My love affair with the novella began when as an undergrad I discovered I much preferred “Bartleby the Scrivener” to Moby Dick and “The Dead” to Ulysses. Part of the attraction of the literary novellas was the length, of course, but as I branched out into novellas in romance fiction, I found other advantages. Not only could I read a complete novella while waiting for soccer practice to end or while my students were doing their department-mandated in-class writing, but I could also try new writers with a minimum investment of time. I reserved a special shelf for keeper anthologies and expanded my auto-buy list with authors I first fell in love with through novellas.
The only problem was that novellas in historical romance tended to be seasonal because anthologies usually centered on a holiday theme, most often Christmas but sometimes Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day or June weddings. Imagine my delight when the digital revolution led to a renaissance of historical romance novellas. Old favorites were being reissued in digital format, and new ones were being offered as ereads only. I could choose from novellas that were prequels to established series or introductions to upcoming series, novellas that gave me the story complete with HEA of a secondary character, novellas that served as a snack to tide me over while waiting for a new novel from a favorite author. My Kindle was filling up with novellas from Miranda Neville, Meredith Duran, Kate Noble, Grace Burrowes, and others. Heaven!
Soon I had so many novellas that I was faced with a difficult decision. Which of my many cherished romance fiction novellas would I archive and which would remain on my ereader to be reread as I waited in the doctor’s office or in an endless supermarket checkout line? I am still in the process of making choices, but these are the six novellas that I’ll never delete, the ones I reread again and again. (I consider Christmas novellas a category of their own. That explains the absence of Mary Balogh, Mary Jo Putney, and Carla Kelly from this list.)