The first romance story I ever remember reading was one of those Women’s Weekly thin paperbacks. It was about forty-five years ago and I don’t recall the title but I do remember thinking it was one of the silliest things I’d ever read (bear in mind that I was about twelve years old at the time.)
I remember that it told a now clichéd story of a young woman who takes a job as a governess for a single father. Of course he is handsome, rugged and wealthy. He is also moody and unpredictable - all the things we look for in a man, right?
Women's Weekly Romance / Etsy
Of course I’m kidding. Most of the romance stories I read in my younger years had a similar make-up. Young, beautiful, innocent woman meets ruggedly handsome, masterful older man and falls in love with him despite the fact that he’s somewhat scary and a whole lot unpredictable.
We were supposed to read these stories and imagine ourselves in the shoes of this naïve young thing doing her best to nurture the troubled man and bring out his sensitive side. Our fantasies were all about being swept up by his rough, manly hands and crushed against his broad frame, while we panted on the verge of passing out from desire.
Unfortunately, these stories did little for me. I guess I've always been a realist and having grown up with a father who was the rugged, moody, unpredictable type, I saw nothing romantic in them at all.
National Film Registry / Wikimedia
The first romance story I fell in love with was an old black and white movie. Again, I can’t recall the name but I do remember that the hero was a sweet, sensitive under-dog and the heroine a strong and confident woman. Because of pressure from her father, she was to marry a man who didn't treat her well. The hero secretly loved her and was too much of a gentleman to intervene. He didn't feel worthy of her.
The whole time I watched this movie I rooted for the poor guy to win her over, which of course he did in the end.
Scene from the Movie Sideways / IMDb
Ever since then, this is the kind of romance story I've been drawn to; the unlikely hero or heroine winning out in the end. Romance stories today are often more slick, faster moving and sexually explicit, but I still prefer the sweet, mild-mannered hero and awkward, fumbling love scenes that are so much more realistic.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What is your favourite kind of romantic story-line?