Is romance really such a dirty word? Readers happily own up to enjoying "relationship" novels, but balk at the suggestion that they read romances.
Yep, that's what I've been hearing. "I don't read romance", a woman might say as she reaches for a Danielle Steel novel at the grocery store checkout counter.
Right. Then, sweetie, you don't want that book.
Not all romance novels declare themselves by featuring shirtless Fabio wannabes on covers emblazoned with raised gold letters screaming titles like Love's Throbbing Desire. For example, the cover of my first romance novel features no people at all--just a vase of flowers and a teapot on a kitchen table. And the title is Finding Hope. People have written to me saying they picked it up without realizing it was a romance novel.
But it is. Very much so, and I'm not ashamed of that.
Many people who make fun of romance novels don't even know that "quieter" books like mine are part of the genre. Now, don't jump ahead of me, because I'm not saying "my kind" of books are real romance and the other stuff is not. I'm merely pointing out that calling romance novels "silly" or "trashy" demonstrates a profound ignorance of the fact that the genre encompasses an enormous range of styles and attracts a broad spectrum of readers. Some romance novels are light reading and some are quite literary. Some are "sweet" and some are steamy. Some are about vampires finding their soul mates. Some are about divorced couples correcting the mistakes of the past and making a new start. And that doesn't even begin to describe what the genre offers to readers.
I can see people making fun of a cover or ridiculing a title or disparaging a particular author's style. What I don't understand is people who dismiss the entire genre when they know absolutely nothing about what the genre is.
I'm not likely to pick up a book called Love's Throbbing Desire (that's a made-up title, by the way--at least I hope it is), but that doesn't mean I'd think less of you for reading it (or writing it) because in the end, we're fellow travelers on the romance road. We may be starting from different places, but our journeys are remarkably similar and we're headed for the same destination: all romance novels are about the search for and the ultimate discovery of real and lasting love. If you're reading or writing those kinds of stories, you're a romance lover and I have a lot in common with you.
It is about time romantic novelists got angry, reclaimed the word's proud tradition and celebrated good writing that makes the pulse race as much as the mind.Absolutely.
Even if you don't want to read the complete article right now, you must go see the scary picture of novelist Barbara Cartland. She wrote almost 700 romance novels in her lifetime, and good for her. But bless her heart, was she kidding with that eyeshadow?