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Monday, July 8, 2013

RESPECT AND RESPECTABILITY IN THE ROMANCE INDUSTRY


by Nancy S. Goodman




I suppose I inherited my love of reading from my father. He would come home and immediately sit in "his chair," and pull out his detective or crime novel. I learned to read Alfred Hitchcock, Mary Stewart and the Nero Wolfe mysteries at his feet. Nothing could move him from his books and his dictionary, except his dinner.

I took the subway to high school in the late 1970's and when I was able to get a seat, I used to sneak peeks at the books people sitting next to me were reading. In so many instances, if the woman wasn't reading Sidney Sheldon or Cynthia Freeman, she was reading a romance novel. I remember seeing Rosemary Rogers, and Kathleen Woodiwiss. The one thing I noticed was that the book had a plain cover over it; it was if the person didn't want the world to know what she was reading. Embarrassed perhaps? Probably. I read my first romance novel SHANNA, and enjoyed it, but continued to read mysteries and novels.

One day at work, a woman gave me a book. It was a Bertrice Small. I had never read her stories and figured what the heck, I'm always up to try something new. The book was ALL THE SWEET TOMORROWS. I loved it and proceeded to read through what I could find of her books. I would indiscriminately pick up mediaeval romance and loved the history. (The sex wasn't bad either.) But I didn't read it on the subway to and from work; I was embarassed for anyone to see me reading these books with the flamboyant covers of overflowing breasts and grasping lords.

For reasons I can't remember, I stopped reading romances for a long time and read chick lit instead. I can't remember why, but one day I picked up a Bertrice Small again, and started reading it. I loved the descriptions of the gowns, the food and all that British histroy!

However, I know I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what I was reading. It wasn't literature, it wan't dignified. This was strictly bedtime reading. I wouldn't even bring it to the beach, when everyone was reading their Judith Krantz. But still....

Then one day I discovered Regency romances and with my love of English history, I was hooked.

Luckily for me, e-readers became popular and I quickly filled mine up with my favorites, Nicola Cornick, Nicole Jordan, Cara Elliot, Miranda Neville, Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens. So many more than I could name! Jillian Hunter, Danelle Harmon, Loretta Chase, on and on and on...

Well you get the picture. But still, I never would tell people what I was reading. Until one day, last year I mentioned to some of my close friends that I started reading romances. "Not Harlequin! Oh My God. How tacky!" I just smiled and shrugged. I no longer cared. My choice is my own. I have a very demanding job, dealing with stressful issues. This is how I escape.

It's why I decided to try my hand at writing a romance. A break from the busy hasseled world of kids, a job, a boss... and it just came out of me in waves. I wrote and wrote and fell in love with my characters. To me, they have stories to tell, and I enjoy telling them.

I personally think that the romance industry has done itself a disservice by putting out those covers of half naked men and women; people didn't take them seriously and it lowered people's expectations for the writing quality of the books.

To all those people I say they have not given these books a look. Some of the writing is lyrical, poetic and incredibly well-written. So much of romance writing is psychological and emotional; I have read stories that have brought tears to my eyes.

I hope that people look at romance novels like they look at choosing a friend. Take the time, look behind the surface and see what is truly going on with the story. The people who write these books are intelligent, funny and I consider myself lucky to be able to converse with them, even if it's just in cyberspace. I guarantee you will find something you love.♥



Nancy S. Goodman loves reading romances, British History and listening to Britney Spears, but she draws the line at Justin Beiber. She is writing her own Regency romance and she started with a Duke. Visit her website, Rakes Rogues and Romance, at http://www.rakesroguesandromance.com.  Follow and Friend her at @NancySGoodman and http://www.facebook.com/nancy.goodman.127. If you are into Pinterest, find her at http://pinterest.com/nancysgoodman/boards/ .





14 comments:

  1. Hi Nancy

    I'm proud to say I work in a $1.4 billion market! Yes - I write romance books and it's big business. It proves someone must love reading them.

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    1. Bravo Ella!
      You are so correct Bronwen!!
      And as long as people love reading them, we will keep writing them

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  2. My first romance was one of Jane Austen's books when I was in 6th grade. It was in our elementary school library. Then I read Withering Heights, but didn't like it as well. I was already hooked on Georgette Heyer when Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's first book was published. I read her and Rosemary Rogers. Oh, yes, I also read great literature, but even when I got hooked on military suspense, I went back to Georgette Heyer.

    I remember the titles being more embarrassing than the covers.

    I think people would be surprised to discover that many of the women writing romance have advanced degrees in everything from medicine to history to law. To paraphrase Katharine Ashe, a university professor at Duke who writes Regencies, intelligent women deserve intelligent romance. Quite frankly, literary snobs are pompous prigs and I can't be bothered with them. Long live romance!!

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  3. What a great post. My first romance was Kathleen E Woodiwiss "A Rose In Winter". LOVED IT! Then I started reading as many historical romances as I could find. Of course back in the day I only read at home, so it didn't matter to me who knew. lol

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    1. Looks like we all loved Kathleen Woodiwiss! Thanks for coming by, Marie!

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  4. I'm guessing almost everyone digs a good love story (you see romantic relationships develop in almost every other book/film genre, right?) - folks just don't want to be judged for it, so they do the judging instead, as an offensive tactic. Whatever. Anyone who can't respect another's creative expression, in whatever genre it comes, ain't no friend o' mine.
    Some Dark Romantic

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  5. Thank you for standing up for romance novels. I had drifted away from a lot of reading during the early 2000's. When I returned to intensive romance reading a few years ago I was stunned by the beautiful writing in them. Really excellent writing has become the norm, not the exception. Hold your heads up high, romance writers! You deserve it.

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  6. It's a shame your dad didn't let you sit in his lap instead of making you sit at his feet. How you ever read his book from that position I've no idea. Must have included mirrors.

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    1. Liza, Liza, Liza....only you can get away with that remark

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  7. Wonderful article. I think many of us went through what you did. I stopped reading romances because of the lack of plot and characterization. I've picked them back up a few years ago and am pleasantly surprised how much the stories have changed from a decade+ ago.
    Beatrice Small was a favorite of mine too :)

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  8. Awesome post, Nancy. Personally, I don't care what other people see me reading either. As long as I'm happy reading it, then that's all that matters to me. And I think my first romance was by Julie Garwood. :)

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