Don’t ask me why, but I suddenly started wondering how many of our blog-ees are lifelong romance readers and how many came to the game later. I think of myself as a lifer, but the romance genre as we know it today bears little resemblance to what was available when I was a kid and young adult–which I considered at the time to be zilch.
That wasn’t entirely true, of course. There were the early Harlequin books, and I loved them for a while, but then they began to bug me because the hero was always this older than dirt guy (to my 12, 13, 14 year-old mind) of 30, who treated the 18-year-old English flower like crap through most of the book then pledged his undying love on the last page. Huh? I could never see where that was coming from, because he sure as heck didn’t show it. (“I love you darling, truly I do. And by the way, you look lovely in your frock. We must spend a fortnight in my flat.”)
But then came the Gothics, with their covers of women looking over their shoulders at a castle/manse/decrepit old house with its one lighted window as they fled in their nighties into the night. Hey, at least those heroines got a little lovin’ with the non-communicative broody guy, who, I gotta tell you, I think is great fun in fiction, but would probably be a nightmare in real life. And Mary Stewart, bless her Queen of Woman in Jeopardy books heart, always did me right. Charlotte Armstrong did, as well. So, while I read mucho non-romance in my younger years (and, okay, still do), I still believe myself to be firmly in the lifelong romance reader camp.
I’ve met plenty who were late bloomers romance-wise, however–readers and> writers. I remember Tami Hoag coming to a Greater Seattle RWA meeting and telling us she’d disdained romance until one afternoon when she and her husband got stuck waiting for a tow-truck after their car broke down. The only thing to pass the time was a romance book her sister-in-law had left behind. (I think it was a Woodiwiss, but I’m not positive about that.) Like other late blooming romance readers I’ve spoken to, she became a believer–even if she ultimately found her true love to be suspense.
What’s your story? Were you born with a romance in your hand? Or did someone hand you one after years of reading brand X genres, whereupon you declared with heartfelt fervor, “How the heck have I missed out on this for so long?” And does anyone remember the very first romance they ever read?
Tell Motha Susan, my pets. She’s nosy and wants to know.
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