I cringe when I think how young I was when I started reading romance novels. A combination of a love of the written word and hormones threw me into the embrace of steamy books full of leading men and dramatic women. It may not be exceptionally unusual that I was around 13 when I picked up my first Nora Roberts book, but looking back it seems too young.
It was Tears of the Moon that I read first. I found it there, nestled on my mom’s bookshelf. The moss green cover beckoning me. Opening the pages, I plunged into a world that was way over my head. And down the rabbit hole I went. At that time I think Roberts had about thirty books published and I feel like I read them all. Some were really exciting with suspenseful plots intertwined with a romantic story. Others were Soap Operas set to words. I would stay awake until three in the morning frantically turning pages.
I discovered Suzanne Brockman through my aunts. She writes about Navy Seals and her stories had me reading with ferocity. The exciting action-packed tales building the romantic intensity. It was very fun reading, I just wish I had been reading other genres as well.
Tami Hoag became another favorite author of mine, but I read far less of her books. She wrote more crime/mystery romances, I think. I have to say, I was not reading for content at this point…
I remember hiding certain books because of their covers. You know which covers. The romance novel exterior is the bane of every romance reader’s existence. Oh, the roguish, ripple chested man clinging to the long haired maiden with her gossamer dress hanging off her shoulder, how you proclaim to the world that within your binding is what some would call smut.
There is a stronger Young Adult romance genre now, but I wonder if I would have picked anything different. I did learn a lot about playing with the senses as a writer and how important it is to get your readers invested in your characters.