We who write and read romance are, sadly, accustomed to having our intelligence, maturity, and even our grasp on reality questioned because of what we read and/or write.
We are told we write about unrealistic people in unrealistic situations—as if writing about a man and woman seeking love in a committed relationship was something that happens only in an alternate reality, in other words, in science fiction.
If that were true, then there would be no long-term happy marriages. I have one of those. Thirty-eight years and counting. Just about all of my friends—especially those who write romance—have that kind of relationship too.
Snobbery Rears Its Ugly Head
For many years, reading romance in the summer—the eagerly embraced guilty pleasure of beach reads—seemed to be accepted by those who looked down on the romance genre albeit with condescending amusement. Not any more.
You'll find many websites that define the "beach read" as a "trashy, throw-away novel, frequently of the romance genre, that people take to the beach." Yes, I read that on a website.
Isn’t it heartwarming to read that the books we love to read and write are considered throw-away trash?
I love what Sandra Cisneros said: "I never feel guilty about reading any kind of book. Books are medicine, each one a specific prescription for whatever ails us."
Why Read Romance?
I read romance and write it because I believe that true love can be had in this crazy world. Sure, it's not easy to make a relationship work. It requires work and commitment and the willingness to make that investment in a relationship.
I read romance, not because it's fantasy, but because I believe in the power of love. In most popular novels of every genre, wrongs will be righted, good will prevail over evil, and love usually triumphs against all odds--regardless of genre.
All of this is particularly true of romance novels. Romance readers are not hopeless romantics but hopeful romantics. Always hopeful that love will prevail in this crazy, war-racked world of ours where there's so much hate that fills the headlines.
Never be ashamed of your reading taste. Love is empowering. At the end of life, love is the only thing that remains. I've sat a death vigil, and I know that in that last breath of life, the dying person wants only to whisper words of love to those who remain.