My books that is 😉 I like my book to have a nice heft and girth to it :)~ Actually, I’m not a big fan of category romance, novellas, quickies, anthologies…short ones just aren’t enough for me (okay, I’m done with the double entendres, I promise.) I often choose which books I’m going to buy based on the length (stop snickering, Charlie)
I got three books in the mail this weekend to judge for an RWA contest. I said I’d do any of the categories except inspirational because those just aren’t my cup of tea. I’m pretty sure I could read them, and be fair, but I wouldn’t enjoy it and why volunteer to do something I wouldn’t enjoy?
But I was a little surprised that the three books I got were category romances: two Silhoutte Desires and one Harlequin Temptation (Damn, not even a Blaze among the bunch). Why was I surprised? To be honest, it’s because I kind of…forgot that categories would be an option. With the exception of three or four of the Silhouette Bombshell line, I can’t remember the last time I read a category romance. I don’t even read the Blaze line. And it’s not because I don’t think that category romances won’t provide me with an entertaining read, or a good story, but I think a longer book has a better chance of having fanastic character development, a well rounded plot, and plausible reasons for the two characters to fall in love. Not that that will always happen with a longer novel (see my blog about Catherine Coulter’s Blow Out) but I think the chances are better. Plus, if I’m going to spend the money on a book, I want something that will last for more than an hour or two.
So, with that said, it seems that I have some obvious bias against category romances. But I believe that I can still be a critical, and yet fair judge. After all, it’s not that I don’t read them because I hate the content or think they’re going to suck. I’ve just chosen to spend my money elsewhere.
But I do approach it with a certain sense of nostalgia. Category romances is how I got started reading romance. My mom would buy paper bags of these. Stack upon stack of those red covered Silhoutte romances would be scattered around our living room. Boxes and bags would be sorted and swapped between my mom, grandmother, and aunt. It was a very social and connecting thing between them.
And I can still remember the first used book store I ever frequented with my mom. It was right next door to a meat market 😉 The scent of the curing spices would mix with the slightly musty smell of the stacks of books. The aisles were small, as seems to be the case in every used bookstore, and there were piles of books stacked on the floor, books towering to the ceiling high on top of the shelves, and boxes of books that hadn’t even been unpacked. Romances, fiction, children’s books, poetry, biographies…that store had everything. The owner of the bookstore kept a paper tally of trades and exchanges in a recipe card box. She knew us by name because we went several times a week. Carrying in one grocery bag of books and carrying out another. Visits to that store and the conversations during the car rides hold some of the happiest memories I have of my mom. I can still picture her driving along, elbow propped on the window, gnawing on her pinky nail while talking to me and making me feel like an adult. I owe my love of reading, and of romance, to her. And to those category romance books I started sneaking under the covers, in bed late into the early morning hours, squinting to see by dim flashlight.
Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. But it would also have been my mom’s 51st birthday.
You know, I think I’ll read one of those books tomorrow. Maybe it was meant to be. To help me remember. And to smile through the tears.