What Made Me A Romance Reader?

By Laura Heffernan
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I started reading romance novels when I was eleven or twelve, hiding them under my mattress or inside my nightstand so my mom wouldn’t find them (of course, she knew I was reading Stephen King at that point, so I’m not sure why it really mattered, but still). Initially, I read Civil War historicals because that’s what my best friend’s mom had on the bookshelf sitting at the top of their staircase. At Erin’s house, we could read whatever we wanted, and I frequently picked up stories to read at sleepovers (my friend slept much, much later than I did and I preferred to read on my own than to return to my much busier and therefore often louder house).

Soon I moved on to my teenaged sister’s collection. She had a lot of Old Western romances, some Civil War and Revolutionary War-era stuff. I enjoyed the books, but I rarely grew attached to any specific author. All of that changed when my college roommate suggested I read Ravenous by Amanda Quick.

Immediately, I fell in love with Quick’s quirky heroines. I loved that they weren’t the stereotypical eighteen-year-old Regency blushing virgins (although that trope is also fine). They were usually in their mid-to-late 20s. They are all reasonably intelligent. Most of them unusual interests that set them apart in my mind­–not just unusual for women of the time, but interests like archeology that are simply not common, period. The plots intrigued me. Best of all, the books had a liberal dose of humor. I’ll never forget the first time I read one of Quick’s absolutely disastrous first-time sex scenes. I loved it. It was so realistic. As soon as I finished it, I went to the public library and checked out every Quick book I could get my hands on.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Jayne Anne Krentz at RWA. She was giving away one of her own books and one under her pen name. In asking for the Quick book, I explained how those books spoke to me in college and why I loved them so much. She smiled and told me that a lot of people disliked her books because her heroines were different.

To me, it was reassuring to meet such a successful author and realize that she had many of the same doubts I have. She worried that people wouldn’t like her characters because they were too weird or too smart or too independent. Some people even told her that. But she published the books as she wrote them, and became one of my favorite authors in the process. Now, I’m a fan for life.

Make Your Move by Laura HeffernanLove’s All About Timing . . .

At twenty-eight, Shannon has yet to fall in love. Which is fine, since she’d rather spend her evenings creating games than swiping right or going on awkward blind dates. Right now though, she has two little problems. First, she’s stuck for a new game idea. Second, the only candidate in her roommate search is Tyler, the gaming buddy who’s long had an unrequited crush on her.

It should be awkward. But when Tyler moves in, the situation doesn’t go at all the way Shannon expected. Between helping her deal with coworkers and fixing the bugs in her latest game, Tyler’s proving to be damn near perfect. Except for the fact that he’s falling for someone else. . .

Maybe Shannon has already forfeited her turn. Maybe she’s playing for nothing but heartache. But the best games have endings you can never predict . . .