Thursday, November 01, 2012

All I've Taught So Far...

--Eric Selinger

All this talk of a romance canon--"Canon to the left of us! / Canon to the right of us!"--has me thinking, rather wistfully, about just how few romance novels I've actually taught so far.  Since I'm one of the luckiest folks in the business, with plenty of course opportunities, I should have done more, and writing up the list has been a little embarrassing.  Still, for what it's worth, here it is, organized two ways:

  • First, a list of the "background" novels I teach (1919-1972), followed by an alphabetical list of romance novelists and novels that I've taught from the 1980s onward.  I haven't put in dates, in the interests of time, but honestly, though, there aren't many from the 1980s.  When I teach chronological courses, I tend to focus the 1980s on romance criticism, and then teach novels that in some way respond to that critical discourse about the genre.  So it's really a list from the 1990s onward, as you'll see if you check them out.
  • Second, a list of the same novels and novelists, categorized in some well-known subgenres.  When a novel fits into more than one category, I've put it in both; I've left out categories like "metatextual romance" and "highly allusive romance" and "explicitly feminist romance," although I sometimes think in those terms.  A few times I've put "sort of" after a novel, to indicate that it "sort of" fits into that category, but there's another one in the list where it fits better.
If you're one of my students, and you don't see a book that we read, let me know and I'll add it!  I tried to be complete, but when a book was presented by a student but not read by everyone--or when I supervised an independent study, but didn't teach the book myself--I left it off.

Romance Novels Eric Has Taught (So Far)

Background for the Genre (pre-1980s), More or Less Chronologically Organized
E. M. Hull, The Sheik
Georgette Heyer, Devil’s Cub, The Grand Sophy
Mary Stewart, Madam, Will You Talk
Victoria Holt, Mistress of Mellyn
Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Flame and the Flower

More Recent Books (1980s-present)
Mary Balogh, Slightly Dangerous 
Alex Beecroft, False Colors
Sarah Bird, The Boyfriend School
Gwyneth Bolton, Sweet Sensation 
Suzanne Brockmann, Unsung Hero
Loretta Chase, Lord of Scoundrels, Mr. Impossible
Kresley Cole, A Hunger Like No Other
Jennifer Crusie, Manhunting, Anyone But You, Crazy for You, Welcome to Temptation, Fast Women, Bet Me
Victoria Dahl, Talk Me Down, Start Me Up, Real Men Will
Ann Herendeen, Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander
Joey Hill, Natural Law
Emma Holly, Hunting Midnight
Linda Howard, Mr. Perfect
Eloisa James, The Duke is Mine
Beverly Jenkins, Something Like Love, Topaz, Captured
Laura Kinsale, Prince of Midnight, Flowers from the Storm
Karyn Langhorne, A Personal Matter
Beth Patillo, Heavens to Betsy
Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Natural Born Charmer
Julia Quinn, The Viscount Who Loved Me
Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love
Nora Roberts, Irish Thoroughbred, Irish Rose, Midnight Bayou, Montana Sky 
Nell Stark, Homecoming
J. R. Ward, Dark Lover


African American Romance
Gwyneth Bolton, Sweet Sensation 
Beverly Jenkins, Something Like Love, Topaz, Captured
Karyn Langhorne, A Personal Matter
“Blockbuster Historical Romance” (1970s-80s)
Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Flame and the Flower

Category Romance
Nora Roberts, Irish Thoroughbred, Irish Rose
Jennifer Crusie, Manhunting, Anyone But You 

Christian / Inspirational Romance
Beth Patillo, Heavens to Betsy
Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love

Contemporary Romance
Sarah Bird, The Boyfriend School
Gwyneth Bolton, Sweet Sensation 
Suzanne Brockmann, Unsung Hero
Jennifer Crusie, Manhunting, Anyone But YouCrazy for You, Welcome to Temptation, Fast Women, Bet Me
Victoria Dahl, Talk Me Down, Start Me UpReal Men Will
Joey Hill, Natural Law
Linda Howard, Mr. Perfect
Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Natural Born Charmer
Nora Roberts, Irish Thoroughbred, Irish Rose, Midnight Bayou, Montana Sky 
Nell Stark, Homecoming

Erotic Romance
Joey Hill, Natural Law (BDSM, femdom, m/f)
Emma Holly, Hunting Midnight (paranormal)

Gothic Romance
Victoria Holt, Mistress of Mellyn
Nora Roberts, Midnight Bayou (sort of)

Historical Romance
Georgette Heyer, Devil’s CubThe Grand Sophy
Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Flame and the Flower
Mary Balogh, Slightly Dangerous
Alex Beecroft, False Colors
Loretta Chase, Lord of ScoundrelsMr. Impossible
Ann Herendeen, Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander
Eloisa James, The Duke is Mine
Beverly Jenkins, Something Like Love, Topaz, Captured
Laura Kinsale, Prince of MidnightFlowers from the Storm
Julia Quinn, The Viscount Who Loved Me
Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love

Interracial Romance
Karyn Langhorne, A Personal Matter (Black / White)
Nell Stark, Homecoming (Asian / White, but it’s not a central plot element)

LGBTQ Romance
Alex Beecroft, False Colors (m/m)
Ann Herendeen, Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander (bisexual, m/m/f)
Nell Stark, Homecoming (f/f)

Military Romance
Suzanne Brockmann, Unsung Hero

Paranormal Romance
Kresley Cole, A Hunger Like No Other
Emma Holly, Hunting Midnight
J. R. Ward, Dark Lover

Romantic Suspense
Mary Stewart, Madam, Will You Talk
Linda Howard, Mr. Perfect
Nora Roberts, Midnight Bayou (sort of?)
Joey Hill, Natural Law (sort of)

Sheikh Romance
E. M. Hull, The Sheik


  1. Thank you so much for posting this list. In the forest of romance fiction, it's often difficult to choose what, exactly, to read. But there are several titles and authors here I have not read. This will be fun!

  2. I'm glad it's helpful! Some were experiments that I tried teaching once or twice, then dropped; others teach incredibly well, over and over again. (One or two either I or the students didn't like so much, by the time we were done.) If you read one that you particularly like, let us know!

  3. Ok, I'll keep you posted... decided I would start at the top of the list. So, I just downloaded the Sheik.

  4. For Gothic I strongly recommend Elizabeth Lowell's Donovan series, particularly Midnight in Ruby Bayou. I wrote and entire essay for Studies in Gothic fiction about the books:
    I think Lowell is also a MASTER of romantic suspense.

  5. Just finished the Sheik. Decided that, with my co-blogger, as we made our way through this list, we would share our responses: (if you're interested. )

  6. Just back from a Popular Romance Project confab at McDaniel, where I was offline for a couple of days. I'm very glad to get that suggestion, Kyra, and will download your piece when I get to the office later this morning. I could use some help with romantic suspense,and have never read a Lowell (other than Robert and Amy). JW, I'm absolutely interested in your reactions (and your co-blogger's) to these books--will follow and comment, too!