This is a question I’m asked quite a bit by pretty much everyone except for other romance writers or people who already love the genre.
Our genre takes quite a bit of flack from those who don’t really understand modern romance novels, and, in fact, quite a few of them have never read a romance novel. That part always amazes me, but then again people often criticize without full information in this day and age.
I remember when I was younger, borrowing my mother’s Harlequin romances and reading about heroines who waited for alpha males to save them and swooned at the slightest provocation. I wanted to shake some sense into them and tell them to grow a backbone! My twelve-year-old sensibilities just couldn’t stomach more of that, so I didn’t touch another romance novel for sixteen years. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Harlequin. Those were the kind of romances the core romance reader wanted at that time, and that’s what Harlequin provided, and they have grown and changed with the times and are still a strong company today. However, from my “worldly” twelve-year-old perspective at the time, those books made me shudder!
That’s not to say that I wasn’t an avid reader during those years. No, just the opposite. I devoured Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan and anything else that caught my interest in the sci-fi/fantasy section of the bookstore. But I made a wide berth around the romance section.
Now here’s a funny side note. My parents and most of my friend’s parents thought we were reading books with wizards and dragons and spaceships in them, which was true. But if they had only known the amount of steamy sex (and yes, even romance) in those books, they would’ve taken them away from me post haste! In fact, my son KNOWS I know what he’s reading and what he’s not since I’ve read most of the books he is starting to pick up, and if I haven’t read it, I’m such a quick reader that I finish it before he gets very far. (Poor kid! LOL)
Anyway, back to my main point. I spent those sixteen years of my life sneering at the romance genre without really realizing all the changes that had taken place.
But then, fate intervened.
I went on vacation with a friend and ran out of books. (I mentioned I’m a quick reader, right? I meant it…lol) We weren’t close to a book store (sacrilege!), so I borrowed one of hers–BORN IN FIRE by Nora Roberts.
I can still remember diving into that book and becoming thoroughly hooked! Not only did it have a rich plot, great setting (one of the richest descriptions of Ireland I’ve ever seen in a novel), characters that jumped off the page and made me believe that if I got off the plane in Ireland today that these people actually live and thrive there. However, it also had some great love scenes and took me through an entire range of emotions before I got to the words “The End.” I was hooked!
I finished it within the day and the next day drove an hour into the next town to find a book store. You can imagine my surprise when I found the other two books in the trilogy (BORN IN ICE & BORN IN SHAME) in the romance section!! A little more time spent perusing books in this section I hadn’t stepped foot in in sixteen years showed me that many of my favorite genres had now blended with romance. There was sci-fi romance, fantasy romance, horror romance, paranormal romance, romance with suspense and even erotic romance, just to name a few. This was my kind of romance!
Needless to say, as I sit here today, a multi-published romance author under two different pen names, I’m very glad to have stumbled onto that Nora Robert’s book when I did. And, in fact, I did thank Nora when I finally met her at a Romance Writers of America conference in 2004, and she weathered my fan adoration with poise and a smile. 🙂 Thanks Nora!
So, what made me think of this blog? I just finished a book that sucked me in, kept me interested, introduced me to characters who will stay with me for quite a while, and took me through a gamut of emotions from outrage to sadness to joy, and there were tears of happiness in my eyes as I read the last line of the book. The book was THE PERFECT KISS by Anne Gracie, a historical romance, and I highly recommend you read it if you haven’t yet.
If like a lot of others, you haven’t given the romance genre a try lately, or at all, you may be missing out on some of the best books you’ve ever read. Not to mention some great gargoyles, vampires, fairies, Klatch witches and angels. (self promotion, plug, plug, plug…lol) But seriously, give it a try and you won’t be disappointed.