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Classics- guest Jamie

Last day of celebrating classics, and I’d like to welcome Jamie DeBree. She’s a reader I met via twitter, and she’s got a blog at The Variety Pages.

Jamie writes:

It All Started with “Patricia”

The first romance novel I ever read was an inspirational story titled “Patricia” by Grace Livingston Hill. She wrote in the 1930’s, so as you might imagine, they are very sweet, innocent romances. My mom introduced me to her books sometime in the ‘80’s when I was a young teen dealing with burgeoning hormones and all of the angst that comes with puberty. I was an avid reader even before that, and I devoured the story of a girl who had come back to her home town and two men she’d known since childhood. She had to choose between them, of course, and ultimately makes the right decision (of course), but more than the actual story, I remember how reading it made me feel.

I remember feeling confused, hopeful, anxious, intolerably sad, lost, and ultimately joyful as Patricia went through all of those emotions throughout the story. I was right there with her, cheering her on, wanting the best man to win her hand in the end. And when the story was over, I was truly amazed at the depth of emotion that one little book could wring out of me. It was quite an experience, especially for someone who tends to keep her emotions in check, on the outside at least. I remember wanting a love like that for myself someday – wanting to feel that deep connection with someone. I longed to find my “soul mate”, just as she had. I dreamed that my story would be as perfect as it was between those pages.

Needless to say, I did have my own small collection of romantic (and some not-so-romantic) entanglements. The one that “stuck” really did have to go through a test of time, like so many of those early inspirational novels. One of the central themes common to all of those books was that love is patient, and that “lesson” more than any other served me well in cultivating my own “happily ever after” – my husband and I dated for seven years before he proposed. When we finally got married, neither of us had any doubts at all, just like those characters I’d fallen in love with years before.

I still have my collection of Grace Livingston Hill novels in paperback – classic romances, in my opinion. I’ve read nearly all of them, and still occasionally go back and re-read one though my tastes generally run to far steamier fare these days.


To enter the contest today, do you remember your first romance novel?

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18 Comments on "Classics- guest Jamie"

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Nancy Gilliland

My first “romance novel” was Green Darkness by Anya Seton. I’m not sure if it would be considered a romance by todays standards but I loved it. There was so much to it (it was over 500 pages). There was a romance, a forbidden love, ghosts, past lives and a doomed past love. Can’t explain it all, but it is well worth the reading-I bought a copy at our annual library sale and try to reread it from time to time.

Lovely post, Jamie.

Thanks Viv for all the great times, and those yet to come.

Natasha A.

I think my first romance was a Danielle Steel or a Nora Roberts. I am not entirely sure.

Jamie D. (@JamieDeBree)

Hi Viv – thanks so much for letting me contribute! It was fun walking down memory lane… :-)

Nancy, I don’t think I’ve heard of Seton – will have to look her up though. The one you describe sounds intriguing.

I think I still have my first Danielle Steel, Natasha…and ironically, I don’t think I’ve read another one since. ;-)


Hi, Jamie! I don’t remember my very first romance! I know I started out with a ton of YA stuff, including Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams, Silhouette First Love, and the like. A friend in geometry class lent me a “grown-up” romance, which I devoured, and then I had at the collection at the local libraries. :) The rest is history, and my ever growing TBR :D

Cathy M

I think my first romance was Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare. Been hooked ever since.


My first romance was one of the BRIDE series books from Catherine Coulter… once I started reading her books I was hooked on romance!

Maria D.

My first romance was either one by Barbara Cartland (I know…cheesy) or by Grace Livingstone Hill….I know that I was reading both by the time that I was in 8th grade…couldn’t remember a title to save my life though


My first romance was Julie Garwood’s “The Bride.”

Lindsey Ekland

I have no idea what my first romance was since I read a lot of YA, Barbara Cartland and Harlequin romance all at the same time. Always love the first kiss though.


My first romance novel was The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I felt like such an adult reading it.

Jamie D. (@JamieDeBree)

Ooo…I love Catherine Coulter’s books. They make me downright giddy. ;-)

*scribbles down list of novels mentioned, ignoring towering TBR pile…*

Andrea Becraft

I honestly can’t remember the first romance novel I ever read. And I have read so many between then and now its nuts lol. I do so love books lol.

Anna Shah Hoque

Yes, I still have it! It’s “The Smuggled Heart” by Barbara Cartland.

Cynthia Reese

My first romance novel was a Harlequin Romance — Pineapple Girl by Betty Neels. I was, hmh, about 10, I think. I loved Harlequins! Created quite the Anglophile in me, as back then they were all British as far as setting. Then I moved onto Emilie Loring and thought that I’d really started reading racy stuff. :-)


I cannot remember the title or the author but I remember reading it over and over again when I was on Christmas break my freshman year.

C R Ward

I know I read a bunch of early, and totally forgettable, Harlequins – you know the ones I mean, where the heroine was usually a nurse who fell in love with a doctor.

The first real romance I ever read was the Kadin, by Bertice Small. What made this book so memorable was the sweeping epic of a story, the exotic locals, and the fact that the heroine really lived her life. She had a long, exciting, adventursome, and passion-filled life; meeting challenges head on and overcoming obstacles on her own terms.