Hi friends! Still having problems with internet. I actually have the customer service number in my phone now and I’m pretty sure I’ve called them more than even my family. So.
More issues in fact, but the lovely and wonderful Laura K. Curtis is here to save the day! Which is fitting because how else should one start off the year but awesome? So she’s our very first special reader guest of 2013! Whee! And it’s a great topic too.
When I was young, the bookstore in the town where I lived didn’t have a romance section. They had general fiction (where they shelved the top romance authors of the day, though I didn’t know it because they also shelved classics I had to read for school there so I avoided those shelves), mystery and thriller, and sci-fi and fantasy. Still, I read a ton of romance; I just called it “epic fantasy.”
Every fantasy novel I read–and I gobbled them up like candy–had a romance at its heart. Mercedes Lacky was all thinly disguised romance, and Barbara Hambly’s Darwath trilogy made my heart happy. In the long sagas, like the Dragon Prince series by Melanie Rawn, once the central romance became less important, I lost interest. Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger and Del books hooked me so deeply that despite not being a re-reader, I reread them years later to be sure I hadn’t been wrong about loving them. (I hadn’t. I read all the books over in one great, gulping swoop.)
Then one day I discovered the Harlequin rack at the drugstore. Wait…books just about romance? I couldn’t believe it! I bought a bunch of them and read through them in about ten minutes. This was a problem. I was used to huge, fat books. Books filled with battles and politics and even magic as well as romance.
So I went back to fantasy for a while…and then the drugstore added another rack. There they stocked mostly thrillers, but also juicy, intriguingly-covered books by a woman named Jude Deveraux. Ho-ly Mo-ly. Not only were these books fat, but they had sex in them. The epic fantasy tended to be closed-door, and so were the Harlequins of the day. My eyes about bugged out of my head.
By the time I went off to college, I’d become a solid romance reader. I’d moved from Deveraux to Judith Krantz–remember her? I found I loved the whole modern setting of glitz and glam. Historicals took me to another word, but if I was going to another world, I still preferred my romance dressed as epic fantasy.
Given my history, you’d think I would be all over paranormal romance. But oddly, I’m not. I don’t care for non-human romances (well, I don’t mind elvish romance), but I don’t even like guys with hairy backs, let alone were-critters. And I want my vampires to scare me. I love traditional urban fantasy along the lines of Robert Holdstock and Charles de Lint, but I’m not a fan of paranormal romance.
That’s not to say I don’t like any fantasy romance. If you’ve never read Anne Bishop, you should. Right freaking now. But that’s more epic fantasy than urban fantasy. I still go for the giant epics, which probably explains my current puzzlement with the huge surge of novellas and category-length books.
So, yeah, if anyone tells you they don’t read romance, but they read epic fantasy, just snicker politely behind your hand. That’s what I do.
*NB I just picked those covers because they’re interesting. And I like pictures. So my apologies to Laura if those are in fact books that she doesn’t like.
Have you ever read any of those books? Which romances do you prefer? And how did you get started?