Love is Real
I’m a public librarian by training, so I’m no stranger to stereotypes. I know you’ve heard them, too. Librarians are all shy, repressed, buttoned-up. We all wear buns, cardigans, and pointy glasses, and we all live alone with our pampered cats. Our favorite word is Shush. And so on.
But the stereotypes about romance writers and readers? Nothing in my librarian days quite prepared me for those. I won’t try to list them all, but the one that frustrates me the most is the frequent assertion (from genuinely concerned individuals, I’m sure) that romance novels give readers “unrealistic ideas” about life and love.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, the romance genre has its share of—shall we say, loveable quirks. Do that many men really smell like sandalwood? Maybe not. As a writer, I enjoy exploring the playful, even absurd side of love and relationships—because my real life has more than its share of absurdity. (Don’t ask me about my husband, our first date, and a collision with a flagpole.)
One of the great joys of being an author is hearing from readers. People have told me all about the places they read my books. At the beach, on airplanes. Some read after long days of caring for special-needs kids. Others, to unwind from a high-powered office job. Some read to take their minds off a husband deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some read while deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. And still others read to pass time while waiting for a loved one to undergo chemotherapy treatments. Some days, a romantic waltz with a sexy duke is just what a girl needs.
As for those “unrealistic” charges—we’re talking about commitment, not unicorns. The day a committed romantic relationship becomes an “unrealistic” ending is the day I permanently move to Fantasyland. (Luckily, I’m ten minutes from Anaheim. It’s just down the road.)
To me, reading a great romance novel is like attending a mushy wedding. You know, those ones where the bride and groom just glow with giddy love for each other, and it’s so infectious you can’t help but feel it too?
Those weddings make us laugh, sigh, shed a happy tear, or even smile for days afterward. There’s the joy of witnessing the birth of something truly special between two other people, and at the same time, we’re reminded of the love and romance in our own lives. We know every couple faces inevitable challenges, but we take a few hours to celebrate new love and boundless hope, and affirm some of life’s most important truths:
Love is real. Relationships are vital. Romance matters.
Recommendations: One of my personal favorites is Leigh LaValle. Her historical romances are beautifully written and emotionally rich. You can find her at www.leighlavalle.com
Questions for Tessa:
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
Well, we have quite a few “special” craft projects created by the two darlings. Once, my daughter made me a “vase” by gluing an old plastic cup to a piece of leftover plastic siding. It’s still in the dining room cabinet because I can’t bring myself to throw it out.
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
Feed, Play, Scrub? Gone with the Laundry? Guess What We’re Having for Dinner? Those are the movies my life resembles most days. I would like to be played by Jessica Rabbit. Just because.
What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
The encouragement from my husband when I decided to quit my job and pursue a writing career. He’s my hero.
If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be?
Even though their book isn’t first in the Spindle Cove series, I often recommend Colin and Minerva in A WEEK TO BE WICKED. They were just too much fun.
You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.
Tessa is generously donating one autographed copy of ANY DUCHESS WILL DO to a US reader and one to an International reader (International readers enter here). To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both. (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.) Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 27 to be eligible, though winners will be announced at a later date.
Also visit the Awesome Contests page to register this week to win a Kindle Paperwhite and “A Month of Romance” (31 books) from Amazon Montlake, or the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!
If you love Read-A-Romance Month and decide to buy recommended books, please consider using the links from the site. Every bit helps and I do get a tiny percentage of sales. Thank you for considering it!
Tessa Dare is the New York Times bestselling, award -winning author of more than a dozen historical romances. A librarian by training and book-lover at heart, she makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a big brown dog.