Saturday, February 23, 2008

Proud Romance Reader

Don’t let anyone ever discount romance novels or their readers. I confess to you shamefacedly that I was once a closet romance reader. I once allowed myself to be embarrassed by my penchant for the genre.

It wasn’t always that way. I think my love of romances, stories about love and the relationships between people, began in what might seem an unlikely place. It began with the chickenpox. I got the chickenpox when I was 9 or 10 years old. My Aunt Jo had me and three of my younger sisters as my mom was having gallbladder surgery. Surprise! We all three developed the lovely virus.

To keep us entertained my grandparents brought us books, coloring books, crayons and other things to do with little hands so they didn’t scratch. In between oatmeal baths and being doused in nasty smelling calamine lotion, I dove into the book my grandfather had brought me. Little Women.

Now it may seem odd to some to give a 10 year old Little Women. First of all I’d always been a strong reader. Growing up wasn’t pony rides and party dresses for our family. Reading helped me forget. Secondly, it was just my grandfather’s way. He was always bringing me books that were supposed to be way too advanced. It was he who planted the idea in my head I could be anything I wanted.

Back to romances. I loved the story of Little Women though I frankly think Teddy got short changed. Amy? I thought Jo was crazy for refusing him until Professor Baer came into the picture. Even at that age I understood the difference.

In middle school, my friend Trina introduced me to Harlequins. Back then the girls were always virgins and the couple never had sex until they were married. And the sex was vivid descriptions of kissing, his hands touching her back or face and then of course she would nearly faint as he “showed her the greatest of all pleasures a woman could know, one only a man could give her.”

When exactly did romance develop negative connotations? And why? Why when I sit in a café or at the lunch table do I feel compelled to put a book cover or a sticky note over the cover of the book? When, how and why did I let society do this to me? Why should I feel embarrassed?

Well, no more. I’m not going to hide my books. So come on now, throw out those old book covers, stop bending back the covers on the books. Be a romance reader and be a proud one!

Of course trying to read erotica in a public place will still make me blush. I’m still recovering from the decision to read Anny Cook’s Chrysanthemum while in a hotel restaurant. I guess I’m a work in progress.

So recommendations then? Yep, I finished two good ones yesterday.

Time for Love
by Kelly Kirch
From Cerridwen Press
This is a great Regency era with a time travel twist.

Sarah is transported back in time and into the life of a Regency era widow who is supposed to be acting as the chaperone to a young cousin in her first London season. As difficult as that may be, it’s complicated by her growing attraction to a known rake, Lord Hayworth. He’s sexy, seductive and obviously attracted to Sarah. Unfortunately he’s also very much promised to her young cousin.

Sarah and Drake are great characters. You want to cheer for them. Well done, Ms. Kirch!

By Anny Cook
From Ellora's Cave

Anny Cook has become one of my favorite writers in the past year since I signed my first contract with Cerridwen Press and discovered the wonderful world of ebooks. Honeysuckle is a hot, steamy sequel to Chrysathemum. I don’t think I’ve run across something that has made me laugh and fan myself so much.

Honeysuckle doesn’t believe one man could ever be enough, but it seems to be her fate as her father seeks to marry her off. Enter two gorgeous men who see in Honeysuckle exactly the woman they’ve been dreaming of. Peter and Dick Hieney have waited all their lives for a woman like this and aren’t about to let her get away. More than woman enough to keep them both on their toes, she goes with them. But convincing her to marry them amidst a plot to end the rule of King Arthur, while battling an evil sorceress, and the temptation of beautiful studdly men who just happen to be unicorns? That might not be so easy.

And its given me a new crush. They may be twins but I could choose. The sign of great characterization. They came alive as individuals. (Oh, and the ending is priceless. Poor Blessing. Poor Peter.)

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