I just returned from the Romantic Times Bookreviews convention in Kansas City. This year was a celebration of the Pioneers of Romance. Authors like Bertrice Small, Jude Devereaux, Julie Garwood, Robyn Carr, Mary Balogh, Thea Devine, and Laura Palmer were honored. I was able to fulfill the dream of a lifetime when I got to meet Julie Garwood and have books signed by her.
I also attended a panel where Jude Devereaux and Julie Garwood spoke and took questions. Jude Devereaux is the author of the first romance novel I ever read. Julie Garwood is the author who inspired me to write historical romance. I’m not ashamed to say I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane when I met them. And I’m not the only one. I talked to Erin Knightley and Sarah Maclean about the panel, and both of them were also completely star struck.
Julie Garwood and Jude Devereaux took questions from the audience, and of course I couldn’t think of any at the time, but I thought of one later. What is it these authors did that made their books so iconic? Why do we read them over and over? Why has their work persisted when I’m sure many of the authors who were publishing when Devereaux and Garwood began their careers have long since been forgotten?
And so I’m asking you, the readers and experts. Who is your favorite “pioneer or romance” and what is special about her books? I’m not a pioneer, but I’ll give away a copy of one of my early books, No Man’s Bride, to two people who comment.