Romance and Me: How I Discovered the Romance Genre

Filed in Romance and Me , The Latin Lover Posted on March 23, 2011 @ 2:00 pm 24 comments

Hey Everyone!

Welcome to our newest bi-weekly series post: the Romance and Me posts. Though I think the name speaks for itself here is a short introduction what these posts will be about: anything and everything related to romance! Yep! We’ll talk about how we discovered the genre, why we read romance novels, discuss the frequent themes in romance novels, the various subgenres, share some romance recommendations, discuss our pet peeves, covers, etc. (If there is a topic you would like us to cover, please feel free to let us know either in a comment or by sending us an e-mail with Romance and Me in the subject. Thank you!) And now let the fun begin.
For the very first Romance and Me post I’d like to share with you how I discovered such a thing as the romance genre existed and how I became a fan.
Slow Hands (Harlequin Blaze)I have to start with a confession: I come from a bookish snob family. What does that mean? It means that while my parents always encouraged my reading, there were some sort of books that were deemed trashy and not worthy of our time (like romance novels – especially “cheap” Harlequin ones – novels with vampires and other “weird stuff” – my sister to this day can’t understand why I read UF).

Because of that I only discovered the romance genre at 15 thanks to my best friend of high school who one day brought to school Nora Roberts’ Born in Fire, which due to its flaming and exciting cover I thought was about a witch. I badgered her until she leant it to me, and wow, did I keep blinking when I discovered that instead of some witchy story it was a hot and steamy romance novel! But I instantly became addicted 🙂

My romance addiction was fueled and kept alive thanks to my best friend’s collection (since both her big sister and mom read these kinds of books, she had plenty for me to read through): I fondly remember the summer when I was 15, with my best friend we spent a week at out lakeshore house, just the two of us, I went through so many Nora Roberts and Katherine Stone novels in that week, I ate, breathed and lived through them.

After high school romance novels were once again forgotten and I mostly read classics during my university years (though Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell were still my favourites ;-p), then in my last year of university, just before the start of exam period I was bored and stumbled upon Monica McCarty’s Highlander series, I gobbled them up (seriously, one book a day) and since then I never looked back.

I love romance novels, be it historical, contemporary, sweet or steamy, I love them all (if they are well written). It took me some time to accept it and be a proud romance reader (yes due to my prejudiced upbringing) and my parents have no idea I’m reading this:

Happy Ever After (Bride Quartet, Book 4)  or this  Burning Up (Hqn)  or this  Texas Tangle

(not because I’m hiding it, but because usually I’m not reading these books around them, I like to be completely immersed in the story, and I can’t do that with them around since they talk nonstop) and my younger sister would kill me with her merciless torture if she saw me reading this,

Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath

that is why I am so very grateful for my ereader, I can read whatever I want, be it as steamy, cheesy, or “trashy” as I want without garnering the weird glances and cutting remarks, thus enabling me to immerse myself in the story and completely shut out the outside world :-))

Highlander Untamed: A Novel  Highlander Unmasked: A Novel  Highlander Unchained: A Novel
So tell me, how did you discover romance novels?
Were you introduced by your mom/older sister/grandma?
Or did you discover them on your own by chance?
Are you a proud romance reader or do you read them on the sly?
Would your entourage/friends/family criticize your reading choices?
Tell me, I’m curious!

About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

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  • Alexa March 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I didn't get started as a reader until I was probably 14, before that I hated reading. I was first in love with romances in YA and around 16-17 when those were no longer steamy enough or the romance wasn't complex enough between the characters I moved up to adult romance. I would say I'm a proud reader, I don't hide my steamy covers from people who catch me while I'm reading a book. My best friend does make comments like oh she is reading another teen erotica novel. He likes to mix the two main genres that I read, I always complain to him that there is no such thing as teen erotica.

    Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  • Two Readers Reviews March 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I got started with them when I was young. Probably 12 or 13. I was always at my grandma's house and all she ever had were the short Harlequin romance books. Probably not appropriate for someone that age, but that was all she had. And she had tons of them! I would read 2 or 3 every weekend I was there. Without my parents knowing, of course! 🙂

  • BLHmistress March 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I started reading romances when I was a teen and I found them on my own – stumbled on to Cassie Edwards and Madeline Baker were my firsts.

    I am proud of being a romance reader not sure I let it out too much with erotica though lol

  • Sabrina March 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I started reading romances when I was about 14/15 and my first romance was "Hot Ice" by Nora Roberts.
    Up to this day romance (and all it's subgenres) is still my favourite and Nora Roberts is still one of my fav authors.

  • Chanpreet March 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I was in elementary school, maybe the 5th or 6th grade. I stumbled onto Deana James's Lovestone. I think it was the cover that drew me in, but ever since then I have preferred to read romance and chick-lit, although I do enjoy a good thriller every now and then. I read them openly and am ridiculed by my family, but that's okay. I can take it!

  • GeishasMom73 March 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    My mom was a big romance reader. I started reading romance by stealing her books when I was 9. Around college I stopped reading romance, probably because I "had" to read so many text books and didn't have the time. About 2 years ago I really started reading romance again at a fast pace. I have enjoyed exploring new genres.

    GeishasMom73 on twitter

  • Chelsea B. March 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    My aunt sent over a huge box of books and it just so happened that a few of them were romance. And by luck, one of the very few romances was the first one I picked up. And after that I was hooked 🙂

  • Estella March 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I discovered romance books at the library when I was 12.I read proudly in public.

    My friends and family borrow my romance books.

  • Berinn March 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I was a total late bloomer when it came to reading romance. Growing up, I had always been obsessed with sci fi/fantasy. Then, on a business trip, I was browsing the airport bookstore and a book cover caught my eye. The book was Dream Chaser by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and I've been hopelessly hooked ever since.

  • JenM March 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    I was a teenager in the 1970's, so my first romances were "bodice rippers" including the infamous Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers – which I have to admit was just about my favorite book back then and was one of the first romances I ever read.

    If there's one thing I hate though, it's how snobbish other people are about romance, including my friends. I'm in a bookclub and none of the others read romance. They tease me about it all the time, but I'll take my happy endings over their grim literary fiction any day.

  • Aleetha March 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    none of my family introduce me to romance novel.
    I saw them from one place who rent many book with various genre.
    I pick on of them just because I was curious. Some of my friend read it and said they liked it.

    But till now I have never really found one romance novels that hooked me and make me want to read the others.

    I am not sure if I want to read those Highlander series. 😀
    However I'd love to try to read the some chapter.

  • LSUReader March 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I've always read a lot, but I've been steadily reading romance for only a few years. Though I read my first romance at 12 (Gone With the Wind) and a few others along the way, most of my reading menu remained non-fiction and mysteries/thrillers.

    Several years ago, I started reading romantic suspense and contemporary romance wasn't a big leap from there. About the same time, I moved from Charlaine Harris's cozy mysteries (Roe Teagarden and Lily Bard) to her Sookie Stackhouse UF series. I still read a lot of mysteries.

    But the romance genre I now love the most–historical–was the one I picked up latest! Silly me. And I've always loved history, too (all that non-fiction reading I did!) Ah well–it just leaves more for me to catch up with.

  • marybelle March 24, 2011 at 1:35 am

    An older sister left one lying around & I couldn't get enough. There is a bit of snobbery in my family too, so I don't proudly proclaim, to my eternal shame.

  • Kesia March 24, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Nice post!! Thanks for sharing.

  • InnocentButler March 24, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I started reading them when I was about 10. My grandfather brought an old Zebra historical (involving a "half-breed" and sex on a horse) home from a garage sale, thinking I would like it because I was (and am) such an obsessive reader. I was hooked.

    My mom was horrified but I used to sneak them at school. Once she realized I wasn't listening to her, she gave up.

  • Linnae March 24, 2011 at 7:12 am

    My earliest memories of romance books are from my favorite aunt. She used to read Harlequins in her bedroom for her "take me away" moments. When I was seven or eight I would venture into her room and see the look of happiness on her face. I would gaze at the covers…wondering what was inside that kept her so enthralled. I vowed that when I grew up, I would find out what was behind those covers.

    Then when I was about 13 she gave me my first romance to read…and the rest is history. I've been a fan ever since.

  • Sharon S. March 24, 2011 at 8:42 am

    As a teen I only read horror. No one I knew read romance (I had literary snob parents too). In collage I discovered Anne Rice. About two years ago I found Laurel K. Hamilton and went from there, but at no time did I think I was reading romance. I was reading UF. Then it went to, I read UF with heavy romance in it. Then I finally admitted I like PNR, but not contemporary/historical. Then came m/m romance, which I prefer contemporary.
    So now I tell people I read romance without a qualifier .

  • Stella (Ex Libris) March 24, 2011 at 9:31 am

    @Alexa: Alexa, you are right! Somehow I only considered "romance romance novels" and not novels witha romantic storyline. If we look at it that way, I think I've always read romances: I loved Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl, Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne series (Anne and Gilbert *sighs*) and all the fairy tales as a child 😀
    And congrats on being a proud steamy cover reader! :-p

    @Two Readers Review: Haha, and I imagine part of the thrill (besides reading adult material ;-p) was that you were doing it on the sly without your parents knowing about it ;-p lol

    @BLHMistress: Oh yes, reading erotica in the open (on the bus or in the doctor's waiting room for example) I'm sure would garner some looks ;-p

    @Sabrina: Oh yes, Nora Roberts is a favourite of mine too. Somehow I never read any Danielle Steel, mayb eit's a prejudice, but I figure Nora writes "younger romance".

    @Chanpreet: Wow, I really am envious. Good for you that despite your family's teasings you still manage to enjoy your ramance, you go girl! 🙂

  • Stella (Ex Libris) March 24, 2011 at 9:35 am

    @GeishasMom73: O, i'm envious your mom introduced you to romance, in my case it is quite the contrary, I'm introducing my mom to chick lit 🙂 But so far she enjoys that 🙂

    @Chelsea B: Aww a box of books is always a great surprise 😀

    @Estella: I'm envious your friends and family not only don't tease you but even borrow books from you. Green with envy here ;-p lol

    @Berinn: Wow, discovering romance after sci-fi/fantzasy, not a close match 😀 But all the better for you since you enjoy so different genres! 🙂

    @JenM: Oh Jen, aren't bodice rippers a guilty pleasure? I hate how clandestine everyone has to be, since even in the romance genre they are considered "lowly" and "trashy", when in my opinion, behind closed doors, much more people enjoy them then they would say! ;-p

  • Stella (Ex Libris) March 24, 2011 at 9:42 am

    @Aleetha: Aleetha, it's maybe because you haven't found the romance subgenre right for you. Keep on experimenting, what I love about romance is that there is something for everyone! There is paranormal romance (and even YA version), urban fantasy with a romantic storyline, mysteries with slight romance, historical romances, chick lit, sweet contemporary romance, steamy contemporary/historical romance, and I could go on! Read a bit from any and all to see which one you enjoy the most 🙂

    @LSUReader: Yep, how could I forget about romantic suspense? *slaps forehead* Love those too! And I know, historicals are a big favourite of mine too! 😀

    @marybelle: Oh Marybelle, my Snobby Family Soul Sister! But it seems you have at least one sister who is in the same shoes, so at least you aren't completely left alone 😉

    @Kesia: Thank you, glad you enjoyed! Hope you'll like the other posts to come too! 😉

  • Stella (Ex Libris) March 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

    @InnocentButler: Oh my! Your grandfather brought you such a book when you were 10? I was also a precocious reader, but my parents and mostly my grandparents usually didn't even have an idea of everything I read! LOL 😀

    @Linnea: Aww Linnea, thanks for sharing your stoy! How sweet :-)) I love that you managed to find the same happiness you saw on your aunt's face as a child 🙂 Isn't that the best thing about romance, how it enchants us and takes us into fantasyland? *sighs*

    @Sharon S: Lol, I see you have had quite a romance discovery journey 🙂 There are so many people (some of my friends too) who read books from other genres and have no idea that a book while being a mystery/UF/thriller can very well be a romance too 🙂

  • Felicia the Geeky Blogger March 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I think I snuck my first Harelequin Historical at the age of 12. I skipped all the "icky" parts but loved the story. Both of my grandmothers, mothers, and such read them so they were always in someone's house. I was always a big reader and my dad did not have a clue what was in them so they never got taken away from me! I have always loved the Romance Genre–it is by far my favorite!

  • Sheree March 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Aside from some Harlequins I read in college (I lived in an all-women dorm and those were the books left by previous residents), I read my first romance novel while sick in bed. I found Jennifer Crusie's "Anyone But You" as an ebook on the local library's website. The book had a dog on the cover and that was enough for me to download and read it.

    I don't hide them but neither do I recommend them to my friends as I don't know what my friends read (all I know is that they didn't read the scifi/fantasy or mysteries that I liked when we were in college).

  • Kris March 29, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I did not start reading romance really until I was in my mid-20s. Always a voracious reader, I pretty much stuck to fantasy and paranormal until then. Then I realized that my favorite books were those with romantic elements so I decided to try a romance novel. I have been devouring them ever since 🙂

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