This seems to keep coming up, so I guess I’ll try to come up with an answer.
I have no idea what the title or author of my first Romance novel was. I was in high school and hanging out with a girl who was addicted to Harlequins. Out of curiosity I asked her which was her favorite and why. She couldn’t tell me. Apparently she never looked at the title, only the number.
She leant me one of her favorite numbers. I found it frustrating because it was full of dot-dot-dots. Dot-dot-dots are where they used to have all this sexual tension leading up to the moment of fulfillment, then right when it got interesting there would be an ellipses, a couple of line breaks, and the scene picking up with the after glow. Argh! Leave me all hot and bothered why don’t you!
So then she leant me a few that sort of filled in the dots. Only it was in some strange code. I mean, when you’re still a virgin can you be sure what “he entered her” means? It sounded rather grizzly to me, especially when she was a virgin and blood was involved. Worse yet, I would try to read them on the school bus, and really, really did not want to have to explain why I was blushing.
I tried a couple of bodice rippers, but they were badly written. Pretty quick I was back to a straight diet of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which was what I was writing anyway.
15 years later I was visiting my mother over Christmas and ran out of reading material. Her bookshelves had a few SF/F I hadn’t read yet, but a lot more Romance. I asked her for a recommendation. She handed me an Amanda Quick.
I love Amanda Quick’s sense of humor! I devoured the book and asked for more. Mother refused, though there were several more Amanda Quicks on her book shelf. She said I had to give it a long break between or I would ruin it for myself and not be able to enjoy Amanda Quick’s books anymore. So she made me read something else. It might have been a Nora Roberts, but I forget now what it was.
The thing about the Amanda Quick book was that it had a one-word title, like about a dozen of her other books. After having read a dozen, I don’t remember which it was. What’s more, I’m not sure it matters. All her books use basically the same two characters in more or less the same situation and most of them even include a fire at the end. Even her other pen names tend to use the same two characters. I read too many in the course of a single year, and now I don’t enjoy them anymore. Whaahhhhh!
That Amanda Quick book got me started reading Romances again. I only read a few now and then when I happened to run across something interesting. Then I moved to a podunk town on Montana which thankfully does have a good bookstore as well as a library, such as it is. The first thing I bought in town was a Romance novel. It was something about cowboys in Montana, but again, I don’t remember the title or author. I quit watching TV and started reading like crazy; 200-300 books a year. I even decided to start writing the stuff.
So, we could say I have three “first” Romance novels – the first I ever experienced, the first to hook me into the genre, and the first to set me off. And I couldn’t tell you the title of any. I could only name the author of one. I guess my answer to the question is “I don’t know.”