Hi, my name’s Avery and I’m a romance junkie.
It all started in middle school with purloined copies of my mother’s V.C. Andrews and Jackie Collins. So brazen did I become that my sixth grade teacher – oh, she of the see-through blouses – sent my mom a note ratting me out for bringing The Thorn Birds for my independent reading time.
That wasn’t enough to rid me of my demons. No. I scoured used book stores for dogeared Harlequin novels. The sweet and sheltered heroine whose innocence reels in the arrogant and demanding hero (who later in life I realized was often a total prick). I’d devour the books in one marathon session in the tub, refilling it with hot water as necessary. Then I discovered Johanna Lindsey’s regency romance novels. Independent, smart, spitfire heroines out to right a wrong. And the heroes? Oh, yeah. Brawn and brains – and a title to boot.
The list goes on and on, there’s rarely been a romance novel I didn’t caress with lust, eager to rip open the cover and loose myself in the pure joyous high of the happily ever after, the adventure, the intrigue, the mystery, the black moments, the rediscoveries, the plot twists and the laughter found within its pages.
Until recently, I had no idea I had a problem. Sure, it wasn’t unusual for me to burn dinner because I was too engrossed in the tale to pay attention to my cooking. But that happens to everyone, right? At the romance junkie house (AKA the bookstore), the pushers knew me by name. Then, they started sending me e-mails recommending other romance authors they thought I would enjoy. I’d buy the romance books unable to resist their heady charms.
Then a life coach explained that romance novels are addictive and as horrible as porn (I clutched my pearls at the thought because everyone knows only dirty men like to watch porn). Romance novels can cause major problems in a person’s life. She even had the pseudo-science to back up her claims!
The news hit me like a thunderclap. Crack! And here I thought I was doing OK. I graduated from college, own a business, married a devastatingly handsome and smart man, am raising three kids, have good friends, volunteer for local non-profits and donate to charities. But no, I am a romance junkie and it’s time I faced facts.
Fact One: I experience a thrill when I read a romance novel. Goosebumps. Butterflies in my stomach. An overall feeling of happy. We all know there is nothing worse in the world than allowing yourself to experience happiness.
Fact Two: For years, romance novels and their required happily ever after ending have been one of my major stress relievers. Obviously, I should have been scrubbing the floors to work out my stress.
Fact Three: Sometimes, I am so drawn into the lives of the characters that I cry (cry!) when misfortune befalls them. Caring about others? What was I thinking?
Fact Four: The heroines in romance novels have taught me to stick up for myself, to fight for the underdog, to be willing to take risks and to not settle for anything less than I deserve. I need to get back to my subservient role immediately.
Fact Five: Romance heroes have taught me that not all men leave, that strength and intelligence are sexy in men and women, that even boys get scared and that they, too, should not settle for anything less than they deserve. I know now, this is pure poppycock.
Shame is welling up within me as I type these facts. No jury in the world would fail to convict me.
I am a romance junkie.
And I’m off to take another hit.