Jan 15 2014 9:19am

Teaching the Love: What Romance Novels Would Be on Your Core Curriculum?

Alisa Kwitney, an author who's also blogged for H&H in the past, will be teaching courses at MacDaniel College in writing and reading romance, and is working on the latter course's core curriculum. Here's what the course is about:

This course examines the writing craft of respected romance authors. The course content explores craft elements including audience, word choice, sentence construction, narration, point of view, plot, characters, and setting. Students identify, analyze, and model these elements by a thorough reading of selected popular romances.

If you were creating a list of what books to look at, which ones would be on the list? (for inspiration, here's what we think are the Ten Romance Novels You Should Read). Share in comments!

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Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
After reading Flowers From the Storm this past year, I think that one definitely needs to be on the list! Historically Accurate (at least I think), literally textbook Alpha Male overcoming a HUGE life hurdle...
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
Definitely FFTS as well as Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. It's so hard to go beyond those two, the field just widens immeasurably with so many great examples.
Katy Cooper
3. katy.madellio
I would add Jennifer Crusie's Fast Women to the list for a study of motif, which might be an aspect of word choice. Classic Mary Stewart for setting.

Those are the two off the top of my head...
Regina Thorne
4. reginathorn
@MFrampton - I've been chatting on e-mail with Jenn about romance novels she'd recommend so both of these are duly noted :D (And also available for Kindle!!!)
5. Scarlettleigh
Sounds like an interesting course! Of course there are many popular authors that I would love to pick because their sentence structure and choice of words drives me crazy . . .but I will limit myself to picking a author that I do like.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips - because she takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. She is not afraid to take enormous risks having the character do something questionable- sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't,
but when it does the book is very satisfying.
6. LoriA
Yay for Alisa! That sounds exciting. ;-) I wish I could afford to sit in on the class.

I think a classic Harlequin Presents would be interesting to include. (Or current HP with those classic elements.) However, I don't read enough of them to know which to recommend. I mostly remember the classic ones, but am not sure how they'd read now.

I'm also tempted to suggest including something by Nora Roberts, because she is so popular.
7. Kahintenn
I suggest Mary Balogh's A Christmas Promise. It's a great historical, with big misunderstandings, serious angst, love of friends and family as well as the hero and heroine, and a Christmas story. And so well written!
Carmen Pinzon
8. bungluna
Nora Roberts is a must, imo. She's very successful and has been so for many years. Plus, she covers the gammut, from category to contemporary to suspence to paranormal. I would include something by Jayne Ann Krentz, in any of her incarnations. Maybe one of her earlier paranormals? She was writing these before they became so popular. Perhaps "Crystal Flames"?
9. carmenlire
I would include something by Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, or Julia Quinn. These authors write wonderfully, both in serious situations and humor. These books are always memorable, as well!
10. JacquiC
What about a Judith McNaught -- illustrates a kind of old-school style that also generates some controversy (particularly Whitney My Love)? For all of the debate about the story elements, McNaught was a half-decent writer as well.

From contemporaries, which are my favourites, there are lots to choose from. The Travis books (Kleypas) are great, especially books 2 (Blue Eyed Devil) and 3 (Smooth Talking Stranger).

You might also want to include a more recent paranormal, given the current popularity of this genre. Some of them are really very good, though I suppose you might need to find one that can stand alone, rather than ending unresolved because there 8 other books to follow. I had originally wondered about Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson or Ilona Andrews, but in both cases, I think the romance develops over several books.

As an example of someone who is doing a great job in the category romance category (ha), Janice Kay Johnson, Kelly Hunter or Molly O'Keefe have a lot of good ones.

I agree with the Lord of Scoundrels recommendation, but I have an equal love for Mr. Impossible...

And I think it's difficult to choose the right Cruisie. Bet Me and Welcome to Temptation are my personal favourites.

Wow. The list goes on and on! It sounds like a fun course. Good luck with it.
Mary Lynne Nielsen
11. emmel
Great to see this happening at McDaniel, and fully agree with the suggestions of Kinsale, Balogh, Chase, Crusie, SEP, and Quinn. For a series author, how about Sarah Mayberry, who has come on strong the past couple of years? Suddenly You is a great recent book. And for an older work, how about Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer?
Mary Lynne Nielsen
12. emmel
And thinking about Ilona Andrews makes me recommend Sharon Shinn. Like Andrews, has the fantasy element, but also self-contained romance in each book. Archangel is a great choice, and like LOS, has stayed in print over the years.
Alisa Kwitney
13. AlisaKwitney
Thanks so much for all the suggestions and kind words! I also love the choice of Robin Schone to go with this piece, and she has long been one of my favorites. I have also recently discovered Sarah Mayberry, and still own all my old dog-eared LaVyrle Spencers. Believe it or not, I've never read Nora Roberts. Which of her many books should be my first?
Alexandra W
14. parasolprotectorate
@Alisa Kwitney - ooh, I do love giving Nora Roberts recommendations! If you're after a series, then go for Playing the Odds, the first book of The MacGregors family series. Born in Fire, first book of the Born In series is one of my favourite, more contemporary series. My absolute favourites are Honest Illusions, Sweet Revenge and Hot Ice, though they tend to get mixed reactions. Some of her late-1990s to early-2000s romantic suspenses were very good, including High Noon (my first!), The Reef, The Villa and Blue Smoke. And of course, you can't forget her In Death series, published under J.D. Robb! Eve and Roarke are the perfect romance couple.

Definitely agree with Lisa Kleypas, though I much prefer her writing style in her older books compared to her newer releases (historical and contemporary). Favourites in term of writing style are Dreaming of You, Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil
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