Given Laura Vivanco's post yesterday on the Australian Women Writers Challenge blog, I feel that I ought to post proper reviews of two recent romances I've read, both by female Australian authors. Both by the *same* female Australian author, actually: Stephanie Laurens. (I have already reviewed Elizabeth Rolls' His Lady Mistress.)
I currently read and have in my past read romance novels. I went through a massive glut when I was about 17/18 years old, with a particular focus on the "Loveswept" label. They seemed to my teenaged brain to be of a higher quality of writing than your average Mills & Boon. (I had a friend whose mother practically lived on M&B; I read a few, but the repetitiveness got to me.) Between the ages of 16 and 20 I also went through a Danielle Steele phase, with particular focus on her historicals, like Jewels, Zoya, No Greater Love and Message From Nam (all of which I still own, as I enjoy re-reading them so very much!) Danielle Steele was my favoured author for airplane reading at a time when I was doing a lot of 14-hour flights, and every so often, one of her titles will occasionally appeal to me.
But it has to be said that I've gone along with giving the romance genre a bad rap. On Goodreads my tag for romance is "trashy trashy romance". This shelf includes Stephanie Laurens, Jane Feather, Elizabeth Rolls, and an attempt at Amanda Quick (or if it doesn't, it ought to.) I unreservedly love Stephanie Laurens, in particular, for her message that love is at the centre of all that is: that marriage without love is lacking, and (in "The Edge of Desire", for example) that love is love, no matter what the pairing. And because of that unreserved love, I feel rather bad about the shelf-label of "trashy trashy romance". I still believe that Laurens is a light read as compared to someone like Chloe Hooper or perhaps even Sulari Gentill (wait until I've read her). But although I think there's still no liklihood of a flat romance winning any literary awards anytime soon, I don't know why we don't acknowledge writers like Stephanie Laurens, who has to be one of Australia's best known writers when you come down to numbers.
And so: here are my reviews of the latest two Stephanie Laurens books that I've read.:
The Edge of Desire
Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue