Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Bonnie McCune
Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is the next post in this series.
So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Bonnie McCune, who has some things to say about the question at hand.
Love at first sight. Many of us, at least the very young and very naïve, believe it happens. But whether love occurs with the speed of lightning or following long and complex efforts at a relationship, most agree romantic love exists.
JD Mason, Unsplash
Being humans, our fascination with romance, our expressions of love take many forms, most of them relatively harmless. We might shower gifts of jewelry on our beloved, share preferences in food and wine, proclaim our feelings on social media. We search for examples of love in films, music, art, and enjoy emotions vicariously.
Recently on opposite sides of the globe, however, authorities are intervening on physical demonstrations of attraction. First up, Vietnam, where the Publishing and Printing Department is cracking down on “clichéd, useless, obscene and offensive” works that are “poisoning” the youth. (This same claim has been used off and on in the U.S. and other regions during various censorship battles.) Furthermore, “government needs to regulate an activity related to culture and people’s way of thinking so that it can benefit people”.
If only. If only all of humanity could agree on a method to truly benefit people. Unfortunately, down through the ages, this activity always seems to include punishing, even destroying those who don’t concur with authorities, like Nazis and various religious fundamentalists.
Created by Freepik
I’m afraid that romance, like hunger, seems to be a basic instinct, and fails to obey rules, laws, even parental decrees. Think of Romeo and Juliet. Heck, think of American teens who not infrequently sneak out windows to meet their crushes. Or the teachers and chaperones who rode herd on necking couples at dances years ago.
Romance often benefits from tangible symbols. Over the years, letter sweaters, going-steady class rings, engagement rings, matching tattoos or nose rings are examples. In Paris, star-struck lovers once attached thousands of locks on bridges and railings as symbols of their relationships.
Pedro Kümmel, Unsplash
Some say Asian tourists started the craze, others that a book and film were responsible. In any case, sections of fencing on bridges were crumbling under the weight, posing a safety risk as well as “degradation of property heritage”, not to mention problems associated with graffiti, pickpockets and street vendors. The city now removes them for auction as mementoes.
Other cities face the problem differently. They don’t remove locks. Instead, in Rome, city officials created official spots—steel posts with chains on the bridge—to eliminate damage to the infrastructure. We haven’t had much luck in the USA catching perpetrators who use graffiti to proclaim their desires. Painting over the results helps but has little effect on carvings.
Created by Freepik
I’m not optimistic any activity can control the interest in and demonstration of romance. Humans are nothing if not creative. We’ve been dodging censors for millennia, and finding creative ways to express emotion even longer. However, the attempts at restraint are ever-changing and as entertaining as the many paths of love.
Created by Freepic.diller – Freepik.com
Seems to me the true symbols of love consist of the length of a relationship and the content of it. I’ve never understood how patronizing or abusive actions can be labeled ‘romance’. Romance should be a positive quality. It should enhance the lives of the people involved. External trappings mean little to me.
My final evaluation, whether of a real-life romance or one in books, is…Does this romance bring out the best in the romantic partners? In Never Retreat, my newest novel, there’s no doubt both Raye and Des wind up as better, more caring humans.
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2DE5dW1
Wait, we’re not quite finished!
So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?
Thanks again, Bonnie, for giving us your take on what romance has come to mean to you. Lovely!
Readers, stay tuned for our new exclusive author interview feature when author Suzanne Jefferies visits us on April 3rd! Yay!
Have a great weekend, everyone!