by Mallory Crowe
I have a confession. I am an avid romance reader. Okay, you’re probably not shocked to hear that. At this point in my life (and career) I have become very comfortable with my reading preferences (and even guilty pleasure viewing preferences, i.e. Vampire Diaries). However there was a long time in my life that my love of romance embarrassed me.
To be fair, the age when I started to read the genre didn’t help. I was still in elementary school (I think sixth grade) when I realized I only liked books that had a hero and a heroine and they both ended up together in the end. Imagine my shock and joy when I realized there was an entire section of the bookstore just for me!
As an awkward thirteen year old, I couldn’t just walk into a store and browse through the Fabio covers. Instead I would quickly pull out a book I was interested in and twist around to stand in front of the regular fiction section, pretending I was looking at a “normal” book.
Because that’s the image of romance I had in my head. They were supposed to be corny. Melodramatic. Simple reads for simple people. Years later, when visiting an old teacher (because I was/still am the sort of teacher’s pet that would revisit old teachers years later) I mentioned how fond I was of romance and she smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll outgrow it.” I think I politely nodded and changed subjects, but internally I was horrified. Outgrow it? Romance novels were my escape. My alternate reality. My fantasy world. Why would I ever want to outgrow it?
As I went through business school and onto the career pool, I wouldn’t say my reading habits were a secret, but I didn’t bring them up in casual conversation. But in the early 2010s something happened. Something that took away the awkwardness of reading a bodice ripper in public.
So many things changed with the e-reader. A domino effect. A woman could ready the smuttiest of smutty books on the train right next to that respectable businessman (who was also probably reading something dirty on his iPad). With the e-reader, romance novels (which were always popular) exploded in growth. And as they became more popular, people were no longer embarrassed.
This gave power to a (mostly female) readership. Even though a book could be violent, graphic and have a whole host of disturbing content, the idea of sex or love was somehow so awkward that it had to be hidden from friends and family.
Now that I’m older and wiser and have a greater sense of myself, I’m no longer embarrassed by my reading habits. Not only do I own them, but I take pride in it. Even better yet, every the romance loving community is growing every day. The internet and social media has brought together likeminded readers in a way never possible ten or twenty years ago.
And today I’m very blessed to say that I’m not embarrassed any longer.
The Beautiful Thief
by Mallory Crowe
She was the one that got away. The one time Adam couldn’t finish the job. The one time his conscious got the better of him.
Now she’s back and Adam has two options: Kill her or help her get the revenge she deserves.
No matter how convincing her arguments may be or how distracting he finds her, he was raised on one staunch principle that has kept him alive so far. Never trust a pretty face.