Posts Tagged 'Romance novels'

In praise of tolerant mothers and romance novels

[Author’s Note: I did a guest post on the Harlequin Blog this week. In honor of National Womens’ Month, which coincides with Women’s History Month, the blog editors asked contributors to write about the role of romance novels in their lives.

The broad topic led to some interesting musings from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ Sarah, Dear Author’s Jane, and two other editors in the NY office, with more posts to come. You can read all of the posts on this topic by clicking here.

Olga, the blog’s editor, subtitled my post “On Why Sneaking Romances is Alright.” But I’m cross-posting it here with a new title because even though my mom put up with my teenage sneaking around, I don’t think she would ever agree that sneaking around is okay! (Right, Mom?) And, she probably would not agree that romance novels are good reading…but moms can’t be right ALL the time. 😉]

Reading romance made me the person I am today.

Just ask my mother.

The other day, she gave my sister, a mother of three, some words of wisdom that were both warning and advice: Monitor your children’s books, because you never know what reading can lead to.

Books, and romance novels, are powerful like that. They can make you see the world in a different way.

Robyn Carr’s medieval romances inspired me to infiltrate the adult section of the library before I was nine. Scarlett and Gone With the Wind made me believe that if I spoke my mind and everyone disagreed with me, it would somehow turn out okay in the end. Reading the Caitlin series gave me a yearning to see New York City, where I now live, and taste cappuccino in a real café, way back before Starbucks. And Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale showed me that loving a man for who he is, instead of accepting who family and neighbors believe him to be, can create the foundation for a 16-years-and-going-strong marriage.

I am thankful every day that my mom taught me to read, took me to the library and let me loose in the stacks. And I’m also thankful she didn’t complain too much when she caught me sneaking around with those clinch covers, letting romance novels have their way with me.

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Sex diaries vs. HEA

I heart New York magazine, intensely. And their critical breakdown of the sex lives of New Yorkers, as portrayed in their online Sex Diaries, was a must-read.

Wesley Yang laid out the plagues of being single in the city:
1. The anxiety of too much choice.
2. The anxiety of making the wrong choice.
3. The anxiety of not being chosen.
4. The anxiety of appearing overly enthusiastic.
5. The anxiety of appearing delusional.
6. The anxiety of appearing overly sincere.
7. The anxiety of appearing prudish.
8. Internet-enabled agoraphobia.
9. Separation anxiety.

All this anxiety made me anxious, and I have been monogamous for lo these many years. And the piece also made me sad, thinking of tender NYC youth playing games, telling lies, trolling bars hoping for hook-ups, afraid to care too much.

How antithetical to the fantasy of romance, I thought, where high emotion is expected, encouraged. In the romance novel business, there may be lies, games, sneaking around, and ennui but the conflicts all eventually end in true love. The readers of the Diaries and the readers of romance must live in such different worlds…

But then I read #10:
The anxiety of being unable to love.

And yet perhaps the most surprising psychological attribute of the Diarists, despite weeks upon weeks of guarding their vulnerabilities from the brutality of the marketplace, is their romanticism… [Love] is nonetheless something that the Diarists keep referencing, despite the impression they convey that it is an ever-receding ideal. It’s an odd, negative sort of tribute—a vague longing for something all but lost, but perhaps worth clinging to nonetheless.

We’re all the same after all. Anxiety = conflict; sex = chemistry; love = happily ever after.

For those who prefer to read about NYC lonelyhearts, check out the Sex Diaries. For those who can admit they believe in love, check out the free e-books at Harlequincelebrates.com.


DISCLAIMER

I work as an editor at Harlequin, but the posts on this site are all mine and don’t represent my employer's positions, strategies or opinions.
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