Carina Adores Authors Share The Romantic Reads that Inspired Them
A great book can inspire us to do all sorts of things…including write a great book of our very own! We asked Carina Adores authors to share the romance novels that inspired them and helped them write their upcoming books.
Head down to the comments section to share which novels have inspired you!
Chelsea M. Cameron, author of The Girl Next Door
I didn’t grow up smuggling my mom’s romances and reading them under the covers. My mom is more of an Agatha Christie reader, so I wasn’t introduced to romance as a genre until much later. I dove headfirst into young adult novels when I was in college, which just happened to be the time when Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer came out. Somehow, I had missed the entire Twilight craze, but when my mom saw a segment on the Today Show, I bought a copy of the first book, completely intending to hate it. Well, that didn’t happen. I finished the first book in about five hours and ran out to buy the rest of the series. I hadn’t read something that so completely captured me in a long time, and that opened up a door to so many other books, and to entire career. I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. Who doesn’t want to be plucked from a mundane life and dive headfirst into a world of mystical and beautiful creatures? In hindsight, there are many problematic elements to the books, but I still remember the way they made me feel when I first read them.
Another book that laid the groundwork for who I am as a writer is Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley. It was one of the first f/f romances I read, and I’ve since read it probably four or five times. It was one of the books instrumental in me realizing that I was queer, and I still get flutters in my chest when I think about reading it for the first time. It’s the perfect sweet high school romance. Two high school best friends are mistaken for a couple, and end up going along with the charade, only to both realize that they want to be a couple, for real. Fake dating is one of my favorite tropes, and this book absolutely nails it.
Philip William Stover, author of The Hideaway Inn
The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary
Originally published in 1958, I read a reprint of The Luckiest Girl in the late eighties. I loved the high school romance about a girl who leaves rainy Portland to attend school in sunny southern California. She dates, introduces the student body to donut holes and (spoiler alert) gets a D in Biology. At one point she goes to a dance and searches for the perfect pair of gloves to wear. This baffled me. I thought southern California was warm. Why would she need to wear white gloves? Inside, no less. My mom explained to me how women wore gloves in the fifties when the book was written. I learned a lesson about re-prints with new covers and original text. Still one of my favorite books.
Maurice by E. M. Forster
I was thrilled when my first-year seminar professor said we would be reading a book called “Morris” about two men who share a doomed irrepressible love and the repressive society that tears them apart. After class I introduced myself and explained that I had read a similar book called Maurice that also dealt with the same issues. Facepalm. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized what I had done. It doesn’t matter how you pronounce the title character’s name, E.M. Forster’s novel is a beautiful, sad and haunting love story with enough pretty scenery to help with the inevitable flow of tears. Even more inspiring when read with a hot cup of tea!
The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts
I found this book at grocery store in London on a sunny May afternoon. (Pro tip: Never underestimate a grocery store in the UK for an excellent selection of romance paperbacks!) Roberts has a mise en place that any reader or writer would want to cook with. Castle? Check. Teashop? Check. Cosy? Check, check, check. Throw in a handsome to the manner born hero and a sassy sidekick, bake until soft and gooey in the center. Delicious. I’m inspired by books that make the setting a character and this one does it perfectly.
Elia Winters, author of Hairpin Curves (on sale July 28)
It’s challenging to talk about books that inspired me and my writing, in part because there are just so many books I could talk about, and so many years of reading that have helped shape my work today. I decided on two very recent books to celebrate and recommend.
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon. This book had me from the title, because I love the “tough guy is actually a cinnamon roll” trope. Witherspoon writes smart characters with incredible banter and chemistry, and I love the low-angst, high-fluff catnip spirit of this whole book. Confession: I don’t generally read books with kids in them, but the twins in this book were a delight and completely believable as characters. I devoured Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny in a couple of nights (in the bath, where I do a lot of my reading) and found it a perfect respite from the stress of reality. This book reminded me that interpersonal tensions can provide enough conflict to carry a narrative and be delightful in doing so.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite. The cover of this book drew me in from the first time I saw it on Twitter, and the book itself was wonderful. In my early days of publishing, when I was newly realizing my own bisexuality, mainstream publishers were not acquiring f/f romance. The industry has changed, fortunately, and seeing two beautiful women embracing on the cover of a historical romance gladdens my heart. The book itself is nerdy in all the ways I’m nerdy–I have an astronomy minor–and the characters are achingly sympathetic and complex in their struggles and their love. This book was a slow burn romance, and I read it slowly over many days, loving the pleasure of stepping back into Waite’s world anew each time.
Roan Parrish, author of Better Than People (on sale August 25)
As a reader and a writer, character is what I swoon for, no matter the genre. Romance is an amazing vehicle for character, because it exerts pressure on our deepest vulnerabilities. My favorite books are ones that reveal the unpredictable ways that people can bring out the shiniest, bravest, and best in each other, as well as the ways they can challenge one another’s deepest held fears and pain.
The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop. A fantasy series with a central romantic story. Jaenelle and Daemon are powerful witches who have both been misfits from childhood, though in very different ways. Jaenelle is so powerful she could destroy the world and it’s made most people fear her too much to get close. Daemon has had to do vicious things to survive; things that have made most people fear him. Together, they celebrate each other’s power and vulnerability. They are brutally, gloriously honest with each other—my favorite kind of love.
Misfits by Garrett Leigh. This is one of my favorite romances of all time. Tom and Cass have been partners for years—they’re different from one another, but it just works. They share a restaurant business and a dream. When Jake enters the picture, Tom and Cass realize he’s the piece that’s been missing in their lives and in their love. Told in three parts, this romance does one of my favorite things: shows me all three characters prismatically as told by one another. It also shows the way the characters’ shared passion for their restaurants is part of what binds their lives together.
Both Bishop and Leigh give us romances you’ll never forget!
Are you an aspiring romance author? Share which books have inspired you in the comments section below!