Saturday, January 26, 2013

"The Underground Romance Cartel" ...and Giveaway!

This is my first ever post on the lovely Casablanca Blog. For the last few weeks I’ve been agonizing over what to write about. Should I do an “about me” post… or one about my book? I tried, but it came out just…blah.

But then I was invited by the AWESOME Shana Galen to do a post on the “Sisterhood of The Jaunty Quills” blog. I told the tale of how my guilty pleasure (romance novels) became my livelihood. You can read it here.  It was a really fun post and inspired this one.

Over the years I’ve realized that my story of keeping my love of romance novels secret is not an uncommon one. In fact, it seems that most of us started out that way.

I can’t remember exactly how I came upon my first romance novel. Likely it was at the library in the 10 cent book bin. I do remember that I was thirteen and I’m pretty sure it was a medieval romance. Either way, I was HOOKED. I’d ride my bike to the library almost every day to get more. At home, I’d keep them under my bed, and at school, I’d tuck them in the bottom of my backpack and read them inside of either my textbook or a Michael Crichton hardback.

I’m sure my mom knew my secret pretty quickly, but she mercifully remained silent… except for the time she caught me reading her copies of Anne Rice’s erotica trilogy. That was hilariously awkward.
It was inevitable that someone at school would catch me with my secret stash of romance novels… indeed, it happened several times. But the scenario was not what I expected:

Some girl (usually the one seated beside or behind me) would give my backpack a pointed look. I’d glance down to see the corner of a damnably pink or fuchsia book cover sticking out.

Before I could stutter a lame excuse, (“I was framed!” Or “How did that get in there?”) she would whisper, “Have you read “so-and so?” Then we’d get into a conversation about the books we’d read and eventually covertly swap books like contraband drugs.

Thus began my initiation into what I call “THE UNDERGROUND ROMANCE CARTEL.” All over my high school campus, there were girls like me. Once we found each other, we’d begin recommending and swapping books (discreetly, of course). Through the “Cartel” I discovered Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey, and so many other wonderful authors. I also discovered that I was not alone in my love for a “happily ever after.”

I’ve since abandoned my shame for loving romance novels, especially since I now write my own.

But I will never forget my first years as a romance addict.

So, how did you come upon your first romance novel? How did you get your “fix?” Did you have an underground cartel too?

Three randomly drawn commenters will receive an ARC of my upcoming debut novel, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE.    


  1. I got all my books at the library, and at that time they didn't lend out paperbacks. So my first romance was Georgette Heyer, and once I stumbled upon her books, I read every one I could find. It was not long after that I was out on my own and married, so I began buying my romances in paperback and swapping them with my mom.

  2. Congratulations on your debut!

    I was fortunate to have an older sister who shared her romance novels with me. :-)

  3. Barbra, I just discovered Georgette Heyer! Excellent books! I also ended up swapping romances with my mom once I was in my 20's. :)

    Tin, That's lucky! I just had little brothers and would have DIED if they'd caught me with my "girly" books. :)

  4. I was 13 and my girlfriend had a sister who was a librarian who was 10 years older. She sneaked a couple to her and she sneaked them to me--Tender Loving Care and Coffee Tea or Me. I'd never read anything so wild in my life. I didn't read anything else in the romance line until years later when I desperately needed a HEA and I was hooked!

  5. I was a teenager and I saw my first romance novel and borrowed it fromthe library. I have been a fan ever since.

  6. Hahaha! Your underground cartel would have been a GREAT way to go through highschool. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Me, I got hooked by my aunt. A fellow book lover she had a room lined with books. All kinds really, but one wall was romance. The classic boddice rippers with Fabio and the like on the covers. I asked her if I could read one, she said only if my mother agreed. My sweet oblivious, non book reading mother didn't even bat an eye (or look at what I was holding). Thus another Romance Addict was born...I can't stop, and wouldn't want to. =)

  7. Welcome, Miz Brooklyn! Love your post AND the cover of your book is yummy!
    I was the "don't give a damn" rebel who openly read romance in high school. My English teacher was open minded ("reading makes good writers," she told us)and let us do our book reports on whatever we wanted to read so she got lots of romance book reports. Little did I know that writing all those reports would make writing synopsis a little easier these days!
    I still remember one report that had a good grade at the top and a note on the last page that said, "Why do you read this trash?"
    I just signed new contracts for books 70 and 71...and I giggled about that comment again just like I do every time.

  8. I wish that I had had an underground cartel! I had gotten books from the library. It was under mysteries but the book had such a hysterically fun romance. The title was Crocodile on the Sandbank and it was written by Elizabeth Peters. Since I realized it was the romance that really appealed to me, I next gravitated to the romance section and have not looked back since.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  9. I have taken romance novels on the plane that I have made cute little wrapping paper covers for, you know, to protect the book and all . . .

    Good post, Brooklyn!

  10. I've never hidden what I've read (maybe they're better that way lol) and luckily my mom never had a problem with letting me read what I wanted. I've done the same with my daughters. Although I'm pretty sure none of us ever got our hands on erotic romance at an inappropriate age. I was already married by the time those started coming out lol. I do remember the first book that shocked me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was a young teenager but I always think reading is a wonderful way to learn anything lol.

  11. Hi Terry! Wow, your sister was a librarian? Talk about a prime connection! :)

    Ebony, libraries are awesome. :) Life would be bleak without them.

    Lexi, I think you win the "Cool Aunt" contest. :)

  12. Carolyn, Thanks! And I toast your bravery in not hiding your love for the genre. I bet doing book reports on romances was a blast! And ha-ha to that teacher!

    Lil, W000t for libraries!

    Tana, I've heard of those "cover protectors" but I never found out how to get them. That would have been so much nicer than propping my romance novels in my economics textbook.

  13. I loved Georgette Heyer, Patricia Veryan and Sylvia Thorpe but quickly expanded to contemporary romance. The library never seemed to have enough so I quickly discovered used bookstores and thrift shops.

    Thanks for visiting and good luck with your new release!


  14. Welcome, and congratulations on your upcoming release!

    I discovered romance as a pre-teen reader, sampling those skinny, pastel-covered category romances at the library. But I had a sister who put me on to the authors who became my favorites: Georgette Heyer, Jane Aiken Hodge, Mary Stewart, and more. Then my grad school roommate finished the job by introducing me to romance authors who included sex scenes. So now I'm in all the way--so to speak! ;-)

  15. I had an after school job at the public library in the 8th grade. I could never have checked out the books I wanted under the watchful eye of the head librarian. I checked them out when she wasn't around. My first all-out romance was "Forever Amber" by Kathleen Winsor. And wouldn't you know it, my mom caught me with it. She said, "That is one of my favorite books. Did you get to the part where... Did you know that the book was banned in Boston when it came out?" I was flabbergasted! It was definitely a coming-of-age moment!

  16. Catslady, yeah, my mom was cool with me reading just about anything. What was funny was once she recovered from her shock at my reading that erotica trilogy, she said, "the third book was a complete let-down, huh?"

    Elf, I'll have to check out some of those authors you mentioned!

    Pamela, HI! Wow, no sex scenes until grad school? My ah, prurient curiosity could not have survived that long!

    Dot: Ah, I loved those "Wow! Mom knows about this" moments!

  17. A friend introduced me to them. Borrowed them from the library.


  18. It's been so long since I started reading romances! I don't where I got started. I'd love to win your book, I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the chance.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  19. My older sister introduced me to Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart and Victoira Holt when I was eleven or twelve.

    Congratulation on your book release!