Tue
Mar 13 2012 9:07am

What Was Your Gateway Book?

We’ve talked Gateway books in terms of recommending them to others, in particular our own Christopher Morgan, who has been Gateway-ing his way through historical, paranormal romance, and contemporary, to name a few (next up is romantic suspense!).

But what was the book that led you to romance novels? At what age did you start?  What do you remember about the book? Do you still have it?

Share in comments!

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47 comments
Lynne Silver
1. Lynne Silver
My Gateway was Julie Garwood's The Bride, stolen from a college friend. Of course I still have a copy!
Kiersten Hallie Krum
2. Kiersten
Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwess was my first adult romance and I was about 11 years old. I was hooked. Read it so many times, I torn the cover of the libray edition. Eventually, I wound up stealing it from the library to avoid having to ever be without it. No pitchforks! Believe me, I made up for it...

After that I glommed onto the Woodiwess ouevre, then Devereux, McNaught, and Garwood - basically the historical romance canon of the 80s
Lynne Silver
3. Colette Robins
Lynne, The Bride is an excellent book and I own a copy. My gateway book was a Harlequin about a young woman in Europe who met a duke. I was 11 years old and this was so exciting and romantic. Of course at that time most of the Harlequins were about nobility. I enjoyed when they eventually began to write about ordinary people.
Lynne Silver
4. Arthemise
A friend offered a free copy of a Stacia Kane book for the Kindle. I had only read fantasy before that and was set against urban fantasy and romance. But hey, free book! I got hooked and have read both UF and PNR almost exclusively ever since. My credit card is not happy about the upsurge.
Catwoman Felisamorata
5. Catwoman
The Flame and the Flower, Kathleen Woodiwiss. She was one amazing writer...
Lisa Ellingsworth
6. LisaEllingsworth
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. I think I was 11 at the time. I loved having a much older sister who furthered my education by allowing me to read her books that were meant for adults. If my mother had known what was in that book she'd have killed us both.
Janga
7. Janga
I started reading romance, both literary and popular, the summer I turned ten, when I was allowed to read my mother's books. I read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre for the first time that summer. I also read stacks of romances by Emilie Loring. I've been a romance reader, although in the closet at times, ever since.
Kristin O
8. krismas29
A second vote for Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss - I read it in around1978-79 and was 11 or 12. I loved that book!

My second was Wicked Loving Lies by Rosemary Rogers; I was hooked by then.
Cristina P
9. krissapl
Also around 10-12, I started to see some very colorful books in our library, there were only 5 or 6 of them, but I read them all. I remeber there were a couple of Sandra Browns there (Adam's Fall is the one I liked the most), a Deveraux...
Lynne Silver
10. tammye
A Harlequin romance by Betty Neels and "Light A Penny Candle" a Loveswept. I was 12.
Elizabeth Halliday
11. Ibbitts
"Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier. I was 10 years old. I remember everything about the book, even a lot of the dialogue. Yes, I have a copy; it's an excellent read!
Glass Slipper
12. GlassSlipper
I'm embarrassed to say this, but until my mid twenties, I hated to read. Then Twilight came out (don't hate me!), and it looked so intriguing that I bought it and ate it up. A monster was born, and I became obsessed with reading romance. I went out and bought A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught. Now, about six years later, I've been hoarding romance novels and trying to read them all! :D
Kiersten Hallie Krum
13. Kiersten
Oh wow. Rosemary Rodgers Ginny and Steve. Sweet Savage Love etc. Oh so wrong and yet oh so fabulous.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
14. Kiersten
@Glass Slipper - A Kingdom of Dreams is a CLASSIC. Desert isle book. We don't care how you got here just as long as you got here. ;-)
Kara Keenan
15. KaraKeenan
My gateway books- my cousin was going off to college, and my aunt sent me a box of her books to my Mom. Well, I was out of reading material at the time, so at the age of 14, I started digging through the book. I grabbed Whitney, My Love (the original version, with the rapeyness) by Judith McNaught, and Wild Hearts by Virginia Henley (with the incestualness of first cousins having sex and whatnot). My god, I loved them both. I still have both of these books, even though they are no longer my favorites, or even close to my favorites. The Duchess by Jude Devereaux is my all time favorite historical.
Heather Waters (redline_)
16. redline_
Mary Jo Putney's One Perfect Rose. Will always have a soft spot for that one.
Lynne Silver
17. EC Spurlock
Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer, loaned to me by a college friend. Even though Heyer was the only romance I would read for a few years after that, I eventually got sucked into other historicals, like Clare Darcy and Jane Aiken, and have stayed ever since. And while I no longer have that particular book (I had to give it back :-( ) I still have a bunch of others bought at the used book shop in my college town that year and still have my complete collection of Heyers.
Lynne Silver
18. BevQB
I can't remember a time when I wasn't devouring books. But I think my first Romance, which was also the first time I remember a book evoking such a profound emotional response in me, was LITTLE WOMEN. It's the first time I remember sobbing out loud while reading (Beth's death), getting angry on a character's behalf (Amy's betrayal of Jo), and eagerly watching love bloom (both Meg and Jo).
Lynne Silver
19. Lizdepot
I blame one woman: Iris Johansen. I stole a copy of her book THE UGLY DUCKLING from my mother when I was in 7th grade and fell so in love with it all that I had to read her entire book list...including her older romances, which took me to Linda Howard and from Linda Howard I started Julie Garwood. Next thing I know I'm surrounded by historicals. But I still read THE UGLY DUCKLING when I just need a good book to escape to. It's a little more beaten up now though.
Mandy G
20. BookBoudoir
oh my goodness. I don't remember the very first romance I read. But I do remember that around 15 or 16 I started snagging my moms LaVyrle Spencer's. Sweet November was a favorite, as well as Seperate Bed and Bitter Sweet. Those stick out in my mind, as well as Julie Garwood. I loved the Rose books. And her highlander books. I have some days that I randomly think "I sure do wish Julie Garwood would write more highlander books."
Lynne Silver
21. Jo @ MIxed Book BAg
It was The Sheik. I was around 12 or 13 and babysitting at my Aunt and Uncle's house. I found it, read it and loved it but never told anyone I had read it. At the time I thought it was really racy.
Vanessa Ouadi
22. Lafka
If I put aside more or less "classics" of literature (to quote only english-written books, let's say Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters' books, for instance), I remember the first romance novel per se I've read when I was around 10-11. It was Tori Phillips' Three Dog Knight, a medieval love story involving a royal bastard, a reluctant yet caring hero, and an evil sister-in-law. Retrospectively, it probably isn't the best romance novel ever, but it was good enough, I really loved it and it was simply the beginning of a brand new addiction! I still have it of course (I don't think I've ever thrown away nor given nor sold any book in my entire life _ obsolete law books put aside)
Darlene Marshall
23. darlenemarshall
I'm tempted to say Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Read it when I was 12, still have a copy. But if we're going with modern romance novels, I'd have to say The Wolf and the Dove by Woodiwiss. I'm old enough to have read it when it was first published, and it rocked my world.
Lynne Silver
24. brontëgirl
My first romance . . . a Victoria Holt novel, sometime in
junior high, which didn't make much of an impression,
and also Gone With the Wind, which did, tho' I paid as much
attention to the history as the romance. My first romantic
poetry was Robert Browning's "Home Thoughts, from Abroad" (not
the conventional romantic poem but my first boyfriend liked it,
so . . . .) and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43," read in high school.
Carrie Strickler
25. DyslexicSquirrel
Secret Life of Brian by Lori Foster. I think I was about 19 or so? I fell in love with Foster's book after that, which lead me to her message board where I heard about other books, which lead me to spend a lot of time in the Romance section of the B. Dalton hahaha
S Tieh
26. infinitieh
Jennifer Crusie's "Anyone But You" which I borrowed from the library because of the dog on the cover.
Anna Bowling
27. AnnaBowling
My first and still a big favorite, The Kadin by Bertrice Small. I was eleven, and filched it from my mother, who caught me reading it under the guest bedroom bed with a flashlight during a power outage. I knew on that first read that I'd found what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life.
Marian DeVol
28. ladyengineer
Discounting the "Gothic novel" genre (which I considered separate at the time) I was introduced to in a freshman English class in high school (Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, the Brontës, etc.), a sophmore classmate recommended Georgette Heyer to me that same year (~1970, I was 14 or 15).

The first GH I read was from the public library, not sure which one but it may have been Regency Buck or The Black Sheep. I then devoured the rest of her historical romances. Discovered my mother had many of them in paperback, including these two. Somewhere along the way, I absconded with her collection, acquired any missing ones and still have them. I reread them on a regular basis.

Shortly after finding Heyer and while still in high school, I started reading Barbara Cartland ravenously until I got bored with her cookie-cutter style and insipid heroines.
Lynne Silver
29. booklife
Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small when I was 15. Oh what an adventurous woman she was! No matter how many romances I read this will always be my favorite!
MKJDobson
30. Rose In RoseBear
In 1986, a friend at work and I were eating lunch in a nearby full-service grocery store. The café was right next to the book section, and we were teasing each other about our reading preferences --- if it wasn't hard science fiction, I wasn't interested, and she would only read romances. We dared each other to swap genres. I handed her Dragonflight, she handed me some pirate novel with a Zebra-type lurid cover (can't remember the title).

The next day, I bought $50 worth of romance novels, including Come Love A Stranger by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Fires Of Eden by Elizabeth Lowell. And that's how my 5000+ collection started!

(She hated Dragonflight, btw ... I don't know how we managed to stay friends!)
Lynne Silver
31. SassyTarheel
My very first romance novel (that I read grudgingly) was My Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. I say that I read it grudgingly because I was in the 7th grade and so not interested in reading romance novels (blech). My BFF at the time had it with her because we were going on a field trip somewhere. She said I should read it because it was really good. So, I said okay....and hundreds of books later the rest is history.
Lynne Silver
32. 3DJen
My first was Janet Dailey one in the Calder Series. I still remember soemthing of the last line. (paraphrased).
"People come and go but the land stays." I laughed hard, cried harder and have been hooked ever since.
Jenny Schwartzberg
33. yoneit
When I was 8, an older cousin gave me a box of romances she was getting rid of. It was a mix of Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland and old Harlequins. The first that I read was GH's These Old Shades and I've been hooked on romances ever since!
Lynne Silver
34. Billy London
My first proper romance was a Mills and Boon by Robyn Donald, then nothing could stop me from devouring many more and a proper bodice ripper of a book that taught me more about sex than a fourteen year old really should know, but hot diggidy - it was gooooooooooood. I've still got that. I'm sure of it. Hell, I'm going to look for it tomorrow!
Ellen Hutchings
35. shadowmaster13
My first romance was A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole, I was 17. I've never looked back.
Marcelle Cole
36. marcellecole
I was 12, it was 1971, the book was Clove Orange, Author Joyce Dingwell,, a Harlequin romance. I still remember thinking the Hero was so manly and attractive. While mild by todays standard if my mom had ever known I probably would not have got to finish it.................
Cynthia Netherton
37. Cynthia aka Artemis
I'm the rookie of the bunch; although my age wouldn't show it! I've been around for quite a few moons - LOL! I didn't pick up a romance novel until just a few years ago. When TRUE BLOOD hit the screen and I devoured all of the Sookie Stackhouse series. Oh yes, I was a reader for sure, just not romance, usually mainstream fiction and history. I wanted another vamp series to read and headed to my local B&M store. Alas, my first venture into romance and my first love will always be: Wrath of J.R. Ward's DARK LOVER!
Lynne Silver
38. JanineD.
I began my foray into the wonderful world of romance with Danielle Steele's "Star" at the age of 11. My older sister (she was 18 at the time) challenged me to a reading contest. She choose another Danielle Steele and I picked Star and by the next day I was done, while she hadn't made it past page 10. So I picked another Danielle Steele book. And another. And another. Finally my other older sister (who was 20) got wind that I was reading all these romance novels and surprised me with a gigantic box filled to the top with her old Harlequin and Silouette romance. It took the help of my sisters, brother and my mother to carry it upstairs to my room. Which I did not leave for the rest of the summer! That was one of the best summers of my childhood.
Lynne Silver
39. filkferengi
My first Harlequin was _Dark Star_ by Nerina Hilliard at the age of 10. 12 was a big year, with my first Mary Stewart and first Georgette Heyer . The Heyer had lots of French, which led to taking French in high school, which led to several French majors in college.
Lynne Silver
40. tiago5
I love this subject matter! My first romance books were Silhouette romances . Special Editions original in the series. I sent away for them and at twelve and that's saying something! I got six books for 6.75 and boy howdy do they cost now.
Lynne Silver
41. Lee I.
I think I was 10. I read everything I could lay my heads on but my parents expressly forbade me from reading Mills & Boon's. I couldn't understand why because all my older sisters and cousins read them. One day my cousin left a copy of Roberta Leigh's Cinderella in Mink at our house. Hey, it's a fairy tale. It couldn't be so bad to be forbidden. I read it and until now I remember the story. I have been hooked on romance ever since. So while my classmates were reading Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High, I was secretly reading more mature love stories.
Lynne Silver
42. Mrs. Mechanic
I have always loved to read but only horror and Sci-fi until I ran out of books and money to spend on them! My sister in law handed me a box of her old books and in it was Johanna Lindsey's Heart of a Warrior. I was 26. It was perfect, it's about aliens, and I was shocked! Been hooked ever since. I still have it on my bookshelf and yes it's still a favorite. Must say though, J R Ward is my favorite author.
Lynne Silver
43. rdsangel127117
I used to read the teenage romances when I was in the 14 to 17 year old age. The first adult romance I read was Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. OMG! I couldn't believe what I was reading or what she wrote. My eyes were bugging out, my mouth was hanging open and my face was hot. What a great memory ! Yes! I still have the book. It was loaned out so many times, the first few pages are loose and it's held together by rubber bands. I was about 20 at the time. I was hooked!
Rachel
44. niftyreb
My first romance novel was secretly purchased at a thrift store. I say secretly because my mom didn't read romance nor did she approve of it so I snuck Jude Deveraux's The Duchess in with a stack of sci-fi. Oh how I loved that book and I still have the copy I got when I was 14 years old.
Lynne Silver
45. TangelB
I used to flirt around the edges of romance a little with suspense that might include a smidgeon of romance. One year my husband bought me a few paperbacks for Christmas but had been taken in by re-releases (new covers). So I returned them and in browsing for replacements, I found what I consider to be my gateway book, Suzanne Brockmann's Hot Target. Since then, I've pretty much gone straight (romance that is). In writing this though, I dusted off a faint memory from 5th grade of a book I re-read about 14 times about a girl, a boy, and an ID bracelet. That's all I can remember, but it must have truly been my first romance.
Lynne Silver
46. Merida
My very first romance was Too Hot To Handle by Elizabeth Lowell. I'd been reading adult novels, To Kill A Mockingbird, War and Peace etc. since I was 8 (nerdy I know) but picked up this book by accident. I loved the forcefulness of the hero and, given I was 13, the love scenes were very racy for me! Lowell led me to Linda Howard, Amanda Quick, LaVyrle Spencer and many more since then. Go the romance!
Lynne Silver
47. KatiLou
LOL Mine was Janet Dailey's _Touch the Wind_. I was between 7th & 8th grade, which put me at about 12 years old, I believe. Rather sharp learning curve for my sex education!!! Prior to finding that book and _The Rogue_ (also by Dailey) on my Mom's bookshelf, the only sex-ed I'd had was a Dr. Dobson book about adolesence. *grin*
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