Emma, by Jane Austen
Jane Austen started my love affair with love. I adored Emma Woodhouse - so misunderstood, so full of good intentions, so cack-handed, so like me. Mr Darcy made me feel… things. Womanly stirrings, you might call them. I wasn't at all comfortable with that at the time (I'm still a little prudish when it comes to sex in books - I often skip these bits as they always make me feel like my mother is watching over my shoulder).
The Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Charlaine Harris
My Kindle died en route to Mexico and the only books available in my Tulum hotel were the back catalogue or German thrillers. I started off loathing protagonist Sookie Stackhouse (played by Anna Paquin in True Blood, the TV series based on the novels), but ended up loving her. She's a prudish, guileless tart. This is very hard to pull off.
The Stephanie Plum mysteries, by Janet Evanovich
Stephanie is a messy, deranged bounty hunter who out with her grandmother at funeral parlours, owns a hamster and carries a Taser. She has two big, bad, sexy and sexist males in her life and can't decide between them. Neither can I – they're both pretty close to my idea of perfect.
Toxic Bachelors, by Danielle Steel
I adore all of Danielle's books, but like her men more than her women. She writes of men called Gray Hawk (the protagonist in Toxic Bachelors) – dark, complex, arrogant Alphas who simply need the love of a good woman (like me) to melt their iron core. These men are all hard planes, roped muscles and doorframe-filling shoulders. Steel has ruined me for cerebral, bespectacled short men who love me for my mind.
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