whirlwind affair

My whirlwind affair with the romance genre began with the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Spring Fling Writers’ Conference. It was there, over chocolate fondue, that I discovered the language of love.

It is a surprisingly complex language, for there’s more to romance novels than the bodice-rippers we passed around in eighth grade. There are, in fact, dozens of genres and sub-genres, including paranormal romance, time-travel romance, paranormal time-travel romance, mermaid romance, cowboy romance, and inspirational Christian romance, to name just a few.

This was all news to me. I hadn’t picked up a romance in fifteen years, since Flowers in the Attic, which might not have even been a romance, though there was a lot of disturbing sex.

I read “serious fiction.” I read “classic literature.” I spent last summer working my way down Modern Library’s “100 Greatest Novels” list, crossing titles off one by one with a flourish of my feather pen.

The three free books I received at the RWA conference sat in a sad little heap in the corner of my bedroom for a month.

And then I read The Road and The Long Walk in quick succession. Mired in a dystopian funk, I needed a break from starving, frostbitten, bloodied, blistered men who trudged onward to nowhere until they died. I needed me some cowboys.

So, on the first hot night of summer, I read Joanne Kennedy’s Cowboy Trouble, guaranteed to “put the honky tonk back into your life.” I liked it so much I shared selections with my husband F, who lay in bed beside me reading We Die Alone, a WWII epic chronicling Jan Baalsrud’s escape from Nazi-occupied arctic Norway. F listened politely and returned to his book, clearly preferring the arctic chill to the desert heat.

I read Cowboy Protector, too. And then The Duke and I. They were fun–and nothing at all like Flowers in the Attic. All I remember about that book is a disturbing mix of arsenic-powdered donuts and incest.

I wanted more. I began to visit romance writer blogs. I found myself lingering in the romance section at Borders. And I started outlining the plot of my next novel, in which a paranormal time-traveling mermaid falls in love with a cowboy.

I have fallen for romance.

And so, it came as no surprise when my husband–bookstore manager, reader of epics–sent me this e-mail yesterday:

Some pretty AWESOME romances coming out. hehe.

[] [] Baker & Taylor
The best summer reading from best-selling authors:

The Brazen Bride
Stephanie Laurens | Avon
9780061795176 | $7.99 | Mass Market Paperback | Available 6/29/2010

The third book in New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens Black Cobra Quartet.

Tempting a Proper Lady
Debra Mullins | Avon
9780061882494 | $7.99 | Mass Market Paperback | Available 6/8/2010

A brand new Victorian-set series from Debra Mullins about the chaos that can ensue when a finishing governess and a dashing gentleman join forces to stop the wedding of the year!

My Dangerous Duke
Gaelen Foley | Avon
9780061733970 | $7.99 | Mass Market Paperback | Available 6/29/2010

In the second book in New York Times bestseller Gaelen Foley’s Inferno Club series, an innocent beauty is given as a gift to appease the wrath of a fearsome duke.
Cheat the Grave
Vicki Pettersson | Eos
9780061456770 | $7.99 | Mass Market Paperback | Available Now

New York Times bestselling author Vicki Pettersson returns with her fifth explosive supernatural novel of superheroes and dark adventure set behind the scenes of Sin City.

I Kissed an Earl
Julie Anne Long | Avon
9780061885662 | $7.99 | Mass Market Paperback | Available 6/29/2010

The next installment in rapidly rising star Julie Anne Long’s sensual and emotionally charged Pennyroyal Green series.

The Duke’s Captive
Adele Ashworth | Avon
9780061474842 | 7.99 | Mass Market Paperback | Available 6/29/2010

USA Today bestseller and Rita Award winner Adele Ashworth delivers the first of three engrossing new books about dukes.

I’ve got a lot of sizzling summer nights ahead!


21 thoughts on “whirlwind affair

  1. Lara Ehrlich says:

    By the way, Sensei, it took me a while to truly appreciate your Sookie Stackhouse reference. Having now read them all AND waited with breathless anticipation for each season of Trueblood to drop in our mailbox, I find it is even more obvious that we were meant to meet in Jimmy’s that day.

  2. osutein says:

    I think this is what happens when we English majors wake up and realize that “literary” fiction is often just as cliched as genre fiction. What? Your book is about a small town/family reeling from a “shocking act of violence”? Or a young writer finding their way in the world? Or a family (probably Irish) gathers to bury the dead and hash our their long simmering problems? Or a second generation kid tries to balance American life with his immigrant family’s traditional culture? You don’t say…

    All of which is to say, I’d rather be thrilled by Sookie Stackhouse’s adverbally verbose narration than bored to tears by anything with a sepia photo on the cover…

  3. Abby says:

    Welcome to the dark side, my dear friend! I love romance. I crave it. It gives me so much inspiration when things in this dark world can be so damn depressing. So, yay, for romance!

    I’ve recently read Jeaniene Frost’s first Nighthuntress book. Pretty friggin’ sexy.

    But, ugh, are you serious about your next book?

    • Lara Ehrlich says:

      Yay! Great suggestions everyone!

      Abby–yes, totally serious. My paranormal mermaid (Meranda) will have to choose between a merman who has no paranormal powers, and a cowboy who can lasso sharks and hypnotize them into submission with the heat of his gaze. It works on women, too. πŸ˜‰

      • Kelly says:

        Excellent premise, Lara! I will volunteer to write book 2 of the series, in which Merenda will find herself stranded under a jungle waterfall in the middle of her honeymoon, and team up with an abnormally strong apeman in order to find her paranormal cowboy husband (Lloyd). What unfortunate event befell Lloyd to cause him to abandon Merenda so suddenly? However will Merenda navigate through the jungle sanspedally? And will Merenda stay faithful to Lloyd or fall victim to the charms of the scantily-shaven monkey man?

        Oh, I can imagine the book cover now…

  4. Judi romaine says:

    Same thing happened to me – I thought ‘who the heck buys these romance books?’ then I read one eight years ago, starting writing RS and never looked back – I’m on to Stieg Larsson and tougher stuff these days but still like romance

    • Lara Ehrlich says:

      Wow! Judi, were you writing something other than romance at first? Which one put you on this path? And what did you think of the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!?

  5. Sarah Herndon says:

    I read Flowers in the Attic recently, and I promise, there is actually only one sex scene in the entire book. Of course, it’s gross because it is incest. But then I couldn’t find the rest of the series at the library so it ended for me there.

    I went through quite a long romance novel phase in junior high, checking out 10 at a time from the library and speeding through them within days. They were quite a sweet treat. I found that when I abruptly stopped reading them, it was because they all seemed to share the same essential plot, whether Western or modern, medieval or vampire Guy and girl have chemistry, start out hating each other, guy and girl fall for each other but don’t manage to say “I Love You” until right around the end, guy rescues girl from evil of some kind, guy and girl get married, guy and girl conceive a baby (and not necessarily in that order). Enjoy the ride!

    • Lara Ehrlich says:

      Hmm…maybe I’ll have to reread Flowers in the Attic, though I really think once was enough for me. I used to love powdered donuts. Sigh.

      I did the same thing in junior high! Though I’m not sure the romances I checked out really count as romances. They were all about a governess who moved into a mansion with a widowed duke/earl/vaguely dangerous gentleman who at first seems intent on murdering her, but ends up saving her from the REAL murderer, who is the crazy aunt upstairs/the crazy groundskeeper/the crazy coachman. They all ended with a chaste kiss on the stairs πŸ™‚

      I had no idea there was variety!

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