to read for the trip home!” Last week, I brought her four more romances.
And there you have it. A romance reader is born. Do I expect that she’ll only read romance? Absolutely not. But she gave it a try, and with a couple of well placed recommendations, I was able to convince someone who had never even considered reading romance a shot.
So, my question is this, what books would you use to “convert” someone? How do you make your book recommendations to friends who are willing to give romance a chance? Have you ever converted someone to romance? How did you do it?