I hadn’t realized until this week what a liar I was about romance books. If anyone asked what kind of romances I like best, I would have said those that transport me away to somewhere I haven’t been in either time or place.
Then I read three books in a row that convinced me I was lying to myself.
- Because of You by Jessica Scott looks at love in the setting of today’s military between a wounded sergeant and a nurse. In many ways it reminds me of Cheryl Reavis’ The Older Woman, another in my personal AAR Top 100 list, except with buddies for the nurse and soldier instead of a grandmotherly landlady as charming peripheral characters. Like The Older Woman, Because of You explores war wounds and breast cancer, two of today’s hot spots, and like the other book isn’t an easy read. It reminded me all too vividly of visits I made to my cousin Jerry in a VA hospital after he returned from the Vietnam War as a paraplegic. Instead of taking me away from reality, it brought all the memories and feelings back to me.
- Scandals by Sasha Campbell tells the gritty story of two African American women who are pushed into stripping for a living. One had been in college when her love for a man who wanted her barefoot and pregnant caused her to choose poorly and drop out of school. The other, through a faulty foster system, was given no direction and dumped on the streets too young to make even marginally beneficial decisions I taught in a junior college for over two decades and saw the women Campbell depicts over and over again. While some I helped, many I didn’t. Again, this book brought me back to reality and often during the book, I could put a real face to the purportedly fictional story Campbell was telling.
- Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire also brought me back to college, but this time closer to my own college experience with the dating, drinking, and smoking that was prevalent at the time. Again, I could put real faces and names to the characters in the book and suffered along with them.
All three of these books immediately went on my personal DIK list for the impact they made on me and will show up in my next AAR Top 100 list. But none of them correspond with the lie that I most enjoy books that take me out of my time and place. Each is a contemporary and each has a personal connection to me.
So I went back to my Top 100 list. Fortunately, eight of the top ten fit my lie, but so many of the rest don’t that I’ve decided to change my story. Now when I’m asked, I can honestly say that I have favorites in all subgenres and that I’m pretty much open to any romance.
What about you? When someone asks what kind of romances you like best, what do you say? Looking at your personal Top 100 list, do your favorite books reflect what you’re saying? Or like me, do you have to revise your answer?
– Pat Henshaw