So many mystery writers do a great job of adding a little romance into their stories. As came up in one of the panels I was on at the Virginia Festival of the Book, readers love those relationships. I like them, too. In the my next book, SCRAPBOOK OF SHADOWS, there are some surprising new romances. But if you are looking for that kind of romance in a mystery, you should definitely steer clear of my first book, SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS. Most of the women in my book are married and more of the focus is on the women and the relationships between them, rather than their marriages, although that does sneak in from time to time.
It’s that “sneaking” that has gone over a particular reviewer’s head. (And while I don’t respond to most negative reviews, I felt that I should address this issue.) This reviewer said my book wasn’t a cozy mystery because there was no romance. A lot of cozies DO have romances, but if it’s a prerequisite, it has completely escaped my study of the genre—as well as my editor’s. That said, there IS a little bit of romance in my book. It just happens to be between married people. Imagine that.
Annie and Mike Chamovitz have obstacles to overcome in their relationship because they have money problems and they have two toddler boys. Parenting can wreak havoc on relationships. Annie and Mike find time for each other—even after their evening is interrupted by a child who needs to be rocked to sleep, for example. Mike is still waiting for Annie in their bed when she returns, tired, but still wanting her husband.
This is the real stuff.
It’s also in the memories they’ve built as a couple, the way he told her when they dated: “We are about so much more than sex.”
It’s also in the way he not only ignites her body, but also her mind, making her want to be more.
It’s also about the way she pours herself into making his favorite spaghetti sauce, preening over it just to make sure it’s good enough for the man she loves.
It’s also about the way in which he calms her when she almost loses her temper with the boys and tells her that she should get out of the house by herself.
And the way he manages his work schedule so that she can work on her articles.
But it’s also about the little bumps that they have in their marriage. She has agreed to stay at home with the boys and give up her journalism. Yet, she finds herself pulled back in. Mike grapples with this, tries to support her, yet isn’t happy about it.
They find their way in the muddle of their lives—standing beside one another through the money struggles and the daily weariness.
Once again, this is real stuff. This is what the years of dating, hearts and flowers, and passionate embraces gets you. This is what we all want. This is a real happy ever after. Even with the messes and joys of parenthood, the struggle to find time as a couple, and the wondering if bills will get paid, there is love and yes, a bit of romance.
So while when it comes to reading, I will agree that some things are in the eye of the beholder, but this one thing is not. Look again. Readjust your glasses. You will find not only romance, but also love.