Thursday, August 21, 2014

Read a Romance Month: August 2104

This month is Read a Romance Month.  I'm excited and I'll tell you why. I've been reading romances for many years. I started young, around 20 years of age. I was swept up in the grandeur of the historical romance genre. 

Back then, I read Georgette Heyer, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Jennifer Blake. Kathleen Woodiwiss was my all time favorite, because she gave me such rich stories of lovers in another time. I not only got swept up in the romance, but also in the historical backdrop, the time in history the story was set in. I loved that most of her stories were in the late 18th century or early 19th.

My favorite read in 1982

I devoured romances.  Why, because it spoke to my heart. Amid the dirty dishes, dirty diapers of not one but two babies, and the daily grind of making a living, I could escape for a few hours each night in a book, be swept away, as they say, to another world. 

It was glamorous to read about beautiful heroines marrying rich lords, having lovely gowns, and servants to clean the house and empty the chamber pot. What's more, the heroes always seemed to come to some realization about their relationship to the heroine in a way my own young husband---and yours, never would!  Romance gave me hope, hope that it all would work out in the end. Hope that romance can endure, and be rekindled . . .

I kept reading romances, through the years. I read contemporary, gothic, paranormal, but my favorite stories today, some thirty years later, remain as historcial romance.  I'm proud to say, "Yes, I do read those kind of books!" when people turn up their noses at 'just romance' and cite reading something more literary as their normal fair. Go for it, Literary is usually dry and boring, and most of it is just stuff we were forced to read in High School or College and is touted as 'classic'. I'll take passion, love, emotion, humor and drama any time. I'm enjoying myself, immensely. It used to be that one had to hide their taste for romances because those were considered so cheesy, so empty and silly. 

Well, then came Nora Roberts.  Betcha those people who scoff at the romance genre don't make as much as that author, and guess what, her bread and butter that made her millions is ROMANCE! Yes, she's got a ton of books out, and voracious readers. So, somebody's buying those things. Hey, I'm one of them.  Romance reader and proud, how about you? 

Romance gives us hope. It uplifts us. The story of two people coming togther against all odds, choosing each other despite the dictates of family, job social position or a nation's history  (read my post on this)  Can True Love Change History?  is inspiring.

Today, I still read romance the most. Once in a while I'll read the latest horror or a historical fiction story. I always return to romance, because there is just something about that Happily Ever After at the end fo the book that satisfies me. Sure there is conflict, but in the end, I know that all will be right with the world, at least in the book I'm reading. There's hope in that.

My favorite authors today are Lisa Kleypas---absolutely love her Wallflower Series, and Her Hathaway Series. In the Wallflowers, we meet four unwed women in the 1840's. There is Annabelle, an English woman with no dowry, Evie, an Englishwoman with a dowry and interfering relations and a speech impediment. Then there are the Bowman sisters, American girls from New York: Lillian and Daisy. These girls are all sitting on the sidelines of every ball, watching as other young women are chosen by dance partners. They are rivals, as most women are in this time period when husband hunting. Nevertheless, these witty, fun, exuberant girls form an alliance, and embrace the title Wallflowers as a sort of secret club. They plan to help each other, one by one, find husbands.  So, there are four books in the series, one about each woman's quest to marry and find happily ever after. But the most wonderul part of this is the friendship of the four women, and how in each story, we get to see the other girls, not just the one featured. There is also a bonus story, see left, a Christmas story where the now married ladies try to help the Bowman sister's brother, Rafe, find true love. Magical. I love these stories. Thank you Lisa Kleypas for creating these characters. For more info on this delicious series, see post A Wallflower Christmas

Elizabeth Hoyt is another favorite. Her Maiden Lane series set in the Georgian ere England, and her Prince series.
The Maiden Lane series gives us a historical glimpse of characters that are not all lords and ladies. It starts with the first book, poor siblings trying to hold together an orphanage in the Gin Lane section of London, (the Slum area) in the early 18th century. The siblings are carrying on their parent's tradition, but barely scrapping along. There are six books in the series. And the most interesting part is that this series has a mix of classes, the rich do marry the poor, and that gives us hope. It's not all snooty balls and grand ladies, there are gritty scenes of street violence that are historically accurate and bring a different vision of London in the 18th century, that of the common folk. Gin distilleries, river pirates, theives, and the like. But there is also romance, that special spark that makes two people of very diverse backgrounds fall in love and come together against all odds. Love triumphs in the end. That is what makes romance such an uplifting read.
For more on Elizabeth Hoyt and her unusal series, read my post An interview with Elizabeth Hoyt

  These books have given me hours and hours of entertainment, and the stories stay with me long after I've finished them. We come to love the characters. So, go ahead, read a romance! It's Read a Romance Month, and we, as men and women, thrive on romance. It's part of our emotional make up to seek out love, to pair off and become a couple.

Over the years, romance, historical romance, has affected me deeply. I credit Kathleen Woodiwiss with giving me the love for history I have today, and that love of history made me go to college as an adult and earn a degree in history. I love the romance genre. It's given me warm memories and happy moments through my life. Read a Romance, you just might find the world is a brighter place when you finish that love story! 

Here's another dirty little secret. I not only read romance novels, I've dedicated my life to writing them!  Yes, I'm a historical romance author and a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and WisRWA, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. If you are an a romance author seeking other writers to connect with, I highly suggest joining these writing groups.

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