Welcome to the Money, Honey Blog tour, in which author Susan Sey celebrates the July 6 release of her debut novel by counting down the Top Ten Most Common Reactions an ill-groomed stay at home mom receives when confessing her secret career as a romance novelist.
Hello, Romance Junkies! Thanks so much for having me today. I’m so happy to be here because I’m dying to discuss Response #7 on my list: “Oh, romance. When are you going to write a REAL book?”
(If you’re all a-flutter to know what the other nine responses are, feel free to visit susansey.com for the details.)
Now then. Regarding romance novels as less than real books. I’ll admit, most people don’t say this one to my face. Not on purpose, anyway. It would be terribly rude. But the truth comes out eventually. Or at least accidentally. Here’s my favorite example:
I went to Williamsburg a few years ago with my mom. (Have you been there? Oh my gosh, if you haven’t been, GO. You’ll be ready to join the Revolutionary Army by day two, guaranteed.)
Anyway, we were traipsing down the green toward the Governor’s Mansion, me in my new colonial straw hat with the saucy pink bow, Mom with an eagle eye out for the historical re-enactor playing Patrick Henry. (We had sort of a crush. Don’t tell my dad.) I remarked to my mother as we walked how being in a place like Williamsburg made me want to write a historical. She literally stopped in her tracks, clasped her hands together and beamed at me. I stopped, too, startled. I backtracked over the recent conversation but couldn’t find anything that might produce a response of this magnitude.
“Oh, honey,” she said. “I knew you couldn’t write romance forever. A historical!”
We gazed at one another for a moment, her thrilled, me baffled.
“Mom,” I said finally. “I meant a historical romance. Not historical fiction.”
“Oh.” Mortified, she went back to scanning the horizon for Patrick Henry. “Set here in Williamsburg? How wonderful!”
Now let’s be clear on this. My mom is endlessly proud of me. She tells everybody she meets about my novel & has all her friends lined up to buy a copy the instant it hits the shelves. Nobody is prouder of me or more supportive. But here, in an accidentally candid moment, she let it slip: she doesn’t think romance is worthy of me. She thinks I can—or should—do better.
The implication, of course, is that other genres—mysteries, thrillers, even sci fi, darling!– are somehow more worthy or important than romance. Now I’ll grant you, solving murders or saving the world from nuclear holocaust or spinning a tale of intrigue in the court of King Henry VIII requires a larger stage than a simple love story. But as we romance readers know, size isn’t everything.
Yeah, okay. Falling in love isn’t always flashy. The fate of nations don’t rest on it, it probably won’t solve a murder or stave off nuclear war. But love—the real deal—takes immense courage. It requires utter vulnerability & brutal honesty. And love, if you do it right, creates families out of strangers. It transforms sex from an energetic workout into something transcendent. It connects you to another human being and makes you bigger, better than you are. To me, that’s magic, pure and simple. What could be more important?
Now Money, Honey’s Liz and Patrick both come from families broken beyond recognition. The best they can say about their childhoods is that they survived, & neither has much use for love or the vulnerability it requires. But when the universe presents you with the person you were made for, who was made for you? Yeah, it’s tough to argue your way out of it. Not that they don’t try. Check out the excerpt below to see them giving it their best shot.
“Listen, I get it, all right?” She eased off the edge of the conference table where she’d almost let him do any number of ill-advised things to her person and crossed her limp arms to keep them from flailing around like beached fish. “I know you’re pissed about this. About cooperating with an FBI investigation, especially now that you’re no longer obligated to even be civil to us, let alone work for us. And then I was a colossal bitch to you in front of God and everybody. I’m sorry about those things, Patrick. I really am.”
“I know you want to punish me, to keep me off balance, but purposely injecting a”—she groped for a word; it was hard with her hands tucked safely into her elbows—“a sexual note into our relationship is not only stupid, it’s bad business. No matter what you think of me personally, we’re colleagues of a sort, okay? We can work this out like grown-ups, so knock it off, will you?”
He took a step toward her, and she took a hasty step back only to meet up with the edge of the table again. He reached for her, and everything in her entire being went hot and liquid with delicious anticipation. Good Lord, was he going to kiss her? She closed her eyes briefly, whether for strength or just to enjoy it, she wasn’t sure. But he only smoothed her lapels, laid his hands on her shoulders and was looking right into her eyes when she opened them.
“I’m not doing anything, Liz,” he said. She snorted and tried to shove past him, but he held her with an easy strength that had her eyes widening and her knees weakening again. He put his mouth very near her ear and she tried hard not to breathe because she didn’t want the smell of him hanging around her brain doing stupid things. “I’ve always been attracted to you,” he said. “A feeling you’ve returned, whether you knew it or not. I just clued you in, that’s all.”
He stepped back while she gaped at him, then smiled at her as if he hadn’t just kicked the shit out of her reality. He flicked her hair back over her shoulder and said, “Don’t look so surprised, darling. Everything evolves. You’ll learn. Just keep that badge nice and close.”
“I don’t believe you,” she said, but Patrick only gazed at her with fond amusement. She shrugged, as if he hadn’t just tapped into her most private fear and weakness. “But whatever. If this is what it takes to make you feel better, fine. I’ll . . . deal with it.”
His mouth curved slightly at that. “You have your agenda, I have mine.”
Writing these two prickly, wounded, deserving characters into a happy ending was one of the more rewarding challenges I’ve ever faced. I hope you enjoy their journey as much as I did.
So how about you? What’s your favorite pro-romance argument? What do you say to the people who disparage your favorite genre? We’ll pick five commenters to receive free copies of Money, Honey so get your witty repartee ready!
Can’t wait for luck to deliver your copy? You can find Money, Honey at fine bookstores everywhere: