The first romance I ever read was "Gentle Rogue" by Johanna Lindsey, stolen from my mother and accidentally burned and the evidence disposed of (long story...) Too young to know a cliche when I read one, I loved that ridiculous pirate/heroine disguised as a boy tale, though it would be many years before I read another official romance - (Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught) - and it seems my standards were much, much lower when I was new and completely smitten with the genre.
I would just gobble up anything I could find, now I try to read reviews first and find novels that are more of a sure thing. I read "A Man to Call My Own" when it was first released and I remember really enjoying it. I passed it in the library and thought it might be fun to revisit, to see if it holds up, ya know? It doesn't. I couldn't even finish it. I didn't know you could fit that many romance cliches and cardboard characters in one book. Twins, an "evil' (spoiled) twin and a good one - Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield anyone? A hero who is too stupid to tell them apart, even after he has sex with the heroine - are you fucking kidding me?? The horrific father, the kindly mother figure, and so on. Also, Lindsey uses modern day slang in reference to relationships, saying "like" instead of "fancy" or something similar and the 18-year-old "bad" one is described as sleeping with men to keep them away from her sister. Not saying people didn't have pre-marital sex, it just seemed so modern and casual. Oh, it's so bad. One scene I remembered as being powerful and sweet comes off forced and barbaric to me now. The hero basically pulls the heroine into the stables for a roll in the hay because he can't stand one more second without touching her. Just really terrible. This is why I will never re-read more than selected sections of even my older keepers (the McNaughts and Deveraux's) - what worked for me then probably won't hold up, and I think I'd rather keep the fond memories of stories than read some purple prose.