Do We Learn Anything from Reading Romance?

I started reading romance when I was in the 8th grade. I have that title still, but not the original book. The book was loaned to me by a friend in English class. It was, So Speaks the Heart, by Johanna Lindsey. I fell in love with romance then. My second book was called, Betray Not My Heart. I can’t remember who wrote this one. It was set during the time of the Inquisition.

Well, of course, I was made fun of for having my nose shoved into these torrid books, with half clad men and women in a passionate embrace on the covers until one day that all changed…

Finals time! Yes, in the eighth grade we had two weeks of final testing for the year. We studied and slaved over our text books and the history portion finally came around. I worked hard, answered every question to the best of my ability. A few days later we got our tests back and to the utter shock of the entire 8th grade class only one person got all four questions correct regarding the Inquisition.

That’s right.

It was me!

When the teacher announced this, those in this particular class all turned and looked at me and asked, “How? We didn’t study it in class.”

With smug satisfaction, I leaned back in my chair, crossed my arms and said, “Betray Not My Heart?” Confused, they only stared at me and so I explained how I had read a romance novel that was based during the time of the Inquisition and that I had learned something while reading my smut novel. Ha! In their faces!

So, it has been my experience that yes…there is something to learn in romance, erotica, love stories, smut novels…whatever you want to call them and I will gladly keep reading and writing them.

What’s your take on the matter? Share with me your favorite book that helped, or moved you somehow. One commenter will win a free download of Bait and Switch.

Please stop by my website at and find out what I have for you to read. If you like tall, dark and deadly vampires check out Eternal Embrace newly released from Linden Bay Romance. to read an excerpt.

Best wishes to all and thanks so much for stopping by.

Ann Lory

Learning from Ann Lory

27 thoughts on “Learning from Ann Lory

  • August 4, 2009 at 4:48 am

    In high school I hated reading.If I could get away with watching the movie version I would.Romeo and juliet for instance.
    Then came along a book called catcher in the Rye. I loved that book.From there Taming of the Shrew.I haven't stopped reading since.
    I've recently started reading historical romance novels.there's always something to learn, writers use actual events and I like that,nice to learn something new.

  • August 4, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Thanks Elaing. Our English teacher played Romeo and Juliet for us after we read the play in class. Yeah, she didn't know about the nude scene. Very funny moment. I'm glad you got bit by the book bug though. It's a wonderful world to escape into.

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:02 am

    In high school our teacher took all of us to the theater to watch Romeo and Juliet. I started reading way before then. I started out reading Johanna Lindsey books, just like you did,Ann

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:04 am

    LOL in Geography class I got caught with a Buck Henry book called Candy…. the sub teacher looked over my shoulder and asked if it was a good book… LOL happened to be a very inappropriate scene… I said yep and he said maybe I should borrow it after you…. well thankfully he didn't…

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:11 am

    I've learned so much from reading romance novels. From Diana Gabaldon, I learned all about how badly the Scots were treated by the English and about Culloden, about medical treatments, etc. From Margaret Moore's A Scoundrel's Kiss, I learned about King Charles' numerous mistresses, even more numerous illegitimate children yet his childless marriage. And that's just the historicals. I've learned a lot of geographically interesting things about places too – contemporary or historical. The flavor of the French Quarter in New Orleans from so many of the books taking place down there – thanks to Sherrilyn Kenyon, Nora Roberts, etc.

    Authors are held accountable for the facts in their books and their fans hold them accountable. (I think this topic ties into that one Robie Madison did – where I mentioned that writers' group I belonged to where the past-president said Romances are written by and for ppl with an eighth grade education. Ann, if you're ever in town, I have someone I want you to meet, LOL. Between the two of us maybe we can convince her otherwise.)

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:26 am

    SAT vocabulary.

    I was reading those thick, half naked covers in fifth grade, learning things my later boyfriends appreciated. As for learning academically, I never understood the American Revolution or the Civil War until I read John Jake's Kent Family Chronicles and North and South.

    I was introduced to the tyranny of Prince John, the impact of the Black Death and Middle Eastern culture shock — all from romance novels. In all honesty, they probably taught me more than all my high school history classes combined.

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Ann, I totally agree. Teen romances sent me delving deeper into any type of historical novels and I learned so much history from that! Great blog post. Thankx for sharing!

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:47 am

    I was raised by an old fashioned lady and no one talked about sex or anything reading books I was not suppose to read, I found out alot of good things. Being shy and not around classmates who KNEW IT ALL I picked up some pointers and did find out sex wasn't such a dirty thing and also learnt that you could be a proper lady. I thank these books from giving me an insight the maybe I would had gone and done some stupid things just to find out what it was all about. When my kids were old enough..they heard life things from me and I never regretted it as they didn't have to go elsewhere and experiment and get in trouble by being dumb. susan L.

  • August 4, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Well, I started off with Mills and Boon.:o) But I learned a lot through reading romances, about good and evil, about human strengths and weaknesses and about love. I have read a romance book on domestic violence which has given me a better insight then the news articles that I read in the media.

  • August 4, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I was such a Lindsay fan. Got my start with her and Kathleen Woodiwiess. Marvelous escapes from the angst of a teenager and from cleaning the house, and five older brothers!

  • August 4, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Woot! Good for you, Ann, and for the writer of those "smut" books 😉

    There is something to learn from all these novels–sometimes it's historical facts or information, but even in those that aren't, they're an encouragement to keep smiling and hoping and loving and living. So I'll happily keep reading this oft maligned genre!

    SEP's Ain't She Sweet is a keeper–Sugar Beth's story is a reminder to keep your head up and to laugh at yourself and that redemption and an HEA *are* possible.

    Thanks for sharing, Ann!

  • August 4, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Oh man, I started reading romances in middle school too. Went right from Sweet Valley High into Johannah Lindsay and Judith McNaught, ect. Thought I was a freak or something; good to know I'm not alone. Not only did I learn a great deal about history but it expanded my vocabulary immeasurably, hehe. To this day I am still one of the few people I know who use the word acquiesence in casual conversation. If I hadn't been such an avid romance reader in school, I doubt I would have gotten a 700 out of 800 on the English part of my SATs. Even tested out of my college English classes!
    Maybe highschools should make historical romances the new English and History textbooks? (just the "clean" parts of course, hehe)

  • August 4, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I can't recall any one book helping me in history class or geogrophy class. I think reading books by any historical writer has helped..and Johanna was one of them. In fact I am reading a book by her as we speak – A Rogue of My Own.. But I think a book that really helped me learn about other cultures was a book I read I think it was maybe in the 3rd or 4th Grade and it was called "Sarah" and it was about a young girl coming of age in the Jewish faith. I did not know about any other relegions save my Anglican. And then books from Belva Plain came into my posession. So yes books have taught me a lot.

  • August 4, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Inez and Lillian made great points about how they expanded their vocabulary – reading of anytime definitely did that for me too. I got an autocredit in a college class because I scored higher than the teachers for my vocabulary where most college students had a grade 7 vocab.

  • August 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I was always the bookworm as a kid, and so young when I got addicted that I couldn't even tell you what book it was. The earliest title I remember was "The Poky Little Puppy."

    But you're dead right that reading fiction gives kids an advantage in school. Which is why–to bring out my favorite hobbyhorse–writers of historical fiction have an obligation to Do. Their. Homework. Readers deserve accurate information, because for a lot of us, history books are dead, dry bones, while historical fiction makes the past live again. And people need to know history, to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking blog!

  • August 4, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I love everyone's comments. It triggers so many other memories for me on my reading timeline. In middle school I started reading Sweet Valley Twins then of course on to Sweet Valley High too, Lillian. Loved those books.

    I think what got me started on the romance path in the 8th grade was I started reading these young adult romances that were in the library (7th greade). Very tame of course. It always had a picture of a woman in from some historical era standing with two men on either side. Each man coming from a very different background. Each book was the title of the herione's name. Emma, Susanna, etc. Do any of you remember those books or know what I'm talking about?

    I used to check those out, and re-check them out. The librarian may have seen where I was going to go from a mile away. LOL! Thanks for sharing about your Sweet Valley addiction too, Lillian. 😀

    Susan – You dare devil. Good for you for finding what you needed. My family was open about sex. I could ask questions of my mom. I'm very grateful for that and do that today with my own kids. It's safe to talk about and it's not a dirty word.

    For those of you that was a Lindsey junkie like I was – I went on Amazon the other day to see what covers they had for some of the books I used to read and had to laugh at the old covers that they had on display versus the new. I'm still a sucker for those passionate embrace covers. Tee hee!

  • August 4, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Like you Ann I have been reading forever and learning stuff from what I've read. I learnt my myths and legends from fiction books as well as most of my history.

    From romance I learnt that men can be faithful and caring even when they don't say the words. I also learnt that life can be full of trials and tribulations on the way to happiness. I learnt that love doesn't always conquer all but it makes the fight more enjoyable with a partner by your side.

    I wouldn't (and couldn't)stop reading and learning for all the money in the world.

  • August 4, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Hi Leah and Ann,

    Wonderful blog Leah and I love the article, Ann.

    I didn't read romance in high school. I'm still trying to figure out what I did do during those tumultuous years — besides study. (fave classes English and French). Guess I'm still a geek.

    Fave romance book? I think I've sold a lot of copies for the husband and wife team who used to write as Laura London. I fell in love with their book Windflower and read it at least once a year. Something in that book resonated with me. Perhaps it was the prose and descriptive writing (a little purplish at times) but I loved the humor and the vivid depictions of the characters. Secondary characters were written so strongly, they could had their own books, especially "Cat". My copy is worn and tattered, barely hanging on, but I can open any page and be swept away.

    How did they do it, I ask myself?

    Congrats on your release, Ann. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Good wishes for lots of sales!
    Keta Diablo

  • August 4, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I have been reading romance for over 50 years. I learned so much about geography(Harlequins) and history from these books.
    I also learned about myths and legends, and history.

  • August 4, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I learn alot from reading romance. It was cool to go into my history class and already have a background because I had read about it in a historical romance. But i always learn something from a romance.
    lexeetoste at

  • August 4, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I had no idea there was a wife and husband writing team, Keta. That is so cool. I love my husband dearly and he says he's going to read one of my books…he still hasn't. He really has a hard time with the whole romance thing, but he still supports me and gets excited over all my happy writing moments. 😀

    I hear you on the geography, Estella. I had not idea there were Carpatian Mountains until Feehan wrote about them. That's just one example of course. 😀

  • August 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Ann and Leah. Ann, what an awesome story!! It is so hard to pick just one book — just reading has been so important to me. I devoured everything — in high school it was Dune, Story of O, Atlas Shrugged, Forever. I went through a huge mystery phase, but I always liked the books that explored relationships the best!

    I have learned so much history from books like Outlander (Leah mentioned), Phillipa Gregory's books, and one recent book that had only a small romance component — Mistress of the Dead. I think one of the great things about these books is they give the reader insight into the lives of women at the time they are set — reading much of history you'd wonder how there were ever next generations based on the lack of women ;-).

    Thanks for the contest!

  • August 4, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Bella – Philippa Gregory! Yes, I'd forgotten about her, but she is teaching a whole new generation about English history, isn't she?

    I forgot another one that was a huge influence on me in high school–The Scarlet Pimpernel. I learned so much about the French revolution from that story, and it solidified my love for the romance genre.

  • August 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm




  • August 5, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Yes, he is HTCHA1. LOL!

    Sorry I went MIA everyone. I got a call in the afternoon that my daughter was running a 102 fever, and I had to take son to ortho appt this morning.

  • August 5, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I didn't start reading romance until…well a couple of years ago. Heck, I didn't read much at all until that time. I didn't really like to read in high school or college…I always felt like if I had to read, I wanted to just read something on my own. Of course that is not exactly how it works.

    My sister gave me a book (not romance) and I loved it, and then I just started branching out. I picked up a romance after my daughter got sick and needed something to get my mind off that for a while. Needless to say, that did the trick! Now I am hooked!

    Amy M

  • August 6, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Okay, sorry I'm stopping by late but I'd like to chime in. Growing up I hated reading. I can't even remember any books that I read in high school. LOL. A few years back, right before the Lord of the Ring movies, I decided to read J.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I so enjoyed The Hobbit that I had to read the other three books. But it was until 2007, I stumbled on my first paranormal romance by Julia Templeton called Return to Me. I fell in love with the genre. Since then I have expanded my reading to include some historical & western romance novels and even some erotica books. I've also been reading urban fantasy books. Now I can't stop reading. I read about 10 books a month. I am hooked on reading.

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