And then somewhere within the last year or two my awareness of the genre became more focused. Thanks to the tireless efforts of smart ladies like Jane and Sarah, the powerhouses behind Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, I became intrigued by all things romance--without ever actually reading them. I became a romance-adjacent lurker, if you will. As I frequented these larger sites regularly, my online reading expanded to include so many lovely, talented romance bloggers. And you know what? They impressed the hell out of me. I love their joie de vivre. I love not only their reviews, but their insights on the book business, the representation of women in fiction, and their preferred genres (and sub-genres--there are so many!). Their thoughts and reactions informed and entertained me even though I hadn't read any of the books they were talking about. And honestly, those are my favorite traits in book reviewers no matter the genre.
In a recent article for Kirkus, Sarah celebrates finding the familiar in romance. She makes the point that, unlike so many other genres,
Familiarity does not always breed contempt in our literary circle.I read that single sentence and it was like a light bulb went on. I thought--this is true. And what's more, it is my favorite thing about the genre! These people are not ashamed of their books. Rather, they harbor an uncommonly large affection for their books. They don't judge. They read widely and with such wonderful abandon. They are smart and curious and open and fun and, at this point, I'm kind of nursing a crush on the entire readership. It's what every community of readers should be. Of course, a few of these choice bloggers induced me to go beyond that first dare and see if I couldn't find the romances that are for me. And I have had such fun exploring. Which is why you've seen (and will likely continue to see) the occasional romance review pop up here. As with any genre, there is plenty that doesn't suit. But when I find a volume or author or series that does? It is the purest kind of literary enjoyment. So if you're looking for something in the way of a good love story and aren't sure where to look, might I direct you to a few of the blogs and authors that currently make up my go-to list? Feel free to return the favor with your own recommendations in the comments!
Romance All the Time
Romance Around the Corner
The Book Barbies
The Book Binge
Romance Some of the Time
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves
Sarra Manning, Where to start: Unsticky (my review)
Kristan Higgins, Where to start: Catch of the Day (my review)
Courtney Milan, Where to start: The Governess Affair (my review)
Sarah MacLean, Where to start: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (my review)
Rose Lerner, Where to start: A Lily Among Thorns (my review)
Oh, and by the way--
Happy Valentines/Galentines/Anna Howard Shaw/Pan-Universal Be Who You Are Day to you all!