>Carolyn Jewel is a lady with a very sharp wit. I enjoy chatting with her on Twitter, and as a fellow Penguin author, I’m delighted to have visiting today! Please welcome Carolyn for today’s Pleasure Me With Romance guest post.
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Historical Romance, How Do I Love Thee?
I read my first romance when I was in high school. I think I was 17 or so. It was a historical romance, and I’m pretty sure it was Rosemary Rogers’s Sweet Savage Love. All the girls in my ballet class (just about all my friends were from ballet class, not high school) were whispering about this book and how certain “things” happened and oh my, if anyone was caught with this book we would all be in trouble from our heads to the very tips of our pointe shoes. Naturally the book was passed around like contraband.
Little did I know that some ten years after I read my first historical romance, I would write and publish my own historical romance, because, of course, eventually that wicked book was placed into my hands. Knowing me, I probably returned it the next day, thoroughly devoured as I devoured all books. A seed was planted that day.
That book was a sea change for me. I had never, in all my life to that point, read a book in which a female character mattered in a way that so completely resonated with me. I remember wishing the hero wasn’t quite so mean to the heroine, but no matter what he did, she prevailed. She triumphed, even. Even when he was acting like a total jerk, she never gave up herself.
For a very long time prior to this I was a particular fan of Fantasy novels. It was some years later that I found Barbara Hambly and her wonderful novels. Before her, I’d never come across fantasy novels in which the women mattered for themselves. They only mattered insofar as they related to the men who were, by and large, doing all the exciting stuff. I should mention through most of my primary education I read at least ten books a week, probably more.
I grew up in a time when girls were not allowed to play Little League. Not allowed. And it’s not like there was a girl’s Little League. Title IX had not yet come into being (the statue that required equity in men’s and women’s collegiate sports). Girls who were good at baseball were SOL. Once in PE, boys and girls were running the mile and I was flying along (ballet is good for
The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction– she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt’s feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever– and for more than an illicit affair.
endurance AND those fast-twitch fibers) and as I came past some of the male teachers, I heard one of them say, in complete surprise, “That’s a girl!“
Think of a life full of little incidents like that, things that subtly and not so subtly reinforce the belief that being a girl was to be less. It’s not that someone was astonished I was fast; someone was astonished that a girl was faster than a lot of the boys and that was shocking. No one asked me to go out for track. Although I never felt less, it never occurred to me that I could go out for track. Not that I would have. Ballet was my life.
So there I was with Sweet Savage Love, and for all that the novel has roots in false notions about women’s sexual agency (we weren’t supposed to have it — so the heroine had to be forced because otherwise she was a whore) that novel centered on a woman who survived, persevered, loved, had sex and enjoyed it, and in the end, won love on her terms.
I read a lot more historical romance after that. Lots and lots. Some of it was great, some was not so great, but through it all not one of those heroines ever disappeared from the story while the men were doing all the exciting stuff. Her life was front and center and it mattered. And that is why I love historical romance.
Do you remember the first romance you read? If you do, what do you remember about it? If you don’t, do you have any recollections about when and why you started reading romance?
Carolyn’s paranormal series
My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire
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