I first started reading romance novels on a whim. It was winter break during my freshman year of college, and I was in a small Florida town doing two workouts a day at my university’s rowing camp. The aged tropical paint that decorated the neighborhood looked tired and worn, as did the whole area, never fully recovering from the hurricane that ransacked the region years earlier. There wasn’t much to do in the quiet beach town, save for hang out on the moldy patterned sofa and watch Saved By The Bell while we did our daily weightlifting (I think that’s technically a third workout). It was mundane: wake up at sunrise for practice, do crunches with a medicine ball, suffer through a mediocre lunch, go for a rigorous evening row, and then text with our beaus before nodding off on our bunk beds surrounded by the silence of ten other teens I barely knew.
It was a few days into this rather monotonous existence that I decided I needed a change. Something to keep my mind busy and motivated beyond the excitement of seeing a manatee float by our oars. And so, I wandered down the block to the 7-Eleven – the only source of entertainment one could find trapped in a small Floria town without a car – and was determined to pick out a novel. But not any novel, a trashy novel, so I could laugh and enjoy the books that so many people make fun of.
Of course, I didn’t set out to actually like them. But that’s just what happened. I plucked the unassuming Nora Roberts novel out of the plastic magazine shelf and took it back to my little bungalow, reading it between workouts. From the first tense kissing scene between Catherine the mechanic and the wealthy Trenton St. James where he brushes grease off her face in a cramped office, it was clear: I was hooked! (And yes, that is from a real book called Courting Catherine). To the horror of my friends and family, I went on to read nearly every book Nora Roberts had written, even writing my graduating thesis based on her stories and themes.
So what is it that I love about romance novels? Falling in love of course! George R. R. Martin once wrote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads lives only one.” Well, this is true for love. We only have so many relationships, but I feel like I’ve fallen deeply in love more than I can count. It’s a bit of a high, I’ll admit, and one of a few vices that I actively nurture. But what I think keeps me coming back to these books is that the stories are safe. They always end with the couple together. ALWAYS. And in a time when there is so much stress, and most stories end unhappily, it keeps me afloat when I’m feeling down. I read “normal” books too, but sometimes you just don’t feel like reading about the sad tragedies of real life. A romance novel is just the ticket to get you believing in happily ever after.
And no matter what they say, these books really will keep you warm at night!
Have you ever read a romance novel? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!