Did you ever start reading a book and realized you couldn't stop? I mean, really couldn't stop. You stayed up half the night and went cross-eyed at anyone who dared interrupt you. I confess, that doesn't happen to me very often anymore. I read quite a lot, but it's rare to find a book, or books, that I just want to fall into. Books whose characters I want to know and befriend. Books that, even after hundreds of pages, I don't want to end.
The past couple of weeks, I've been reading a romance series and while the first was a rather fun read, the further I progressed through the other books, the more I started to realize that the author wrote the exact same character every time - just with a different name and hair color. And she relies too heavily on strange contrasts - ex: the woman is six feet tall but referred to as "delicate" and in possession of "tiny hands". Even worse, I realized that I didn't like her characters. They had no life, no sense of humor, no sparkle. The men were predatory, women mannish, and just...
Anyway, I'm not writing about those books today. Today, I have some book recs.
With all fiction my main criteria is this: The characters must be multi-dimensional and interesting. Most of what passes for romance these days is sorely lacking in interesting characters or even character development. I was writing romance, but wasn't too enthused about the genre until I came across Judith McNaught's historicals.
I'm re-reading Whitney, My Love, which is her first novel, and have the sequels lined up when I'm finished: Once and Always, Something Wonderful, and Almost Heaven. I adore these books. Her characters are alive. They are funny. The dialogue is smart and sharp and emotional. The men and women of these stories are real and fallible - they fight and make up and the end of every book leaves me all sappy and glad these two fictional people have found each other. I love Whitney from Whitney, My Love - she's the kind of girl you'd want to be friends with. And Almost Heaven is so, so good.
I'm really not a fan of McNaught's contemporary novels, but the historical ones are fabulous. They're perfect for cold winter evenings indoors.