Who hasn’t a go-to book? A Linus’ Cover to patch up pretty much anything, or for getting through a reader block? Well, CoffeeTime asked me so, and here’s my answer.
Which book is at the top of your keeper shelf, the book you like to re-read over and over? And why?
Ah, well, that would be The MacKade Brothers by Nora Roberts.
The story starts when I was eleven or twelve. A friend of mine and I always swapped bags of books of any genre and like many other times, we exchanged a new batch. It was going to be the last one because, in early June, the end of the school year was just around the corner. I don’t remember any other book from that choked-full bag but one… one I never forgot.
It was The Pride of Jared MacKade by Nora Roberts. I read it, and it did something to me above and beyond liking a book, something that I was too green to know or recognize. Back then, it was simply a book I liked and at 13, I didn’t have the mind to actively look for the same author. It was the very early ’90 and there was no internet, so the only way I had to access books was the tiny library of my tiny town and honestly, it wasn’t overflowing. Mostly classics, a few thrillers. I happily took what they had, nothing more.
The title, though, the story, settled somewhere in my subconscious and just quieted, probably waiting for the right time to come out and be taken care of.
I kept going on with my favorites stories and genres, eating books like I eat pizza: as often as I can and with enthusiasm.
I loved Historical (read, Bernard Cornwell & CO), big sagas á la Edward Rutherfurd, or adventures along John Grisham’s line, and I had my fat share of classics.
My Grandma Maddalena was an absolute Agatha Christie fan, my mom Anna loves dark, literary fiction, and my stepdad was into epic fantasy. While I’ve always been surrounded by books, the genres never changed and it worked well with me. Romance didn’t have room in my library. No particular reason other than I’ve never thought I’d like it. I never connected the dots from that one book I read years before to the romance genre. I never thought about stepping out of what I liked.
All sort of bells and alarms started ringing. I knew that author. I knew those brothers.
I got the book. Read it. Loved it.
By then internet was up and running, I was walking big city sidewalks, and I knew a thing or two about hunting books down. It wasn’t hard finding and re-reading the second one in the series, Jared’s. Then Devin’s. And Shane’s.
I was done for.
I jumped head first into the new romance world, devouring everything I could find within it. Finessing my taste and preferences. Learning all the different shades of a genre that’s more complex and diverse than any other. Contemporary and Suspense were an easy step for me to start from, but then I discovered the historicals, chick-flicks, and god known if now I’m stuck into fantasy.
That little series changed not only what I wanted from a book, but later, what I wanted to give out as an author. I want passion, and fast pace, and adventure. Honesty from the characters and from the writer.
To this day, I have all four brothers in paper and in my kindle, (Italian version and US version, which is the one I always go back to. I banned reading Italian books when I moved to the UK knowing zero English, and never looked back because I fell for the English language hard) and I often go back to them.
To which story of the series depends on the mood.
I read Rafe’s story when I want an edge. Jared’s when I need a wild and truly badass heroine. To Devin’s when I need a quieter true hero, and to Shane’s when I want to chill.
Do I have a favorite?
Probably not. They are a package deal, and I need all of them when I’m going through a reader’s block, or I’m out of sort because I’m having hard time with whatever.
Are they perfect, from a writer viewpoint?
They are my reading Linus-blanket, and the very books that changed everything. So much so that, when it was time to pick a pen name, I had no hesitation. It was going to be MacKade. I am a romance reader and a writer because of them, I may very well be part of the family, right?