I read my first romance book in middle school. I checked Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret out from the library no less than a dozen times in sixth grade. I was enthralled and scandalized by the kissing in the closet scene! Then, my mother gave me another book by Judy Blume. Forever.
My mother, ever the teacher, handed it to me the summer before tenth grade with the words, “We’ll talk about it when you’re finished.” I read it in one day. For those of you who haven’t read the book, it’s a great story about a teenage girl’s first time. After I finished the book, my mother asked, “What did you learn?” I said, “I learned that if you really love someone, it’s okay to have sex.” My mother said, “No, you learned you should wait until after marriage.” The fight that day was epic and in the end, my mother didn’t try to instruct me with books after that. Now, as adults, we still laugh whenever that story is told!
Of course, when I look back, I realize both my parents were instrumental in guiding my future career as a romance writer. My father was a HUGE fan of romance books (and shhh…even the erotic ones). I stealthily lifted his copies of Jackie Collins’ Lucky Santangelo books all the time. He caught me reading one once and after the initial shock wore off, he simply said, “Don’t let your mother catch you with that.”