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Pink Books Leave Me Tickled Pink

I've been an avid reader since childhood, reading anything I could get my hands on - Nancy Drew mysteries, the adventures of Pippi Longstocking, my mother's Family Circle magazines, and cereal boxes. I even remember sitting in the corner of a funeral home engrossed in "The House without a Christmas Tree" while my parents paid their respects to a distant relative. I've always prided myself on enjoying a diverse array of books: I love travelogues, biographies, self-help, non-fiction, current fiction, classics, short stories, periodicals, and of course, Pascal's love letters. But despite being an incurable romantic, I could never get interested in romance novels. My mother reads nothing but, and growing up, I had plenty of access to them, but I found them too formulaic to enjoy. In fact, my brothers and I used to play a game where we'd each take one of Mom's Harlequins and see who could find the steamy bodice-ripping scene the fastest - we knew it would always be found mid-chapter, three-fourths of the way through the novel. We howled with laughter as we read scenes aloud in silly, melodramatic "sexy" voices.

My mother’s penchant for books by Barbara Cartland and Nora Roberts is one she shares with many other American women--about 51 million, to be exact. The category "Romance novels" is the largest selling book category in the United Sates, comprising almost 35% of all fiction sold.

The French call romance novels:  "Un roman à l'eau de rose", which literally translates as "a rose-water" or "pink-colored water novel". After all, aren't the stories all fairy tales where life is seen through rose-colored glasses, full of blissfully happy romantic endings? In short, they depict a caricature of "la vie en rose".

Pink seems to be the color of romance;  Barbara Cartland, the "Queen of Romance"  was known for her trademark pink dresses and plumed hats. Yet, when I discovered, Lauren Willig's book, "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation" at my local library, I didn't think her pink had anything to do with a romance novel. Thank goodness. Otherwise, my long-held snobbery toward the genre, may have stopped me from the most enjoyable reading I've discovered in quite some time.

Lauren is not your average romance-writer. She received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and currently works as an associate in litigation at a New York law firm.  She pens her witty, intelligent, suspenseful novels in her spare time. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, The Masque of the Black Tulip, and The Deception of the Emerald Ring follow a modern-day heroine who happens to be a brainy Harvard graduate student finishing her dissertation in London. The heroine, Eloise, follows the exploits of French Revolutionary-era English spies through their adventures in espionage and love.

I'm tickled pink that I can finally add the romance genre to the long list of books I like to read. In fact, I enjoy Lauren Willig's writing so much, not only did I devour all three of her books in less than two weeks, I confess that she has left me eagerly awaiting the release of her fourth novel in January 2008. Best of all, Lauren’s intelligent and sophisticated approach to love stories extends to the gorgeous artwork on her covers. Her books look lovely gracing my nightstand. To learn more about Lauren Willig, or to send her beautiful cover artwork as e-cards, visit http://www.laurenwillig.com/.

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