Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite "Back in the Day" Romances

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic, in honor of Valentine's Day, is Love Freebie. I thought for about 2.5 seconds before deciding to go old school: "back in the day" romance novels. Basically, this is anything I read in my junior high and high school years. So here's a list of ten romance novels that 1993-1999 Becky would have called her favorites. And yes, you'll see one author over and over and over again. I was a huge Lori Wick fan back in the day 😁.

I thought it would be fun to describe what I remember about these books; while I remember loving them, I don't really have such a clear memory of the characters and plots. So I'm also including links to Amazon and Goodreads, in case you want to check up on my memory or buy a copy for yourself 😉. (The Amazon links are affiliate links, meaning if you click the link and make a purchase, I'll get a small commission.)

Sophie's Heart by Lori Wick, 1995 (Goodreads)

I've read Sophie's Heart more times than any other book, though I bet I haven't read it for 10 years. I bought it with my Christmas money in the 9th grade, and then I loaned it out to numerous people. My copy is incredibly tattered!

Sophie is an immigrant from ... Czechoslovakia, maybe? She moves to Chicago and connects with a woman named Janet at a Bible study. Janet's brother Alec (??? I should really remember this!) recently became a widower. Janet recommends Sophie as his housekeeper/nanny. Eventually (after what seemed like a very long time), Sophie and Alec fall in love and get married. And I think maybe they have twins.

Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill, 1908 (Goodreads)

This is the very first marriage of convenience novel I ever read, and I remember thinking it was sooooo romantic! (You'll see the marriage of convenience trope in several of these novels.) Marcia's sister Kate is set to marry David, but she runs off the night before the wedding. So Marcia takes her place. I can't remember how or why this happens, but I do remember that Marcia and David slowly fall in love. I'm pretty sure Kate makes a return appearance and tries to win David back, and I think the railroad plays a part in the story, too. But I really don't remember much.

Roses for Mama by Janette Oke, 1990 (Goodreads)

To this day, if you asked me to name my favorite Janette Oke novel, I'd say Roses for Mama. However, I remember virtually nothing about it—no character names, no plot, nothing. Except that I think "mama" is dead? And I think that girl stitching the quilt on the cover falls in love with someone?

Sunsets by Robin Jones Gunn, 1997 (Goodreads)

I ended up buying all of Robin Jones Gunn's Glenbrooke series, but this is the first one I bought ... and the only one I bought with the original Palisades cover. (Does anyone remember the Palisades romance line? I loved every single book I read.) I loved this book because it features Alissa, a minor character from the Christy Miller series. She's a travel agent (I think), and she falls for a guy who lives in her duplex. Brad, I think. And I'm pretty sure there are bongo drums. And I thought Brad needed a haircut.

The Princess by Lori Wick, 1999 (Goodreads)

This is another marriage of convenience novel. Shelby is shocked when she is chosen to marry the prince (Nick? Maybe?). They live in some fictional European nation. They marry and slowly fall in love. And her father is deaf, so she knows sign language. Actually, what I remember most about this novel is being completely shocked when Shelby goes rollerblading because, up to that point, I'd assumed I was reading a historical novel.

Sean Donovan by Lori Wick, 1993 (Goodreads)

Yes, it's another marriage of convenience story. (Wick wrote quite a few of them.) In this one, Sean Donovan, of the Donovan family featured throughout Wick's Californian's series, is arrested and sentenced to death. I think he was involved in a bank or train robbery or something. Anyway, there's a law that says if an upstanding woman offers to marry a man sentenced to death, he can live. Charlotte (Charlie) needs a blacksmith for her livery, so she offers to marry Sean. I think he's several years younger than she is, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they marry, Sean turns his life around, and they fall in love.

Also, I always thought Charlotte on the cover looked like Dorothy from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

As Time Goes By by Lori Wick, 1992 (Goodreads)

I don't remember much about this one, except that the main characters are Jeff and Bobbie, and he somehow hurt her when they were young. She goes away for a while, and when she returns, he wants to make amends. And ... you guessed it ... they fall in love. I do remember that she's incredibly nearsighted, and her glasses breaking somehow serves to move along the plot. I think what I really appreciated about this book was that Bobbie was not considered beautiful, and as a teenager who never felt beautiful, it gave me hope for my own love story. (Of course, I'm now 36 and single, so ...) Also, Jeff was supposed to be handsome, but the Jeff of the cover is not. (How about all these 90's covers? Pretty spectacular!)

Wings of the Morning by Lori Wick, 1994 (Goodreads)

Smokey and Dallas—one of my favorite romance novel couples ever! Smokey's father is a ship captain, and Smokey takes over for him (maybe after he dies?). I think Dallas is also a ship captain ... but I also think he's a pirate. Maybe he just looked like a pirate. I know he had an earring on the cover, so that made him edgy 😉. I really can't remember too much about the story, but I do know Smokey gets kidnapped and nearly raped by a real pirate. Does she stab him to get away? Maybe? What I do remember is my love for Smokey and Dallas.

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers, 1995 (Goodreads)

This is probably the first dual timeline book I ever read. In the present day, we have Sierra and Alex, a married couple who split (due to his infidelity) and finally reconcile. Sierra finds (or is given) a quilt made by one of her ancestors, a pioneer woman. This woman's story is told throughout the novel, but I remember none of it. Obviously, I cared much more about Alex and Sierra!

Ever After by Elswyth Thane, 1945 (Goodreads)

My mom had two books in Thane's Williamsburg series: Yankee Stranger and Ever After. I honestly don't know which book I'm remembering (maybe both), but I recall being swept into this family saga ... and this is the first time I fell for a bittersweet love story. (Bittersweet stories really aren't my thing—I prefer happily ever after!) That's because of Sue and Sedgwick. They loved each other, but they were cousins, and I think there was already some inbreeding in the family, so they weren't allowed to marry. Sedgwick got married (Sue never did) and had a family, but his wife died before him, and he and Sue still were never together. I remember just aching for Sue.

Have you read any of these books? Do you remember them better than I do? What were your favorite books as a teenager?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. OMG!!!!! I have read all those Lori Wick books!!!!!
    LOL yet another thing we have in common!
    I absolutely adored The Princess!!!!! AWWWWWW!
    What a wonderful fairy-tale style story! Love love love.
    Now I want to read it all over again!

    1. I'm not at all surprised you've read them :-) The Princess is definitely the one I remember the best. I'm hoping to read it again soon!


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