Spotlighting Julie Garwood (who has the crappiest website ever) has really brought back some wonderful memories for me. While there are many authors I adore Julie Garwood holds the number one spot because she’s the one who started my romance addition.
It all started back in 2002. Prior to that I’d read a few romances, but mostly I read mystery and horror. I didn’t have anything against romance, I just didn’t think about reading it. I had my preferred genre and rarely branched away from it. My mom changed all that.
She’d gone on a road trip with my grandparents – who are huge lovers of all things audiobook – and started listening to Killjoy by Julie Garwood. They made it back home before it was finished and she brought it in with her and grabbed her disc-man (hey, it was back in the day before ipods) and finished listening to it that night. I’d never seen her so intent on something before. She’d get downright pissy if one of us tried to talk to her. When she finished it she shoved both the disc-man and the set of CDs at me and told me I had to listen to it.
So I did. And I loved it. (Later I came to realize that Killjoy wasn’t nearly as good as her previous contemporary releases, and in fact sucked compared to her her historicals, but at the time I didn’t know any better)
In the meantime, Mom went to the library and realized that Garwood had a huge backlist. She grabbed the first one she saw (unlike me mom only ever took one book out from the library at a time), brought it home, devoured it and shoved it at me. It was The Gift. From there she and I went on a Garwood binge. Within two weeks I’d read every book my library had by her..and I wanted more.
I went online searching for a list of her books and found her message board at Simon&Schuster. While many of you got your start at AAR, I got mine at the JGBB. Her message board opened a whole new world to me. I didn’t start posting right away, but lurked around, getting book recommendations and a feel for the people there. I also went on a historical romance glom during this time. I started by picking up books at the library based on recommendations at the JGBB. Lisa Kleypas, Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught. Then I started grabbing books off the shelves at Wal-Mart and the grocery store. Hannah Howell, Joanna Lyndsay, Kat Martin. I developed an almost unhealthy obsession with Avon historical romance.
After several months of lurking, I finally worked up the courage to post something at the JGBB. I remember being so nervous before I hit that “post” button. I was immediately welcomed into the fold, however, and it wasn’t long before my shyness disappeared and I became one of the community. I met some amazing people there, who soon turned into some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Some of the you know: Casee, Rowena, Grace, Nikki, Daphne. Others I keep in touch with now via Facebook and email.
From them I received more recommendations, this time in paranormal romance: Christine Feehan (I remember Casee sending me the first 4 Dark Series books and telling me I had to read them), Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward. From there I made the jump to contemporary romance: Susan Andersen, Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lucy Monroe, Linda Howard.
These were women from all over the world, from different religious/ethnic backgrounds, from all classes and walks of life. And yet we were all joined by one common denominator: Our love of reading romance.
Eventually I moved on from the JGBB. For awhile I moderated another message board, one Rowena and I created. Then I made the jump into blogging..again with Rowena (are you seeing a pattern here?). Along the way I nurtured my romance addiction, and developed another addiction to the romance community.
And it all started with one Julie Garwood audiobook.