I’ve been around the block when it comes to books. I’ve adventured from genre to genre until I have finally made a nice place for myself in romance, urban fantasy and fantasy. That adventure included a tour around the classics. I fell in love with the beautiful language and glimpse into another time. But it can take some time getting into a classic novel, the writing although graceful and charming can be a little inaccessible. It can be like you’re translating from another language. I confess when I come home and chill out, I want something a bit easier to read.
As that’s the case, I have decided to deconstruct some classic novels back to the tropes and character types that made us fall in love with them and give you some more modern day recommendations.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I decided to go through the road less travelled with Jane Austen. The first book that pops into my head when I think Austen, is of course Pride and Prejudice and the delicious Mr Darcy. But my actual favourite by her is Persuasion. It features an older couple – by Austen standards – who give love a second chance. Second chance love stories abound in romance, but I also love the addition of having an older hero and heroine. Of course, it is all relative the heroine in Persuasion was only in her late twenties!
Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley
If you like a romance novel with more mature characters, Kristen Ashley is your gal. She shows that you don’t stop falling in love as soon as you hit your 30s or even 40s. In Walk Through Fire a novel in Kristen Ashley’s Chaos series, we have a second chance romance with older characters that is sure to set your heart afire.
Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas
If I can sneak a Lisa Kleypas novel into every recommendation list I ever do, I would have achieved a life goal. I want everyone to read and fall in love with her novels. In Again the Magic we have a second chance romance with a class disparity between the hero and the heroine. The hero is a stable boy and the heroine is from the upper classes. They are best friends when they were children which slowly grows into more. Until it all goes wrong. They meet later in life…and wow. This book. It put me through a gamut of emotions. I finished the book with tear stained cheeks and a big grin. Nuff said.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of my favourite classics and it certainly started my love for the plain-Jane, wallflower heroine. Looking back on the book now, I can see how it may be problematic. Locking your mentally unwell wife in the attic and getting jiggy with the babysitter…yikes! But that hasn’t stopped me from looking back at this book fondly. Mainly because Jane was a great character, she went through great strife in her life but managed to overcome and find her own way.
Historical romance is rife with governess and wallflower romances and it’s a trope I am particularly fond of. However, these weren’t the first books I thought of when I was brainstorming for ideas, instead these gems came to mind:
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley is a book in her Mackenzie & McBride series. The heroine isn’t a wallflower, a governess or a plain Jane. She also isn’t your typical debutante either. She’s a mature woman, a widow, who knows her own mind. I adored her. But it wasn’t her who brought Jane Eyre to my mind. It’s the hero Cameron Mackenize. Who, although he doesn’t have a mad wife in the attic, he does have a mentally unstable wife in his past. Like Mr Rochester, Cam can be a dark and brooding presence, with scars both mental and physical from his past marriage. This isn’t the first time Jennifer Ashley has dealt with mental illness in her books, the first book in this series The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie has a hero with Asperger’s, and I love the way she handles it. With delicacy and understanding; this book really packs an emotional punch.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
If we are talking Jane Eyre, I have to recommend this book The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Set in an alternative world where literature is taken very seriously the world is aghast when the one of the world’s most wanted men kidnaps Jane Eyre. This book is quirky, it’s surreal and it’s so much fun! I absolutely adore it. It also helps that this book is set in my hometown of Swindon, UK which is perhaps the most unlikely setting for such a fabulous story. This isn’t romance, but it is the perfect book for bibliophiles and book lovers everywhere!
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
I can’t mention classics without mentioning ol’ Willy Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet isn’t my favourite. In fact I may go as far as saying I don’t like it. Teenagers declaring their undying love. Then killing themselves. Hmmm… However, what I can get behind is star-crossed lovers…loving against the odds. So, here were a couple of books that popped to mind:
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
Being chained in catacombs in a constant cycle of burning to death, only to have your immortality bring you back to life. It can leave you with a grudge. Especially when the people responsible have already killed your parents. So, when your one true mate turns out to be one of your mortal enemies… it gets a little complicated. Luckily Cole handles this with her trademark humour and a lot of sexiness thrown in. Of course, I state A Hunger Like No Other in this list, but there are plenty of books in this series which have an element of love-against-the-odds. There’s the demon who could quite literally bone his mate, a human woman, to death. Then there’s the some vivisection as foreplay for one lucky Valkyrie…yikes!
Star Crossed by Kele Moon
This book could not be any more perfect for my purposes! One because Kele Moon’s Battered Heart series is just phenomenal and if you haven’t read it before, you definitely need to let this series break your heart and then mend it again. Two, because the characters are called Romeo and Juliet. Three, because they are of course on opposing sides and they have to overcome both their own demons and their family’s expectations to be together.