We’re nearing Valentine’s Day, you know—which seems a mighty fine time to read a romance novel or two.
Of course, I’ve never much been one for romance novels (unless it’s the Jane Austen variety). Perhaps my grandmother is to blame.
You see, Helen Eloise loved her romance novels. As a matter of fact, in a spare room, to the back of her house, rose bookshelf upon bookshelf—floor to ceiling—filled to capacity with her Harlequin romances. Grandma’s special books, she called them.
I could see why; they seemed perfect. Small spines—perfect for little hands—bright, fanciful colors. Naturally, I had to read them.
My grandmother paused, a look of panic etched in her face. Not now, she said. Wait until you’re sixteen. You can read them when you’re sixteen. Sixteen, of course, seemed a lifetime away. No doubt she hoped that was the case; she hoped a lifetime would cause me to forget all about those books.
Alas, children may forget to brush their teeth, clean their rooms, and do what they ought, but they rarely forget the juicy bits. Upon my sixteenth birthday, I marched back to that sacred room, threw open the door . . . and found little more than barren shelves. There was nary a book to be had.
Suddenly her special books were nothing of the sort. When I inquired as to their whereabouts she feigned ignorance. Oh, those old books? She said. I believe I boxed those up some time ago. They may be somewhere around here, but I can’t really say for sure.
So you see, at the moment I could have been introduced to a lifelong love affair with the romance novel, I was introduced, instead, to intrigue. Guess you might say that was the start of a lifelong love affair with a good mystery . . .