Background of Snobbery
With a B.A. in English Literature topped off by a Master’s in a completely unrelated field, I had a phase in my life where I would only read literature. My elitist attitude went something like this; give me literature and a glass of chardonnay, not pulp fiction and wine out of a box. Although my eye occasionally wandered at the airport bookshop or grocery store check-out stand, bestsellers were nothing to me.
The Slippery Slope of Motion Pictures
Although I was keeping my snobbish pact with literature in the book department, I was shifting away from thought-provoking indie films and more toward those with a man and a woman on the cover, promising romance and a happy ending. Because really, tragic love and heavy topics can pull you down after a while. There’s enough of that in real life. Put simply, sometimes you just want to be entertained and use the less convoluted parts of your brain–you know,those that stimulate laughter and romantic love.
Romantic films must be the gateway drug of pulp fiction reading, because not long after, romance novels started making their way into my stack of library books and Amazon shopping cart.
At first I claimed that it was research for my own book, which at its core, is a romance novel. If you want to do well in your genre, you must get to know your genre–including reading and analyzing the writing style, plot, structure, etc.
Surrender and Realization
Soon it was undeniable; I wasn’t approaching these books with critical analysis, I was actually getting caught up in the development of the romance, staying up late, going to work blurry-eyed and continuing this pattern until the author released me from his or her hold.
But the more I read, the more I realized that romance is a diverse genre. Filled with a broad spectrum of approaches and quality, romance can range from literary genius (Jane Austen) to what your cat offers up on a daily basis in the litter box (_____ ____). Speaking of that double blank in the parentheses, I read several “bestselling authors” who truly gave me the bubble gum experience, making my head feel light, my stomach churning from too much sweetness, and a slight headache from repeatedly chewing on zero calories. I won’t name any authors here, because there’s no point. These authors obviously have a niche, a dedicated audience and thus fulfill some need in the world.
I read highly polished writers like Danielle Steel and Nicholas Sparks. I understood their appeal, but I was craving something else; something more contemporary. And then I happened upon Tracy Brogan while doing my romantic research, and have subsequently purchased two of her novels.
Romance Author Tracy Brogan
Crazy Little Thing felt fresh to me. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion, and although some of her characters and scenarios seemed over the top, I really enjoyed the ride. The second book I read by her is entitled Hold on My Heart. I have to admit I don't like the title or the cover art, but once I started reading it, I knew she was going to crack me up, while reeling me in to her characters, their lives and their entanglements.
I read Hold on My Heart on my iPad during our vacation in France, and it was a fun vacation read–humorous characters, funny situations, some heart-felt moments, smartly written, light enough to remind you you’re on vacation, with just enough substance to leave both your stomach and mind content.
Thanks to a wonderful expat book club I’m in that meets every six weeks, I still read literature on a regular basis. My dive into the romance genre has made me realize humans have always loved love stories, as stories are what make the world go round and we would not survive this human experience without love in our lives.