The Curvy Road from Romance Resistance to Minion Membership

I am the last person I thought would have bookcases full of romance novels.

The first romance novel I ever read was AWFUL. That is worth repeating, AWFUL. My naive self got my hands on what I now know is a traditional bodice ripper. But to a tween, it had pirates on the cover and even though I didn’t understand why they were hugging, I thought the book would be a great adventure. Wrong. This is the story in a nutshell: A young woman is kidnapped, along with her maid, by an evil pirate, who takes them back to his island and holds them captive for years. Her only comforts are the love of her child and the thought that her dashing young husband would come and rescue her one day. Then, 250 pages later, that day finally arrives. The husband finds the island, defeats the evil pirate and at long last sails off into the sunset… with the freaking maid. The book’s hero actually leaves his wife on the island with the child she bore to the pirate. Her final thoughts were that at least she had the love of her child. The day I read that book’s final page I could have been a major league baseball pitcher with the speed and accuracy in which I hurled that book against the wall.

But with my natural disposition towards Happily-Ever-Afters, my friends tried to get me to read another romance novel and my responses were always visceral, hands up in protest, head shaking repeatedly, eyes piercing with deadly intent and sometimes even walking away from the scene. I was sticking to novels with cute puppy dog covers.

 Sherrilyn  Kenyon and me at the San Diego Comic ConventionSherrilyn Kenyon and me at the San Diego Comic Convention

Let’s call it divine intervention but years later, somehow a romance slipped into my hands, Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon and my beliefs about the romance genre changed overnight. I had never read anything like it. Her Dark Hunter series has Greek Gods, sexy heroes, sassy heroines, humor mixed in with action and the message that true love conquers all. She is so popular that her fans don’t consider themselves part of a club; they consider themselves her “minions” and show up to her events in supportive attire. It’s a fabulous spectacle.

I fell in love with her books. I suspect it’s the same feeling that everyone gets once they connect with a book that means more to them than the mere words on the pages. It’s the reason why readers sacrifice sleep at night just to read one more chapter. It’s the reason why authors speak of their characters as if they are real people. And in my case, it’s the reason why everyone on my 2005 Christmas list got a copy of one of her books because I wanted everyone to have those warm fuzzy feelings.

In the end, everyone’s path to this genre is different and my destination included a long layover in a buzzkill terminal. I sincerely hope you were able to arrive to the romance community much sooner than me.


About Jessie Smith

Health Care Worker by Day, Aspiring Author by Night and 24/7 Staff for Riley (Corgie/Tibetan Spaniel Mix)

Posted on April 10, 2014, in Auth: Jessie Smith and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I love introducing new readers to my favorite authors! I admit to a sneaker wave of envy though. The newbies have all teh bookz ahead of them. Imagine discovering an entire shelf of Sherrilyn’s books that you never knew existed!


  2. I like that you gave out romance novels as Christmas presents. You wanted to share the feeling. That is fabulous!


  3. Funny that you hurled the book against the wall. I’ve done the same. This could be a list, another blog post, or a league of book hurlers. The books aren’t badly written, but the characters get under our skin and the author doesn’t give the reader a satisfying ending. Edith Wharton had landed with a thud over here 🙂


    • I’m glad I’m not alone in the way people can respond to bad ending 🙂 The story is memorable to me…. I just wish I remembered the title or author so I could warn my friends to stay away!


  4. So that pirate book sounds strangely familiar. Maybe that was a popular trope back then. 🙂

    I’m so glad Sherrilyn Kenyon reintroduced you to the amazing world of romance novels.


  5. Hi Jessa – Yes and after re-reading that paragraph, I clearly still have unresolved issues 🙂


  6. I can’t believe the first one you read was bad! Usually the first one is so good you never go back 🙂 Well, at least you found your gateway drug!


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