by Monica Henderson Stoner, Member at large
Romance writers write romance. Sometimes they write romance with a twist or hyphen. And sometimes they write romance with a subtle message, one that might stop the reader mid paragraph, and have them thinking about other than boy meets girl.
Iâ€™ve come across these books in the past, and taken away something more than just a story. One of the first was Kathleen Korbelâ€™s JAKEâ€™S WAY, about a man who gives up his own dreams to help his family, who never realize he canâ€™t read. Korbel whammied me again with A ROSE FOR MAGGIE, about a charming baby with Downâ€™s Syndrome, and then A SOLDIERâ€™S HEART, reminding me PTSD wasnâ€™t just for the men in the field. She wrote about the agony of anorexia in SOME MENâ€™S DREAMS and about overcoming deep seated fears in both WORTH THE RISK and PERCHANCE TO DREAM.
Suzanne Brockmann faces issues head on. Dealing with Alcohol or drug dependency started with HEART THROB and continues right through the Troubleshooter books. Who canâ€™t love Jules, gay and proud of it, who wanted a partner he could walk with in sunshine? People doing the right thing for the wrong reason, and people doing what has to be done even when no one else realizes what theyâ€™ve done, come alive in her books.
Then we come to SEIZE THE FIRE, a heart wrenching story of dealing with the horrors of war in a time when an officer and gentleman was supposed to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on. FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, a stroke bringing a genius down to near disaster; THE SHADOW AND THE STAR, a young man overcoming a depraved upbringing. Laura Kinsale makes me think while enjoying her stories.
None of these authors hit me over the head with their MESSAGE. Iâ€™ve seen and tried to read books with a THEME, sometimes a worthy theme such as racism or manâ€™s inhumanity to man. All valid high concepts but when your theme gets in the way of your story, sometimes people stop reading all together.
More recently, I learned from a fellow LERA member about Best Buddies International: http://www.bestbuddies.org/ a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing one-on-one friendships for people with IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities). Their goal is to ensure these people have friends to call them. Gabi Stevens wove IDD into her newest fantasy romance AS YOU WISH, which Iâ€™m looking forward to reading.
For myself, Iâ€™m polishing TEACH ME TO FORGET, about a woman overcoming a depraved marriage and making something of herself, then learning to trust.
Happy reading and writing!