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Three Hundred Romance Novels


Thirty-something years ago, a lady who worked across the hall from me, handed me a well-worn paperback.  “It reminded me of you,” she said.  I didn’t know what that meant so I just took it and thanked her.  “I want it back when you finish.” I promised her that I would.
It must have been a Friday because I remember reading it straight through and returning it right away.  We didn’t discuss the book’s plot since it was about a haggard, single mother of three who falls in love with the cutie-pie next door.  He turns out to be the husband and father she and her children deserve.  I was a haggard mother of three, married to a man who acted single. There was no cutie-pie next door willing to rescue me.  On the contrary, the neighbors next door rented a room to a weirdo who waited for me to go outside so he could peek at me from behind the ligustrums.  
But one could wish.
My experience with romance novels was limited. It dated back to when I was an adolescent and I read my mother’s copy of Gone with the Wind and a risqué novel she kept hidden from us kids in her bedside table, so when my coworker asked if I liked the book, I told her I was thoroughly delighted by the genre. She rattled off the names of three authors she thought I would like and I wrote them down, promising to read more. 
That was thirty-something years ago and three hundred romance novels. I wish I could remember the title or the author of that first book.  I would love to have a copy of it for my library.
I wish I was still in touch with the coworker. I would like to thank her for introducing me to world of women’s fiction. It has been my companion all these years.  

As for the cutie-pie next door, I married someone very much like him.  He turned out to be the husband and step-father me and my children deserve. 

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