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SUSAN ANDERSEN | Blogs and Lifelong Romance Readers

September 14, 2010



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.

Just because.


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