It started as a joke. A few of my dearest best friends thought it would be funny to get me some novels for my fifteenth birthday. I was presented with a selection of four extremely hot historical pirate romance novels (Sabrina Jefferies’ The Pirate Lord, Gaelen Foley’s The Pirate Prince, Johanna Lindsey’s A Pirate’s Love,-though I prefer Gentle Rogue- and Virginia Henley’s The Pirate and the Pagan) complete with the giggles and jokes that naturally accompany explicit sex scenes. I had already been a huge fan of Young Adult historical love stories (and even Becky read my favorite trilogy – Jean Ferris’ American Dreams) but this, THIS was amazing. My collection quickly expanded from those four to the over five hundred or so historical romance novels that I have today. My four or five book a week habit can get expensive, but it is nearly as vital to my existence as food. Thank goodness I like to re-read.
Naturally, you think I must be a lonely, sex starved woman with only my cats for company. You. Are. Wrong.
I’m happily living with the love of my life, my own personal romance hero. He’s sexy, just my type and as even his mother pointed out to me, as close to my fantasy of a pirate as I’m ever going to get. We have a healthy sex life, great communication and could have written the words as the sun set over the deserted island beach… well, you get where I’m going.
Here is the thing. Romance novels are not a substitute for love and dating. We, the extremely loyal readers, enjoy the escape to a different time, or place. We love the details of the human interpersonal relationships. Most importantly, we love the happily ever after. We are proud to hold our heads high as we sigh and cry with the characters unembarrassed and empowered by the obvious scantly clad hunk on the cover. We don’t read this genre because we are unlucky in love and desperate for semblance of sex that we’ll never achieve. We read because we love this genre and the satisfaction these novels give us on so many levels.
I’ve spent a lot of time defending my choice of literature. I’ve had people ask if I’ve read any real books recently, and I’ve been teased for heading many miles away to attend huge romance novel conferences to hang with my favorite authors. These women, these amazing, creative women, who write romance novels get it. This world is not a happy place. People fall in love, fall out of love and get divorced. People get rejected in the cruelest of ways. Women (and men) are abused physically and mentally. Relatives cause terrible problems, and illness and death some more. But these authors allow everyone to have faith that they, too, will find that special someone who is that tall, blue eyed sailor of your dreams, who brings you flowers for no reason, makes the best meatloaf on the planet and loves you completely.
Romance novels, as a genre, have changed over the last twenty or thirty years. The bodice rippers and violent captive relationships (which I don’t like) have given way to a whole selection of common human interactions (which I love.) The men in these books are as flawed as the men we meet in our lives. They forget to call (or write.) They say the wrong things; they fuck up. The women are human, too. They have the insecurities and thoughts that women do all the time. Some are strong willful women, and others are timid. These books allow you to relate, and learn from their mistakes. They show you that even the people who have the hardest lives, are the biggest rakes (ok, players) and the worst luck in love can find that special someone who really gets them.
One of my favorite parts of these novels is how in nearly every story I can relate to something. Sometimes it’s the motives of the heroine. In one of my original favorites Captain Jack’s Woman by Stephanie Laurens, I totally got the heroines need to find some adventure in this world and loved the rugged smuggler she fell in love with. In one of her later books A Secret Love I connected to the romance between good friends, who had stifled a romantic spark for years. In Madeline Hunter’s The Romantic I fell hard for the hero who secretly wrote letters to his love and never sent them for over a decade. I know I will adore Karen Hawkin’s release in March since I’ll connect to the heroine’s name, her chosen profession and her sea captain love. These books all somehow connect to my life and my loves and it allows me to transport myself to a less complicated time and lose myself in those stories.
Aside from all that heavy stuff, these books are FUN! There is adventure, there is conflict and there is sex. It’s like adding some classy porn in the middle of a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean or Spiderman. It is entertainment at its finest, plus it’s hot. Who doesn’t like hot? It can give you ideas, and motivation. My dear author friends have very active imaginations- I definitely recommend taking some of their important plot points as advice. (Wink, Wink)
Now, I dare you to go find a copy of Captain Jack’s Woman and read it aloud with your partner. Need other novel recommendations? Ask away! And if you feel like discussing romance novels on a regular basis visit The Romance Dish, or The Romantic Times. Learn about the romance genre at the RWA National website. If you just want to get to know fans and authors visit awesome blogs like The Goddess Blogs or any number of the author blogs out there.
So, tell me: what do YOU think about the best selling, most lucrative sector of publishing today?
Great Historical Romance Authors (on my auto buy list):
|Sabrina Jefferies||Suzanne Enoch||Johanna Lindsey|
|Karen Hawkins||Eloisa James||Kathryn Caskie|
|Madeline Hunter||Sophia Nash||Tessa Dare|
|Liz Carlyle||Claudia Dain||Julia London|
|Lisa Kleypas||Nicole Jordan||Mary Balogh|
|Celeste Bradley||Lorraine Heath||Joanna Bourne|
|Stephanie Laurens||Julia Quinn||Gaelen Foley|
Contemporary/Suspense/Urban Fantasy Authors to check out:
|Karen Rose||Rachel Gibson||Lori Handeland|
|Nora Roberts||Christina Dodd||Charlaine Harris|
Pirategirl is a long time friend of Jess and Becky, dating back to nursery school. She lives with her guy, her cat and enough romance novels to build a good sized fort.
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