Romance and Garlic

Inspired by my recent success with a few YA books that I normally wouldn't have ever picked up (read: romance), I decided to test the waters even further outside of my comfort zone (mixed metaphor?  Sorry, if so).  I grabbed two books from that library, ensuring that they had a) pretty covers and b) romance.  I can do this romance thing, right?

Well, you see ...

Perhaps romance is a bit like garlic.  Delicious when cooked properly and added in the correct proportion, but overpoweringly sickening when eaten in abundance.  Let me give you an example.

My grandfather, who was capable of many things, including building a house when not an actual carpenter, navigating through life with only one working eye, and eating literally anything and everything you can think of, once made an uncomfortable mistake with garlic.  My grandpa was the kind of person who listened to radio at night, and evidently on these radio shows, which are aimed at freaking out the elderly or scamming them, they dispense health advice.  One night, the radio advised persons with chronic heart problems (I've got it from both sides of the family--this isn't going to end well, I know) to eat a clove of garlic a day.

I have to give Grandpa props; he was trying to be proactive about his health.  So, when making soup the next day, he tossed in an entire bulb of garlic.  And then he ate it.  And then he called my mother, asking, in a pained voice, how big a clove was.  I remember this conversation as a little kid:

Mom: "Dad!  How much garlic did you eat?"

Grandpa: "Well, I thought a clove was the whole thing, so I tossed it in the soup."

Mom: "You ate an entire BULB of garlic?  A clove is just one piece!  Besides, why are you eating garlic?

Grandpa: "Well, they said on the radio that garlic was good for your heart, so I figured I'd take some."

Mom:  "I could get you some of those Garlique pills if you want to take that!"

Grandpa: "I didn't want to bother you."

The point is, besides that if you have Eastern European grandparents, they are simultaneously stubborn and skilled at using the guilt complex, that even my grandpa's iron-clad stomach could not handle a bulb of garlic, no matter how good for his heart it might have been.

And so it goes with romance.  Perhaps I'll feel differently as I get older, but right now, my taste in books prefers something seasoned with love, not drowning in it.  Some authors have the romance perfectly balanced, others minimize it so that it goes down like a nice, no-feels-necessary capsule of love.  I can handle that.  Now I just need to find more books that suit my fussy romance palate.


  1. Chuckle! Thanks for the story about your Grandad! Though when I read the title of your post I thought it might be about vampire romance. Which is something I have never been able to handle, myself. Urk, the thought of cuddling someone who's technically dead and cold with it doesn't appeal to me at all.

    But at least there's something else. Most women who read this stuff do it as a switch-off-your-brain activity when tired and unable to focus for a while. More like a mug of hot chocolate after a long day than a bulb of garlic. A bit sweet, maybe but a comfort. My sister's best friend, a highly intelligent psychologist, used to read romances at one stage and introduced my sister to it. After reading a pile of Mills and Boons, my sister told me "the" story, saying there was only one story among the lot of them, adding, "And now you can write one, because I've told you the story of all of them."

    When the girls at my school ask for romance, I give them one of the romantic comedies of Lili Wilkinson, a local YA novelist who writes silly but fun teen romances - perhaps you have one in your library you could try? They're romances, yes, but over the top ones. You could never study them in class, but they're intelligent as well as fun. The latest one features a romance between the school "bad boy" who isn't really bad and a girl who's passionate about the environment, and the two of them doing some guerrilla gardening by night(she's hopeless at gardening, but he has learned how from his grandmother).

    1. No vampires in this batch. I prefer my vampires Stephen King-style.

      Yeah, the very appeal of most romance series is that we know what is going to happen, and it de-stresses us. For some reason I love older love stories, like from the 1800s, but today I'm like hmmm...

      I did read all of the Princess Diaries books (swoon!) and I loved Honey Baby Sweetheart, so maybe I just need a specific type of romance. I have a bunch of Jennifer E. Smith books on my TBR, mostly because of the cover art!

      I am picturing guerrilla gardening and it sounds fantastic!

    2. Oh, guerrilla gardening is real, as is guerrilla knitting and such. Guerrilla knitters wind their creations around trees and light poles and such, to make them pretty. Likewise, guerrilla gardening means you sneak into a public spot that's being wasted, when no one is there and make it look nicer by planting things there. The novel I mentioned is called Green Valentine and I do recommend it.

      Sounds like you've outgrown the kind of romances you read in your teens. That's absolutely fine, as long as you remember - and I know you do - that the kids haven't outgrown it yet. ;-)

    3. We call it yarn bombing here, which I've always found to be an uncomfortable name, to say the least.

      Ah, I have such fond memories of those romances, though! I recommend them to teens all the time (also Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, which is soooo hilarious!). I take extra care to know my romances since it's not a genre that I follow very closely. :)


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