Tag: Blogging Friends

Evolution of a Romance Reader

Posted October 22, 2014 by Holly in Discussions, Promotions | 13 Comments

heart-book-2Holly: Back in the early 2000’s, my life was a mess. I had just gotten out of a bad marriage, moved to a new state and started over. I’m not going to lie, I was in a bad place. My head was a mess. I had no friends. I was starting a new career. I was raising two kids on my own. It wasn’t pretty.

A few months after I moved to California, my mom went on a roadtrip with my grandparents. They love audiobooks and always had one available for their trips, and this was no exception. The book they were listening to was Killjoy by Julie Garwood. My mom came back and had about 4 hours of tape (CD? I can’t remember now which it was) and she holed up in her room to finish it, snapping at any of us who interrupted her. When she was finished she handed it to me and said, “Listen. Now.” My mother, gotta love her.

While I listened to the audiobook, she went to the library and found as many novels by Garwood as she could – most of which were historicals. When I finished the audiobook, she handed me the stack of library books and my life was changed forever. Prior to that, I’d read a few romance novels; mainly Harlequin category romances my friends and I would snicker over in high school, or the occasional romantic suspense. The majority of my reading centered around suspense and horror. Romance was so different. The focus was on the individual relationships, rather than the external actions. Happy endings were guaranteed. Which, for the most part, there were in mystery and horror as well, but this was different. This left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Once I finished glomming Garwood’s backlist, I went in search of other romance novels. I found Hannah Howell’s His Bonnie Bride at my local Target, which I later discovered was a reprint of Amber Flame. I loved that book. It remains one of my favorite Howell’s to this day, partly because it was the first romance novel I discovered on my own, but mainly because it featured the first strong, kickass heroine I’d read (but that’s a post for another day). After glomming Howell’s backlist, I went online to find recommendations for additional authors.

I discovered Simon and Schuster’s author message boards when I did a search for Julie Garwood.  There I found like-minded women who loved reading and romance just as much as I did. They played games, discussed their favorite scenes and characters, and talked about their lives. It wasn’t just a bunch of strangers in a chat room, it was an entire community of readers who looked after one another.

That’s where I met Rowena and Casee. I don’t remember how we first came to talk outside of those message boards, but I do remember feeling like they saved my life. Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. They may not have realized it, but they reminded me that life could be fun and silly, and that women could (and should) support one another. We bonded over Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught and Linda Howard. We swooned over the heroes and complained about the stupid things the heroines did. Then we talked about our lives; shared stories about our kids, our exes, our jobs. Reading romance reminded me that not all relationships were doomed and creating bonds with those women reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

Rowena: I read my first romance novel in January of 1999 and like Holly, my life was a mess. I just graduated from high school and nine months later, I was a mother. I was still a kid and yet I was a mother, too.

I grew up in a large Polynesian family with parents who were pretty religious. We went to Church every Sunday and we had family home evenings every week. I’m one of the youngest in the family bunch so I’m low man on the totem pole, but I looked up to my older siblings. I always wanted to please them. Same with my parents. I was the good girl. I wanted everyone to love me. When I graduated from high school and found out that I was pregnant, I freaked out. I thought my family, being the religious family they are, would disown me or that they’d kill me. I knew that they were disappointed in me, but they didn’t kill me and they didn’t disown me.  They rallied around me and they took care of me and my new baby. Because of that, I wanted to please them even more. I did whatever they told me to do and I kind of lost myself. I spent most of the time tending to my newborn and trying to earn their respect back.

I would later learn that I didn’t need to earn anything back because we were family. Like Lilo said, “Nobody gets left behind” and they all adored my baby. Almost as much as I did. But it was a long time before I learned that lesson.  While I was killing myself trying to please my family, I spent a lot of time at home being the family nanny. I had a lot of time on my hands when everyone was at work. My older sisters read romance novels and I’d see them around the house. I remember one day, I was so bored I picked up the first book that I came across and started reading.

It was Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught.

I started that book and a passion for reading was born. I had to read everything that I could get my hands on and then I had to talk about it with someone. Nobody in my real life shared my love for these books, not even my sisters whose books I was reading. I stumbled upon the Julie Garwood Bulletin Board at S&S and it was there that I met Holly and Casee. It was through that bulletin board and meeting my new book friends that I started to live not only for my family and my baby, but also for myself again.

Before I started reading, I was living my life to please other people but reading romance gave me something that was just for me. I’ve never looked back.


What about you? Do you remember the first romance novel you read? Where and when did you get your start with the online romance community? 

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Blog Pimp: Every Last Page.

Posted July 8, 2010 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

I have a new blog friend y’all!

Her name is Danielle and she runs the blog, Every Last Page. She’s got a few reviews up already and it looks like she’s off to a great start so won’t you be a doll and run over there and show her some love?

Even though I’ve known her all of a few days, she’s extremely nice and she reads a lot of the same books that I read so I’m excited for her in her new blogging adventures. Good luck Danielle sweets and keep the party going…=)


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Author Spotlight: The Journey to Addiction

Posted December 7, 2009 by Holly in Features | 6 Comments

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.

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Don’t Forget To Stop By Breezing Through….

Posted February 6, 2009 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

…because they’ve got an awesome contest going on where you can win your choice of three fabulous books.

The wonderful ladies of Breezing Through are hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Day Contest and you won’t want to miss out so make sure you guys head on over there to win some great books. The contest ends on February 13, 2009 so hurry on over!

Good luck to everyone.

P.S. This is not a Book Binge sponsored contest, we’re just spreading the good word. =)

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