Growing up, Romance Novels meant my 13-year-old self, slinking off to the tiny library inside my Grandma Helen’s condo building in Chicago. I’d sneak a well-worn book with a cover featuring a beautiful, heavily-bosomed woman straddling a gallant horse or traipsing through a grand old-world castle with an equally beautiful man she wanted nothing to do with…that was until he took her in bed one night and had his way with her.
Away from Grandma’s prying eyes, I devoured these books, reading and rereading the sex scenes. I enjoyed every scandalous tale. I mean, I really really loved reading them and imagining myself as that beautiful passionate woman.
At the same time, I was also a fairly serious girl. I earned good grades, took care of my little sister after school, and planned out a future as a broadcast journalist who would save the world one truth-telling story at a time.
I knew those lusty romance novels weren’t REAL books. Real books didn’t tell silly make-believe stories about virgins having life-altering orgasms the first time they made love to a man.
So when my oh-so-serious self, grew up and eventually started writing my own novel, I sure didn’t set out to mimic the secret reads of my early teens. I wanted to write important stories about real women. Women I knew.
But the women I knew were having sex.
In many cases, the kind of love they were making told me something about their relationships. I realized if the characters in my books were going to be authentic, they were going to have to have sex, and the readers would need to see it. It was an integral part of the story.
Still, when I went to publish my first novel and realized the most accurate genre for my book was…gasp…ROMANCE…. I was embarrassed.
I was a genuine writer. My work had meaning, a message, and well-crafted sentences for God’s sake.
Kingston Court, and my spin-off novel, Choosing Hope, also happened to follow romantic relationships, neighborhood gossip, and lusty love scenes. Straight up Romance Novel material.
So I did my research and I changed my perspective. There are plenty of romance books circulating today that are both smart and intelligent. Television shows have progressed too. Sex and the City, Californication, and Girls are three of my favorite examples. Clearly, we have evolved.
Now, when people look at me with a smirk after I tell them my book is a romance novel, or they lift their eyebrows and say something like, “Oh, I don’t read THOSE kinds of books,” I smile politely and think to myself… they have no idea what they are missing out on. Contemporary romance novels have it all…and then some.