Right now, I am sitting on an old t-shirt that I accidentally packed instead of pajama pants, in a motel room, two hundred miles from home, and only hours before I am due to lead a workshop for a room full of romance writers. My real life romance hero is in the hospital once again (he should be fine) and I am exhausted and stressed and bitterly resenting the fact that I also neglected to pack either a paper book or my Kindle. That’s okay, though, because I have the Kindle app on my phone, and, once this post is scheduled, I plan to lie next to a good book, because, boy howdy, is this a job for a romance novel.
Some would argue that there is no time when a romance novel would not be beneficial, and they might be right, but there are special times, when diving into the right book isn’t merely an escape from the rigors of life, but a respite that allows us to come back to everyday life, fortified and ready to have another go at the matters at hand,
Lately, I’ve been interested in reading the mistresses of the romance genre (historical, in my case) and especially books that I missed on their first go-round. Thanks to a well stocked library system, getting this latest haul of books was easy. Putting one of them in my suitcase, however, was not, a lack I am most definitely feeling right now. Not a total lack, however, because the last book I read is still swimming about my subconscious. I’d avoided most of the author’s work the first time around, because the time period wasn’t one of my favorites, but, as I read, I found something interesting started to happen. I cared about the history. When Hero and Heroine traveled from England to France, with passing mentions of the fragile peace between the two countries, I kept one eye on the plot and the other on the calendar, because, if those two didn’t make tracks back home pretty darned quick, they were going to be in for a heap of trouble. One guess how that turned out.
Actual historical figures came on the scene, small cameo appearances that served to heighten the feel of the era, ramp up the tension, and move the plot along. An older supporting character contrasted the present day of the story with the world of their own youth, which gave the flavor of the earlier era as well, and ran parallel with the love story. I found myself reading, not only for the entertainment of the story, but analytically; the feel of the setting, the adventure, the love story, the author’s voice. Along with the reading, I hunted down the author’s backlist, which was, thankfully, extensive, and made a mental note to figure out a good starting point.
That won’t be tonight, as it’s power nap time, but that’s okay. Savoring the aftertaste of a romance novel that hits the right notes can be a worthwhile pastime in itself. What other journeys does this author have in store for me? How many favorite authors have I yet to read for the very first time? These are questions that come all too readily in the wee hours, for exhausted readers, when opening a book takes too much energy. Rolling this kind of stuff around in my head, though, that’s life-giving. Is that how writers get ideas? For some of us, sure, but I’m thinking as a reader right now, there for the joy of the story. That’s not a bad way to pass the night.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. How much time do you spend savoring an especially good read? Has a particular book ever sent you down a research rabbit hole, wanting to find everything the author wrote, or more about a historical figure, an interesting subject, or something else that surprised you with how strongly it caught your attention? Ever find yourself completely bookless, but still in a book-y mood? Pull up a chair in the comments section and tell us all about it. If this post marks a new low in disjointed rambling, and you feel honor-bound to point that out, we want to hear that, too. There’s room for everybody at this table.