Romance Novels

Its been many years since I’ve read a romance novel. There was this summer when I read about 4 a day. The local librarian thought I was simply returning them unread. He could not believe anyone could read so many so fast. And yet, there was I in the heat of a Mumbai may – I would lay on the couch and twirl a pillow in the air – my dad called it the helicopter position – as I read book after book after book, getting up only to use the bathroom or eat. Very fortunately, I was allowed to read at the dining table.

And what did I learn from that incredible overdose of romance novels on my 14 year old brain.. sigh! whatever it was it did not stick, or did it ?

  1. The books I read were published by Mills and Boon or Harlequin or some other British or American writer. They were all based in a country I had never seen nor would see for another 10-12 years.  At the time I was growing up and perhaps even today – a pre-requisite to being considered good looking was that the person must have light skin – “Tall, dark and handsome” just did not cut it.
  2. There were all kinds of heroines. The feminine women / girls with all the appropriate charms, the tomboys who with a little help turned into gorgeous women, the strong, independent professional women – all turned to submissive jelly in the hands of the “right” tall , dark and handsome. Some of these TDHs even allowed the women to remain independent!! I remember being terribly impressed by all that.

And though the plot in every single book was identical – women meets man, there is conflict, conflict is resolved and they live happily ever after – I was fascinated by the several different ways the story could be told.

I thought of romance novels again about 20 years later. My colleagues and I all of whom were between 10 and 20 years to retirement were discussing what we would do when we quit the rat race. My boss, a very smart, and very technical IT executive said he thought he would write romance novels when he retired. There was a lot of money in it. And he thought he could just pull it off. That made for several minutes of hilarity – but I did go read a few romance novels then – maybe 3 or 4 at most before returning to Jeffrey Archer and Ken Follett and Robert Ludlum and Clive Cussler.

I thought about it again this evening while bidding on a job on Freelancer.Com. The recruiter was impressed with my writing sample and wanted to know if I had ever written a romance novel. “No, but I will give it a shot” I said bravely.

So that may well be the next thing I write. I wonder how audiences would react to short, fair and plain looking but oh so sensitive!!

Mad Libs

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