Posted On January 25, 2014 by Print This Post

Recent Romance Classics – Reader Roundup with Amy Alessio

Amy AlessioThanks to Carrie Spencer for the idea of including recent classic romances by decade. Many of these authors and books got me interested in reading romances. When my Grandma passed away, we found many medical romances from the 1960’s in her closet, so I’ve always been fond of those as well. This list only scratches the surface of beloved titles and trends. I’m including my favorite vintage covers here. What – or who – got you started reading romance books?

regency buckMany recognize Georgette Heyer as the person to start the Regency romance subgenre, but she also wrote mystery titles. In the 1930’s she began writing two books a year. Regency Buck, from 1935, is one of a few titles where she combines her two favorite genres.
dragonwyckAnya Seton’s 1944 Dragonwyck became a movie with Gene Tierney. It featured Miranda and her doomed marriage and the man who helps her get away.
madam will you talkSo many Mary Stewart titles are beloved by readers, including Moonspinner, which was made into a Disney movie. She is credited with popularizing the subgenre of romantic suspense, though her Merlin Chronicles are also favorites. Start with her first title, the 1955 romantic suspense, Madam, Will You Talk?
haunted poolAnother author responsible for bringing romantic suspense to the foreground as a subgenre is the Edgar winning Phyllis Whitney. Her adult stories are well plotted with appealing characters, but try her youth titles, too. She won the Mystery Writers of America award for the juvenile Mystery of the Haunted Pool.
flame and the flowerWho doesn’t have a copy of The Flame and the Flower lurking in their bookshelves? Kathleen Woodiwiss surprised – and delighted readers with her detailed intimacy in her 1972 The Flame and the Flower, starting a frank, new trend in bestselling fiction.
princess of celleBusy author Eleanor Hibbert wrote as many names, including Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr. Her Jean Plaidy historicals were well researched and an important contribution to the Regency subgenre. Her Georgian Saga, beginning with The Princess of Celle, 1967, is a favorite as well.
sweet starfireJayne Ann Krentz is often credited with beginning the futuristic or science fiction romance with her 1986 Sweet Starfire. It is hard to imagine the modern paranormal romance trend without the science fiction and fantasy crossovers that existed already.
tigers_eye_webFabio graced many Avon covers in the 1980s and 1990s. Readers definitely judged books by their covers, and loved him! Check out the original covered Tiger’s Eye by Karen Robards, it shows the skill and depth of this popular modern bestseller.
outlanderDiana Gabaldon’s Scottish time-traveler saga Outlander began crossing worlds in 1991, and continues to fill readers’ imaginations and now television sets.

It is always fun to read about love in past decades and see how current trends stem from those creative authors.


Bio:Amy Alessio has enjoyed the advice of teens for over seventeen years in her work as a librarian at the Schaumburg Twp. Library in Illinois. Her first young adult mystery, Taking the High Ground, was published by 4RV Publishing. She wrote Mind Bending Mysterious Services for Teens (ALA Editions, 2013) and co-authored A Year of Programs for Teens 2 with Kim Patton. She is the 2013 Illinois Library Association Young Adult Librarian Award Winner and the Northern Illinois RWA 2013 Librarian of the Year. Information on her blog and presentations on vintage crafts and cookbooks as well as readers advisory topics can be found at

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Reader Roundup with Amy Alessio


7 Responses to “Recent Romance Classics – Reader Roundup with Amy Alessio”

  1. Morning Amy!

    Wow, you have so many of my favorite authors here! Kathleen Woodiwiss got me started reading romance with The Flame and the Flower. Outlander was amazing, I stayed up for days reading it.

    Excellent reading list again!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | January 25, 2014, 9:35 am
    • Thank you Amy, for this walk down memory lane! The Flame and the Flower got me writing romance! I picked up a copy on the night before Thanksgiving — 1972 — spent the whole weekend reading, then had to wait 6 months for The Wolf and the Dove (historical romances didn’t exist at the time.) Then came Cynthia Wright & Laurie McBain, Bertrice Small and a host of others. 20 years after TF&TF, my first novel was purchased by Avon Books, Kathleen’s own publisher! Thank you, Kathleen! You inspired us all! We miss you!

      Posted by Linda Needham | January 27, 2014, 3:44 pm
  2. Hi Amy,

    These covers take me back! They’re so ‘era specific’!

    Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart were my first romances, but back then, I didn’t consider them romances. I’ve read the Outlander series through book six. They should have a category all their own.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | January 25, 2014, 5:23 pm
  3. Oh, Amy, talk about a walk down memory lane! I’ve read a few of these, but The Flame and The Flower cover reminded me of the first romance I ever read, The Wolf and The Dove (also by Kathleen Woodiwiss). Aislinn and Wulfgar…sigh. I read it when I was 17. My best friend’s sister-in-law loaned it to me, and I remember hiding it from my mother because I was embarrassed to admit I was reading a sexy book (this was 1974, a much more innocent time, LOL). Loved seeing these covers again!

    Posted by Linda F. | January 25, 2014, 7:21 pm
  4. Lots of old favorites here, Amy! Mary Stewart, especially, is a favorite of mine but I remember reading Anya Seton’s GREEN DARKNESS, and lots of books by Phyllis A. Whitney. I would add Dorothy Eden to this list, in particular AN AFTERNOON WALK. Thanks for the memories!

    I’d also add Velda Johnston (THE LATE MRS. FONSELL, etc.) and Evelyn Anthony (THE TAMARIND SEED)to this list.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | January 25, 2014, 10:54 pm
  5. I’m so glad you all enjoyed this list and I love the suggested editions! Clearly we need more memory lane romance lists!

    Posted by Amy Alessio | January 27, 2014, 3:57 pm
  6. my mom and i both agree that you do look kind of out place next to her, BUT she came to you and not the other way around LOL

    Posted by Kaio | November 24, 2015, 10:39 pm

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