Considering the fact that I’ve been reading romance novels for thirty years and currently make my living writing them, for me, every month is read a romance month. But thankfully, Bobbi Dumas has put her brilliance and imagination into making August the official Read a Romance Month celebration. Something that was sorely needed and long overdue.
I’ve been fortunate to participate in the festivities for the past two years and thanks to romance super-reader Lorelei’s Lit Lair, I’m getting the chance to once again bring attention to this amazing genre that does so much for so many.
It is absolutely no exaggeration for me to say that reading romance novels has kept me sane. Judith McNaught almost single-handedly got me through high school. Kathleen Woodiwiss, Julie Garwood, and LaVyrle Spencer took me through college and beyond. Dorothy Garlock, Johanna Lindsay, Jo Beverley, and Mary Balogh were there when I was trying to figure out how to be an adult. (Something I have yet to master.)
I couldn’t possibly name every author I’ve read, but Nora Roberts, Eloisa James, Shirlee Busbee, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Jo Putney, Mary Spencer, and Elizabeth Lowell deserve to be mentioned. In fact, Eloisa isn’t just an author I’ve adored, but she’s also somewhat responsible for my current career. Back in 2006, Eloisa ran a bulletin board for her fans that introduced me to an amazing group of women, many of whom are still my friends today. And a number of participants on that board are also published authors.
This might be the most important bonus to being a romance reader. We don’t just sit in our cozy corners turning pages and finding solace in the happy endings. Being a romance reader means you’re part of a generous, supportive, and very special community. A sisterhood that happens to include a small but mighty group of male readers as well.
Contrary to public opinion, romance novels are not formulaic stories that are all the same and include nothing more than sex and sappy declarations of love that no one would ever say in real life. These books are about family, growing up, facing faults, healing old wounds, seeking forgiveness, and learning to be a better person.
Yes, there is also a love story, but it’s never simple or trite or easily dismissed. Sometimes there is sex on the page, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes there is religion on the page, and sometimes there isn’t. But without fail there is always love.
And goodness knows this world could use a lot more love.
I would love to hear what draws you to the genre? Is it the fantasy or the more realistic elements? Do you want to read about people who could be in your life, or characters you would never want to encounter on the street? Have you found your little corner of the community or are you sitting there wondering what in the world I’m talking about? (If your answer is the latter, I will happily introduce you to the fabulous world of Romancelandia.
Don’t forget to visit the Read a Romance Month website all month long to read similar essays from an amazing array of the top authors in the genre. It’s like a daily shot of validation, positivity, and genuine appreciation of the most-underrated and misunderstood genre of literature. And especially check out Lorelei’s (of Lorelei’s Lit Lair) post for an essay from the reader’s perspective.