Confessions of a Closet Romance Reader

Hi. My name is Jeanette. And I’m a closet romance addict.

Now, that may seem like a pretty strange confession to make, considering how many romances I’ve published – not to mention how many I’ve read. But for a very long time, it was true.

You see, I’m the child of two engineers. My father never read fiction at all, and my mother’s tastes ran the gamut from hard science fiction to…hard science. (I’m not kidding. She read textbooks for fun.) In my household, girly things were worthy of ridicule. Nonsense was rarely tolerated.

And romance? That was the most non-sensical thing of all.

I internalized the values my parents instilled in me pretty hard. While I read basically anything I could get my hands on, I concentrated on genres my mother would have approved of, and when I ventured beyond them, I at least tried to read things of literary merit, which I judged very, very harshly.

My denial game was strong. And yet, looking back, it’s easy to see the hints of where my tastes actually lay.

I may have been a literary snob, but I remember clearly sitting in my grandmother’s house reading Gone With The Wind and rereading the scene where Ashley and Scarlett kissed over and over.

I remember my heart fluttering during Ethan and Mattie’s one night of being able to brush hands and enjoy quiet time together in Ethan Frome.

I remember reading Ender’s Game and desecrating the book by underlining the part where Ender said he hated himself.

I remember moments of impossible forbidden passion. I remember isolated, flawed characters who need desperately to be cared for and treated with kindness and love.

You put those together and you have every great romance ever written.

It took me many years to put together my attraction to stories about characters and relationships. It also took me setting aside a lot of my pre-conceived notions about the relative values of different genres and interests. I still struggle sometimes with some pretty serious internalized misogyny. But from an early age, it’s been clear that my heart cries out for romance.

And in the end, the heart wants what it wants. I only wish I’d listened to mine earlier.

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