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Susan Andersen | Blogs and Lifelong Romance Readers


Don't ask me why, but I suddenly started wondering how many of our blog-ees are lifelong romance readers and how many came to the game later. I think of myself as a lifer, but the romance genre as we know it today bears little resemblance to what was available when I was a kid and young adult--which I considered at the time to be zilch.

That wasn't entirely true, of course. There were the early Harlequin books, and I loved them for a while, but then they began to bug me because the hero was always this older than dirt guy (to my 12, 13, 14 year-old mind) of 30, who treated the 18-year-old English flower like crap through most of the book then pledged his undying love on the last page. Huh? I could never see where that was coming from, because he sure as heck didn't show it. ("I love you darling, truly I do. And by the way, you look lovely in your frock. We must spend a fortnight in my flat.")


But then came the Gothics, with their covers of women looking over their shoulders at a castle/manse/decrepit old house with its one lighted window as they fled in their nighties into the night. Hey, at least those heroines got a little lovin' with the non-communicative broody guy, who, I gotta tell you, I think is great fun in fiction, but would probably be a nightmare in real life. And Mary Stewart, bless her Queen of Woman in Jeopardy books heart, always did me right. Charlotte Armstrong did, as well. So, while I read mucho non-romance in my younger years (and, okay, still do), I still believe myself to be firmly in the lifelong romance reader camp.

I've met plenty who were late bloomers romance-wise, however--readers and writers. I remember Tami Hoag coming to a Greater Seattle RWA meeting and telling us she'd disdained romance until one afternoon when she and her husband got stuck waiting for a tow-truck after their car broke down. The only thing to pass the time was a romance book her sister-in-law had left behind. (I think it was a Woodiwiss, but I'm not positive about that.) Like other late blooming romance readers I've spoken to, she became a believer--even if she ultimately found her true love to be suspense.

What's your story? Were you born with a romance in your hand? Or did someone hand you one after years of reading brand X genres, whereupon you declared with heartfelt fervor, "How the heck have I missed out on this for so long?" And does anyone remember the very first romance they ever read?

Tell Motha Susan, my pets. She's nosy and wants to know.

Just because.


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23 comments posted.

Re: Susan Andersen | Blogs and Lifelong Romance Readers

No, I was the one reading multiple X genres for years. It wasn't until, maybe three years ago, I was introduced to romance.

I was browsing through my local bookstore looking for a specific series or two to start reading. I had more time on my hands now and could return to my first love: Reading. My interest in vampires had returned, and I had researched online several authors. Unfortunately, the store didn't have the first book I wanted. A woman, complete stranger mind you, struck up a conversation with me about the romance genre. She happened to have that book in her purse; her own used copy which she gladly parted with and gave to me!

I never got her name, but I will never forget her. She started me on the road to romance and it has been full speed ahead. Today my favorite romance genres are: paranormal, suspense, historical, m/m.

BTW, I'm a 52 y/o Grandmother who has a lot of reading catching-up to do.

And the book that started it all: Dark Lover by JR Ward.
(Cynthia Netherton 11:02am September 14, 2010)

(Bessie Hill 11:30am September 14, 2010)

started reading fantasy and worked my way up to romance but the one that started my love affair with reading was tolkein's lord of the rings and yes i read it loooong before the movie.
(April Strength 1:42pm September 14, 2010)

Cynthia, I luuuuuv JR Ward.

Bessie, yep, we had a copy of the trilogy long before the movie came out.

April, I couldn't see your post, so I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong or it didn't actually come up.
(Susan Andersen 2:10pm September 14, 2010)

I'm a 'late to the game' reader. I think, if someone doesn't get a good book their first time in a genre, they won't come back. The first romance I read was horrible. Our joke used to be: With romance books, all you need to do is pick hair color and location, the rest is the same. It wasn't until recently that I discovered good authors. I will happily read any genre as long as the author is good. :-)

Oh, I did read some Gothics. If there was a ghost involved, I would read it.
(V Scott 2:12pm September 14, 2010)

Whoops. Had that wrong. It's Bessie's post that didn't come up and April who loves Tolkein.

Sorry. A technological wizard, I'm not. :/
(Susan Andersen 2:12pm September 14, 2010)

I was not very interested in reading growing up. Then between high school and college I got my hands on a historical romance novel and was hooked... now I read many different genres in romance... can not go a few days without a book in hand!
(Colleen Conklin 2:18pm September 14, 2010)

Congrats on the new release, Susan. I read mysteries and comic books all through high school. Someone introduced me to romance in my senior year of high school.
(Jane Cheung 2:43pm September 14, 2010)

V Scott, I think there are good and bad books in all genres--it's as subjective as your taste in music. But I'm glad you've found some authors you like. That's what we all aim to do--please the readers.

Colleen, that's the kind of conversion we like to see!

Thanks, Jane! I love this part of the process. I still love mysteries and used to read comics, but don't so much any more. Some of the graphic novels look pretty cool, though.
(Susan Andersen 9:28pm September 14, 2010)

I was reading mystery and young adult books back in public school. I started reading romance when my local library was having a summer reading contest. I have been a romance reader since.
(Kai Wong 9:32pm September 14, 2010)

I grew up reading mysteries and scifi, even when my fellow teens, my best friend and my cousins, were all reading romances. While in college, I read a lot of romances because those were the books left by former residents in the all-women dorm. However, I didn't read any romances again until last year, when I was perusing my local library's ebook selections and chose Jennifer Crusie's "Anyone But You". Then this summer, I was fed up with all the post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA books I was reading and my romance reading picked up. Now, I still read YA, scifi, and mysteries but lots of romances, too.
(S Tieh 12:12pm September 15, 2010)

Life long here. Of course,
I've been reading everything I
can get my paws on since I can
remember,but I devoured the
multitude of Harlequin,
Gothic, Regency and
Candlelight romances which
were what was most available
at the rummage sales in my
small town. I remember he
tingle I got when the couple
actually *gasp* kissed on the
final page... until I became a
teen and wanted more. It was
hard to find steamy romance
back in the 70's in rural
Michigan, but I managed.
Romance has never let me down,
seeing me through a horrible
first marriage and health
issues with riveting stories
and always a happy ending to
help balance the negatives in
my life at that time. Now I am
ecstatically and cozily
married, and still, I turn to
romance. (Although I continue
to read almost anything I can
get my paws on.)
(Diana Troldahl 7:45am September 15, 2010)

WOW!! Mary Stewart brings back memories for me.
(Mary Preston 7:48am September 15, 2010)

I have been reading romance since I was senior in High School back in 1980. I love the stories and it was a way for me as a young woman to get some sort of information on relationships.
I started off reading historical novels because history was my favorite subject and the bodice rippers were just wonderful to read. Then I found and added contemporary books to my reading pile.
I still read lots of romance today the kids are grown and I have a bit more time for myself.
(Gigi Hicks 8:10am September 15, 2010)

I dabbled in romance books every once in a while when I was younger, but back then I thought they were so corny!! Now you could say that I'm a latecomer to the genre. They have evolved to a more mature level, and are much more believable and enjoyable to read. I still come across a corny one or two, but the majority have been most enjoyable!! They're the kind of books that keep you walking around all day with a smile on your face and people wondering why!!
(Peggy Roberson 8:33am September 15, 2010)

I wish I had started sooner but have only been reading romance for 2 years, But I do remember my grandmother reading romance, she always had a book by her chair. I guess it runs in the family.
(Vickie Hightower 9:07am September 15, 2010)

I am a life long fan or romance or books with romantic elements, going back to "The Witch of Blackbird Pond", "My Sister Mike", and Meg and Calvin in "A Wrinkle in Time"
(Maria Munoz 10:00am September 15, 2010)

I am a late comer to the genre. I
didn't pick up and read a romance
until well into my 40's. I will say that
the covers were the biggest drawback.
Those bodice-ripper covers didn't
appeal, still don't. I found Julie
Garwood's THE PRIZE at a thrift store.
It had a cover with a jeweled broach
and swath of fabric on the cover. I
took it home and devoured it. I
bought every book she had out, at
that time just historicals. I started
getting historicals and even broke
down and suffered through "those"
covers to read some good authors. I
am now a confirmed romance reader.
I still prefer historical romance, but
like the romantic suspense,
paranormals, and contemporary.
(Patricia Barraclough 10:17am September 15, 2010)

When I was a kid, I kinda made fum of my mom's Harlequin Romances because they looked so cheesy, but I guess as an adult I've always read some sort of romance.
(Kelli Jo Calvert 10:54am September 15, 2010)

Love all the peeks into your reading pasts. And Maria! I LOVED The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Must have read that in the 5th or 6th grade. A LONG time ago.
(Susan Andersen 6:01pm September 15, 2010)

I guess I'd consider myself a life-long romance reader, with a break in the middle. Like Diana above, I' have always read just about anything I got my hands on. My first romances were Barbara Cartlands (gasp!), but fairly quickly, her heroines drove me up a wall. (Although I must admit, her heroines are a heck of a lot better than some of the Harlequin ones available today!) Then I found Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt in her many names, and others. Living in a major university city guaranteed good bookstores (still does!), and having both parents be librarians at the main research library on our campus (which just happened to include all the "literature" books, some of which really shouldn't have been classified as such, but were!), well, that just put me in seventh heaven!! It also expanded my reading horizons far beyond what was expected of me at school, which always disconcerted my teachers, since I was always reading well above my grade level!! It didn't hurt that my grandmother had been an elementary school teacher and taught me to read before I got to Kindergarten!

I'm still reading today, in many genres, including romance. I can't pick a single one, I like them all to much to have to choose!


(Lynn Rettig 9:04pm September 15, 2010)

I think I've been pretty much of a lifer in reading romance, just last few years started reading other genres
(Brenda Rupp 9:39pm September 15, 2010)

I find that romance strikes a chord where those relationship issues and joys come out to play and mix it up a bit. I started with the books by Georgette Heyer.
(Alyson Widen 2:06pm September 16, 2010)

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