The Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines it in a few different ways. Languages descended from Latin. Feelings associated with love. An affair. A medieval story. A book or movie that deals with love in a sentimental or idealistic way. But my favorite of all the definitions is definition no 4… Romance is – a feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.
THAT is what I experienced as a young teen every time I finished a Barbara Cartland novel. Amazement. A sense of something extraordinary. It is the feeling that frequently flared to life as I systematically devoured every romance in my local public library. Mystery. Excitement. A beautiful escape.
The personal internalization of Romance is not an easy sensation to describe. For me, it is a wildly breathless combination of joy, fear, sadness and wonder. Maybe it is odd to attach these words to the reading of a simple book. Then again, maybe that’s the point. Romance to me was never simple when it was good. I knew I had discovered a particularly wonderful book when I finished that final word and found myself welling with the intense urge to shout, dance and cry.
Now, I realize that Romance novels are not for everyone. Some people cannot see the beauty and freedom of love for love’s sake. They find romance silly or unbelievable or boring!
I never did.
I’ve read other things. Novels that start out well enough with hope and optimism that comes to feel like a sort of trickery when they end in death and tragedy. I spent time delving into literary novels and I learned to appreciate the complexity and loveliness of the English language and the effect that literature can have on society and personal growth.
But always, my heart brought me back to Romance.
And why…? Because I believe in love and happy endings. Love is the reason we thrive through adversity. Happy endings are sought by every human being on the planet. Stories of passion, love and emotional fulfillment make sense to me. I don’t want to read something that leaves me heartbroken or fearful. I want to be lifted and wrapped in a sense of wonder at what can be accomplished through love.
Call me an idealist, a sentimentalist, a romantic. I am all of those things. And quite honestly, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be any other way.