learning to love

As you know, I was just at a romance writers conference and it was probably one of the best ones I’ve ever attended for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Like a good novel, the events are scheduled to progress with keynote speakers. The last one of the weekend was Sarah Wendell, better known as “Smart Bitch Sarah” of SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com. She’s one of the co-authors of Beyond Heaving Bosoms and the author of a new jewel,  Everything I know about love I learned from romance novels.

I’ve watched the evolution of Sarah’s career as an author and have been a follower of the rollicking website. It’s a fun story full of controversy, drama, romance books, and advice that romance authors remember to wear their big girl panties. I was thrilled to have a copy of her latest book on the seat of my chair for the final conference event. I’d forgotten she was the keynote speaker for the Sunday luncheon.

I squealed in delight as I held the book. The cover is smooth and firm, the pages are crisp and the size of the book is just sooo right. I felt like I was holding quality in my hands. I’ve read “Bosoms” more than once and it is a forever keeper on my bookshelf. Now that I’ve read this one, it will also be one.

I’ve learned about love in many more places than within the pages of romance novels, but I’ve been blessed. What this book contains is the stories of how romance novels have touched the hearts and mind of readers. I’ve heard tons of these stories over the years and have my own to tell. Her name was Candy Hall, she was a southern belle and a temporary neighbor of mine in New Jersey. Candy handed me paper grocery bags neatly stacked with every type of romance novel. Some of them were barely an hours read, many were god-awful.

Romance novels only promise two things, an emotional journey as a relationship is created – and a happy ending.

As I read through grocery bags of these books in the mid 1980’s I remember feeling connected to a bigger world where there were a multitude of choices available from soup to shoes. Men and women came in all sizes, shapes and colors, with a plethora of passions, and – they all were looking for a happy together future.

I remember feeling so grateful that there were hundreds of authors on this planet, and a variety of publishing venues, willing to devote their time and business budgets to producing what was known as Trashy Books. They were cheaply made, and easy to buy anywhere.

But the words within the pages had the power to transform. They created a connection, for me, to a greater community of women through trashy fiction. We have evolved, ladies, from accepting a ripped bodice to being in control of our personal destiny. There are young woman around the world who will need the stories we have yet to tell.

Love is an ever evolving construct of the human condition and we can never explore all the nuances in one place. But we’ve got to start somewhere and if a romance novel is the first spark, say Amen and Hallelujah! Then put on your big girl panties and strive forth.

I thank you, Sarah. You are a voice in the wilderness for all the young women looking for love in all the wrong places.

3 thoughts on “learning to love

    1. I love learning!

      I also like Mike’s comment since the romance industry began when writing was a man’s job and men ran publishing world. Men also designed the “bodice ripper” covers that have made female writers and readers groan ever since.

      There is a recent book (past 2 years?) by (I think) an Australian historian that documents the evolution of the romance novel. I haven’t read it yet but I know I’ll get it when I’m ready.


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