I’ve just realized that I haven’t changed the book under “What I’m Reading” for a few weeks. That doesn’t mean that I’m not reading, however. Reading is a constant in my life, something I do when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, and if the book’s really good (or a first-time read), at times during the day. As I wrote in a previous blog, I love books and I love reading them.
So what I have I been reading the past few weeks? Well, uhm. . . romance books. Yeah, I know. I can’t even claim that I’m reading the queen of Regency romance, Georgette Heyer—though she’s next on the list. I’ve been delving into my stock of Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and some late Jayne Ann Krentz. I also have Diana Gabaldon’s latest Outlander book, but I have to take a running leap to read her work because it’s so involving and I don’t have the mental energy for it at the present.
Which is why I’m reading romance.
I discovered romance in high school—yes, my first serious boyfriend (we dated two years), but also Barbara Cartland Regencies and Harlequin. All of them cotton candy bits of fluff that never saw any sort of character or plot development. They usually ran about 150 pages and had the same story line: beautiful damsel in some sort of distress, handsome hero representing salvation from the mess that others or circumstances have made of her life, some emotional conflict either in the form of misunderstandings or femme fatale rival (or both), and then resolution and happy ever after. Not exactly deathless prose. And they were produced so fast (Barbara Cartland would publish two a month) that proofing was almost nonexistent. I remember reading one of Ms. Cartland’s books where the rival for the hero’s affection (or at least his title and fortune) went from being a scheming brunette with brown eyes to red-haired, green eyed hussy in the middle of the book. But despite their limitations and shortcomings, they were fun reads. And I especially liked the cover art. (Fabio!)
Which is what they are today—fun reads. Now that doesn’t mean that they’re near as shallow as they used to be. Some of the best character development I’ve seen has been in romances, and the plots have certainly grown from alpha-males rescuing hapless (and sometimes terminally stupid-acting) females. But they don’t make any mental or emotional demands. Even with first-reads, I know what’s going to happen at the end. The only question is how the protagonists are going to get there and their character growth along the way, which makes them perfect bedtime reading when I’m pushing to finish The Reckoning Flames.
I don’t read Harlequins (or any of the other romance series) anymore and I don’t know if Ms. Cartland’s work is even obtainable, but I continue to enjoy the work of Ms. Roberts and her cohorts. (If I sound a little defensive about it, it’s because I was teased when I was younger for reading them. A lot.) And when I retire for the night, I plan on opening up Ms. Heyer’s Frederica.
And give serious consideration to giving Rabbit a coming out ball sometime down the road.
Hmm. . .