I’ve always been attracted to a love story with a happy ending, but I haven’t always identified myself as a romance reader. Romeo and Juliet is not my favorite tale, needless to say. I remember getting a novel called Love at First Sight when I was in maybe sixth grade from the book order catalog in school — do they still have those? A thin paper flier with books that you could buy and they would be delivered to your desk. What a treat! I didn’t always order them, but I think this one was a one or two dollar special – even as a kid I had an eye for a bargain. Anyway, this book came and it was about a high school student who falls in love with the new kid in town. And they have sex. A lot of it. Nothing explicit, but definite sex and worries about getting pregnant, that sot of thing. But what was great about the book was that even though it was about this girl’s love affair with this ultimately controlling and not right for her boy, it was actually about her realizing what she had in her best friend/next door neighbor, who she ends up with at the very end. Ahh. A happy ending. With sex. I was a little shocked that the book order form would include a book that had actual sex in it, and more than a little intrigued.
I don’t think I realized Love at First Sight was what’s called a romance novel (albeit a pretty chaste YA-style one), and I was too stuck up, even as an eleven year old, to think of myself as a romance reader. It wasn’t until high school that I rediscovered the genre. I was flying to Maine from California with my family for a summer vacation. We missed our flight and I spent the six hours waiting for the next one devouring Eloisa James’s debut novel, Potent Pleasures. Around the same time, I read An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn, and was hooked on the modern historical novel with strong heroines, humor, and sexy heroes. That was really my watershed moment when I admitted to myself I was a romance reader and allowed myself the very great pleasure of reading romances whenever I wanted. Do you remember the first romance you ever read?