By, Samantha Kane – Debut Loveswept Romance Author of The Devil’s Thief on sale later this Fall –
There’s been a lot of talk lately about gateway books, books that lead a reader into a new genre. See here, for example.
My gateway romance authors include Lavyrle Spencer, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Jude Devereux for romance in general, and the latter two for historical romance especially, Marion Chesney for Regency romance, Linda Lael Miller and Amanda Quick for paranormal romance, Judith Krantz for contemporary romance, and Bertrice Small for erotic romance. I may be showing my age, but I think these authors’ works stand the test of time.
Most of these are a given among the romance community. Certainly they are considered titans among romance writers. A lot of today’s bestselling authors cut their teeth on the work of these groundbreaking authors. They are still producing best-selling novels, and even those who aren’t writing anymore or have passed away still sell a respectable number of copies of their backlist each year.
Too often the work of authors like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Bertrice Small are dismissed as old school romance. I’m not even sure what that means. Politically incorrect? Let’s not go there. Bodice rippers? Ugh. Those books from the 70’s and 80’s were sweeping epic romances, often taking the reader on a journey across continents and oceans as their heroines faced trials that were larger than life. I think you can compare their historical romances to the contemporary popular fiction of Sidney Sheldon and John Jakes sweeping historical epics. I see some of the epic qualities of these books in the new wave of historical romance authors such as Katharine Ashe and Joanna Bourne.
Bertrice Small in particular opened doors for romance readers and writers. (Begin fangirl homage to Ms. Small) Her books were truly erotic long before erotic romance was even considered a sub-genre of romance. Her Skye O’Malley series included bondage, sex toys, anal sex, lesbian sex, and multiple partners. Not many were writing that at the time, at least not among NY’s bestselling authors. Yet Bertrice Small sold it, and sold it in huge numbers, to readers across the world.
When I read that a recently published book, any book, is opening doors for women in romance with it’s erotic content, or breaking new ground for soccer moms everywhere, I just say, believe me, moms have been reading erotic romance for a very, very long time. Just ask any Bertrice Small fan out there.
What are some of your gateway books or authors? Do you still recommend those books today? Why or why not? Remember, every week 5 commenters are randomly chosen to win a free book – winners announced on Sunday – good luck!!