Around four to five years ago, my aunt called my mom to let her know that her neighbor was moving and had given her a box of books. Knowing that I loved to read, she gave them to me.
My aunt, who’s not a reader, didn’t realize that the majority of the books in the box were romances (and by that I mean Harlequin romances), and neither did my mom. Now, I could have let my mom know about them since I was only 14 or 15 at the time. But I was curious. I had just taken Sex Ed at school, and the Talk that my mom gave me was…odd to say the least. I was—am—a hormonal teenager who wanted to find out more about it without asking my mom or teacher because back then I was embarrassed.
The covers were “repulsive,” “raunchy,” and “inappropriate,” (at least they would have been called that had my mom seen them) but they still wanted to read them. Luckily—or conveniently—we had just come from the library so I had my library bag with me, not even halfway full, and it was nighttime so the inside of the van was dark. As we were driving home, I kept reaching towards the middle row (I was sitting in the last row, like I always do), getting one or two books at a time, rapidly—and quietly—shoving them into the bag. When I was reaching for the last four, we stopped at a red light, and a truck came towards us, honking its horn and illuminating the van. I almost had a heart attack right then and there; I was so sure that I had gotten caught when I saw my dad looking at me through the rear view mirror.
Groundings, lectures, and reading the Bible over and over again: those were the punishments that came to my mind. I knew that I would never hear the end of it. But my dad just chuckled at my expression and said, “Can’t wait to read those books, huh? Don’t worry, we’re almost home.” I couldn’t believe it; he hadn’t noticed! I grabbed the rest of the romances and shoved them into my bag. During the ride home, my leg kept shaking from my nervousness. When we arrived, neither of my parents noticed that the box was missing a couple of books. I had luck on my side.
My bag was overflowing, tearing at the bottom. Would the books fall out as I tried to sneak them in room? I kept wondering, nervous that someone would take one look at my face and see what I was trying to do. I took off my jacket and wrapped it around the bag, similarly to how you wrap a baby in a blanket, and carried it inside.
“Let’s take a look at your new books,” my mom said as soon as we came in through the door. She saw the lump that I was carrying, but only raised her right eyebrow and didn’t say anything.
“Um…let me just go change into some more comfortable clothing, okay?” I didn’t even wait for her reply, just ran up the stairs to my room, where I closed the door behind me, and let out a sigh of relief.
I hid them in a corner of my room, under a mountain of shoes, and they remain hidden there ‘til this day. I devoured all twenty five romances in five days, reading five each night for five days straight. I stayed up ‘til 3 AM reading them and falling asleep in class the next day, but I didn’t care—I was hooked. I’ve re-read them countless of times to keep my hunger for romances at bay. It wasn’t until a year ago that I started to buy e-books or download them for free (B&N, Amazon, eHarlequin—all free legal downloads, mmkay?). I’m a romance junkie and I’m not ashamed of that.