I never ran off with the bad boy, which comes more from a lack of inclination than anything else. Also, growing up, every boy I knew went to my church. I understand why a person would want to though. Who hasn’t had that day when you look around and go, “I’ve got to get away.”
That’s why when I find a book where the heroine takes off with the bad boy, I’m hooked. I connect with the heroine right away because I grew up in a small town and constantly dreamed of running off. When she makes that decision and leaves with the hero, I have to keep going to find out what happens next. The historical context makes it more interesting because it was completely unacceptable a century ago for a woman to take off with a man she barely knows.
The wonderful thing about our digital age is that you can find those great books you read when you were fifteen and relive that adventure over and over again. My favorite runway romances inspired me to write about my own runaway heroine, Cress Darewood. First, she gets waylaid by Dev while he’s a highwayman, then she has to hire Dev to break her brother out of prison. What Cress really does is break out of the life she had to seek out something better, the adventure she deserved.
What books inspired me to write about Cress and Dev? Before I dive into the books I would love for you to read, I want to note that I’m not going to touch Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale in this post. I’ve carried a copy of that novel around with me for decades, it’s one of my all-time comfort reads and I don’t have the words to really sum up how I feel about that book.
We can talk about the books that I return to repeatedly for the fun of it though, because these books give me that thing I need most: escape. (No spoilers)
1. Reading A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare is like drinking a fizzy pink Moscato, you root for Minerva to make it to her paleontology convention with the help of the hopeless cad, Colin. These are two adults who are set on their own path and we come along with their story when their paths cross. The dialogue and the comedy struck a strong It Happened One Night chord with me.
2. Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase gets compared to The Mummy movie often and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. When it’s good, it’s good, and Daphne breaking Rupert out of prison to go on an Egyptian artifact hunt with her is pure gold. Daphne and Rupert’s relationship engages you emotionally because Rupert does everything in his power to not only keep Daphne safe but also make her feel safe.
3. I Loved A Rogue by Katharine Ashe is the third book in a trilogy but it touched me the most, with the vicar’s daughter going with the heartbreaker who left years ago to investigate her family mysteries. Eleanor and Taliesin have had rough lives and I kept reading because I wanted to make sure that these two people who so obviously deserved each other would end up together.
4. The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long gave me something I never knew I wanted, which was a stoic, capable heroine saving her hero from the gallows so she can make enough money to sail away. I identified strongly with Madeleine, not because she was so resilient but because she still had goals. The fact that she starts falling for a ne’er-do-well like Colin was perfect karma, especially when he turns out to be the champion she needs.
5. Jill Marie Landis wrote Day Dreamer in an earlier period of romance. It’s not the most politically correct of books but when you’ve got a psychic in 1816 New Orleans switching places with an heiress and marrying a drunk heir to escape double murder charges, you’re reading for adventure. What Ms. Landis does beautifully is establish a relationship between Celine and Cord despite their circumstances and you root for them.
6. The legendary Anne Stuart wrote a doozy with Hidden Honor, in which a wannabe nun tries to survive a massacre by running away with a prince who may actually be a monk, who may not actually be a monk. Every time I read an Anne Stuart book, I have moments where I think that I’m not supposed to like this but I do anyway, like thinking a monk was sexy.
7. I picked up Beyond Sunrise by Candice Proctor by accident but when I ended up weeping at 3am finishing the book, I decided that it was a happy accident. From the moment India empties a jug of water over Jack’s head to wake him, up straight through their voyage, I needed to know how Ms. Proctor was going to make these two people work. She made me cry but it was worth it.
Irretrievably Wicked by Constance Kersaint
April 27, 2022
About the book:
Cressida Darewood Lindquist has spent ten years putting her family before herself, and now, finally, she is able to indulge in life as a widowed viscountess. That is, until a highwayman interrupts her plans, accosting her in the dark of the night.
Deverell Havelock is done with his life of crime, ready to sail to America. He only needs one more robbery, then he can quit England forever. But he cannot forget the stubborn lady who saves his life on a midnight road to London.
When Cress’s brother is arrested, she turns to Dev, the only man who can break her brother out of prison and save the Darewood family from ruination. But does she want him to rescue her or run away with her?
Constance Kersaint works in government and writes for the pure pleasure of it. Please drop her a line, she is always happy to connect with you!