I went to a very quirky all-women’s college, and one of the very best quirks was the collection of romance novels in every student house. No was quite sure where they came from (there were rumors that there was a secret alumni fund that made sure each house was well-stocked), but those books were read over and over again, if their dog-earned pages and battered covers were any indication. And it was through those stories, and the conversations with other readers that they inspired, that I really fell in love with the romance genre and the fundamentally important lessons it can teach.
We don’t live in a world that makes it easy to feel comfortable in our own skin, or honest about our own wants and dreams; but romance, at its best, affirms that every woman and every man is perfect because of their individuality and worthy of true love, so long as they are true to themselves. It’s not an easy lesson at all, but these are some of the books that continue to emphasize that lesson for me.
I grew up doing historic re-enactment, which meant spending most of my spare time researching, or wandering about in a corset and crinoline. And one of the first things you learn in this process is that Victorian women were as unique, as passionate, and as interesting as women today, and that much of that wonderful uniqueness gets overlooked in traditional histories. So it’s always a joy to find romances that can uncover some of those wonderfully eccentric, defiant characters in all their glory.
Juliana Ross (a re-enactor herself) does this beautifully in her Improper novellas, which all feature women who are undeniably products of their day and age, yet who have the courage to defy convention and seek happiness on their own terms. In her first story, Improper Relations…
Check out the rest of the article and Bridget’s recommendations at the April 2014 ezine! Get it here!