Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Are You Reading Thursday - Amanda McCabe

Harlequin Historicals author Amanda McCabe is here to talk about an old, favourite stash - Sunfire novels!

For the last few weeks I’ve been sorting and packing my books to get ready for a move. So far I have about fifty boxes full, but the job is going very slowly because I always end up sitting on the floor by the shelves re-reading the books before they go into the box! It’s so much fun finding old friends, rediscovering gems I forgot I had, and laughing and crying over favorites. I’m sure I’ll do the same once I unpack them in the new place.

One great thing I found was my stash of old Sunfire novels. These were my introduction to historical romance (along with Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer, and old Fawcett Regencies by Marion Chesney and Joan Smith). I was in junior high when I found this line, and I loved them. I ran to the bookstore every month to get the new titles. Who needed that silly Sweet Valley High and Babysitters Club when there were the Sunfires???

These books were essentially YA romances/”girl power” stories set in various American historical settings. (The Old West, the Revolutionary War, etc—there was a very wide variety, including stories centered around the War of 1812, Vegas casinos, and the Triangle factory fire). There was always a smart, independent young woman looking for her place in the world and two love interests. (You could tell which one she would choose because he was always depicted in the right side of the cover—spoiler).

My first was Emily, a rich Gilded Age New York girl who wanted to be a nurse, and impress the hunky doctor from the wrong side of the city. I also loved Victoria (the Alamo), Nicole (the Titanic, way before Leo and Kate), Danielle (the Civil War), Sabrina (the Revolution), Elizabeth (Puritan New England, though she had a heinous ‘80s perm on the cover), Merrie (Pilgrims), and of course Amanda (wagon train).

Sadly, I lost many of them in a move when I was about 15, but thanks to Ebay and library book sales I have retrieved many of them. Going through these books now takes me back to when I first discovered them, and I realize I still love heroines like the ones I found in these pages—brave, smart, willing to change, fearless in standing up for her beliefs and fighting for her love.

What are some of your earliest romance reads? How have they influenced what you read or write now? And does anyone have any tips on organized a move???

Amanda’s new book, The Winter Queen, a tale of passion, danger, and Christmas at the court of Elizabeth I, is featured on her website at, along with Behind the Book historical info and dates of upcoming releases. You can also visit her on the Risky Regencies blog.


  1. I'm reading a paranormal romance - not what I'd normally read but i read an interview with Keri Arthur and found it as a free read on if I'm allowed to say that!

  2. I'm STILL reading Falling for Gracie by Susan Mallery. This is the problem with e-books and using my netbook and not an e-reader. I have to be in the mood to sit with it on my lap. Just finished Portrait of a Lover by Julianne MacLean last night though!

    And Amanda - that is a seriously gorgeous cover.

  3. I was introduced to the world of romance by Harlequin Presents. I was babysitting and bored out of my mind while the little boy was taking his nap so I grab a book off from the mom's bookcase even though it was a "mushy" romance. To my amazement, I liked the book (until then, I was a fantasy/sci-fi reader, still am) so I started to look for more when I was at libraries. It was during one of my library trips that I accidently grab an historical one and haven't been able to get enough of them since!

    I remeber stumbling across a couple of teen romance books at that time too. I still have a couple of those titles that I never will part with. I still re-read them at times and now was planning on saving them for my daughter to read but since she just finished reading the Study series by Maria V. Snyder, I think her reading tastes are beyond my teen romance books from the 70's-80's. LOL

    Anyway, I think the fact that I started out with the quick contemporary and moved up to the longer historicals still influences my reading pattern today. I still HAVE to read a Presents, Desire, or American Romance, ect., in addition to my historicals to keep me in a happy reader set of mind. To long without one of the fast-paced romance and I begin to get burnt out and go into a reading freeze. "shudder" Must not let that happen!

  4. I've been reading romance since I was 13, some 30 (cough) years or so later I still am. I started off with contemporary M&B - I remember devouring Charlotte Lamb - boy did she write a lot of books. I then progressed to romantic historical's - early Shirley Busbee / Johanna Lindsey were among the first I read. I also read the old "Desires" early Sandra Brown books were my favourites. Today I'm still reading HM&B both contemporary and historicals. I'm also attempting to write my own historical's as well. A lot more harder to do than reading them! Take care. Caroline x

  5. I remember finding the Presents books when I was about 12 or so! I had read everything my grandmother had (which is how I found old Regencies and Barbara Cartlands) and started prowling the library for any romances I could find. I loved the exotic locales!

  6. Ooh, Amanda, I must have the titles of these Sunrise Books. They sound awesome! Right now I'm drowning in non-fiction research but I did read Elizabeth Hickey's The Wayward Muse about the love triangle between Rossetti, William Morris, and Jane Burden.

    The first series that I have became obssessed with was called The Phenwick women. Each book was named after the heroine with titles like Harriet the Haunted, Patricia the Beautiful, Rachel the Possessed. The premise was that the heroine had to be 'tested' by the ghost of the original Phenwick woman Augusta. If she passed the trial (meaning danger) than she was allowed to marry a Phenwick man. I think the series went from colonial days to the early twentieth century.