Sometimes, I think I write romance because that’s what I love to read. Sometimes, I think I write romance because I’m in love with love and this is my way of falling into it over and over and over again. Sometimes, I don’t even think about why I write romance, the way I don’t think about breathing. Because I just do.
And then something happens to make me remember why. This past weekend, I went to a wedding. A wonderful place to renew one’s firm belief in Happily Ever Afters, right? The perfect setting to clasp your hands, blink your tears, and say “Ahhhh. This makes me feel so good.” The ideal atmosphere to soak up the hope for the future and the joy of lifelong commitment.
And while all of that was palpable in the air in a small north Florida town where my whole family and a few hundred others gathered to celebrate the marriage of Captain Anthony Roffino and Miss Hannah Tedder, it was not the “I do” or the first dance or the best man’s toast that made me remember why I write romance.
It was another moment I experienced that day.
Like most people, I usually turn to the back of the church when “that” music starts. After all, this is the bride’s magical day, her moment of true glory, the walk in white, the float down the aisle on Daddy’s arm, the glorious Cinderella moment that little girls fantasize about and big girls remember fondly. But this time, since it was my dear, darling, sweet, gorgeous nephew getting married and I was on the “groom’s” side, I turned the other way, and I watched Anthony instead.
While the rest of the church let out a collective sigh as the doors opened for the bride, Anthony did just the opposite. His chest, broad from Army Ranger training and decorated with an array of medals, including the Bronze Star he earned in Iraq last year, literally puffed as he sucked in a breath. His eyes glistened with joy, his smile was tentative at first, as though he couldn’t quite believe what he saw, then blinding as the truth hit him. I watched him mouth “Oh my God” to himself and saw him clench his hands as though the thrill that shot through him couldn’t quite be contained.
That look, that moment, that path that took him across the world and through the dangerous streets of Baghdad where he fought for fifteen months in the infantry, all the time dreaming of the day he would be home — whole and healthy — to marry Hannah — that is why I write romance.
And as some icing on the wedding cake, it was a military wedding, so Anthony’s groomsmen, an array of the most breathtaking heroes you’d ever want to write about, formed the canopy of swords as the bride and groom exited the church, each man more scorchingly handsome than the next.
They would be another reason I write romance.
That night, we danced and toasted and feted the young couple for many hours under the stars. We clinked for kisses and captured them on camera, we laughed with our loved ones and teased the teenagers into slow dancing to a few Sinatra tunes. We waved hundreds of sparklers to send the newlyweds through a tunnel of light and off to their honeymoon, and then we sipped cabernet into the late hours, marveling that the little boy who once freaked out his mother when she found him in the yard swinging a dead rat by the tail and singing “Born In the USA!” had made it through war and to his own HEA. One young man at the wedding, a heartbreaker named Captain Clay Chase, told us that he and Anthony had spent many, many nights in a tent in Baghdad, planning and praying for this wedding to really take place. I’m certain there were nights when neither one of them was entirely sure it would.
So when the evening finally ended and I closed my eyes to go to sleep, the only thing I could see was the look on Anthony’s face when he realized his dreams had come true. That time-standing-still moment when a hero is hit not by a bullet, but by the power of love, awash with the realization that no matter what battles he has to fight in life, he will not face them alone.
That is the reason I write, and read, romance.
How about you?