A valentine for romance novels

I love romance novels. Of course, since I’m a romance author, this probably comes as no revelation. But it’s worth saying anyway.

I grew up on romance novels. As a teenager, I was allowed to read only sweet Regency novels that I devoured from the shelves of my local library’s Bookmobile each week. Still, my older sister’s bookshelves, lined with Kat Martin, Heather Graham, Johanna Lindsey, Lisa Kleypas, and the like, called to me. I wanted to know why I couldn’t read those novels, the kind with the covers with half-naked men holding swooning women in their arms (almost always with dubious hair, makeup, and prop choices, but who cares). What was inside those pages?

So I thieved my first romance novel from my sister’s collection—Sweet Vengeance by Kat Martin—and I never looked back. Yes, my mother eventually caught on. And yes, the parents of some of my friends also caught on, and some of them even confiscated the books I had happily supplied their daughters. (To this day, I’m still mourning my original copy of And One Wore Gray, which a friend’s step-mother robbed from her bedroom during one of her periodic raids. Yes, it’s about 17 years later and I’m still not over it—that’s how much I will always love Daniel Cameron. #BookBoyfriends)

I love romance novels. I always have, and I always will. In high school, before the days of the e-reader, I made homemade book jackets so that I could read in study hall unhampered by well-intentioned teachers. I tucked romance novels inside desks and read them during class. I hid them on my lap and in text books. Later on, I carried them in my purse and I read them in airplanes and on beaches. I stayed up till three in the morning just so that I could sigh with bliss and fall asleep knowing Emma and Prince Nikolas finally found their happily ever after. As a terrified mother-to-be trapped in a hospital bed trying to keep my twins from being born way too early, I went through 3 wonderful Sarah MacLean books.

I’m not entirely sure what it is about romance novels that makes me love them so much. Maybe it’s the steadfast knowledge that no matter what, the hero and the heroine will end up together where they belong. Maybe it’s the adventure of heading back to the Civil War or being romanced by a rakish duke. Maybe it’s that feeling I get when I read a truly awesome book and I’m wearing that sated I-just-read-the-best-romance smile, and my heart feels a little lighter and the world a tiny bit better of a place.

Whatever it is, all I know is that from the moment I started turning those pages years ago, I was hooked. And I still am.

Until next time, happy Valentine’s Day and happy reading, darlings!