think, in a previous post, I said that A Knight in Shining Armor was my first romance novel, but as I thought about this post a little throughout the day, I realize that I was wrong.
When I was 14? I think? The neighbors – I live on a road that has no close neighbors, but the ones down the road would circulate bags of books. Mum would go through them, but mostly they were the thin Harlequins that, while perfectly fine, held no interest for either of us. She was hoping for adventure novels (fantasy, SF and mysteries and thrillers are her cuppa, you never found f/sf, but sometimes you got lucky and got the latter. Or a Stephen King book.) but usually had no luck.
I went through the bag one summer, and found a copy of Jude Deveraux’s Velvet Angel. It had knights on the cover, and, flipping it over, I saw that it took place in Medieval Times. So, of course, I read it. And that started the summer of reading every historical romance I could find and afford. Up the road there was a used book store, and we’d stop, and I would stop and try and find something. Jude Deveraux was particularly prized, as were the early Joanna Lindseys.
I got into Julie Gardwood because I was at a flea market, and I was either kind or honest – I don’t remember which – and the book seller insisted on rewarding me with a book. So, I quickly picked the first book to catch my eye, The Gift, which I fell in love with immediately. Such an adorable book.
Teresa Medieros, Laura Kinsale – I adored them all. To be honest, I think that a lot of who I am as a person and as a writer comes from reading these books. I am in love with love, in love with the fall and the happily ever after.
I have happy memories of one summer, laying in my folding plastic chaise lounge under the pine trees, reading. Then going in for dinner. Then reading, unable to go to bed until I had finished the book.
There was a joyful abandon, there.
Eventually, I got married. And then I wasn’t. Romance novels didn’t hold the same allure. ..perhaps I love faith in the happily ever after for a bit, or it just hurt too much. And though I have been able to read some romance novels since – I reviewed for Affaire de Couer, though my poor, generous and long suffering editor soon gave me the “Treasure from Other Genre” books as much as she could – it has never been the same. I purged maybe 90% of my romance novel collection, keeping only a few favorites. I love romantic subplots, I write them very happily, but I changed.
But someday, maybe, I will change back. And my old friends will be waiting for me.