Vintage Romances in the Valentine State

burros - CopyArizona has many nicknames – the Grand Canyon State, the Baby State, the Copper State. It is also known as the “Valentine State” because it officially entered the Union on Valentine’s Day, 1912. As industrialization and progress reached the West, with Arizona as the last piece in the contiguous United States, it was the subject of much romance and idealization. Authors found Arizona’s landscape and characters ripe inspiration for romantic literature.

Reading Arizona features many books written during this period. They were beautifully digitized as PDFs, allowing the reader to enjoy the original format. Some featured Western romances include:


  • Janie Chase Michaels, A Natural Sequence (1895) – A young Phoenix schoolteacher falls for a mysterious rancher. Features fascinating descriptions of 1890s Phoenix and Tempe.
  • Grace Livingston Hill, The Man of the Desert (1914) – A wealthy woman separated from her family and lost in the desert is saved by a handsome missionary. An account of adventure and love.
  • Grace Livingston Hill, A Voice in the Wilderness (1916) – A schoolteacher on her way to Phoenix struggles to survive nature and a fiend, until she is rescued by a handsome cowboy.
  • Harold Bell Wright, When a Man’s a Man (1916) – After being spurned by his lover, a city slicker heads to the Southwest to learn what it means to be a “true” man.
  • Charles E. Haas, A Maid of Sonora (1905) – Set in the northern Mexico state of Sonora, this novel explores the varied interactions of the many cultures along the border. Full of adventure, revenge, and love.

Note: These books are products of their time. They contain turn-of-the-century ideas about gender and about different cultures, offering an interesting glance into the past and prompting reflection on changing attitudes.

Also be sure to check out the Statehood and Beyond collection for ebooks about Arizona’s early years.

Want more Progressive Era romance? Visit the Capitol on Saturday, February 14 at 11am to hear a reading of love letters between Arizona’s first governor George W. P. Hunt and his wife, Helen Duett Ellison Hunt. Event information HERE.

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