By Sylvie Fox, author of Puppy Love and In the Nick of Time
I’ll admit it, I’m promiscuous. I’m unfaithful to romance. I read all over the Dewey decimal system, women’s fiction, thrillers, historical—I love it all. I was an English major in college, and I also love the classics. Charles Dickens was great at epic, socially conscious tales. Thomas Hardy had a lock on the tragedy. I love, love, love Oscar Wilde not just because he had rapier wit, but because he had to be the first tabloid celebrity. Wilde’s life was more interesting, outrageous, and voyeuristic than many of his contemporaries. Even now, he’d be great fodder for the likes of TMZ.
But, I still have to defend my love for reading and writing romance every so often. I was at a luncheon recently (yep, chicken and all), and someone asked me why I read romance. Not only had she been an English major in college, but she was teaching literature to today’s students. Given today’s educational environment, I pronounced her brave, then answered her question.
An English teacher I had my sophomore year in high school told us the first day of class, that there were only seven original stories in the world. All literature, he said, evolved from that. Unsurprisingly, there is little agreement on what these seven are, but suffice it to say, there aren’t too many different ways to skin a cat. In the, ahem, many years since I sat in that classroom, I have found no truer words spoken.
Romance is the love story part of that equation. Within romance, we certainly have our tropes, friends to lovers, lovers reunited, secret babies, marriages of convenience, and so on. But I often find romance more original than other fiction because the writers have to tell a engaging tale within some pretty strict boundaries. There have to be two people who meet, fall in love, have some conflict that keep them apart, and arrive at happily ever after. That’s a tall order. It has made romances some of the most original, thought provoking, and well-written books I’ve ever encountered. It’s that originality that I love in romance.
My February release, In the Nick of Time, falls squarely within a popular romance trope: babies ever after. You know, the idea that babies can bring a couple together. But in my latest book, it actually tears the couple apart. It turns out that happily ever after does not have the same meaning for my hero and heroine. He wants time to discover who they are as a couple without the strains of a baby. She wants a husband, a baby, a white picket fence, and maybe even a dog. You’ll have to read In the Nick of Time to figure out how Nick and Holly get to their happily ever after, but I promise you a super sexy, chaotic ride to get you there.
So, why do you read romance? Share in the comments!