The book I wish I’d read in college

So I graduated from college a rather long time ago, but time is relative, and I still remember well how I looked, felt, and reacted back then. Without giving away too much of my not-so-sordid history, suffice it to say that in college I was on a mission to get a good education in every way: academically, of course, but also socially in doing everything (and everyone) I wanted to do. Like most college girls, this involved a lot of romantic and sexual disappointments. (Let’s just say that, in my opinion, men are like red wine, not white; you want to enjoy them aged.) Anyway, those many years ago I decided to treat myself after each of the oh-so-common breakups. And my treat was romance novels.

Now, when I read a romance novel, I’m looking for romance, of course. But mostly I’m in the market for sex. At the time, I didn’t know about erotica, or how to find it – oh, poor innocent! – so I was pretty much stuck with the paperback shelf at Barnes & Noble. (Yes, as I said, this was quite some time ago.) Due to the nature of college relationships, I ended up reading quite a few romance novels. But the vast majority of them left me unsatisfied. My complaints:

  1. Not enough sex. Pretty straightforward.
  2. Most of the time, it involved a virginal girl who is gradually subdued by a much more experienced man. Not a bad thing at all, except when it happens again, and again, and again, to the point of the predictable.

Being an even more ardent feminist in college than I am now (and I am still), this infuriated me. Why, I thought, are there no romance novel where the more experienced woman shows the man a thing or two? Why does the virginal girl always get to have all the fun? And why aren’t there more sex scenes?! (In response to that frustration, I started writing erotica. And I still do, so don’t ever let anybody tell you that I don’t use any of what I learned in college! Worth every penny.)

All this to say, after my disappointments with romantic literature as a young woman, I began to write my own. I wanted a story that had the elements of a romance novel, but with a strong and sexually experience heroine, and a story line that, while developing a romance, mostly revolves around sex. I was also something of a fantasy geek at the time, which helped me build a fantastic setting: a historical fantasy universe where the mythical Amazons of ancient Greece did, in fact, exist. The society they built would naturally be centered on women, but how would they reproduce? How would they manage things? How would they defend their lifestyle? And what about love? All these questions were the basis of An Amazon’s Equal.

I wrote it, began to hate it, abandoned it, came back to it years later, finished it, started to like it again, re-read and changed it, and finally decided it was good. You know, the usual writer’s process. But I struggled to find a place for it. It’s not strictly erotica, being a full-length novel. It’s not the typical romance novel, either (Harlequin wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole!). Also, as it was born of the feelings and desires of my college years, it is not the kind of book that would necessarily attract an older audience. So, what is it? I pondered and put the book on ice while I did some more research. Then, by chance, I stumbled across it: New Adult!

New Adult is a fairly new genre focusing on protagonists between the ages of 18-25-ish. The events and situations are meant to appeal to readers in this age bracket, as well; think about yourself in college, and what kinds of books attracted you then. (I’m imaging myself at the 24-hour cafe, drinking far too many chai tea lattes while voraciously finishing the latest book…) Another way to think about it is as Young Adult, but now of legal drinking age. Yes, New Adult Romance is a thing, and this, I discovered to my delight, is where my book belongs.

Another long story to explain my decisions and, I hope, my writing choices for this novel. Although I’m all grown up now (more or less), it’s fun to relive those college days. If you’re in the mood for a sexy stroll down memory lane – or if you’re still in college and in the mood for a fantasy romance that promises lots more than ye olde grocery store bookshelf – I invite you to check it out.

Girls with swords and the guys who love them: good at any age!

An Amazon’s Equal

NEW amazon cover jpg 2

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