As always in August, some words from Read a romance month!
One of the largest lessons the characters learn is to put another person’s needs ahead of their own when the situation calls for it. Even more amazingly, they discover that someone else will do the same for them.
Ultimately, our hero and heroine discover that love cannot survive behind the barricades they have built around their hearts. Love is expansive. It makes their souls unfurl and reach for the light. It throws open closed doors. It leaves the past behind and marches boldly into the future.
Back when I started reading romance there weren’t a whole lot of people I could talk to about them. My mom didn’t read romance. My friends weren’t interested. It wasn’t until I started to write romance and joined RWA chapters that I actually found a crowd of people that read romance.
I felt like I found my people.
And I would meet with my friends and we’d talk about writing but mostly we talked about books. Good ones. Terrible ones. The ones that made me swoon and cry. The one that made me launch the book across the room. We talked about those books like they were friends.
When the Black Dagger Brotherhood series started my writer friend and I – who both had incredibly young babies and had no business staying up that late at night reading those books one after the other – would drive to each other’s houses to shriek about those books. To marvel and laugh and sigh.
Reading romance brings me joy but talking about romance is one of the best things in my life.
One of my favorite hobbies is travel. I love seeing historic sights and beautiful natural settings. And I love experiencing different cultures. But who can afford to travel all the time? The remedy for that– books!! You can even travel through time! Romance books have allowed me to experience different places, customs, and time periods. My imagination has been fed and encouraged to blossom, and that, in turn, has inspired me to pen my own stories.
What else brings me joy in a romance book? Strong, honorable heroes and heroines. I love a hero who respects and admires a woman for having the same mental strength and determination that he has. Who doesn’t love a sexy, smart, strong hero? And I adore the heroines who stand up to them, take charge of their life, and make their own choices.
Romances, in general, give us honorable characters with enough integrity to face their challenges and enough courage to fight the odds. In turn, they inspire us to respect ourselves and never give up. For dreams do come true.
The joy of romance comes from the sweetest, simplest places. So the next time you read a romance that moves you, do the author (and maybe yourself!) a favor and write to her. Share her book with your neighbor, your sister, your friend.
Because readers embody the true joy of romance. One happily ever after at a time.
- After the wonderfully maddening anticipation of waiting for a new book from a favorite author, that moment when you FINALLY have the book in your hands.
- That moment when you settle into your favorite reading spot after a loooong day with a romance novel.
- Or that moment of rebellious joy when you say to hell with homework, or the dishes, or the job or whatever and just lose yourself in a romance novel.
- While reading the story, there are all those feelings to feel…good, bad, sexy, funny, scary, sad and happy all at the same time…which I allow myself to fully feel because I know it will end well.
- And then there’s the HEA joy, that moment when All Is Right In The World or at least that fictional world.
- And then there is the joy of sharing a beloved book with a friend and getting to relieve the story when you chatter and squee all about it.
A good romance might make me laugh and cry, smile and cheer, angry and even annoyed. However, I know—no matter what happens throughout the story—that in the end, the characters will get their happy ending. I finish every book feeling good and hopeful and that’s the outlook I want to have about life. I believe in love and happy endings and romance books reinforce this simple, but often forgotten, ideal.
After all, what other genre can you read where you cheer for love to come for a vampire or werewolf or reformed drug addict or sex worker or whoever. Love truly has no boundaries in romance. In many ways, each of these different love stories gets us to open our minds and hearts to other possibilities. They expand an often limited world and let us explore without leaving our house.
The truth is that even though I love adding romance to my women’s fiction books, and I like romance in my personal life, I can’t say I get all goofy – gaspy over it. In fact, sometimes – and this might make you not like me – I have to tell Innocent Husband to quit being so sappy. He rolls those toucan eyes every time.
Dinners out with white linen napkins are lovely. Flowers are lovely. But what gets me going is what’s behind the romance. The deep stuff. The stuff that has held us together for over two decades, and it has not all been pretty.
With no further yakking, this is what I have found romantic in my own life with Innocent Husband:
1) Raising kids together. Our kids are 18, 18, and 21. Yes, we had twins, and yes we had three kids under the age of three at one point. Two words: Controlled chaos. It was like living with our hair on fire and not having time to stick our heads under the sink.
There’s nothing romantic about nursing two kids at one time at three in the morning in bed for months on end. But knowing that I could whack Innocent Husband in the shins and he would haul himself up, gather up two babies, and put them back in their cribs because I was too wiped out to move – now that’s romantic.
Romantic is raising teenagers together – now that’s turned my hair white under the dye – and knowing that when tough stuff comes up we will talk out how to handle it, maybe argue, in private, but we will, in the end, present a united front to any Rebellious Teenagers living in our home to get them back on track because we both love and adore them. Romantic is doing what’s best for the family even when you both want to run away to the backwoods of Montana and live in a shack.
2) Taking care of all four of our parents as they were sick, and dying, together.Candlelight casts cool shadows, but knowing your spouse is behind you, supportive of you, when you are gone, yet again, to take care of a parent, to take them to chemo or radiation, and you come home and they give you a hug, even though you look like you’ve been through a tornado, and your mental state is shredded, now that’s romantic.
3) Going through the ups and downs in life as a couple. Someone recently told me, in looking at my website, that it seemed I had a perfect life. I about died laughing. Anyone who I am really close to knows the truth. In 22 years Innocent Husband and I have had twirly highs and murky lows. But we’re still here, still laughing, and I haven’t yet thrown anything at his head. This is fortunate because head injuries bleed a lot and I wouldn’t have wanted the carpet stained.
4) Fishing on our drift boat. Well, okay. He fishes and rows. I read and eat chocolate.
5) Driving to the coast for clams because we feel like it. Clams. Butter. Garlic. Bread to help wash it down. Can’t move when we’re done, but YUM.
6) Chatting about little things that are pleasant, as “pleasant chat” can be so relaxing. Because, after all, not everything in life has to be serious, all the time.
7) Laughing in the middle of the night. Our kids have told us that our laughter has woken them up at night. But that’s what I want for them: A spouse they can laugh so hard with that the kids wake up.
8) Innocent Husband is huggable.
Romance is fun. Exciting. Woo woo. But, after twenty two years, I know to my bones that true romance, the joy of romance, is found day to day, the good days and the lousy ones, the times of success and the pits of failure, the excitement and the grief. When two people stick their heads up after dealing with whatever life has shoved or thrown or exploded or miraculously gifted to them and they instinctively reach for each other’s hand, that’s freakin’ romantic.
Some would say…smokin’ hot sexy, too.