When I announced that I’d written a book, friends and acquaintances celebrated with me. As soon as I uttered the words “romance novel” some of their hearty congratulations turned to patronizing amusement. “Oh how cute,” one murmured, as if my book was a third grade essay I’d proudly presented to the world. Was it my imagination, or did they begin to speak slower and louder? To them, romance writing isn’t real writing – not at all. And when I heard the words “highbrow” and “lowbrow” from another aspiring author, I knew I was in the presence of a snob who believed that skill and storyline were mutually exclusive.
Speaking of snobs, I have to ‘fess up. Until the late 90s I had never read a romance novel. The covers turned me off. Instead of bodice-rippers, I referred to them as back-breakers. In those days, more often than not, the heroine’s entire body was bent back by 100 pounds of hair and an adoring glance into the eyes of a hero with a nearly-shirtless, Masters of the Universe chest.
But when I was presented with a box of Arabesque classics, I was hooked. Nobody was getting beat up or strung out. And on a week when everything that could go wrong did just that, escape into a love story was as soothing as a cup of hot tea or a glass of Pinot Gris. So when I picked up the pen, romance was the genre in which I chose to write. For some, knowledge that the hero and heroine will be together at story’s end is a turn-off. To me, what makes a great story is the journey they take from the beginning to the happily ever after end. Besides, who hasn’t experienced that magic moment when all is well with love? A romance novel leaves the reader with a sweet taste on the tongue; the next step on that journey is up to the imagination.