What? Not every person reads romance, so how on earth could I say there is a romance for every reader? But seriously, I do believe that if you’re a reader, no matter who you are or what you like to read, there is a romance novel for you.

Why? Such a broad statement—always a caution in most writing—but I truly believe in it, and not just because talking about romance novels is the core of my business: Romance stories have saved my sanity, enriched my family relations, taught me to be a better mother, oh, and definitely a better wife; a better daughter and even a better dog owner. Then there’s the list of all the other life skills romance reading has taught me, including being a business owner and manager, a world traveler, and a cook. Unfortunately, the knitting didn’t work out so well. Neither did any other crafting subject, so although I can’t quilt to save my life, I can collect and admire the creative talent of others.

Last night during a Las Vegas taxi ride, I struck up a conversation with the driver, Saundra, a lovely lady who, although she swears she never has met anyone famous in her work, seemed impressed to have a backseat full of two lovely authors, even if they wrote romance. I was in the front seat, so didn’t count, but I think backup singers definitely count as celebrities! Don’t you? So anyway, I asked her what she liked to read. She answered “not romances,” although her sister and mother enjoyed them. Saundra reads books that help her with recovery. So reading romance would definitely be out, since there is nothing there for her.

Au contraire, I replied. There are novels written about addiction and recovery. If you had a romance with a main character involved with recovery, would you give it a chance?

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Side note: I’m staying for the conference at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, so feel it necessary to practice my limited French. Stay with me, please.

In the meantime, I’m wracking my brain for a romance with a character suffering from addiction. As I was on my way back from a panel discussion at the Clark County Library, where one reader brought up the topic of imperfect main characters, I was thinking about the books I love being filled with imperfect heroes and heroines. I do love a fantasy romance, but most people are not at all perfect; introducing a little shock of reality into a book isn’t a bad thing.  

I loved Lynda La Plante’s Cold Blood, which is unfortunately not available in e-book, as I found out that’s the way Saundra reads. It’s not truly a romance, either; it’s a police procedural about an alcoholic ex-cop who finds her way very, very slowly. So I had to think some more and call in my wonderful network of book clubbers. Because I KNOW someone had to publish a book, a true romance, with at least one MAIN character that goes through addiction and recovery.Fatal Mistake

And voila, they came through in less than five minutes! Don’t you love your fellow romance readers? The writer that quickly came to mind was Marie Force, who wrote about a family in New England. The Treading Water series covers a whole gamut of serious relationship and life dramas and the third book, Starting Over, tells Brandon’s story, an alcoholic who goes out of control and ends up in rehab. RECOVERY, I think: 

“In a drunken stupor, Brandon O'Malley has terrorized his brother Aidan's girlfriend, enraging his brother and the rest of his family. Aidan offers Brandon the choice of rehab or jail, and Brandon reluctantly enters treatment. While in rehab, Brandon confronts the lifetime of secrets and resentments that fueled his spiral into alcoholism and these revelations have a major effect on his entire family. When he returns home expecting to resume his supervisory role in the family's construction business, Brandon learns his father has retired and put his younger brother in charge. Brandon is unhappy to be given the job of renovating an apartment building where he loses his heart to an adorable five-year-old tenant named "Mike." After he falls hard for Michaela, Brandon becomes involved with her mother Daphne, who is running from a past that will later test his sobriety and his mettle as a man.”

All of the Treading Water books deal with very serious life issues, everything from a wife in a coma to a father retiring and settling the family business to dealing with a life after a sacrifice is made. The latest in the series, Coming Home (December 2012), gives the next generation their own book and resolves some of the outstanding issues. Marie is a favorite author in our book club for her romantic thrillers featuring Senator Nick Cappuano and his wife, Lieutenant Sam Holland. If you love reading the J.D. Robb thrillers, I can highly recommend giving the Fatal series a try. So if Saundra enjoys Starting Over, I have a plethora of books to recommend, all the way up to Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb). A possible score.

So, I’ll be sending along a copy of Starting Over to Saundra’s kindle and I hope that, as I always do when I recommend a romance, she’ll fall in love with the genre.

Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.