by guest blogger Jennifer Probst, author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance
I remember I was hanging with my family one afternoon, and we were going around the table asking about our favorite (and least favorite) words. Of course, every time my family gets together there's a lot of food, there's wine, there are laughs, and there's smart talk. We also play a mean game of Scrabble. (I remember one of my best friends' mentioning to me I'd never find Mr. Right unless he was a pizza-delivery guy, since every Friday night I was at my parents' house playing Scrabble!)
So, my brother pipes up with his favorite and says to me, "It's hope."
It kind of took me aback. My brother isn't the touchy-feely type and rarely displays much emotion. When I questioned him further, he said that he's seen miracles in life happen, and some of the truly best actions from human beings all revolve around hope.
I kind of loved his response. I don't think I told him, though--I probably grunted and moved on. But his words always stuck with me because I believe the same thing.
That's why I write romance novels.
I was born to write romance. I was lucky to know by about 7 years old that that was my "true north," my destiny. I smiled and shook my head thousands of times when confronted by many, many people with the question, "When are you going to write a real book?"
I'd always answer, "I have. A dozen of them. Go buy one!"
Romance is the realest type of book you can read, because it focuses on the human condition of my other favorite word: love. And the guaranteed happy ending gives the reader something priceless in this very brutal, painful world we live in.
Why shouldn't we believe in love? In the power of goodness over evil? In the kindness of strangers? In the beautiful chemistry and passion of lovemaking?
Romance novels reflect everything I want to live my life around, and I never apologize for it. I brag about it--along with my husband, who will tell anyone and everyone he meets that his wife writes romance, and he will ask strangers if they like romance novels without even a blush.
Yeah. That's why I married him.
I've always been intrigued by the ruckus romance novels inspire, especially about an ending that leaves a reader uplifted instead of train-wrecked by a death or tragedy. But reading romances has taught me something else that no one really thinks of: We are so focused on the endings, but romance novels are really about happy beginnings.
Remember that feeling when you're first attracted to someone and butterflies jump in your stomach? Remember the first time you realized you were falling in love and were overcome by excitement and terror in equal amounts? Remember that first kiss you replayed in your mind over and over like a delicious secret you couldn't get enough of? Remember that first vow, or your first fight, or your first baby?
It's really about firsts. The ending is just a way for a reader to breathe a sigh of pure satisfaction and happiness. But the reader already knows there's so much in store for the couple: domestic bliss and hell, pain, tragedy, joy, family, turning points, grief. It's all wrapped up in a romance because two people in love become a couple who struggle through this world together.
And that, my lovelies, takes a heck of a lot of hope.
My brother is a doctor now, and he deals with hope every day in the medical field. I deal with hope on the page. And we all need more of it to make this world a more beautiful place.
I write romance, and I shout it to the rooftops. I never hide my paperbacks, and I never fluster when someone asks about my "real" work. I have a master's in English Literature, have been at the top of my game in the business world, and lecture at workshops on writing in all venues.
Let's all hope together for more love in the world, in all formats!
Jennifer Probst's novels, novellas, and ebooks range from sexy contemporary romance to erotica. She lives in upstate New York. For more about this multitalented New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, visit jenniferprobst.com. Her new book is Searching for Beautiful.
It's romance novel week at Maria's Farm Country Kitchen! This week, my mom has let me (Maya Rodale) and my romance-writing friends take over the blog to share personal stories about how these books have transformed our lives. They're best known for the naughty bits, but romance novels have so much to teach and inspire us about love, self acceptance, hope, and HAPPINESS...all ideas I examine in my new book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained, which looks at the secret history of why these books have been scorned, but also why they've been the salvation for millions of women readers.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com