As we're confronted this month with a manufactured commercial holiday full of hearts and flowers and a barrage of xxooxxoo, you can read stories featuring your ideals of romance with a variety of themes.
Interested in cowboy romances? Do you like a little more, um, animal magnetism to your love stories? How about werewolves as the main lead? Or do you lean toward aliens? Amish values? Boy next door? Romantic suspense?
I think we must have nearly every theme in romance novels possible here at the library. There are "best lists" of lots of titles, and romances are no exception. Reading love stories is no longer claimed only by the lonely spinster aunt of yours who wears sensible shoes and houses lots of cats. Today's romances are read by both genders and people of all ages and marital status.
And the media likes to talk about it. Here's just a quick review on some of the books appearing on those "best of" lists in the past year.
— "Blue Moon Bay" by Lisa Wingate involves the ever- popular theme of the prodigal son — but in this case, it's the daughter. Heather Hampton comes back to her Texas hometown intent on building an industrial plant but does not receive a great reception. Needing the bank to help finance her project, she meets handsome Blaine Underhill. You can guess what this leads to. This popular author writes with warmth and clarity about current topics.
— Speaking of contemporary themes and authors, Nora Roberts has been popular for years. Blending suspense with her brand of romanticism, her books offer compelling plots designed to keep you glued to the pages well into the night. In "Witness," we meet Abigail Lowery, a high-tech security programmer who has secrets to keep hidden — behind firewalls, a slew of firearms and a guard dog. Police Chief Brooks Gleason wants to know what makes her tick.
— The Jane Austen lovers English Regency period comes alive in "Edenbrooke" by Julianne Donaldson. Marianne Davenport is trying to reconnect with her sister and father after her mother's death. Determined to escape the boredom of her hometown, she accepts an invitation to luxuriate at a beautiful estate in the English countryside. After meeting a gentleman with smarts and good humor, she falls head over heels. This one was on lots of lists and received fantastic reviews. This spring, look for her new title: "Blackmoore."
— After a horrible accident resulting in scars and nightmares, Leila thought that things could only go up. However, she somehow gained the ability to channel electricity and learn a person's secrets by simply touching them. This sounds like a Stephen King novel I once read. In "Once Burned" by Jeaniene Frost, after Leila learns of her powers, she is kidnapped by creatures of the night and meets the devastingly sexy vampire, Vlad Tepesh. This is the first in a new series: The Night Prince.
— In "Rancher's Twins: Mom Needed" by Barbara Hannay, your fantasies about cowboys may be fulfilled. Chelsea must care for her twin niece and nephew when her sister dies unexpectedly. When the twins' father returns to town to take them to a faraway ranch, Chelsea joins them temporarily to help in their transition. Chelsea's mourning is slowly replaced by sweet yearning for the handsome rancher.
Whether you're feeling lonely or happy, old or young, housing cats or dogs, we have some great romances to meet your every fantasy.
That's what romance novels are primarily written to do: fulfill some ideal the reader has on how love is supposed to look.
So pick up some chocolates, decorate your room with paper hearts and settle in for some satisfying reading.
Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.