Thursday, January 6, 2011

In the beginning ...

In the beginning there were kisses, heat and excitement ...

by Carolyn Brown

How many of y'all watched "Friends?"

Remember right at the end of season six, when Chandler finally got down on one knee in the midst of all those candles and proposed to Monica? Did you sigh and get a lump in your throat?

I did.

I'd rooted for them ever since the London fling, through the rest of the friends finding out about their affair one by one, when she appeared on his doorstep after their big fight with a turkey on her head and he admitted he loved her, and even when Phoebe and Rachel put Chandler to the test and he said in front of everyone that he was in love with Monica.

Now fast forward to the next season when pretty close to the wedding date, someone asks Monica if she isn't going to miss all the excitement of the beginning of a relationship: first dates, first kisses, first time to make love. Is she sure she wants to marry Chandler and give up all that excitement?

And just for a moment she has doubts.

Remembering "Friends" made me understand why so many romance books are read in a year. I did not say SOLD ... that figure is astronomical. But I said READ ... a romance book does not always stop with the person who paid for it at the cash register. There are those wonderful readers who get all excited and want their momma, their great-aunt Gert, their neighbor and the ladies at the church (I'm talkin' about you Amy Morgan) to read the book. So they share. And then there are those who donate it to the library and hundreds of readers check it out. Or those who loan their books but threaten justifiable homicide (I'm talkin' about you Ginny Rucker) if the book comes back with dog slobbers on the cover. So how many books were READ last year? I don't think my Wal-Mart calculator can add numbers that high.

Why do so many folks (I say folks, not women ... I got a lovely fan letter from a male reader the other day) read romances?

Because it brings back that feverish excitement that Monica wasn't sure she wanted to give up. Reading romance books gives them a new beginning ... a story at a time: that first meeting, the smiles and kisses, the first fight, the first makeup, the first time in the bedroom ... all those wonderful emotions that they can relive with the characters every time they open a romance book.

It doesn't matter if it's a paranormal set in another world, a shape shifter hero that turns into a wolf when the sun goes down, a genie who just fell out of a bottle, a red hot sexy cowboy in boots and a Stetson or a lady in distress in castles and dungeons. Take away the worlds, the fur, the boots and hat and the big dress and it all boils down to that beginning attraction: the touch, the heat, the love, the obstacles and finally the HEA!

Romance readers pick up a book and root for the characters like we did Monica and Chandler. They let dust bunnies accumulate and eat cold pizza so they don't have to put the book down. They expect to crawl into the book and feel the fever of the first kiss and to sigh at the HEA at the end. And when they finish there's the promise of reliving it all over again right there on the book shelf in a new book ... a new beginning ... a brand new first kiss.

Last year a phenomenal amount (billions of dollars) was rung up in sales for romance books. I think it's because reading romance brings all those wonderful beginnings back to the readers and they look forward to those breathless moments from the beginning sentence to the HEA.

In 2011 let's give them enough Casablanca romances to keep them breathless!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful idea to me, Carolyn!

    I never watched Friends (no booing!), but I can think of plenty of romantic shows where I got the obligatory lump. LOL

  2. I don't own a TV. I get more books written that way, but if I were a dude in today's market, and I saw all those romance novels being scarfed up by all those lovely ladies (and yeah, some guys), I'd be taking fencing lessons, and riding lessons, and suave and debonair brooding hero lessons, because those books are meeting a need that apparently will not go away. And as for those guys reading romance, maybe they're the ones smart enough to be honing their swashbuckle with some literary examples.

  3. Carolyn, you really are a genius and have nailed the reason why so many readers choose romance to read. We take readers on that wild ride from the moment attraction sparks, to that first tentative kiss, and then there's my personal favorite...the yank-her-close-and-kiss-her-brains-out kiss.

    IMHO, romance (and our firm belief that everyone out there will meet that special someone) is all about faith, hope and love.

    BTW, I totally understand Ginny's warning. I had a friend return a hardcover romance with chocolate smeared across two pages! From that point on, I recommended books for her to read. ;)

    I'm with you, let's keep readers breathless with our Casablanca romances and keep them coming back for more!

    Thanks for a wonderful blog, Carolyn!

  4. Thank you ladies! It's wonderful to get up early in Oklahoma and find that Casababes have already been by to visit.

    Tracey: With three books on the way, it sounds like you are sure enough doing your part to keep our readers breathless.

    Grace: Welcome to the minority of a house with no TV! From what I've seen about your debut book, there's no doubt you leave them breathless!
    My daughter told a male co-employee who made fun of his wife for reading romance that he should read them, too ... for pointers!

    Colleen: Genius? Thank you for a dose of ego but awww shucks, I'm just an old cowboy writer who calls it the way she sees it. From that yank her close and kiss her brains out comment, I think you must be the same! Heaven help the person who brings Ginny's books home in anything but pristine condition. I'd hate to sit in on that jury.

  5. Exactly! I think you've nailed the proverbial nail on the head, Carolyn. Great blog.

  6. Olivia: Thank you!I had a big Casablanca hammer to hit that nail on the head. Thanks to all the Casababes for your support!

  7. Oh, yes, keep them breathless sounds like a super goal, Carolyn!

  8. Carolyn,
    Never saw the first episode of Friends and no I wasn't living on Mars. :-) But I agree with you about that "breathless feeling". It makes beautiful magic!

  9. Terry: Our readers will be breathless just looking at the cover and title of Wolf Fever.
    Amelia: Yep, it's magic. No explainin' it and no known cure!

  10. Awesome blog, Carolyn!! Happy New Year!!

  11. Shana and Catherine: Thank you for stopping by. Did you find the virtual chocolate cake on the table over there for everyone who visits? Help yourself. No calories and no fat grams for anyone who writes romance.

  12. I have quite a few male readers. One picked up my book on his way from Harrisburg to Miami and told me I should put a warning on the cover. He said he had to have his tray table down the whole way! LOL I was just amazed he read it in public, his a big brawny guy, I doubt anyone would have the guts to tease him but still. You gotta love a man who is comfortable with his sexuality.

    I always tell my male friends (especially the single ones) that if they want to understand women, read romance. It just makes sense.

    Here's to Keeping readers breathless and flying with their tray tables down!

  13. Robin: I love that story! Betcha his wife was real happy with the present he brought her from his trip! Of course, I'm talking about your book ...

  14. It's always wonderful that our readers fall in love with our characters the way we do and like Tracey, I never watched Friends.

    I call it so many shows, so little time.

  15. Great post, Carolyn!
    I believe it's an addiction to the first pangs of attraction that keeps us reading (and writing) and watching romantic movies. Or hopping from man to man. I think the reading is healthier!

  16. Yes - I completely enjoy reading about other people falling in love and writing about falling in love. I saw some reserach that said the initial feelings of love is like the high of cocaine - and just as addictive!

    For me personally I enjoy just being in love. After being with my hubby for 14 years, it may not be as exciting as the initial thrill, but I'm still having fun!

  17. Linda: You are right. I'm glad the readers love that feeling of opening a new book!
    Cheryl: Oh, yes! Give me the book or a good movie. I'd have to invest in nitro pills to do any man hopping! LOL
    Amanda: I like that word ... addictive! The high folks get when they read a romance book is that and it's what brings them back for more!

  18. Hi Carolyn. I thought this post was fantastic! You've hit the nail on the head. Romance novels definitely give us a trip down memory lane...or a peek at what may lay ahead. Loved this and I'll be reposting it!

  19. Sara: Thank you and thank you so much for the reposting!

  20. EXACTLY, Carolyn! I call it the "pit in your stomach" feeling. It's a wonderful feeling, as if your feet have wings, that settles down into a comfortable wrap around your heart as the years pass. But, oh, what a wonderful, giddy feeling.

  21. Judi: Love "the pit in the stomach" phrase! And aren't we glad we can give that giddy feeling to our readers ... time after time ...

  22. That's a wonderful goal, Carolyn. Count me in!