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Friends of the Dade County Library’s Linda Wilson displays a couple of garden-variety bodice-rippin’ romances she and other library volunteers and staffers brought home from the Romance Writers of America convention in Atlanta. But she specifies that romance comes in all flavors, from historical to paranormal and naughty to Amish, and thanks to the generosity of the romance writers, the Friends will have plenty of all the above at their new and used book sale at the library Aug. 13-23.

By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter


“What is your price for a kiss?”

So reads the teaser blurb for one of the hundreds of novels, each pulsing with passion, up for grabs next week at a new and used book sale by the Friends of the Dade County Library. Library staff and volunteers attended Library Day, July 17, of the Romance Writers of America’s weeklong national convention in Atlanta, and they came home with over 3000 donated books hot off the press and, in varying degrees depending upon sub-genre, just hot.

Linda Wilson of the Friends group was one of the Library Day attendees, and she spent a few minutes last week going with the Sentinel through shelves of books with such titles as Surrender to the Earl and The Highlander’s Desire. Ms. Wilson said she personally received 34 free romances, most of which will eventually also end up on the library’s shelves. “There were some people from the other libraries who went, too, but Marshana made the haul,” she said.

She referred to library manager Marshana Sharp, who had providentially arrived at the Atlanta convention in a pickup truck. “She and Debra went, Debra Bradford,” said Ms. Wilson. “They spent the night and the next day loaded Marshana’s truck completely full. We got hundreds and hundreds of free books.”

The books are still being processed and catalogued and their exact number remains fuzzy. Library employee April Tinker referred to them by weight – “a ton” – or volume – “a pallet and a half” – and a volunteer, Sam Jones Wells, by crate: “Each library I took a total of 20 boxes,” she said. 

Thus shall the Sentinel suffice here to quantify the donation as simply: “A hunka hunka burnin’ love” or “a truckload of kisses.”  

In any case, this passel of passion has been shared out among the four libraries in the Cherokee Regional Library, of which Dade’s is a branch. But even so, Dade wound up with multiple copies of the same titles, and, as regular Sentinel readers may already have gleaned, the library is hurting for funds these days: Thus the sale. It will continue from Aug. 13 through 23 during the library’s open days, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Library staffers say they are grateful for the donated books: Romance is a library staple, in demand by a sizeable percentage of patrons. And Ms. Wilson, retired English teacher though she is, says she’s not one of those literary snobs who turn up their noses at it. To those who are, she says: “You’re missing out on a lot of pleasure.”

Furthermore, romance is a category that has always covered a lot of ground, from the exalted narration of the Bronte sisters to the humbler prose of the garden-variety bodice ripper, and these days it has gotten even more diverse. “They have historical, small-town romance, paranormal, suspense,” said Ms. Wilson.

Also, from a cursory glance at the shelves: Western, medical, mystery, literary – one whole series is offshorts of, and sequels to, Jane Eye – and, get this, gustatory. One title the Sentinel observed was Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature and Love.

Some of the books take a tone of coy naughtiness, with covers featuring the predictable hero bursting muscularly out of the predictable white shirt (aphrodisiacally, white shirts are right up there with black eyepatches), and the heroine wearing the predicatable low-cut bodice, suitable for ripping. These tend to be called things like Sins in Scarlet Lace and Wicked As She Wants.  

But l’amour is important to women of all types, ilks and varieties, and no discussion of the genre would be complete without mentioning the religious romance, marked in the library’s permanent collection by a cross on the spine and on the cover, typically, heroines sporting more fabric. There are generic Christian romances and there are denomination-specific romances, including Amish.  

“There were some Mormon ones,” said Ms. Wilson. “I don’t think there were any Muslim ones.” 

The Sentinel found none of the latter, but somehow cannot leave the subject without speculation as to romance in polygamous cultures: “He carried her off into the sunset, and left her with the others”?

But here, by way of consolation, is a quote from one of the Amish romances, when Henry, the hero, on page 200 is no longer able to contain his passion, and finally declares:

“Anna, if you would have me, I would like to court you. When you become Amish.”

Henry, in fact, might well compete with Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy for sheer daring and dash, and the Sentinel is happy to report that his ardor is rewarded. Not to spoil the tension or anything, but: Reader, she marries him!

In any case, Ms. Wilson and the other Friends of the Dade County Library invite readers to stop by any open day from Aug. 13-23 and stock up on reading materials suitable for warming up the long cold nights of winter. She cannot yet say, though, how much the new romances will cost. 

“We need to think what we’re going to charge,” said Ms. Wilson. “These are new books. They’re paperbacks but they’re new, so not like a dollar.”

But what, after all, is the price of a kiss?

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