What was your first time like?

May 13, 2015

They say you never, ever forget your first time. It’s one of those “aha” moments when the world shifts, and afterwards, nothing is quite the same. You keep this moment in your heart forever, and it’s still vivid even decades later, it’s still as vivid as the rose that just opened in your garden.

And for me, one of those defining moments happened in the Target store on Katy Freeway in Houston, Texas, circa early 1980s. That was where I discovered romance novels.

I always knew I would write; this much was clear from the time I learned to talk. Even before I could read or write, I would dictate stories to my mother and, bless her, she would dutifully write them down. But as an emerging novelist, I hadn’t found my “voice” as a writer. Fresh out of graduate school, I had been trying to figure out what sort of book I longed to write–a literary masterpiece, a dark thriller, a shoot-em-up western?

To be honest, the reader in me was ready for a fabulous, sweep-you-away novel to give my brain a vacation. A book called “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodiwiss, with a hot pink and orange cover and a lush, sexy illustration jumped off the shelf and into my cart.


I dove right in, and didn’t come up for air until I’d savored every thrilling word.

And by the end of the first chapter, I had an epiphany. This was the sort of book I was yearning to write. I wanted to take the reader on a fabulous journey filled with love, adventure, danger, heartfelt emotion and pulse-pounding passion. I wanted to sweep the reader away.

Not long afterward, my first novel was published, and it was filled with–you guessed it. All of the above.

Summer by the Sea has everything I was looking for that day so long ago. There’s a lonely young woman who still dreams of the boy who stole her heart. There’s a nostalgic beach restaurant offering delicious shore dinners (recipes included). And most importantly of all, there is an emotional ride filled with laughter and tears. I’m thrilled that it’s available again, because it’s one of those books that has been sprinkled with fairy dust from the very start, thanks to readers. It’s been national bestseller lists. It won the RITA(sm) award for Best Contemporary Romance. It’s been translated around the globe, and now it’s heading right back where it belongs–into the hands of my favorite people in the world–readers like you. This special edition has a reading group guide and a yummy new recipe.

Summer by the Sea

Tell us about your own "first time." What book got you hooked? Where did it take you? How did it change you?

Categories : books
  • My first romance was “Forever Amber” written by Kathleen Winsor in 1944. It was made into a movie in 1947 (I was disappointed in the movie). It was a long book, and after I was finished jumping up and down on it at the end, I wasn’t able to pass it on to someone else. It is still my favorite romance.

  • I had been reading for years, mostly best sellers, classics and fiction, but didn’t think romance was a genre I would like. One day, I somehow checked out Lisa Kleypas’s Blue Eyed Devil from the library. I could not put it down. Then, when I Googled her, I realized this book was in a series, AND she had written many regency romance novels (that I would never read. Haha!). Well, I read her other 2 books in the Travis contemporary romance series, out of order, and was hooked on her! I just had to have more of Lisa Kleypas!, so I “broke down” and read my very first regency romance novel. Hundreds, maybe a thousand, novels later, I’m just a romance novel junkie!!

    Also, Susan Wiggs, I love the Bellamys as much as Lisa’s Travises!

  • I was 17 when I read a book that changed my way of thinking! I read “Sweet Savage Love” by Rosemary Rogers. Very racy in1975. I read all night and I had to go to work the next morning. The world as I had known it was changed forever! I have been opening up new doors ever since!
    Elaine Ragland

  • The first book I read was the series of Grace Livingston Hill novels that my grandmother had — they were a little old for me (I was 3 or 4), but I loved the escapism of reading. I have been reading since.

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