Reading Romances—a psychological crutch or just plain fun?
Do we watch romantic movies and read romances to feel good about someone else’s happiness, or simply to feel better about life? Does it feed unhealthy fantasies of “happily ever after” or give us a road map to our own? Are non-romance readers more “normal?”
According to a study commissioned by the Romance Writers of America, women make up 91% of romance readers. The largest segment of those readers is between the ages of 30 and 54. Slightly more than half of those women are in stable relationships. Their weighted mean income is between $58,000 and $70,000. The top overall reason given for buying a romance is the story.
The traditional formulaic romances are a tiny portion of the genre now. The old rules had been pretty much thrown out. You can easily find readers who are looking for paranormal, gay, shape shifter, werewolf, interplanetary travel, historical, steam punk (what convoluted mind thought THAT one up?), or even sweet romance. The only requirement is that the story arrive at a felicitous conclusion.
In other words, the majority of romance readers are normal, well-adjusted, well-educated, upper middle class women with a wide range of tastes.
The HEA stipulation stands in opposition to so-called modern literary fiction. That genre, in my opinion, too often portrays unattractive characters in unappealing situations, heading toward well-deserved doom.
So which is “normal”? Are non-romance readers depressed, cynical, roués comforted only by their ennui? Are romance readers unrealistic weirdos who live vicariously through the bodice rippers? Or sensible people who happen to like a good story with a happy ending? You be the judge.
Artful Dodging: more romantic suspense from M. S. Spencer
Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders, will be released this month by Secret Cravings Publishing: ttp://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=products_all&filter_author=56
It is a full-length novel, romantic suspense/murder mystery, M/F, 3 flames (spicy)
Waiting out the rain, Milo Everhart takes stock of her widowhood and the handsome man standing in the door to the bar. Little does she know she will meet that man again and again under both passionate and terrifying circumstances.
Tristram Brody waits for his date, too conscious of the beautiful woman sitting by the door. Little does he know that she will hate him for trying to destroy her beloved art center, and even suspect him of murder. Nor that she will be drawn inevitably into his arms.
Little does either of them suspect they will be embroiled in not one, but two murders, in which the fate of the Torpedo Factory, an art center housed in an old munitions factory on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, will be decided.
EXCERPT: The First Meeting
The bartender backed out past the man, who made no move to get out of his way. Milo frowned. The fellow appeared oblivious to the fact that his position inconvenienced everyone. At first she’d assumed he was waiting out the rain, but his body language said expectant. Every minute or so he’d poke his head out and look up and down King Street.
For lack of anything more exciting to do, she fell to observing him. The top of his head brushed the door jamb, making him about six feet three inches. His bulk didn’t jibe with his height though. She guessed him to weigh in at maybe 175 pounds stripped. He was undeniably her type—lean, trim, tall, clean-shaven—none of that painted-on five-o’clock shadow male celebrities sported nowadays. And old enough for once. Maybe forty? She could only see his profile at the moment, which revealed thick black hair curling over his ears, slices of silver gray relieving the dark waves at the temple, a straight nose, moderately rosy—from drink? Or the cold?—and a forceful chin. Without warning he pivoted and Milo caught the full impact of a deeply masculine face right in the kisser. Whew. Even with the Armani suit, definitely not gay.
He tapped a highly polished Gucci loafer with impatience and pulled out a pocket watch. By this time Milo had dropped all pretence and openly scrutinized her subject. He thrust the watch back in his pocket with a scowl and spun around toward the bar, almost colliding with Tony. He took Milo’s glass from the startled bartender. “Thanks, just what the doctor ordered.”
Milo began to rise in protest. Tony looked at her and the man followed his gaze in surprise. He held up the whiskey. “Er, I take it this isn’t for me?”
Milo tried to come up with a flip response but his rich baritone rattled her. Tony stepped between them. “Yes, Sir, that drink belongs to the lady. May I get you something?”
The man didn’t answer. He stared at Milo more or less the way she was staring at him. Flustered, she plopped back down on the narrow bench, barely avoiding an embarrassing slide to the floor. He continued to stare. She resisted the impulse to pat her short fawn-colored ringlets which always appeared tousled no matter what she did, and blinked. He blinked back. Finally she blurted out, “Would you care to join me?”
He shook his head as though to clear it and replied, “Thank you. Forgive me—I’ve never seen such lovely eyes…I mean, eyes that color…I mean…sorry, what would you call them? Mahogany? Bronze?” His admiring gaze did wonders for Milo’s discomfiture and her mood took a decided uptick.
“I just call them brown. But thank you.”
“I’m sorry about purloining your drink. Can I buy you a freshener in restitution?”
“Okay. Did you want to sit down?”
“I’d better not. I’m waiting for someone.”
“Oh.” His plight, though not unexpected, depressed her. Of course Armani man had a date. He probably always has a date, even during Lent.
Tony brought another glass. The man paid him, then hesitated as though considering. “You know, she is awfully late. Since you’re right in the window seat with a commanding view of the entrance, may I change my mind and sit here until she arrives?”
Ulp. “Not at all.” Good—got that out without stuttering.
“Thanks.” He pulled a low barrel stool next to the bench and clinked her glass. “Cheers.”
They sipped their whiskies in companionable silence. The rain pummeled both the sidewalk and the pedestrians with barely concealed antagonism. Milo decided her heart had settled down sufficiently to ensure a quaver-free sentence. “I’m Milo Everhart.” And I’m Gorgeous George. You don’t mind if I seduce you, do you? No, wait—he didn’t say that. I did. Hopefully in my head. “Um, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Tristram Brodie. Pleased to meet you.”
In the meantime, you’re welcome to snap up any of my other four novels. Check out my website for their blurbs. Here are the buy links:
Lost in His Arms, international intrigue and romance:
Lost and Found, love and lust in the wilds of Maine:
Losers Keepers, rekindled romance and murder on Chincoteague:
Triptych, lost artworks, jealousy, sex, larceny and genius:
All four books are also available at Amazon, B&N, all Romance eBooks, Bookstrand, and Fictionwise.
Biography ~ M. S. Spencer
Although M. S. Spencer has lived and traveled on six continents, the last 30 years have been spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She currently moonlights from her day job (writing) as Executive Director of the Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. She divides her time among Virginia, Maine and Florida.
Ms. Spencer has published four contemporary romance novels. Lost in His Arms is set in the spinning world of 1991 when countries fell like flies and a CIA fixer had his hands full. In Lost and Found we follow a desperate wife searching the wilds of Maine for the husband who disappeared. Losers Keepers is a tale of love, lust and treachery set on the island of Chincoteague. Her latest release, Triptych, tells of jealousy and intrigue high above the Potomac River. Coming in April is Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders, in which Milo Everhart, artist, meets her match in lawyer Tristram Brodie on the battleground of the old munitions factory turned art center called the Torpedo Factory.
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