In honor of Valentine’s Day, each Lily is recounting the book that first made them blush, swoon, and fall in love with romance. Happy reading, heroes! And most of all, happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Lily

It’s hard to pinpoint my first romance novel, because it sort of feels like every story I ever loved growing up was heavy on romance with swoon-worthy heroes, even from a young age. There was Almonzo Wilder in the “Little House on the Prairie” series, and of course the incomparable Gilbert Blythe in “Anne of Green Gables.” But most of my childhood reads weren’t really called “romance.” Not officially, at least.

It feels like there must have been something before this one, but the first time I remember being totally blown away by a romance was by Jude Devereaux’s “Wild Orchids.”

Wild Orchids

It had absolutely everything I wanted at the time: an intriguing mystery, a dash of the paranormal, and a heavy dose of love.

My tastes have changed a lot since then, but the book still holds a special place in my heart. I had just embarked on learning to become a writer, and I remember thinking that if “Wild Orchids” was considered a romance novel, I’d be proud to call myself a romance writer. It was that well written.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Have you ever lost someone who meant more to you than your own soul?
Ford Newcombe has. For years, he loved his wife, Pat, more than anyone — and anything — in the world. She came into his life when he was just an inexperienced college student with big dreams of becoming a published author. With love and humor, she guided him down the path that would eventually lead him to more success than he ever dreamed possible. Since Pat’s death six years ago, Ford has lived a life of solitude, barely able to put pen to paper, and rumors are flying that it was Pat who actually created the books the world so loved. If there’s one thing that Ford needs it’s inspiration, and it finally comes in the guise of Jackie Maxwell — a smart, sassy university researcher with just enough attitude to match Ford’s sharp intellect. But it’s her intimate knowledge of the story of a young woman’s friendship with the devil — and what the townspeople did to her — that persuades Ford to hire Jackie as his assistant and to move to Cole Creek, North Carolina, where the story is said to have taken place. They soon learn that even though the inhabitants of Cole Creek try to deny it, they are still plagued by the consequences of the otherworldly tale of passion and death. As Ford and Jackie work to unravel the truth, they discover a connection between their lives and the past, a connection that not only helps them solve a long-ago crime but offers the promise of new love.

Loved by readers and critics alike for her “golden touch” (Publishers Weekly), Jude Deveraux has once again created a story that pulls at readers’ heartstrings, titillates their imaginations, and uncovers a long-buried passion that far surpasses the boundary between life and death.

Enjoy the book yourself! It’s available HERE on Amazon.