To continue the story of my history with romance novels, I’ll regale you today with the tale of how I rediscovered romance in high school. In middle school, after my Harlequin binge petered out, I stopped reading romance. This was before the days of young adult romance, and times were tighter for my family then, so I was limited to the selection in our school library. And before you weep for my plight, know that the middle school library was pretty good and I discovered a lot of good books in that period.
Picture this: it’s summer school and we’re all taking Spanish One. A girl a year older than me passes me a novel in class, saying that I’ll love it and it will change my life. (Summer school classes are much more laid back; this wouldn’t have happened in any other Spanish class.)
The book? A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux.
Talk about pushers and crack in book form . . .
She was right; I did love it and it did change my life. I started reading romance again, and I completely glommed onto Jude Deveraux. (Even though I didn’t even know what glomming was back then.)
In the ensuing years I’ve heard some say that this book shouldn’t even be considered a romance, due to the lack of a HEA for the main characters (apparently reincarnation doesn’t count). I agree that Nicholas, the hero in the book, does seem to get shafted, but I would still consider it a romance, a great romance, even. Part of that is nostalgia talking, but I read the book again about a year ago, and it still held up surprisingly well. To give Ms. Deveraux credit, she didn’t take the easy way out on the ending (ie, Douglass living in the Elizabethan era and loving it). Time travel is a tricky trope to handle and I think Ms. Deveraux did quite well. Nicholas is not enamored of our time period, and while Douglass does pretty well in his time, I never got the sense that she could stay there forever. So the problem is solved by reincarnation, which isn’t so unbelievable in a book featuring time travel, which is equally far fetched.
But perhaps the best argument for it being a romance is the way it makes me feel. I fell in love with Nicholas, right along side Douglass, and I was cheering Douglass on as she grew a backbone and told her off her nasty ex.
And isn’t that the most important function of a romance novel? To make us feel romance?