Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's All Her Fault

Prior to 2001 I'd never read a romance novel. My reading tastes ran more toward Stephen King, Sidney Sheldon, Judith Krantz, Belva Plain and Agatha Christie. I should add, however, that I stopped reading Stephen King after The Shining kept me awake all night.

Then in 2001, a fanfiction message board I was on was plagued with several cases of plagiarism. Someone posted an engaging story that captured everyone's attention and praise. She commented that she'd paid her way through college writing for Harlequin and we were all in awe.

Then someone recognized her story as a Harlequin romance novel with the character names and locations changed. Because my town has a good used book store that's heavy on romance, I volunteered to try and find the book in question so we could be sure before we publicly accused this person of plagiarism.

It was plagiarism all right. She copied the book nearly word for word, changing Emily and Beau to Lois and Clark. Our little writing world was shocked and the author was quite gracious when she saw that we were policing the matter by removing the plagiarized material, banning the person from the message boards and posting strong warnings about passing off someone else's work as your own.

But something else happened. I didn't stop reading "The Five Minute Bride" after the first page and I'd confirmed the crime. I kept on til I'd turned the last page. I loved the story and the happy ending. Where had these books been all my life?

I went back to the UBS and hunted down all of her backlist and read those. Because she'd done a series with two other authors, I found those books and read them too. Then I found those authors' backlists and things just sorta got out of hand.

I was hooked, and I've never looked back. So if anyone's to blame for my romance novel obsession, it's Leanne Banks for writing such wonderful books. That's her in the photo. This was taken at the Readers for Life literacy signing last week in Washington, DC. I added her latest Silhouette Desire to my collection and in the process of touching base with an old friend, I got to meet one of my writing idols.

Janet Evanovich is the author of the popular Stephanie Plum series of books and one night in the hotel lobby, Leanne introduced me to Janet. It was my big fan-girl moment of the conference. I shook her hand and gushed, "I'm a Morelli cupcake." Those of you who read the books will understand. Those who don't should read the books. *g* After I'd taken sides in the "Morelli or Ranger" debate, she reached into her purse and presented me with a small pin that has the words I Y Morelli on it.

Squee! Now I'm an official Morelli cupcake.

So who or what turned YOU onto romance? Do you remember the first romance novel you read? Morelli or Ranger?


Jane said...

I was turned on to romance by my older cousin's best friend. Her best friend lent us her copy of Julie Garwood's "The Bride" and I was hooked.

Anonymous said...

I had just taken SAT tests in the 8th grade, did very poorly on the reading section, my mom was advise that I needed great improvement in this area. Then that summer before entering high school, I picked up my first romance book, I don't recall who had written it. It changed my world. These books have gotten me through many events in my life including a divorce that took 2 years, several more court incidents related to this, unemployment (1 1/2 years), the death of my father and many more. I read every day and if I don't I must be sick. The great part is both my mom and sister enjoy reading too.
So I thank all of you writers who put so much of yourself into your books and allow me to escape for a while. And my user id "robertsonreads" is totally on target.
word verification - lololon

Smarty Pants said...

I recall doing a book report on a Harlequin novel in 5th grade. I was very much ahead of the recommended reading lists. :) It was a Harlequin Intrigue called Deja Vu by Laura Pender. (I just Googled it.) From there I was off and running, starting on Skye O'Malley by thirteen or so -- quite the change! :)

Stephanie said...

PM, I loved your story about how you got hooked on romance reading.

Like many others I started out reading the romance books that belonged to my grandmother, who was a HUGE Harlequin Presents fan, and my mother, who read mostly historicals.

I can't remember the titles of any of the first ones I read but I DO remember the wonderful feeling of being transported to another place for a while. I think that is still what romance readers are looking for-being swept away from their normal life.

Leanne Banks said...

I heart Marilyn, too. She was a friend from the first email and I considered her the silver in the lining of that gray cloud.
My first romance? Cinderella. I met Harlequin in my early teens and fell in love with each book. xo, Leanne

Lynn Raye Harris said...

My first romance was a Harlequin Presents when I was about 12. Grandma bought a box at a yard sale and I devoured those things. Realized I loved sheikhs most of all, but any dark haired alpha male was just fine so long as he blustered and swaggered and got his comeuppance in the end. :)

I guess I was always destined to write HPs, though it took me a few years to figure it out. :) One of my early idols was Penny Jordan. I haven't met her in person, but I've met her on the author loops. I resist squealing most of the time. ;-)

Angel said...

My first romances were read as a teenager, but I returned to them after years of college reading when I had my first miscarriage. The medicine I was given really knocked out my immune system and I found myself tied to the couch for a month. An older neighbor who lived across the street brought over a box of romances and I devoured them, grateful for the escape from my pain and grief. What better purpose for a book to serve?!?


Laurie said...

My first romances were found in the novel section of Good Housekeeping magazine, which I found in the ladie's lounge at work. I then went on to pick up Lavyrle Spencer's novel Forgiving while I was vacationing in Florida. I've never stopped reading!