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.
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.