Read: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Drinking: Saffron Tea, Taja Tea
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of romance novels. I find them to be mostly poorly written and silly. Generally the “plot” is just an excuse to get to contrived “romance” situations. Gabaldon’s Outlander is a romance novel, make no mistake, but the romance is part of an absorbing plot – and is actually romantic rather than pure smut.
Outlander tells the story of Claire, an Englishwoman celebrating the end of World War II with a second honeymoon in Scotland with her husband. Claire’s curious nature leads her to a “fairy circle” of standing stones where she is catapulted 200 years into the past to a Scotland in rebellion against English occupation. Eighteenth-century Scotland is a rugged place, and certainly no place for a time-traveling Englishwoman. Claire is unable to return through the stones, so to protect her, the clansmen she is caught up with encourage her to marry Jaime Fraiser, the only unmarried man in the group. Thus begins one of the greatest fictional love stories of all time. It sounds much more contrived in this summary, but I assure you the book is wonderful.
The relationship between Claire and Jamie is also very realistic in terms of the challenges such a couple would face (especially when he comes to terms with her time-traveler status!), rather than being all about the sensual aspects. I like that this particular romance novel is plot-driven, rather than romance-driven.