The Racy Reads That First Hooked Sarah MacLean, Steph Campbell And More!

The Racy Reads That First Hooked Sarah MacLean, Steph Campbell And More!

By Sarah Blackstock

Every obsessive romance reader had that moment one particular romance novel that first got them hooked. Whether sneaked from her mom’s shelves as a teen and read in secret or discovered accidentally by stumbling into a new genre, the book that turns you into a romance reader is special.

For me, that book was Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean. Before Nine Rules, I’d read a lot of YA with romantic elements, but hadn’t ventured into a full-on romance novel. Once I did, everything changed. I discovered a serious love for not only romance novels in general, but also Regency romances. Romance quickly became the genre I read all the time, especially when I need comforting.

I love hearing how other people fell in love with romance, so recently I asked authors, bloggers, librarians, and enthusiastic romance readers for the book that led to their love of romance and I’ve picked out a few to share here.

Sarah MacLean, the author responsible for my love of romance, answered my call for books. So which one was her introduction into romance? The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux, a historical first published in 1980.

YA author Steph Campbell tended to read YA, nonfiction, and women’s fiction until one day she got hooked on romance with Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.

Audrey, Senior Editor at Working Mother, has read romance as long as she can remember, but it was Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn that solidified it forever. She loved quiet, snarky, self-conscious Penelope and Colin’s combination of nice and sexy.

Many years ago, Texas author Patricia W. Fischer spent her tip money from waiting tables on A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. The book gave her the strength to leave an abusive relationship and rebuild her life. I can’t imagine a better reason to love romance! 

Jenna, a Chicago librarian, said Victoria Dahl’s Tumble Creek series, starting with Talk Me Down, showed her “romance could be feminist.” I couldn’t agree more! This series was the second series I ever read, after devouring MacLean’s Love by Numbers. They’re both total stars at writing feminist heroines and the heroes who love them.

Book blogger Tulip answered, Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai because of the “sultry as hell sex scenes, characters that are gorgeously crafted, and just amazing writing.”

For more first and favorite romance novel recommendations, check out the entire Twitter thread. It’s full of so many great books! 

About the Author

Sarah Blackstock is a freelance writer and romance novel enthusiast. She blogs about books, life, and more at When she’s not renovating her house in Dallas, you’ll find her baking in her (new) kitchen, live tweeting Hallmark movies, or podcasting with her BFF.

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