[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Molly Fader guest post on the site today. Take it away Molly!]
It has just occurred to me that the only books I reread are romance novels. I have tons of nonromance novels on my “keeper shelf” but I never take them down and find that dog-eared page, the spot the spine just naturally cracks open because I’ve opened it to that place a dozen times.
My romance rereads tend to be epic in scope—the ENTIRE Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Everything Kati Wilde has ever written. Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband followed immediately by His at Night, only to turn directly to Private Arrangements.
It’s a whole process.
And I’m not rereading for the sexy bits. Though, those are always a good time. I’m rereading for that hit of emotion. That chest-tightening, stomach-curling passage of emotional intensity. The vulnerability of Zadist coming back at the end of Lover Awakened. The cruelty of Duke, the hero in Kati Wilde’s Faking It All, because he knows Olivia, the heroine, is lying to him. And the stinging heartbreak of Bryony in Not Quite a Husband on basically every single page.
Romance has always been a safe place to experience really painful and personal emotions. For some writers it seems that the happily-ever-after must be a challenge, and for the readers to get it, the characters have to suffer for it. Those books are my favorites.
When I first started reading romance, I was an exceedingly awkward girl with a painful crush on my best friend. Romance novels put language to exactly what I was feeling. All that breathless anticipation, the sideways glances, the subtext. The loneliness.
It’s amazing what having her emotions reflected on the page can provide an awkward kid with a crush. Romance novels made me feel not just less alone, but that this awkward stage was going to pass and that someone I loved would undoubtedly love me back.
I would look back at reading romance fondly if I’d left it behind. But I didn’t. Romance has grown up with me. College graduation, my year abroad, negotiating a long-distance relationship and then a marriage that we can’t say wasn’t for immigration purposes. My parents. My brother. Unemployment, first jobs. Pregnancy. Babies. Toddlers. Musical beds. Sleepless nights. Bullying. Teenagers! Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
There was always and without fail a romance novel illuminating something powerful about the experience I was in. Even if it was just hope for an easier tomorrow.
Romance has comforted me and excited me. It has eased my boredom (and let’s not pretend that’s not a HUGE deal in those days at home with a baby) and kept me up nights with its drama. It’s walked me through thorny parenthood problems and made me a better friend. A better wife.
And I could make some winky joke about sex here. But that’s far too easy. And romance deserves so much better.
The romance authors I love are like deep-sea explorers, sending their submersibles down into the murky deep to return with their hands full of a language for things that are all too often considered unimportant. Or trivial. They show me—over and over again—how important nuance and specificity are to describing how we feel so we can understand what we feel.
In my favorite novels the heroines have agency, they like sex, they kick vampire butt and travel back in time, and they are also flawed and human.
They are the heroes of the story. And I don’t think we can overstate how important that is.
In them I see myself, I see my friends and I see the kind of woman I want to be and the kind of relationship I want to have.
Romance novels taught me to expect orgasms. In the really good ones—they taught me how to have them. How revolutionary.
The argument that romance novels are pure fantasy, or they set too high an expectation for woman has never held any water for me. Sure, there are a lot of dukes and redeemed bad guys—but I have always found romance novels to be in many ways more real than other books.
Because romance doesn’t shy away from the things that hurt, it just offers things that heal right along with them.
About the Author:
Molly Fader is an award-winning author of more than forty romance novels under the pen names Molly O’Keefe and M. O’Keefe. She grew up outside Chicago and now lives in Toronto. The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is her first women’s fiction novel and her first novel under the pen name Molly Fader. Visit her at mollyfader.com to learn more.
The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader
When the matriarch’s health begins to decline, three generations of women in a family must come together in their small lakeside hometown and face a life-changing secret from the past. For fans of Robyn Carr and Jill Shalvis.
What drove their family apart just might bring them back together…
It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Ohio hometown along the shores of Lake Erie.
But now, with her mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia that means professional dreams and a happy marriage, for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame—and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and make them stronger than ever.
With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.