Romance author Julie Garwood passed away on June 8th, 2023, at the age of 78. When I heard the news, it took me back to the early days of my romance reading, which at the time was mostly historical romance.
Having sneakily read a bit of my mom’s copy of Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers, I wasn’t sure I’d like historicals because, from what I remember, the character in that book didn’t seem to have much agency and just moved around based on the whims of the men, good and bad, she encountered. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but it’s been a looooong time since I cracked that book open.
I can’t remember which I read first, Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught, or The Bride by Julie Garwood, but once I discovered them, I was hooked. At a time when romance was not afforded much respect, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, and others brought romance fans books they could love – and by the time I was reading them, nice generic (non-clinch) covers for the most part!
It has admittedly been a long time since I’ve read any of Julie’s books, and I have a feeling that there are actions and attitudes that will feel quite dated when I inevitably go back and pick one up again. Despite that, what I remember most about her books are heroines who are determined to do the right thing, no matter how difficult and challenging that might be and no matter how often a man tells her she can’t do it. Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books shares how Julie impacted her and many others around her age, and this got me started down memory lane – much to my coworkers’ chagrin.
Prince Charming tells the story of Englishwoman Taylor Stapleton who enters into an arranged marriage with American rancher Lucas Ross to escape a horrible uncle, but she also has a secret mission of her own to fulfill once she and her husband part ways after reaching America. Of course, this is a romance, so we know they’re not really going to part ways!I shared with two of my coworkers that despite my deep and abiding love for Scotland, my favorite book of hers was not one of her Scottish historicals (even though I love those too), but one set primarily in the American West (not typically my favorite setting).
Her work and her willingness to interact with her readers when asked have had a tremendous impact on so many romance authors writing today. It was the work of Julie Garwood and her contemporaries who made me proud to be a romance reader and encouraged others to become romance authors themselves and fight for romance to get the respect it deserves. I thank Julie Garwood for sharing her talent with us and introducing me to stories and characters of which I still hold fond memories all these years later.
It may be a blast for the past for you, or an introduction to "historical" historical romances, but check out the books below: