Happily ever after? If justice doesn’t triumph and love doesn’t make the circle in entertainment fiction, what’s the point? Real life sucks too often.
– Nora Roberts, Angels Fall
While setting up for the book sale at the library, one of the volunteers, a woman about my age, was looking for books by her favorite authors, Lee Child or Vince Flynn. She was quite surprised that I had never read any book by either of them. She seemed perplexed when I asked if she’d read anything by Amanda Quick or Clare Lydon. I believe she thought that since I am a guy I should go for the macho guy books. In fact, I never have. Not only do I not like to read about folks running around shooting each other and blowing things up, I want to read books with happy endings. And she’s a woman. She should at least read a Nora Roberts or maybe a couple of J. D. Robb novels. Those would surely satisfy her bloodlust.
For years I read mainly mysteries, which have their own form of happy endings. A crime is committed, someone figures out who did it, and the bad guy (or woman) gets his/her just rewards. Who could not call that a happily ever after? Then six or seven years ago I picked up a copy of Amanda Quick’s book “A Perfect Poison.” I thought it was a Victorian mystery, which it is in a way. But after I had finished it, and enjoyed it, I realized it was a . . . gasp . . . a Romance Novel. There was a woman and a man. They fell for each other. They made love, then they fell in love. At the end of the novel, after the mystery was solved and the bad guy dispatched, they got married and formed a partnership. It is also a paranormal novel, part of Ms. Quick’s Arcane Society series, but that’s a genre for another blog.
I was hooked. I read more Amanda Quick novels, truthfully I read all that our library had. Then I ran across Julia Quinn and got hooked on the Smythe-Smith musicales. (If you don’t know what those are, get a copy of “It’s In His Kiss” and find out what you’ve been missing.) It should be no surprise that Ms. Quinn was the next Romance author I discovered. I read somewhere that she chose Quinn as a pen name so her books would be shelved next to those of the popular Amanda Quick. It worked. After working my through a number of Victorian and Regency authors I moved on to contemporary works, starting with Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jenifer Crusie.
I have always preferred books with strong female leads. I can’t remember the last time I read a book for enjoyment that was written by a male author. To me, female writers, and characters, relate better than their male counterparts. So it should come as no real shock when my reading list took another turn. We had a large collection of books donated for our sale from the estate of a retired school teacher who had passed away. Among the twenty-three crates of books were several crates of lesbian books. In our Southern community known for its fundamentalist churches, we knew we would never sell them, so I took them home. The woman had been an English teacher. Her books were in perfect condition and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. As I was going through the stack of books it occurred to me that there might be lesbian romance novels, and sure enough I found “Curious Wine” by Katherine V. Forest.
This book, which was initially published in 1983, was one of the first authentic romance novels about and for lesbians. I have learned that prior to this, books with lesbian characters generally ended either with the woman being ‘converted’ to heterosexuality – or she committed suicide. In “Curious Wine” the two women meet, make love, fall in love and reap their HEA. I was hooked. Of course, it helped that Ms. Forest was an extremely talented writer. This book has remained popular for over thirty-five years not only because it was a ground breaker but because of the quality of the story and of the writing. It’s a damn good book.
And thus I dove into a whole new sub-genre or Romance novels that guarantees not one but two strong female lead characters. What more could I ask?
Oh, and about that Happily Ever After thing. I’m in my seventies. Happy Endings are important, trust me. And yeah, as Ms. Roberts says in the quote above, “Real life sucks too often.”
Novel Report: The word count now stands at 62,865, not much progress I know. But – I am now published. I self-published a collection of erotic short stories on Amazon. The title is “Women’s Passions.” It’s available for $2.99 and can also be accessed on Kindle Unlimited. Act now and you can be my first purchaser. It is certainly not going to be a best seller. I’d settle for one or two. In truth, I put this out to find out if I could, and how hard it was. Not too hard. I used Kindle Create to assemble it and Kindle Direct to publish it. If you get the book you will probably notice that I have the title page and the table of contents in reverse order. I don’t know how I did this, but I spent half a day trying, unsuccessfully, to fix it. If anyone knows how to correct this I’d appreciate the advice.