I snuck a read of my first romance novel when I was twelve. My mother had a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove in a cabinet in our living room. I suppose I could have asked her to read it, but it was, after all, a naughty book. What fun was there in reading it when I had permission? That book would have a long-term impact on my world. I became a rabid fan of romance novels. From my teens on, that genre would be my main source of entertainment.
As romance changed and grew, so did my life. I got married, had a couple of fantastic children, and became a teacher. The authors I followed came and went, although I had my “keepers.” Woodiwiss, Garwood, Devaraux. But the romance novel was always there, a constant I depended upon. I could always count on the hero getting his heroine by the blissful prologue.
We shouldn’t find it at all a surprise that while our economy is struggling and businesses fail due to lack of consumer spending, the romance industry is chugging right along. What better escape from the problems of life, especially when the going is getting really tough? A man and a woman meet, endure trials and tribulations while falling in love, and after conquering what often seem like insurmountable odds, find their own happily ever after. And all that for less money than most DVDs – which, if I may point out, only last a couple of hours. A good book can keep me entertained for a hell of a lot longer than that.
I write great romances. It took me a long time and many affirmations to be able to make a statement like that. I, like many other authors, suffer from an appalling lack of self-esteem. Considering that we’re constantly putting our heart and soul out there for people to criticize, is it any wonder? But I can now say I write great romances because my readers are telling me so as are critics like You Gotta Read’s own Val. (Thanks so much for the “You Gotta Read” rating on Murphy’s Law!) What makes my stories so special? They’re about “real” people with real problems who find happily ever after.
In Turning Thirty-Twelve, I wrote a heroine you don’t often see in romance novels – a forty-something woman. Why shouldn’t forty-year-olds be heroines? They haven’t stopped living. They haven’t stopped loving. They deserve a knight in shining armor of their own. Jackie Delgado takes life by the horns, and despite being left by her husband for a trophy-wife, she keeps on living, laughing, and loving. I was so pleased that this book was chosen as a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest. That pat on the back went a long way in giving me confidence in my work.
I write heroines who have the same characteristics as real women. In Free Falling, Laurie Miller calls herself, “A size fourteen in a size four world.” How many women have felt the same way? (Raises my hand!) But Laurie refuses to fit into the cookie-cutter mold of so many romance heroines who wait around to be rescued. She’s strong, self-reliant, and not only compliments her hero but completes him.
And my heroines aren’t the only “real” people. My contemporary romance series is called “Damaged Heroes” for a reason. I don’t write cardboard heroes. I write men who have been hurt and have to deal with the fallout. I write men who’ve made mistakes. I write men who need their women. Take Seth Remington, the damaged hero from Murphy’s Law. He’s a spoiled heir to a computer fortune who most people find a hard time liking in the beginning of the story. Katie Murphy sees past the façade to the man beneath the surface, the man who was raised without a mother’s love or a father’s guidance, and she reaches out to Seth to help him be the man he was destined to be.
I write heroes who’ve lived through some of the worst life has to offer. Lucas Mitchell from All the Right Reasons comes back from Iraq with scars, both on the inside and the outside. Plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder, he find healing in his heroine, Jozsa Kovacs, giving hope to all of our war veterans who’ve shared an experience most of us can only imagine.
Perhaps one day, I’ll be blessed enough to hear from a fan that she feels about my novels the way I have felt about so many I have read – that they’ve added something to her life. I look forward to that day.