Falling in Love
I fall in love easily, frequently and hard.
Before I continue, allow me to clarify: I define Love broadly. As a graduate student I was trained to mistrust multiple uses of the same word for different purposes. When applied to love, my friends, that is sheer hooey. Love is grand, wide, all encompassing and generous. It cannot be confined to an act of passion, one kind of emotion, or even an ecstatic spiritual experience. Love is lots of things.
Okay, back to falling in love.
I have a quick, eager eye for an attractive, strapping chap. This is not love. This is The Biological Imperative. But about twenty-five years ago I believed it was love.
I’m not talking about those guys I passed at the ice rink or movie theater any random Friday night. No, this applied to the boy whose locker number I memorized and to whom I never spoke except through my older sister’s boyfriend. It also applied to the boy that sat behind me in math class, to whom I did often speak but who always dated other girls. It applied to the gorgeous exchange student I ran track with, and to the basketball star to whom I sent a Homecoming boutonniere of red carnations—not anonymously—because I wanted him to know I adored him even though we’d never met.
Why did I think these were love? Because my adolescent heart felt, and it felt fully. It pounded when I anticipated seeing him. It fluttered when he turned the corner. It tripped when he met my gaze. And it ceased functioning when he spoke to me.
I am an addict. I barely drink, rarely gamble, don’t smoke, haven’t touched drugs, and there are no game apps on my iPhone. All of these temptations pale in comparison to my addiction. I am addicted to the feeling of falling in love, to the emotions of letting my heart go, the achy longing, the sizzling anticipatory high, the nervous energy, the deep, delicious yearning and the profound satisfaction.
Just as in high school, I still fall in love a lot, but a bit differently now. Give me a great adventure, an ROTFL comedy, a sweet hometown story—any novel with a handsome, strong, smart hero with a heart of gold and the willingness to laugh at himself—and I’m hooked.
I don’t limit this to fictional heroes, though. I fall in love with puppies. And dolphins. Actually with just about any sea life. Also, horses. Sometimes caterpillars and always butterflies. Last week I gave my heart to the elephant on YouTube painting a picture of an elephant holding a flower. For this too, I believe, is love. When I encounter these, my heart tightens, my eyes tear, and my soul stirs.
I also fall in love with seascapes, crowded city streets, spectacular architecture, graceful willow trees, stately oaks, elegant pines, beautiful writing and tall ships. I fall in love with my ten-year-old son every time he cracks a joke, speaks thoughtfully upon a matter that concerns him or pretty much breathes.
I’m a sucker for falling in love. It fills me up, and I love to be filled up.
When it comes to romance fiction, I particularly adore the stories in which the hero and heroine struggle not to fall in love while knowing that their struggle to stay apart is futile because, more than anything, they both want to fall in love. They long for it and, despite the challenges, they will not rest content until they’ve fallen, fast and hard. Simply, they need each other.
Love is the greatest gift life offers, and romance fiction allows us to fall in love again and again. But not only in fantasy. Romance begs us to feel profoundly, to hope and trust and revel like the characters on the page. It inspires us to live deeply, colorfully and joyfully. Who doesn’t like that sort of inspiration?
Recommendations: Laura Florand’s Chocolate Kiss is a deliciously magical contemporary romance set in Paris. It left my mouth watering and my heart completely satisfied. Another new favorite is Máire Claremont whose debut historical romance novel The Dark Lady, a tale of secrets and passion, kept me up late into the night turning pages.
Questions for Katharine:
What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?
My stuffed pink hippopotamus. After forty-three years he has one eye and no lining in his ears and mouth, and his whiskers are a thing of the past. He’s my Velveteen Rabbit except that I will never, ever part with him.
If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)
Kisses, She Wrote. I’ve been writing romance since I was a girl, no matter what other guise I wore—student, office worker, professor. Truly, I’m addicted. (Actually, this title, however accurate to my life, is sort of a cheat. It’s the name of my Christmas novella, which features a heroine who writes about romantic dreams, of course!) I’ve no idea who would play me in the movie, but I hope she’d have lots of laugh lines.
What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?
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?)
This is like asking a mother to choose which of her children she loves the best! So I asked my readers. Their favorite couples include Jinan and Viola from How to Be a Proper Lady, Ben and Octavia from In the Arms of a Marquess, and Wyn and Diantha from How a Lady Weds a Rogue. For a single romantic scene they voted for Kitty and Leam playing strip piquet in When a Scot Loves a Lady.
To readers new to romance I always recommend Rachel Gibson’s contemporary Truly Madly Yours and Laura Kinsale’s historical Flowers From The Storm. Completely different writing styles. Both sensationally wonderful books.
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.
Katharine is generously donating one signed copy each of How a Lady Weds a Rogue and How to Marry a Highlander to one US reader (apologies to International audience). 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!
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning, best-selling author of nine lush, sweeping romances set in the English Regency era, including How to Be a Proper Lady, one of Amazon’s Ten Best Romances of 2012. The first book in her new Prince Catchers series, I Married the Duke, is available today. You can find her online at katharineashe.com.
Buy Katharine’s books at Amazon.