Discovery: Reading my first romance novel


I was fifteen years old. It was a weekday in the middle of summer, and I wasn’t old enough for a license. My closest friend was at least a twenty minute drive away.

What to do…

What to do…

Mom was at work. Siblings were busy. What to do…

Mom left books lying around the house all the time, and my gaze snagged on the red paperback sitting on the coffee table. With a crown on the front and a title that read: The Pirate Prince. Already I was intrigued. The author’s name was Gaelen Foley. Exotic sounding. I was even more intrigued.

When I flipped the book over I wasn’t super thrilled by the photo on the back. Some guy hanging off a ship’s rigging, with the V of his shirt hanging wide open. He looks heroic and determined, but I find the whole picture sort of silly. But the description on the back sounds good.

What really sold me was inside the jacket, a short excerpt leading up to a kiss. There’s tension and conflict. It’s exciting. So I started reading.

I was drawn in immediately. The silly guy from the photo on the back wasn’t so silly. Lazar’s got a personal vendetta and won’t let anything stand in his way. So of course, who gets in the way? The heroine Allegra, daughter of Lazar’s arch nemesis. She’s got a heart of gold and a dislike of her father’s politics. She’s attractive, and Lazar is drawn to her. He’d planned to use her to extract his revenge, but after meeting Allegra his plans go a little astray.

Foley’s prose was incredible. The historical description riveting. The pacing was excellent, the conflict intense, and the characters were relatable.

I was about one hundred pages in when my mom came home from work. I had returned the book to the coffee table before she came in the door. She dropped off a few things then decided she’d return her library books. So she gathered up the ones around the house. She pointed to the red book on the coffee table and asked me to grab it for her. She was taking it back. I had to stop her.

“I’m reading that one,” I said.

She looked from the book to me. “Oh, no you’re not.”

“Yes I am,” I insisted. “I already started it. I’m like hundred pages in.”

She thought it over and finally settled on an answer. “Fine. But don’t tell your father.”

I think she realized that I’d read the book whether she wanted me to or not, whether she returned it to the library or not.

So, Gaelen Foley’s The Pirate Prince was the first romance novel I ever read. As soon as I was done I snatched up anything else that she’d written. Once I caught up, and had read all the books she’d released I branched out while I waited for Lady of Desire to be released. I mostly focused on historicals (I loved the pirate stuff. This was right around the time that Pirates of the Caribbean came out.) but I soon discovered contemporary and paranormal, and more recently erotic romance.

Reading romance novels also strengthened my relationship with my mom. We traded books, and talked about the characters and the plots. In 2010 we attended the Romantic Times Convention together and had a blast meeting more likeminded readers. This year we’re excited to go again.

Romance novels are wonderful books, with happy endings and great characters.

Which novel popped your romance virginity?