A recent thread on AAR’s Potpourri Message Board seems to indicate that many romance authors previously considered to be auto-buys are no longer so – some because the author has changed direction too drastically, others because the author hasn’t changed and is believed to be recycling plots, etc. It’s a tough balancing act, eh?
Anyway, this got me thinking about my own buying habits, and sure enough, my romance auto-buys have evolved over time. Interestingly, instead of the majority of my books coming from the Romance section of the bookstore, a good number come from the SF/Fantasy, Horror, Crime/Mystery section – yet to me, they’re all romances.
Glancing at my bookshelves to see which authors dominate (and seeing what groups they fall into)…
My auto-buys (i.e. I don’t even check what the storyline is, I just buy!)
Sharon Shinn, Anne Bishop – Both of these authors write fantasy with a strong romantic angle. Ms Bishop writes dark fantasy (think Jacqueline Carey, who I also like) while Ms Shinn writes more traditional fantasy with a twist (if there is such a thing), but they both have a beautiful and lyrical writing style that just flows. As an aside, Ms Shinn writes the best closing lines that I’ve ever read.
Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Linda Howard – The “old-timers” on this list, i.e. authors traditionally associated with historical / contemporary romance (though Ms Putney has written several paranormals now). Each of these authors have very different styles and strengths, Ms Howard possibly being the most adventurous in terms of writing in different settings and POVs.
Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris – These are auto-buys based on series, not authors. I love their Stephanie Plum and Sookie Stackhouse books, respectively, and not necessarily their other books, though I will take a look (and probably buy quite a few, too!).
Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller – From the SF section, these authors write what is known as “space opera” – think Georgette Heyer in space (Ms Heyer would be included in this list, but I already have her entire backlist!). Ms Bujold has branched out into traditional fantasy, but I’ve to admit I much prefer her Vorkosigan world.
Kelley Armstrong – For some reason, her books are shelved under Horror in most bookstores, I would classify her books as fantasy really. Laurell K Hamilton sort of falls under this category as well (yep, I still buy her books, but at the moment it’s a bit of “how much worse can it get?” – hint: do not buy Mistral’s Kiss). Hmmm…. another question for another day, perhaps – how does an author’s online presence affect my buying habits?
Patricia Briggs – Ms Briggs used to write straight fantasy, she’s now branching out into paranormal romances – I like her voice very much. Heh, I’m trying to think of another similar author to write about here – Mercedes Lackey, maybe? I’ve more or less stopped reading her though.
Naomi Novik, Sarah Monette – These are new authors whom I’ve just started reading this year. I loved the first three books in Ms Novik’s Temeraire series (admittedly, the first one much more than the second or the third), and will definitely pick up her next. Ms Monette writes dark fantasy – I liked her second book more than her first, but I’m hooked on her world now. Note that there’s not really a strong romance thread in either of their books.
I’m sure this list will continue to evolve over time – it would be interesting to check back in one year’s time and see how much it has changed.
Coming up next (because this is turning out to be a rather long post): Auto-buys no longer and err… my maybe-buys?