A note from Bobbi: There are a few writers in this set of 93 whom I have not read. Ann Aguirre is one. As some of you may know, I review for Kirkus, so most of the reading I do now consists of trying to keep up with the titles they send me. For my own “reading” pleasure, I listen to audiobooks, and they are usually light women’s fiction, and contemporary or historical romance. I love most well-written romance, but romantic suspense and sci fi are not my first choices, and so I don’t pick them up so quickly. However, I did want R-A-R M to represent a broad spectrum of genres. So I went to my Charming Coffee Critique Circle – one of them especially is into romantic suspense, sci f and urban fantasy. She came up with a list of authors to look into, many of whom are here this month – like Ann. Then, in June, Ann took on the worst elements of the Science Fiction world when she was first attacked by and then stood up to them. (She wrote a great blog post about it. Though be warned, there’s some horrible and graphic language in some of the hate mail she quotes.)
So of course I wanted Ann to be part of R-A-R M. Because she rocks, and she’s redefining her chosen genre simply by writing and integrating what she loves: Romance. I honor her choices and her success and her courage. (And I promise, when I have time to breathe, I will pick up an Ann Aguirre book. I’ve been a little busy…).
Romance – Fantastic and Empowering
When I was nine years old, I spent the summer in Kentucky with relatives, and there wasn’t a whole lot to do. I was an avid reader, but my family wasn’t, so I sat in the backyard quite often, feeling sorry for myself. One afternoon, I was carted over my great aunt’s house. She was a church lady, very prim and proper, and she didn’t have much experience with children, but my parents needed a sitter, so I was stuck. I think she was knitting and she said I could have a look in her jewelry box. I’m pretty sure she had visions of me quietly playing dress up and leaving her alone. Being a nosy kid, I didn’t stop my rummaging at costume jewelry. I pretty much went through her whole room.
And I found a box of books hidden beneath her bed. What’s this? I asked myself. For a bookworm, it was like unearthing buried treasure. These were battered paperbacks, broken spines and dog-eared pages, in bright hues with titles like The Honey is Bitter and The Girl at Goldenhawk. Curious, I picked one at random. It was Black Ingo by Margaret Way. And I devoured it. I didn’t stir until my aunt came looking for me hours later. Fortunately, she was old and slow and I was able to shove her guilty pleasure under the bed without being found out. By then, I had finished my first romance and started another. The rest of that trip, I tried to convince my parents to let me go back over there, and since my aunt said I was no bother, I devoured a bunch of them before I went home.
After that, I was a romance reader for life. Through my teens, through college, through my married life, I’ve always read them alongside literary classics, mystery, fantasy and science. When I need cheering up, I go to my romance shelf and re-read old favorites. For me, romances aren’t a guilty pleasure. I don’t keep mine in a box underneath the bed. They occupy pride of place on my shelves. The genre is important because it represents and addresses female fantasies. In fact, it’s the only one that does.
Moreover, the books empower women sexually, showing heroines who aren’t afraid to ask for what they want. There should be no shame associated with enjoying stories where love is the driving force, and I’m extremely proud of the romances I’ve written. Furthermore, my books will always have a relationship component, regardless of genre, because I think it’s important to highlight emotional development as much as physical action.
Questions for Ann:
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
I’m probably the craziest thing in my house. And I keep myself because I can cook. 😉
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
Love in the Time of Neurotic Fretting. Obviously I’d be played Rebel Wilson.
What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
A shiny new car.
If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)
The first love scene in my book, Skin Game. It’s pretty freakin’ hot. I think Cecilia Grant is writing some of the most unusual historical romances on the market today, and they’re lovely. Definitely check them out.
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 participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.
Ann is generously donating one copy of Perdition and one copy of Bronze Gods to give away to US readers, and one copy of Perdition for International readers. 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 26 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!
Ann Aguirre is a USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens. You can find her online at annaguirre.com.