Monday, August 20, 2012

My First Taste

If you are the parent of young children, you mark the end of the summer season with your offspring's return to school. I am no different. Tomorrow is the big day. And not just because my kids return to school, but because my youngest starts all-day kindergarten.

I'm free! After nine years of staying at home with my children, I'm free. And ready to devote all that extra time to my writing. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I am reposting a blog I wrote about my introduction into the world of reading romance.


When I was 11 years old, my parents opened a BBQ and Seafood restaurant. I worked there every afternoon after school and made $35 a week. This was the first time I made any "real" money on my own and I knew exactly how I was going to spend it: gummy bears and books.

There was a new bookstore in town and I begged my dad to take me. With my first paycheck I bought a Nancy Drew book. Not the Nancy Drew I grew up reading (in hardcover solving the "Secret in the Old Attic.") But a new Nancy in the Nancy Drew Files. I bought the first one, "Secrets Can Kill." For the first time, Nancy was on the cover with **gasp** a boy instead of a clue. Nancy was a teenager who dated and used her ballet technique to fight bad guys!

I cruised along for a few months, happy on the high Nancy gave me. I got a little bit of mystery, a little bit of teenage love. It was all good. And then my parents hired a new waitress for the restaurant, Angie. Angie was pretty, funny and probably the star of every party she attended. She acted like a grown-up and was the coolest girl I knew.

One afternoon, Angie sidled up to me, a purple and white paperback in her hand.

"Hey Tracey," she cooed. "Whatcha doin?"

"Reading." Angie was always nice to me even though it was clear we were from two different worlds: Cheerleaderville (her) and the Nerdverse (me).

"I brought this for you. Thought you might like it." She casually tossed me the book and I watched as it slid down the counter to settle before me.

The first thing I noticed was the man and woman embracing on the cover. Nancy was usually next to a boy, but they weren't touching. And this wasn't a boy, it was a man, baby, yeah!-- with a mustache and everything. It was a Silhouette Romance, the words in white and cursive.

I immediately set aside my Sweet Valley High and began the first chapter. I was introduced to the characters and some of their issues which, at the time, were a little over my head. A few chapters in, I hit my first intimate scene.

There was kissing with tongue! And he **gulp** circled her nipple and then he **whispers** got hard!

Holy cow! I couldn't believe I was allowed to read this stuff. (I probably wasn't but I wasn't about to check.) And to top it all off, they lived happily ever after. (Just what a teenage girl wants to hear- give it up to the boy and he'll love you forever.) When I closed that first book, I needed another right away. I'd had my first taste. And I was hooked.

Like most addicts (I know this from movies, not personally) I quickly outgrew my first dealer. Angie was able to provide me a few more, but she was small-time. She told me about this weekly flea market and even mentioned to my stepmom that she might find some great antiques there. That Saturday morning, my stepmom found great deals. And I found dealers vendors who sold older romance novels for twenty-five cents a book! Good-bye $35. I bought as many books as I could carry and the following week I brought my backpack so I could purchase even more.

I read on the bus to and from school. I hid books in my textbooks and read during lectures. I sometimes skipped lunch and read in the library. In between taking orders at the restaurant, my nose was stuck in a book. And on the third Sunday of each month, when I ushered in church and could sit away from my family, I hid a book in the hymnal and read during the sermon.

Although the addiction had me hard, I knew there was more to my life. Even at 11, things were expected of me. I was going to graduate high school, go to college, attend medical school and become a pediatrician. (I changed course along the way--it became law school and public defender.) I would burn out at the rate I was going. I had to scale back. I became a functioning addict. In fact, before launching my website, most people in my life probably had no idea how important romance novels were to me.

Today, I'm finally proud to stand up and proclaim, "My name is Tracey I'm addicted to romance novels."

I don't want help; I don't think it's a problem. I want to wallow in it. And try to hook as many people as possible.

How were you introduced to your drug genre of choice?

Tracey Livesay is the author of sexy, contemporary romance novels with alpha males and smart females. You can find her at her other blog "Mimosas @ Midnight", on Twitter @tlivesay, and on Facebook at Tracey LivesayAuthor. You can read her column, Fictionistas, every 3rd Monday of the month.
Tracey Livesay: your destination for True Love... in black & white.


  1. Hi Tracey! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Growing up the difference between my sister and I was that while she used her allowance and babysitting money to buy clothes, I used all my hard earned change to buy books. I read the hardback Nancy Drews, too, though I never heard about the Nancy Drew Files. But I think my first romances were Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer. I devoured those. Then moved on to Phyllis Whitney, Rosemary Rogers, etc. Enjoy your "free" time, though I know it's never going to be as free as you wish.

    1. You're right, Denise. I've loved the free time, but it doesn't stay free for long! It's already been allocated for other things.

      I couldn't think of anything better to spend my money on than books. I miss all the time I used to spend reading.

  2. My mother, who is a hard-core user -- um, reader -- herself, introduced me to romance novels. I think she tried to convince me it was okay to do -- sorry, read -- one every once in a while, but I never really got into it. I was a voracious reader of almost everything else; I just wasn't about romance.

    Then I found myself alone at a very dark place in my life: law school.

    Mom sent me a shoebox with some hot chocolate mix, a scented candle, and two romance novels, and I've had a problem ever since. Mom has escalated to ebooks now, so she doesn't have to wait for her fix, and now I'm cooking romance novels at my house. Both of us also deny we have a problem. :)

    Denise, my mom gave me a Rosemary Rogers at about the same time she gave me Helen Gurley Brown's book. Good times, good times!

    1. LOL; I'm glad certain "agencies" didn't know about your mother. :-)
      "Cooking romance novels" at your house. Sounds like a Breaking Bad spin-off.

  3. I think I was introduced to much of my "fun" reading material while babysitting. One of my customers had a giant bookshelf with all sorts of popular novels, and I wasn't shy about looking through them during my hours of solitude (after my charges were fast asleep). I remember vividly the first intensely sexual scene I ever read (well, at least it was intense to my 14-year-old psyche). It was Mario Puzo's "The Godfather," and when I picked the book up, it fell open to the scene where Sonny is, uh...getting to know one of his wedding guests, in the biblical sense. I then borrowed the book from the library and showed the page to my older sister who was horrified. (To this day, our tastes remain divergent!) Alas the rest of the book didn't hold the same interest for me (never was one much for gangster politics), but I soon after discovered Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love, and I haven't been without romance since.

    1. There is something titillating about reading your first sex scene. When it happens in a book that doesn't interest you (for me, a Ken Follett book), it's purely about the sex. But when it's put in a story with a focus on love and the relationship... wow, your life changes forever. :-)