I’ve discovered a great category of books for romance lovers: Highlander romance.
Romance novels aren’t considered real literature, despite the fact that, according to a recent article in Entertainment Weekly, it’s the second biggest genre in fiction, selling over $1 billion annually. Part of the reason romance novels are scoffed at is because there are series of books that are cranked out by a stable of writers like factory products, for instance Harlequin books. But like any category of books, you’ll find a group of authors who are writing intriguing stories, interesting characters and prose that has a unique voice and is enjoyable to read.
There are categories within the romance genre that are as varied as the readers who snap up these juicy books: historical romance, paranormal romance, cowboy romance, military romance, Amish romance (really!) and then my favorite, the Scottish Highlander romance. Yes, a whole category of books is dedicated to telling stories about brave and brawny Highlanders of Scotland, who are usually forced to marry or kidnap a well-bred lady. The lady discovers the Highlander is not an uncivilized beast, like she has been raised to believe. He discovers his lass isn’t the shrewish, frigid woman he had assumed she was, underneath all those petticoats. And speaking of underneath, there is always plenty of verbage spent discussing kilts and their contents. These stories usually include clan wars or some scuffle with an English duke or baron.
I discovered this delightful sub-genre of books while I was reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I finshed A Breath of Snow and Ashes and I was impatiently waiting for the next book in the series, An Echo in the Bone. I was browsing my library’s online catalog of books and one of the Highlander romances popped up. Now, I don’t consider the Outlander books to be romance novels, because those books defy being shelved in any one category. But I thought I’d give one of the suggested books a try.
I’m a picky reader. Gone are the days when I would slog through a book in which I wasn’t invested. I don’t have the kind of time. Now, if I’m reading a book that can’t hold my interest, or even worse, that is written so poorly I get angry reading it, I drop it and move on to something else. So I tried and dropped a few different Highlander romances before I found one that I really enjoyed. (As for the ones I skipped, I made sure to read the steamiest sections. You know, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.)
A few of my favorite authors of Highlander romance novels are Maya Banks (McCabe trilogy), Donna Grant (Dark Sword series) and Monica McCarty (The Highland Guard series). These authors don’t depend as much on stereotypical gimmicks and they give their characters more facets than other romances. Plus, their depictions of the 17th and 18th centuries are more realistic, with dialog that sounds more believable. Nothing takes me out of a historical fiction story more effectively than modern dialog or phrasing.
To narrow the field even further, I discovered a series of books that marries my love of Highlander romance stories with books about men who turn into dragons. The Dragon Kin series, by G. A. Aiken, is so much fun to read. When it popped up on one of my library catalog searches, I thought it surely must be dreck. Not so! Not only is the story about hot men who turn into dragons AND live in Scotland, but also about strong, smart female characters.
To help you get started reading this exciting new genre, I created an infographic on the next page that ranks authors based on the average ratings at Goodreads.com for their best series. If you’ve been reading Highlander romance novels for a while, maybe you’ll discover a new author to read.
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