Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

A Debut Novel for Valentine’s Day

This post originally appeared on Just Contemporary Romance, in February 2014.

I am a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I know many people who complain about it, and call it the ‘Hallmark holiday’, but I really like that in our cynical culture we have a day devoted to romance and love. When I was younger, and single, I didn’t get depressed on Valentine’s Day because even if I didn’t happen to have a special someone in my life on that particular day, I still indulged in romance. I watched romantic movies, listened to love songs and (yes, of course!) read romance novels.

So how fitting that me, the incurable romantic, gets to have her first book come out in February?

Front Cover, ARtK avatar

A Ranch to Keep is the first romance novel I ever tried to write. So when I started, I figured I’d better do some thinking about what types of situations actually seem romantic to me. What made me want to go back and read certain books again and again? Why have I seen movies like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca and Notting Hill so many times? I’m not a huge fan of all things Twilight, but there’s a scene in the movie where the hero, Edward, finally blurts out to Bella, in this tortured way, “I feel…very protective of you.” It’s just this tiny moment – so what about that seemed so incredibly romantic that I remember it clearly years later?

After assembling all kinds of memories and ideas about what seemed romantic to me, I started writing my book. And I quickly learned that romance is very personal and subjective – even for fictional characters! I may think Edward Cullen’s protectiveness in Twilight is romantic, but my extremely independent heroine, Samantha, hates it when Jack, the hero of my book, gets protective. It makes her crazy every time! Instead, it’s the little moments that draw her to Jack. She likes how his hands easily buckle a horse’s halter, or the way he walks so casually over the wet, uneven boulders of a creek bed. She likes the way he teases her to lighten up a situation. He’s capable and funny and that feels romantic to her.

So what feels romantic to you? Maybe it’s not the traditional Valentine’s dinner and roses. Maybe it’s a walk on the beach with the one you love, or curling up in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a game of Scrabble. This Valentine’s day, I encourage you to make your celebration of love a true celebration of your kind of love.

And if you happen to be single these days, don’t forget that you can still celebrate love and romance on Valentine’s Day. How about taking yourself for that walk on the beach? Or, pour yourself a glass of wine, treat yourself to some really delicious chocolate and read a good romance novel!

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