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Romance Novels Are Comfort Food For The Soul

Kathleen Thometz

Posted on July 28, 2018 15:30

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We all love a Cinderella story, so why not unwind from a tough day with one?

Reading a romance novel is like going to your favorite chain restaurant, be it high end or low; you know you're going to have a consistent, enjoyable and satisfying experience. When I sit down with a book by my favorite romance author, I know that my interlude is going to be entertaining, satisfying and comforting.

So it's no surprise to me that romance novel sales have gone up since Donald Trump was elected. Women crave security and a familiarity that the current administration doesn't give them. I've been re-reading my old favorites at a pretty good clip; I find them a soothing counterbalance to the news.

Comfort is the number one reason why people reread a book. It's like wearing that ratty t-shirt or getting together with old friends. And in case you didn't know it, reading a book lights up the same parts of your brain as watching a movie, playing a video game or living life; that's why they are so enjoyable.

In high school I'd stay up until the wee hours reading Devil's Desire by Laurie McBain. I've kept it for the last forty years and occasionally reread it. Why? Because it's familiar and I liked it back in the day. But #MeToo has changed the way I look at some of the older romances and their brutal treatment of women, so I don't know if I'll read this one again. In response to the Trump presidency and the #MeToo movement, authors are reworking manuscripts to include more enlightened men.

My husband, Frank, who poopoos my romance reading habit, enjoys watching Downton Abby, which I find intriguing because it is a basically a romance novel without any romance. It has the setting, the aristocratic characters, and the fancy house but no passionate lovers.

He's always shocked when I know what's going to happen. When I predicted that the pregnant lady of the house would slip on a bar of soap, while exiting the tub, thus losing the heir who would've allowed the family to keep their ancestral home, my husband was incredulous, "How did you know?" Because I've read a thousand romance novels and although they're not formulaic like The Hardy Boys series, they do follow a "Cinderella" pattern.

While I've always loved romances, I've never understood why, so I reread my favorite one, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, with a critical eye. I like that she always has a simple back-story, and there are no long spells between the main characters' interactions. They're well researched, so the historical parts are interesting and informative.

Kleypas develops her characters and evolves their relationships so smoothly that when you finish, you want to go back and read the first and last chapters sequentially because the transformation is so stunning. These men change, unlike real men, and the women become strong and confident. That evolution and the feeling it evokes is what brings me back to the same author and even the same book again and again.

Kathleen Thometz

Posted on July 28, 2018 15:30

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Source: EW

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