Let's Get Romantic, ya'll!
Come on in and make yourself comfortable. Have a glass of sham-pag-na.
As a lifelong book nerd, I have had countless literary adventures. I loved camping out in the wilderness of the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres. I took the occasional dip in the classics pond. I cuddled up with a mystery a time or two. But I went 28 years without a one night stand with a romance novel.
Let me take you back to Christmas of 1996. I was ten years old and was spending Christmas Day with extended family. You know, the kind you only see a few times a year and you don't really know each other beyond the whole blood relation thing. It came time to open presents and, as in years past, I expected to rip off the brightly-colored paper and find socks, candy, or small trinkets that were universally popular. Except this year, my beloved Nana had spread the word that I was an avid reader. So one of my great-aunts had gotten me a stack of cheap paperbacks. My eyes lit up. I was so excited. New books! I turned to show them off to my mother who took one look at the covers and made a face I could not interpret at that age. I know it now to be discomfort.
Those paperbacks were romance novels and children were not the intended audience. They were full of the sexy sex sex and, thus, not appropriate for a fourth-grader. My mother put them in a sack 'for safe keeping' until we got home where she informed me that I was not allowed to have my present until I was old enough to vote. I was confused and bummed. And I now had a vendetta against romance novels.
During high school and college, I became a budding young feminist, trying to unpack all of my internalized misogyny courtesy of the patriarchy. I began discovering female creators and connecting with content that was seeking an audience of women. But I stayed away from romance novels. Having never read one, I assumed they were frivolous and anti-intellectual.
Then I came across two articles within weeks of each other that convinced me to give romance a try.
Then I discovered Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and there was no turning back. I was going to venture out into the untamed wilds of the Amazon Kindle Store and swipe right. I was going to go on blind dates with books that are written predominantly by women for women.
Over the past year and some change, I have become obsessed with romance novels and now I want to talk about them.
It's about to get romantic.