Reverse Harem has pulled me into an adventure that I wouldn’t escape, even if I could. It wasn’t so much a gradual thing either, more of a brick that hit me in the heart and said, “finally we get all the men we need,” that Jill Conner Browne clearly outlined for us in her amazing and hilarious set of books that began with The Sweet Potato Queens. If you haven’t read these, I suggest you run out immediately and buy them all. I remember nodding thoughtfully as she explained that no woman could live with just one. She probably thought it was funny, I thought she was on to something for real. I still hadn’t bought the love book phenomenon, I was thinking more along the lines of practical application.
Besides, it wasn’t but a mere ten years ago that I scoffed at Romance novels, thinking who in the heavens wants to sit around and read about a relationship they could not have. I know my age is showing, but I’m proud to have lived through both the analog world and the age of technology. Back in those dark ages, the scent of inked paper was as intoxicating as chocolate. And I was a hard-core fantasy fan, but as the years progressed, I noticed myself grabbing the novels that included a main love interest and relationship. And then it happened, I ran out of books to read and didn’t have the money until payday to get anymore. It just so happened that people give me books all the time. They know I loved them, and even if I don’t think I will actually read something someone has gifted me, I still nestle into my bookshelf with the rest of my beloved titles. I mean, you never know, and I wasn’t a monster, I couldn’t throw them away. No book, no matter how awful it is, deserves that kind of treatment. It’s right up there with ripping pages out. Hurts the soul. But, back to the romance genre, it felt like they were salt in a wound, as if it would confound any loneliness that lingered on a poor girl’s heart. Then suddenly, there I was running my finger along the spines of my collection, surveying what I had already read, what I thought I could read again, and what was pure ornamentation because I loved them too much to live without a copy. I slowed at several thrillers and mysteries but kept going until I saw the name Nora Roberts. I don’t recall what series the book was from, all I know it that the cover was lovely, and it had elements of fantasy, and there were witches within its pages. That, my friends, was the beginning of the end. Or just beginning rather, because once I’d consumed that book, I was off to the races. In deniable silence, of course. Every joke I had ever made about romance novels was swallowed down in the wee hours with sugar instead of salt.
I had watched my grandmother read them, but she always said she skipped the sexy parts. I think she lied to me, to save face, and good for her. I often lie about it too, as any decent woman should. Well, I used to, until I started writing them. Now, a reader–or family member–can simply pick up something I’ve written and wrinkle their eyebrows in shame, knowing full well there is no way for me to wriggle in some excuse. No ghost writers here, nope.
As much as I pretend to be a modest woman, it really only applies when it suits me. Instead of hiding under a rock and denying ownership of my pen name, I proudly handed out copies of Hellfire and Kittens to everyone. I even put a photo on the back of the book, so they’d know it was really me. I handed them out in my office, I even gave my boss one. There’s something to be said for all this freedom we have as women these days. The rules have slacked a bit, and mostly, we can at least read what we want without too much kickback. We can even write it sometimes.