I was moaning on Twitter about this prompt because I couldn’t get past three books! I read romances from time to time, but not enough to make an impression, the way the first three on this list did.
I was trying to make a post for #BFridayPosts but I can't think of 5 books that made my heart seriously flutter. Um…
— Gemma (@gemkarita) February 4, 2017
I already gave up and shelved the idea — I don’t have a lot of time to make posts, so when I don’t have a concrete idea, I move on to something I can put together quicker. But then an email made me think of books from the past: the ones that never made a dent in the bestseller list, or the ones known as guilty pleasures. So that is what this list is made up of, with the book covers when I first read them.
Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennett loved to read, and was despite being blessed with good manners (as opposed to her younger sisters and mother), she had her streak of spunkiness that was apparently not considered flattering for women during those times. I was an awkward kid growing up; I covered up my lack of confidence by being sarcastic replies or comments. It wasn’t a very feminine thing to do, and I latched on to that association with the Lizzie character. The fact that she somehow ends up charming the sternest and most intimidating-sounding man played right up to my fantasies! Oddly enough, I think this still resonates to a lot of young women today, so I don’t know what that says about society in general.
I’m not quite sure whether I read this first or Pride and Prejudice, but either way, I think I read them in succession. However, unlike Pride and Prejudice which I’ve read more than three times, I have only read Jane Eyre once, back in my early teens (I’m trying to rectify this soon, I swear). Again, Jane appealed to me because she was your ordinary girl — I thought of myself as one — but she had such passions and the drive to be independent, which I found very admirable. I did find her romance with Rochester weirdly appealing despite Rochester’s shady character — did he appear as that mysterious, bad boy trope? I will have to re-examine! From the bits I can remember, I cannot connect how I found him attractive when he sounds like a manipulative abuser!
While I read Pride and Prejudice is a love since my early teenage years, Persuasion is a recent read that I reckon I would not have had the appreciation for if I read it when I was younger. Anne Elliot is an unmarried woman old enough to be considered an old maid, isolated from society and considered as a shadow by her family, i.e. she is always never regarded by her family even if she lives with them. It was said her beauty has come and gone, and she had broken off an engagement with a man she loved due to the influence of a friend. Persuasion is a tale of a second chance with this love, but it reveals so much more, and my heart ached and burned with admiration at the same time at how this lady managed to remain graceful despite her circumstances. I think if one never felt or empathised with the feeling of being a ‘leftover’ — which is apparently the way Chinese woman are called if they are unmarried by late twenties — then this book might not have the same effect.
Secrets of the Nile: Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mystery #25
Other than sparking my desire to travel (I was so keen to see Egypt!), this book started me on the Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy shipping train. I think I must have re-read this book at least twice because I felt that rush of thrill reading about how they have to pretend to be a married couple as the decoy for a wealthy banker’s newlywed sons (with Joe Hardy and Nancy’s friend Bess as the other couple), but ending up having to unravel a mystery that involves international intrigue and deception. To be quite honest, I don’t remember anything about the mystery — all I can remember was Egypt sounded fantastic, and Nancy and Fred were somewhat equals. The internet did not exist then, sadly, so I never got to read any fanfiction!
I Do (Bantam Love Stories)
I don’t know how you younger ones get your romance fix now, but back then, we consumed the Bantam Love Stories like it was going to be confiscated any second! The girls would take stock of who owns what, and we would borrow from each other, make recommendations…oh man, the memories! This one is my favourite — the girl is a sports editor, the guy is the captain of the lacrosse team, and they do not get along well. The girl takes sports reporting seriously: hardcore analysis and telling it like it is even if it’s mostly negative write-up about the school team. Their worlds don’t really collide other than during matches, not until the lacrosse team’s coach moves in across from where the girl lives. In addition, the girl’s cousin is getting married to the guy’s stepbrother, and they’re going to be maid-of-honour and best man. The journey from getting along to falling in love was sweet and hilarious, and I admit, I still re-read this from time to time!
And there you have it, those are the five books that made my flutter! I do read typical romance books sometimes (usually historical romances though) but nothing has ever made an impression that I would think about re-reading it.
Do you actively read romance novels, or is it just an element that may or may not be in your usual book choices? Who’s your favourite couple from books?