A secret romance

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 Permalink

I’m on rations. But… before you start to imagine me foraging for food and water, the rationing to which I’m referring actually relates to reading fodder.

Five books-a-week in my first three weeks here, meant that on fifteen occasions I was up past midnight*. Not an indictable offence when you’re not working I know, but it seriously hindered my plan to get into a routine – as I struggled to get out of bed at a decent hour each morning after a reading binge.

So, rather than going cold-turkey which I’ve been forced to do on some occasions, as of last week I’ve been on rations. Three books a week. And that’s it.

Naturally, as moderation is apparently my enemy, I polished off my first library book the day I borrowed it.

It was late when I put the book down, pulled the plug out of the bath and prepared for bed. As usual though, I checked FB and Twitter before jumping into my eagerly-awaiting sheets.

Naturally (being the oversharer I am) I’d mentioned that I was returning to the bath with my book, so there was a question waiting for me from a blogging and Twitter friend on the other side of the world: “What are you reading?”


I couldn’t tell. For the same reason I actually ‘hid’ the book as I checked it out of the library.

Picture me taking deep breaths while I prepare for this confession:

I had to bury it amidst the others I was borrowing as it had a big bloody red heart on the spine. Yes, it was a romance novel.

Although (I feel compelled to admit), it was by Suzanne Brockmann who (like Sandra Brown) kinda crosses over from romance into crime fiction. Sort of.

It’s funny, I’ve previously confessed to reading JD Robb, but studiously avoid other novels by the same author, under her ACTUAL name: romance novelist, Nora Roberts.

I have no doubt there are people out there who would judge me harshly for my taste in reading.

However, I don’t think I am (or worry about being judged to be) a white-trash reader of books and I’ve long confessed to rarely scouring the big ‘L’ literary shelves, instead heading for the crime and mystery genres.

It’s interesting though that I’m prepared to admit to reading crime fiction, but as for romance… nope, no siree.

However… although I don’t borrow or read straight romance novels now I have in the past.

As a teenager I poured over ‘Sweet Dreams’ novels bought through school book clubs and when in my late teens or early 20s, read Mills & Boon novels while holidaying with grandparents.

Nowadays, however, I get my romance fix mixed-in with other genres. I mean, let’s be frank here, it’s unusual to have ANY novel (or film or TV series for that matter) without a bit of a love story hovering about in the background.

I know people who ‘judge’ authors who write romance novels for Mills & Boon / Harlequin and the like. But… getting any novel in print is surely an achievement. I doubt those writing about ‘throbbing members’ are any less talented or dedicated than those writing about existential crises of protagonists.

Quote - Unquote post 2Which makes it interesting that it’s somehow more palatable for me to borrow books with guns or Sherlock Holmes hats on their spines than a big red heart.

So I’m wondering if my issue may (in fact) be less about the printed words and more about the reality of the genre.

Perhaps it’s the cynic in me who doesn’t believe in ‘happily ever after’; or maybe I’m ashamed at being a failed romantic, fooled into waiting for her still-absent Prince Charming (or ‘Stone’ the rugged outdoorsman; or ‘Devlin’ the womanizing billionaire!).

Do / would you feel comfortable admitting to reading romance novels?

* I only read at night (in the bath). And yes, I know that’s strange but it’s a habit I’ve gotten into that I’m struggling to break!

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook
    December 18, 2012

    The daughter of our neighbours when I was a kid wrote Mills & Boon books. I forget her name but she apparently wrote at least 20, and back then (the mid-80s) was paid $50,000 EACH! I spent many years trying to write my own (lured solely by the mega-bucks of course…) but to no avail. Nowadays I also love Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Karen Rose, and, yes, the occasional Danielle Steele. Not read any by Suzanne Brockmann, but heading to the library shortly so will have to check her out.

    Happy reading!! I could never set a limit of 3 a week. Even though most weeks recently I’ve struggled to get through 1. Roll on holidays…

    • Debbish
      December 18, 2012

      Yes, I’ve heard of a few people writing for M&B/Harlequin and getting $25,000 a pop etc. It sounds easy, but am sure it isn’t!!!

      I’m a Karen Rose fan as well – love the linkages between her novels.

      Suzanne Brockmann is a bit like that – centres around an extended group of (ex) Navy Seals and some organisation (Troubleshooters I think, unless I’m confusing it with another series) and each novel focuses on ONE of the members and there’s some mystery involved and some romance.


  • Lisa
    December 18, 2012

    There is no way I would admit to it because I am stuck in the crime section big time (Patricia Cornwall, JD Robb, Lee Child, Tami Hoag etc) I read Jodie Piccoult and have tried Monica Binchey or Di morrisory books but often find them hard going after all the suspense books I read.

    • Debbish
      December 18, 2012

      Lisa, I LOVE that other people (well, at least one person) in this world have/has read JD Robb. You would have seen my blog about the novels and why I enjoy the so much. Sigh….

  • Jo Tracey
    December 18, 2012

    I read a lot of chick lit or “romantic elements” novels. I hate how people treat those who write category romance- it’s as valid as any other form of writing…& for me a book is somewhere to escape- regardless of the genre. As long as there is a story, I’ll read it- throbbing member or not.

    • Debbish
      December 18, 2012

      Oh yes… As I said, I wonder if my aversion is less about the writing itself as the notion / topic written about.

      Hmmmm…. I don’t read fantasy genre either.

  • @Kanga_Rue
    December 20, 2012

    I love the JD Robb series, though found they became predictable after 20 books or so, but that is no mean feat.

    Have you tried Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children series? Both historic novels, the former with a timing twist, the latter set at the dawn of civilisation and both with great romances.

    • Debbish
      December 22, 2012

      Will suss out your suggestions! Thanks

  • Jessica
    January 2, 2013

    Great post, thanks from a first time reader!

    I am also a fan of romance novels and have just recently finished writing my first one… I tell you, I am so thrilled to have finished it that I have no shame about the genre! Showing it to friends and family however… that’s a different story 🙂

    It will be interesting to see how the genre evolves with the recent popularity of the contemporary romance. I think it will be more fun because it’s more relatable – and less shameful, too.

    In any case, what else is better to read in the bath?!

    • Debbish
      January 3, 2013

      Hi Jessica and welcome!

      Congratulations on your manuscript – such a great achievement! And yes, I think we’ve come a long way from Mills & Boon – though I’m sure they still serve a purpose. I wonder if they are to romance novels, what Agatha Christie’s are to other mystery novels?! (I used to love re-reading Agatha Christie’s cos I could read one in about an hour in the bath!)


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