Romance Books: Forewords & #Stepbacks
I consider myself a reasonably well read woman. I have several letters after my name linked to my study of English Literature and I know my Shakespeare, my Bronte and my Austen... but while I have a healthy appreciation of Dickens and Hardy, I open a romance novel for pleasure - and I make no apology for this.
Largely written by women, for women, romance books offer escape and comfort. They transport us to a period in history, or the future, or some place in between - but always they transport us to a world where there is a happily ever after.
I stumbled upon my first romance novel while on a family holiday in Spain. I was a teenager, maybe fourteen years of age, and one siesta time I turned my attention to the apartment’s bookshelf – and the books past vacationers had left for those that followed in their flipflops.
A thin, pink book caught my eye. A Mills & Boon by the queen of M&B, Penny Jordan. This story was an eye opener. For starters, unlike other books I’d read at that time, the plot was purely romance based: the virginal smart business woman who falls madly in love with a dominant alpha male tycoon. The story captured me. Not just the sex scenes (although an eye opener for a teen, these scenes were actually fairly tame compared to many romance novels written in the noughties) but the fact that a whole story could grab my attention and keep it hooked from beginning to end when the plot was purely about a couple’s relationship.
This novel, and the discovery of the genre it introduced me to, made such an impression on me that I still have this book today.
And so my love affair with love began. I stuck with Mills & Boon for quite a while but, when I’d read ever M&B in the library, I started to work through the rest of the romance books on the shelves.
It was quite an education… in more ways than one! 😉
Contemporary Romance with tropes of Cowboys and Billionaires.
Paranormal Romance with its tropes of alpha males and shapeshifters. Who doesn’t love a werewolf?
You may also be interested in Lockdown Love &... Swans? | Beth Linton and Romance Books: Lockdown Hobbies & Harps | Beth Linton
If you'd like to know about the history of the Romance Novel, read this New York Public Library article.
For those of you who aren’t in this romance club already, let me explain. The stepback is the picture you can find upon the first pages of some historical romance novels. A cover picture inside the cover. These pictures are in the style of paintings and portray the yearning of the hero and heroine. Colours are rich, costumes lavish; sometimes the characters are windswept, other times sun kissed - but always there's some smoulder. Whether the stepback is of a wedding night or a tryst in the gardens, a stolen moment outside a ballroom or a scene beside a river, the theme is always the same: passion.
These pictures also have something else in common: they're beautiful. And that's why, when you discover your Historical Romance book contains a stepback, you feel like you've found a delicately laced nugget of gold.
As lockdown crawls to a close, I find myself itching to go to Chester, not so I can eat a meal someone else has cooked for me but so I can go panning for gold in second hand book shops.
Rather than relying on the library, it’s time for me to fill a romance bookshelf at home, but this one is going to be dedicated to all things historical romance and every beautiful book will be a candidate for #stepbacksaturday 😊!
And as I plan to write some historical romance novels after I’ve finished my present series, maybe one day one of those beautiful books will be mine!
To find out about my novels click here and visit my books page where you can find the blurb for the first five books in the romance series.