I see you over there in the corner of the coffee shop, snuggled up in the leather chair with your latte and your book. You look up and make eye contact with me over the pages and hastily lower it so I can’t see the front cover. Your face flushes red- with guilt, I assume.
You weren’t quick enough, though, and I’ve glimpsed two people intertwined on the cover. It’s a romance.
I smile and go back to editing the romance novel I’m working on.
You see, I think romance novels can change the world.
I was at a luncheon this past fall and historical romance author Beverly Jenkins gave a beautiful keynote speech to a ballroom full of romance writers. Her main thesis: writing romance in today’s climate of uncertainty is an act of revolution.
I believe she’s right.
There are quite a few aspects of our society that profit off us by focusing on those things that we can change to make ourselves happy. Our home, our weight, the way we dress or the jobs we have, we’re constantly encouraged to seek the next level of ‘better.’
Now, I’m not saying that we all shouldn’t seek to improve ourselves or seek meaning. Not at all.
I’m saying that in a world where society demands we change to suit it, happiness found between the covers of a romance novel can be an act of revolution. Being swept away by a story that takes you just as you are and delivers a lively cast of characters you get lost in is nothing to be ashamed of.
Romance novels are stories about love.
And love has been the impetus to a lot of revolutions over the span of human history.
Romances put a woman’s perspective front and center. It puts her ideas, dreams, and hopes as a main character, and then has the audacity to give her a happily ever after.
This Valentine’s Day, you’ll see I’m not the only person writing about how reading romance is a revolutionary act, and it delights me.
How many times have you cancelled plans to finish a great romance? How have you planned an evening of activity for the kids so you can get some between-the-cover time? Have you ever felt guilty for reading romance, for giving ‘bodice rippers’ an ounce of your time or hard-earned dollars?
You don’t have to feel bad. The heroines between the pages of those books exist to give you joy, and I hereby give you permission to feel that joy.
I glance up from my computer to see that once again, you’ve raised your book until it’s hovering right on front of your face, your latte forgotten as you devour the words on the page instead. I can make out the cover clearly now and it’s from one of my favorite authors; a Fantasy Romance.
Exactly what I write.
You glance up again as you turn the page. I point at the book, smile, and give you a thumbs up. You beam and mouth ‘I know! So good!’ You sit up, more confident and relaxed now, and reach for a bite of your chocolate pastry.
I return to crafting my contribution to the movement’s manifesto.
Vive la Rèvolution.