Sometime during 1989, I picked up a copy of Romantic Times at the local independent bookstore, when we still had a local independent bookstore here, because I distinctly remember that was where I first read a preview of The Bride by Julie Garwood. So, I did something very out-of-character and found that book. I say it was out-of-character because before that I didn’t like to read historicals. The Bride was not only my first book by Garwood but the first historical romance I ever remember reading and actually enjoying.
I loved it and the rest as they say is history.
I remember reading an interview with Julie Garwood on AAR where she talks about not even realizing her first romance, Gentle Warrior, 1985, was a romance when she wrote it. I believe her because when I read The Bride, I realized I was reading something very different. It so didn’t fit the mold of the books around it on the shelves.
Don’t misunderstand. Many of the elements in her historical romances were also present in most of the romances published all around her at that time. So, what was different?
Attitude. Plain and simple.
It always comes down to simple tweaks in attitude to me. It isn’t the big stuff but the little things that matter to me. People don’t always believe me when I say that but think about it. Action, of all kinds, is something that’s going to be in all stories because we all do it. We’re always going to do it. Good, bad or otherwise. Attitudes, though, the reasons why we do things, those change with the times. You can dress them up and give them fancy names, but it still comes down to attitudes that show through in the stories.
Readers do notice the small distinctions, too. I honestly believe those are what make or break comfort zones for them.
Garwood didn’t know romance heroes were supposed to be jerks and so she didn’t write them that way. The publishers let them slide through and so-called cuddly “alpha” heroes were born in the romance novel and not only that but they were popular.
Even better. 😉
Okay, granted, she probably wasn’t the only one writing them but she was the one I found first and this is my story. So, there.
Oh, I was supposed to say something about the sex in the books, too, wasn’t I? Hmmm, I got nothing. It’s not that there wasn’t any sex in Garwood’s books because there were full-fledged love scenes in her books, sure. Quite hot ones, actually, in a mildly graphic way, I suppose. It’s just that the sexual content isn’t what stands out to me about Garwood’s books.
With Garwood, it’s her heroes that one remembers. Period. ‘Nuff said. 😀