Jul 30 2015 7:08am

Throwback Thursday: What ’80s Romance Should I Read?


We're going to break the fourth wall for this morning's Morning Coffee because it's true confession time: My name is Jenn and I've never read an '80s romance. Early '90s, sure, but I've never read any of the heaving bosoms or the bodice rippers that made the genre infamous. For a newbie, what would you recommend as the epitome of 80s romance...that might still be palatable to a reader in 2015? Who were your favorite authors in the 80s and are they still writing today?

Let me hear your suggestions in the comments!


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1. reay
I met Fabio once. He is disturbingly good looking in person. Less fake, more yummy.
Laura Bracken
2. Night -owl
I don't know if this book counts but I loved Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught. The Hero & Heroine have a whole love/hate thing going and it's hot!
Elizabeth Poteet
3. ElizabethPoteet
Okay, so it's not technically a bodice ripper, but one of my ALL TIME favorite romances was published in 1989. Which as we all know was just a magical year (see: Taylor Swift).

Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard.

It's a contemporary, category romance about a small town VIRGIN school teacher and Wolf Mackenzie. When I'm having a bad day, I read the heck out of this book.
CRenard Renard
4. Elfnut
Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. My first romance book.
5. Scarlettleigh
Shirlee Busbee, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Laurie McBain, Judith McNaught were all popular in the 80's.

I think it all depends on how you feel about misogynistic hero and possible rape scenes.

Laurie McBain's books are being released again by Sourcebooks (Dominik series) so maybe the hero's treatment of the heroine is not that unsettling today.

I think Judith McNaught re-wrote her rape scene in Whitney My Love. I remember Gypsy by Shirlee Busbee had a scene that could be considered rape-- and at least one more had the heroine accidently in the hero's bed and because of that he considered her willing. Woodiwiss' Flame and the Flower has a rape scene. And I think the Wolf and the Dove does too.

I'm not trying to pick on these authors- that is what was selling. Big drama, lots of "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you -- Oh, I love you"
Kiersten Hallie Krum
6. Kiersten
I *immediately* thought of Shanna, which was my all-time favorite back then (I actually stole it from the library so I wouldn't keep getting fines for never returning it.) Also Woodiwiss' The Wolf and the Dove (Norman invasion of England) because OH MAH GAWD, WULFGAR. And Ashes in the Wind (Post Civil War Reconstrution). And A Rose in Winter (Regency-ish).

The Mallory series from Lindsey is a must. Start with Love Only One. Kingdom of Dreams and Once and Always are my favorite classic historials from McNaught and Almost Heaven will break your freaking heart. Garwood's The Bride and Gentle Warrior. And a big HELL YES for Mackenzie's Mountain and indeed the entire Mackenzie series from Howard.

That should get you started...
8. PhoebeChase
I know some people hate Jude Devereaux's A Knight in Shining Armor (1989) because of an ending that doesn't necessarily equate to a HEA, but it's one of my all-time favorites.
9. Kareni
It's not at all a bodice ripper, but I highly recommend Morning Glory (1989) by LaVyrle Spencer.
10. lauralee1912
Add me to the list for recommending A Knight in Shining Armor, Morning Glory, A Rose in Winter, Shanna, and McKenzie's Mountain. Almost Heaven is a heartbreaker. I'll add Fires of Winter by Johann Lindsey for Viking love, 1980 style.

I also saw Fabio in person, back when he was promoting his books at an over-heated bookstore. Fabio was beyond gorgeous and so gracious and kind to all his fans. First and only time I saw women in bustiers at a book signing ....
11. pamelia
I don't think you can beat Johanna Lindsay for the quintessential '80s author. The '80s Johanna Lindsay book that really stayed with me is "Secret Fire".
Full of crazy-sauce. A Russian Prince mistakes a Lady for a maid and has her drugged with an aphrodisiac.
"Shanna" by Woodiwiss is epic as well, but I always categorize it as a '70s book for some reason!
12. Janga
I didn't read many of the bodice rippers, but I read at least a dozen LaVyrle Spencer books, with Morning Glory ranked tops. And I read tons of regencies and categories in the 1980s. I started reading Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Edith Layton, and many others in that decade. I particularly love Putney's The Rake and the Reformer (the first version of The Rake) and Layton's The Duke's Wager and Joan Wolf''s The American Duchess and His Lordship's Mistress.

I first read Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Kathleen Gilles Seidel in the 80s. I still love NR's first five MacGregor books. Several readers mentioned Howard's MacKenzie's Mountain, but I also loved her White Lies. I reread Seidel's Don't Forget to Smile when she released it digitally in June and once again marveled at how extraordinary the characters are.
Carmen Pinzon
13. bungluna
I loved Jayne Ann Krentz in all her incarnations from the beginning. I blame her for my fascination with paranormal romance! The Dream Trilogy and the Lost Colony seires hooked me form the get-go way back in the '80s.
14. Scarlettleigh
@Janga -- off to Amazon. I didn't realize that Seidel was now in e-books.
15. mamx
was wondering if the female characters were all virgins and is that still a thing readers want today in all them historic fiction. im a bit new to the stuff.
16. antoinettemacchia
I love Judith McNaught and you can't talk Judith McNaught and not mention Paradise. It's NOT a historical but it is fundamental to the genre.
17. vickie russell
My favourite books from the era were Shirlee Busbee. I don't recommend Gypsy Lady as it was her first book and there were actually at least a couple of rapes by the H on the h. I've never been a fan of that book. My fave was Lady Vixen and While Passion Sleeps. I also remember loving June Shiplett Lund's Journey to Yesterday, a time travel without the crap ending of Knight in Shining Armour. Yes, I'm a passionate hater of that book. I only read MacKenzie's Mountain only about four or five years ago, but it is actually one of my most favourite books now so in my opinion it has held up very well.
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