On the Shoulders of Giantesses

Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” (letter to Robert Hooke, February 5, 1675-76). I haven’t read romance for almost forty years without coming across some giants, or giantesses, as the case may be.

The first was Judith Ivory, then writing as Judy Cuevas. I was at the end of a miserable pregnancy, on complete bed rest, in bed on my left side, trapped in a little apartment with My Mother the Registered Nurse, and scared to death of impending motherhood. Into this slough of despond dropped a little book called, “Starlit Surrender,” an earlier incarnation of “Angel in a Red Dress.”

I devoured it, and for the first time in my reading experience, went right back to the start and devoured it all over, right then and there. It is my all time, best ever, favorite book. Drug addiction, divorce, intrigue all in a historical package (Georgian, technically, though the feel is Regency). And the writing—sumptuous, glorious, wonderful writing, and she does it in every one of her books. If ever there was an author whom I wish were more prolific, it is she.

Then there’s Mary Balogh, author of one of this year’s Publishers Weekly Best Romances, “The Secret Mistress.”  A big portion of my keeper shelf is Mary Balogh, with the Simply’s having pride of place. And the whole time I’m reading her books, in the back of my mind, I wonder, “Is it because she’s Welsh that the language is just so exactly right? Does Welsh origin give one a spectacular touch with sexual tension? ARGH. How does she do this?” (And when can I start dating Welshmen?) I buy Mary Balogh hardbacks the day they come out, without reading the flap. Have to have them. And when I go to heaven, Bewcastle is going to give me that smile that’s worth waiting three hundred pages to see. He is.

Eloisa James is another must have. She has the knack of sketching a character’s internal landscape in little, deft strokes, even as the overall image emerges lush, nuanced, and perfectly meshing with the other characters. I could eat these books up with spoon. And I heard her speak at a national conference. For the words, “Love heals shame,” I will dwell eternally in her debt.

J.R. Ward, for many, many reasons is on this list too. I think she more than any other author has hit the nerve of men’s loneliness for each other, of their need for fathering, and brothering, and purpose shared with other men. This is touching stuff, occasionally profound, and it requires a very confident, daring hand. When it’s wrapped up in paranormal creativity, vampire libido, and alpha-dawg dialogue, it’s irresistible. I periodically read through the whole Black Dagger Brotherhood series from start to finish.

There are many other authors about whom I will gush at another time–Joanne Bourne, Carolyn Jewel, Loretta Chase, Meredith Duran, Julie Anne Long, Jennifer Ashely, to name a few. These are some of the ladies who are mega-vitamins to my motivation. For me, their books function just as effectively as pharmaceutical stimulants, (about which, more later), and you can’t overdose on them. To these writers, I cannot offer enough thanks. If I never put fingers to keyboard in pursuit of publication, I would still owe these women for the relief from loneliness, boredom, fatigue, and frustration their works have given me.

It’s a wonderful world when for just a few bucks you can stand on the shoulders of giantesses such as these, again and again and again. Now, if you will excuse me, my keeper shelf is calling me, and not even for a hot Welshman will I ignore that.

So whose shoulders do you like to stand on, hmm?


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10 comments on “On the Shoulders of Giantesses

  1. Eileen Dreyer writes a mean historical romance. So far there are 3 books in the ‘Drakes Rakes’ series. Joanna Bourne writes the ‘Spymaster’ series…4 books so far all excellent. Just a couple of suggestions.

  2. O My Goodness you so absolutely Nailed JRWard’s BDB series!
    It’s NOT just the vampire sexuality – it IS about the brotherhood between men – none of whom belong to the regular guys, but together these ‘misfits’ are in an elevated class of their own. And yes, their loneliness for family and need for purpose and the women who themselves don’t belong to their own class of society, and yet complete their ‘males’.
    I love JRWard’s energetic writing! As if she channels adolescent guys – grown up bodies with minds of teenaged boys who don’t yet know their potential and power.
    And Eloisa James — I had the pleasure of meeting her this fall at our Moonlight & Magnolias writers’ conference. Her words at her keynote speech – to write for the readers who find solace, comfort, and identity in the characters of her books – were powerful. Plus, she’s just nice people.
    Susan Elizabeth Phillips = another giantess. Her energy & ability to write the masculinity of an alpha male is another author greatness to which I aspire.
    And Deeanne Gist – her American historicals are fascinating! I love the way she weaves history with romance.
    Whoops! I hijacked here! But what a terrific post Grace!

  3. Pile on all you want, Pamela! Do the same blog only Pam-style, and send the positive vibe forward. My keeper authors got me through so much, through things even friends and family couldn’t be much help with. The best repayment I can make is to write some books that do the same for my readers.

  4. This is exactly what I’m missing in my life right now…
    I haven’t devoured a book in ages. 🙁 In my great past, I’ve devoured Dodd, her historicals and paranormals. Graham, her historicals–love them. Brenda Joyce–her historicals, too. That Bragg series is to die for. Lowell, all of em, but especially her Only series. I’ll tag Roberts, too because she wrote my favorite book ever, Public Secrets.

    Now, my year end resolution will be to read something from one of my go-to authors. Doesn’t even have to be new.

  5. Bethanne, a couple years ago, I went on a book buying fast, and instead spent the winter re-reading all my keepers. Best winter reading spree I’ve been on in ages. So many old friends, so much skill I hadn’t appreciated in previous readings. Winter is here again, and I’ve got my snow day list all planned.

  6. Though I don’t write historical, I have to mention Theresa Medeiros, Loretta Chase for their humor, then Katie MacAlister, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora, Janet Evanovich. For elegant turn of phrase and emotion, Grace Burrowes and Diana Gabaldon. It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog, like dark chocolate.

  7. Thanks, Marley! I do love Loretta Chase, and find her attention to historical dress particularly adroit because she uses it not to showboat, but to illuminate her characters’ interior landscapes. I have LOTS more authors I could blog about–and I probably will.