1. Moonrise by Anne Stuart
Anne Stuart is one of my all-time favourite authors - and for a good reason. The resident genius of romance, I love her style. No one is like her. She is brilliant, an author that takes me through an emotional hell of loving anti-heroes, pure Gamma rogues that are bad boys to the core. She is simply one of the best writers in romance and suspense - no matter what genre or period she is writing in.
2. Wildest Hearts by Jayne Ann Krentz
Jayne Anne and her host of pen-names have really been a comfort read for me. Her books are quirky, fresh and always funny. The hero Oliver simply made me fall for him, along with his Man Friday Bolt. I read this book years ago, but I have reread it many times since. It's just perfection.
3. The Terrible Swift Sword by Bruce Catton
Non-fiction historical writer Bruce Catton was not only an amazing historian, but an author he goes one step beyond all historical writers by making the history come alive. I don't read Catton -- I experience his prose. I am THERE. He taught me that it's more than historical facts, it was the people that mattered. A lesson learned and applied to my historical books. Though I write fiction, I always keep the people the focus. The history is merely the stage for the story.
4. The Deed by Lynsay Sands
Lynsay Sands burst on the romance scene with this book and has held it captive ever since. She was a breath of fresh air to the "bodice ripper" historicals of that era. She brought a wicked wit and a sense that historical romance could be laugh aloud funny. A personal friend, I cannot thank her enough for the direction she pushed me to in my own writing.
5. Angel Knight by Susan King
Likely the best Scottish Historical writer. She breathes out the history, and spins it into Highland magic. Much in the manner of Catton, she gives you history but arrays it as the stage for her mesmerizing historicals. Angel Knight is her working her magic at her very best.
6. The Judas Pair by Jonathan Gash (Lovejoy series first book)
I am big mystery fan and devoured them by the box load, loving John D. McDonald and his colourful Travis McGee, Ellery Queen, the lads of the 87th Precinct. One of my top reads is Jonathan Gash. He created the Divvy antique dealer Lovejoy. Gash's books served for the launch of Ian McShane's long running series, but McShane's Lovejoy is not the same grungy, slightly shady art forger of the books. Still has lovable. May his escapades never end!
Maggie Davis is a powerful author, steeped in strong craft. Now matter the period, she is amazing in her research and details pertinent to her story. One of those authors that should be on the best sellers list constantly, but through the vagarious of the publishing business it likely one of the most overlooked authors. Another friend and mentor, she really helped me focus on the craft of writing.
8. Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Shaara's soul bled the prose for the story about Gettysburg. Picking up the mantle of Catton, he gives you history, but conjures life in the battle that changed a nation.
9. Tell Me No Lies by Elizabeth Lowell
Wow wow wow - this is an amazing story. Lowell opened the door on this book and dragged you into it. Powerful writing that sizzles, that is alive. This book, along with The Crystal Heart, made me want to write.
10. The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout (Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe)
I first read Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin in a novella. I was so blown away by these
characters that I went out and immediately bought everything Stout had written. Periodically, I will go back and revisit the brownstone, with the greenhouse full of orchids on top. It just doesn't get any better than this. I also tip by hat to Tim Hutton's series for A&E (and blow raspberries at the network for cancelling it!).
Well that is my ten books that altered how I viewed writing. What are yours?