Working at a RT, people often ask me for romance novel reading suggestions. And for a long time I didn't have a good answer. I read romance, sure. But the genre I loved was YA, and I also read mystery and erotica and science fiction ... and basically anything else I could get my hands on. But I didn't have a go-to romance.
But then one day I picked up Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, on recommendation of historical romance buff Whitney. And well. I stayed up all night reading! I was hooked. I ran into the RT office the next day and said to her, "You didn't tell me these books were this good! I WANT MORE."
Because, as it turns out, Sarah MacLean writes gateway romance. The book is fun, it's sexy (hoo boy, is it sexy), it's got a relatable plot and the hero and heroine are to die for. It's a great romance. But it's also accessible to non-romance fans, I think in part because of the story. See, Callie, 29 and unmarried, is “on the shelf,” as they say. Callie’s younger sister just got engaged to this awesome, titled nobleman. Sad that her little sister is experiencing all she did not, Callie decides to go out and enjoy life for herself. After all, as an almost old maid, who’s going to care?
Isn't that just a storyline that we can all kind of relate to? A little sister getting something that you've longed for? I mean, I've only got a brother, and still I ached along with Callie, and I cheered when she met her match and had some fun.
And believe me when I tell you, I'm not the only one who MacLean's entranced. My friend Emily, also not really a romance fan, now steals MacLean's books whenever she's at my apartment watching my cat. (Emily and I have been friends for long enough that this is acceptable behavior.)
And after I read Nine Rules, well, I wanted more! With two more books in the series, plus a new series starter, A Rogue by Any Other Name, in stores today, MacLean keeps the fun, steamy romances coming. And RT's Whitney, a self-proclaimed historical romance junkie, has also introduced me to other fabulous historical authors like Julia Quinn and Eloisa James and Julie Anne Long! And they're all wonderful. And I don't really know what took me so long, but I'm awfully glad I took a chance on Callie, because I've been having a ton of fun ever since.
To check out Sarah MacLean for yourself, you can pick up the author's latest, the Top Pick! rated A Rogue by Any Other Name. And if you're already a MacLean fan and want more suggestions of great (and yes, sometimes "gateway") novels? Check out RT's Everything Romance Page!