My family used to go on these epic sailing adventures with The Meyers family. Week long trips around the Great Lakes in one big sail boat. I was a voracious reader as a kid and one year, I went through my supply of books and Mrs. Meyers handed me one of hers. A Harlequin Desire about an estranged married couple – the hero was a race car driver who’d been in an accident, his wife couldn’t handle the fear of him getting hurt anymore.
By about page five of that book my little world was blown open. It wasn’t the sex ( I honestly don’t remember reading the sex scenes), it was the high octane emotion. The seeming life or death stakes of being in love. And as a new teenager, that fit my idea of romance. My world hinged on a look from a guy I liked. Heaven help me if we actually talked.
So, since that first Desire (and if anyone knows the name of that book – please let me know!) I’ve been hooked.
I feel like as I’ve grown up, so have romance novels. The heroines have gotten tougher, smarter more resilient. They aren’t waiting for a man to come and save them. They often head on out and save the man, which was hugely empowering when I was in my twenties and still is as I navigate the tricky life of a stay-at-home mom and writer with two kids and husband.
The plots have gotten more exciting, more dangerous, more intricate. The issues that romance novels touch on are important to me – family, love, war, death, sickness, loss, happiness, self-respect. Romance has truly come into its own and I’m hugely honored to be a part of that tradition.
I keep thinking about what a fifteen year old girl would think if she read one of my Crooked Creek books. And I hope the same things that effected me as a teenager would effect her – the emotion, the heady thrill of sexual excitement and real love.
But I also hope that there’s something in there about being a woman fighting for herself and her own happiness. That nothing else can replace self-respect and trying to do the right thing. And love never diminishes the people who feel it.
I don’t know of a lot of books outside of romance that come with that kind of lesson attached. I love romance novels because they are important.
Why do you love romance novels? What made you start to read them?
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