For the dedicated romance reader, there is nothing sweeter than the HEA. Our lovers have, finally, beaten the odds, their own fears, and whatever else stood in their way, to be together, at last. After spending two, to five hundred, or even more, pages invested in these lovers, sending them off into the sunset has to be the cherry on the sundae, and it is…for a while. Then things can get downright ugly. Want to know how? Read on.
Picture it: Albany, 2018. A romance reader revisits a book she hasn’t read since it was first published. If this book were a person, it would be dropping hints about driver’s ed and renting a limo for prom. This romanc3 reader didn’t remember much about this book when they started reading it. Sure, they remembered that it was by their favorite author, and that it was a standalone, both things they were after for this particular read.
They remembered that the book had everything. It had an interesting setting, vivid descriptions, and a couple that seriously had to earn their HEA. For a while, even, it looked to this reader like they weren’t going to make it, (the couple, not the reader) because the obstacles that stood in their way were flat out too big, but they had read this before, and they knew it would be all right in the end.
There were even a few things they didn’t remember, like the hero’s name. That’s usually a big one, but, after reading a few thousand books (who’s counting?) what’s a dropped name, here and there, in the greater scheme of things? They didn’t remember the part where the heroine outsmarted the enemy, when things looked ridiculously bad. Sure, this particular book was a tiny bit farther down the erotic romance spectrum than this reader generally preferred to go, which may account for why they hadn’t re-read the book in that long, but that’s not important. It fit with the story, and, along the way, the reader kept noticing things she hadn’t remembered from the first read, as well as things that they did.
At last, they got to the end of the book. The hero and heroine ended up together. Their best friends ended up together. They both had lots of beautiful, happy children, and it was even implied that, sometimes in the future, two of those children would someday marry each other. Did they? We don’t know. This was a standalone. I like to think that they did. Who’s to say they didn’t. Nobody, that’s who. There was even a historical bibliography in the back of the book, so those who were interested in that seldom-used setting, could do their own research and learn more. Add in a note from the author, and boom, darned near perfect book.
That book was The Love Slave, by Bertrice Small, and that reader was me. So,, why am I telling this story, besides the fact that this post is due? I’ll tell you why. It’s because this book, like a lot of the really good ones, in any genre, will not get out of my head, which makes it difficult to invest the same amount of mental energy into anything else.
I’d hoped to get into another historical romance, and started one, which I actually do like, and very much will finish, except that it may be too soon. The hero and heroine of this book are still wandering around in my head, and making it a very crowded place for an entirely new cast of characters, in an entirely different setting, to make themselves at home, and take root. My original plan was to zoom through this other historical romance, and then its sequel, which I have right here at hand, but nope, my brain keeps going back to the characters and events and the description, and picking, now and again at a couple of loose ends.
In truth, I liked the book more, on the reread that I did on the initial reading, which is a point in the book’s favor. Maybe the fact that I’m more mature now, that I’ve done more reading, and more writing, has something to do with the fact that the book I couldn’t remember as well as I’d hoped is now sticking. It’s not a complaint. It’s a testament to the writer’s skill, and yes, I do plan to reread other books by the same writer in the near future.
There’s all these others, though, that the library is going to want back at some point, and I would like to have read them (or at least have given the old college try) by that time. So, how to move on to a new fictional world, when I’m quite cozy in the previous one? If this book were in a series (it’s not) then I could read the books that followed, or came before, but, with a standalone, that’s all there is. Tale. Is. Told. I have every faith that these two lovers are, indeed, doing the HEA thing, their life together happy and long, and all of that good stuff. They’re still having adventures, even if I can’t read about them. This should be good enough, but….
There’s that but; there’s always a but, always. Book hangovers are never easy, and no two examples are ever exactly the same. Read the same book again; that works, sometimes. Read an entirely different book, maybe in a different genre, maybe even (gasp) one entirely devoid of romance (hey, it happens.) Read a similar book. Read a book by the same author. Read a book with a similar setting (not much to pick from in this case, alas.) Stare at the cover and sigh wistfully. Write a review (that always helps.) Shove the book at another romance-reading friend and make them join in your misery. Stay away from books altogether for a few days; read magazines or webcomics, or Netflix and chill your way back into the right frame of mind. I’m still not sure which method is going to work for me, so I am open to suggestions.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. What do you do when you want to read new books, but can’t get that last one out of your head? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.