My post for Read-a-Romance Month will link from Julia London's chat from August 1st on www.readaromancemonth.com!:
Romance Matters by Juliette Miller
From the time I was very young, I always had a feeling I would fall in love in a dramatic way. That I would be swept off my feet by some beefcake extraordinaire and that my life would never be the same again. I was a literature student and read voraciously, always riveted by the small part of the story where the love happens, where the central relationship sparks and blooms. Those were the details I wanted more of: the look in Romeo’s eyes as he climbs the ivy trellis (I’m sure I remember an ivy trellis. The one next to the balcony, right?), or the strength of Mr. Darcy’s grip as he finally admits that his indifference masks a fierce, all-consuming desire.
And then it happened. I was studying in Paris at the time, and I traveled to Greece for spring break. It was just off dusk, in April, and my friends and I were having a drink in a small, lively tavern on the island of Ios. I felt young and alive, aglow with that first suntan of a warm spring. I went to the bar to order another round and as I waited, I turned. He was standing there: a tall, dark-haired, exotically rugged stranger with green eyes and a crazy accent. The connection coiled around us like a hypnotic spell. And that was it. I knew within the first five minutes that I would marry him. We spent a month together, in Greece and in Paris, totally immersed in the miraculous experience of falling in love. Forced apart by circumstance, we wrote wild, passionate love letters and counted the hours until we could be reunited. We married the following summer.
I not only had the romantic tendencies and the penchant for scribbling in dog-eared notebooks, but I’d now also experienced the star-crossed Happily Ever After. I began to write.
For all my romantic and literary inclinations, I was almost completely uninitiated in the romance genre until a few years ago. One day, in my second home also known as the local library, I wandered down the romance aisle. I picked up a couple of books and began to read. One of these books was Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas. I loved the book and read it in a single sitting. Then I read the rest of the contemporary series and worked my way through her historicals within a few weeks.
I began to read more romance. The stories were fun and emotional. I was captivated by the total focus on the love story, the conflict and the journey, and especially the challenge of creating the perfect yet realistic hero, flawed but alluring, damaged in a way that fit uniquely with the personal tragedies and difficulties of the heroine. The pasts and complexities of the characters become the binding forces that hinge them together. And, I’ll be the first to admit, I loved the inclusion of the more intimate romantic moments. After all, to truly explore a love story to its fullest, the explicit scenes add a dimension that give depth to the characters and bring an honesty to the relationship on a deeper, more revealing level. I was hooked, and had found a genre that fit not only my mind-roves and my personality (not to mention my star sign; I’m a daydreaming Pisces), but my writing style.
I continue to read and adore books of every genre under the sun. But there’s something especially engaging about romance that keeps me coming back for more: that total commitment to the love story, which is after all the heart and soul of the human experience. That’s why romance matters to me: reading (and writing) a romance novel replicates on some level that unique, sublime intensity of falling in love. And what better feeling is there than that?
What romance author would you recommend to readers? The one that got me into romance in the first place: Lisa Kleypas. I also loved Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and Paullina Simons’s The Bronze Horseman.
What’s the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it? I guess one of the craziest collection of objects is my husband’s painted animal skulls. My husband is an actual Highlander of sorts. He grew up on a ranch in the mountains of New Zealand, and, while he doesn’t (usually) wear a kilt (unless I make a specific request, that is), he did spend most of his childhood running around the green hills living a somewhat-wild, pioneering life. So he has a collection of animal skulls that he now keeps in his studio; he’s an artist and he paints the skulls with colorful designs. At first I was a skeptic but once they’re painted, they do add a certain something to a room.
If there was a movie about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?) This answer changes on a daily basis, but today, it might be called Sublime, be filmed in a sultry mid-August seaside setting, star Emma Watson and be styled by Ralph Lauren.
What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever received? Anything from my children – I’ve kept everything they’ve ever given me.
If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? One of my favorite scenes is in Chapter 1 of Highlander Claimed, where the hero and heroine meet. They fall in love at first sight, right after they fight and almost kill each other.
Thank you, Read-a-RomanceMonth.com for inviting me to take part in this fun event! And thanks so much to Julia London for recommending me!
This post can also be found on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/juliettemillerbooks. Come visit!