guest post by Larissa Ione

Okay, single ladies, raise your hand if you've ever seen that tiresome criticism that goes something like this: Single women who read romances will develop unrealistic expectations of men.

Ha! And again, ha! Reading romance novels when I was single helped me recognize that no man is perfect (not even those in romance novels) and that I didn't have to put up with idiots. Unrealistic expectations? Really?

Did I mention the ha?

We women know the men in romance novels are fictional wonderful guys. But in the real world there are also nonfictional wonderful guys. So I was well aware of the fact that I wasn't going to find Joe Mackenzie from Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mission while I was in the Air Force, but that didn't mean I had to put up with jerks, cheaters, abusers or morons.

There were certain things I was going to demand from a man, the same as a good romance heroine does. Things like respect. Like fidelity. Like honesty.

So did reading romance set me up with certain expectations? Maybe. But unrealistic ones? No way. I was in no hurry to get serious or get married, and in the end, I got my own hero who is in no way perfect, but he's right for me.

So, single ladies, this February treat yourself to a romance novel full of hot guys who ultimately treat their heroines with respect, and know that there are real men like that out there.

For some reason, during the month of February, I'm drawn to contemporary romances, and some of my personal favorite Valentine's Day re-reads are Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard, Prince Joe by Suzanne Brockmann, and Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

What about you? Any personal favorite re-reads that remind you that romance novels can be utterly unrealistic while at the same time delivering a real, feel-good read?

Larissa Ione is the author of Immortal Rider (Grand Central), the second book in her Lords of Deliverance series about the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Her next paranormal romance, Lethal Rider, comes out in May 2012. Learn more on her website,

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