women-talking-kitchenTrue to my sanguine personality, I love to share my experiences and always hold out the hope that someone else will share equally so that we can make a party of it.  If I’m excited about an upcoming trip or moved by a new-found musician or wowed by a recently released movie , I want to tell others.  Within my circle of friends and family, I am very fortunate to have those who encourage my sharing of such things and give their own thoughts in return.  However, when it comes to talking about the extremely moving historical romance book I finished last night or the impressive vampire romance series I’m reading or the hilarious romantic audio book that entertained me so thoroughly over the thump, thump, thump of my treadmill – well – there’s no family, friend, or neighbor with any interest whatsoever in the genre (as far as I know).  So, I sometimes reflect on what fun it could be to have just one person close by who loves reading romance and enjoys talking about it.

For most of my life, I have freely shared my thoughts with others concerning the latest book I’d read and happily loaned out my treasured finds all while eagerly seeking out recommendations from others.  But I now think of those years as my “pre-romance stage” which ended about eight years ago when I, quite frankly, became addicted to romance.  With that new phase in my reading life came the inevitable loss of any discussion about books such as Penelope Williamson’s Keeper of the Dream or Rachel Gibson’s Tangled Up in You with those around me.  Gone are the days when a book sitting on my den side table invited discussion such as Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha or Tom Clancy’s Debt of Honor although I was able to spark a bit of interaction with Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals last year.  It’s not so much that general fiction and non-fiction books are no longer a part of my life.  I do occasionally read outside of the romance genre but not as much as I once did (due to issues with light) and I strongly prefer to spend my time reading a book I know I will love.  Since I understand how to navigate the system to find romances to my liking, my odds of success in choosing a romance are probably 4 out of 5.  Therefore it’s unlikely that any book, other than a romance, will now be found on my den side table.

Wishing for a close-by romance buddy for a bit of one-on-one discussion about our latest romance success or failure seems almost like a dream request.  Fortunately since I discovered AAR with all its discussions, reviews, and varied features seven years ago, I don’t spend a lot of time missing the romance friend I’ve never had.  But the fact remains, I love to talk about the books I’m reading and having a romance reading neighbor could be such a blast!

Lately I’ve found myself shyly looking around as I browse local bookstores to see who is searching the romance section with me.  More than once I have wanted to say “I read that book” or “I wrote a review for AAR on that book in your hands – let me tell you about it.”  I glance at the books they are buying but stay quiet and attempt to respect their privacy.  But it encourages me all the same to know there are many other women in my hometown who love romance as I do.  And since I think most attempt to hide the fact that they are romance readers, the real task I’m presented with is discovering just who of my current friends is already a romance fan.

Oh, the conversations I could have with my romance reading neighbor and the questions I could ask.  What bookstores have the best romance selections and do their clerks treat you with respect?  Do you know of any stores that put new releases out a little early on occasion?  What is the best used book store for romance and where are the best prices?  And last but not least – do you want to borrow this book when I finish reading it?

Being a part of AAR’s community is very fulfilling and I wouldn’t change that for the world  But, oh, for the freedom to say to another as I head out for my neighborhood walk “Have you read…?” or “I’ve got a book you will just love!”

Now for your thoughts:

Do you have a friend who lives close-by to share your love of romance?

How did you discover your romance friend?

How do online romance communities fulfill your need to talk about romance?

-Lea Hensley