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Editor's Note by Tina Smith

Things are a bit different around here. Lezli Robyn and I sort of took over this magazine. Maybe not sort of—we actually did! Denise Little did an amazing job bringing in her years of insight and expertise to get this venture off the ground in its first year. She is sadly moving on and Lezli and I have big shoes to fill.

With change comes opportunity. And through our brainstorming we decided to go BIG. We talked about the kind of romance fiction we’d like to see. We wanted to skirt the edges of the genre and syphon out the essence of the best part of it. We wanted to explore the boundaries of relationships and delve deep into what it means to get that first tingle of interest to falling into lust and love.

We wanted to see risk in the genre. The same kinds of risks indie writers are taking with their romance. The publishing industry once believed that there was a dead zone of writing about students in college. They wanted to see those heroines out and about in the working world—but then the New Adult movement came along and proved that old belief had shifted. Right now there are no-man’s lands of romance; character set ups we don’t normally see. Older couples? We wanted that (and we have a perfect story for you in this very issue by Andrea Dale!). I remember the first time I read a romance novel focusing on a couple older than me. It was a Jennifer Crusie book and there was a passing comment that the main characters were in their forties or fifties. I double checked it. Every book I read up until then—literally every one—had made a point of having the characters in their twenties or thirties. I really loved the change.

I’d been talking to a friend about our ideas to expand the magazine to be as inclusive as possible, yet still appeal to fans of the genre, and she said “So, not like your grandma’s romance?” and I couldn’t quite agree. Because what if grandma is a kick ass, cool lady and she had a blackbelt and grandpa drove a motorcycle and they both fought off a drug cartel, and in the process they of course fall (or re-fall) madly in love. Or maybe grandpa is not her love interest. Maybe it’s another grandma?

Our beloved genre has been a leader in reinventing love—over and over. Times are changing, and fans want the next amazing love story. Sure, we want familiar, but we want familiar (falling in love) mixed with something exciting, new, and fresh.

My interests are eclectic, and I read in every sub-genre of romance. I’m ecstatic the selection in romance is broadening as well as deepening—more explorations of where relationships can go and the ever-changing conflicts in today’s world. Our magazine hopes to change with it and look forward.

We fell in love with each story in this issue for their own unique reasons. (Of course you’ll love them all. How dare you not!) Our hope is that readers will find new ideas and corners of romance they didn’t expect. We want to discuss topics that are timely in our genre. Romance is beaten down every day by those who’ve never picked up a proper romance. But as fans know, our genre offers the very best. And we’ve found just a sliver of examples of what’s out there.

From fabulous fan favorites and seasoned authors like Jayne Anne Krentz, to new undiscovered talents—we believe we’ve curated a great selection. We have a wonderful dark historical with romantic elements taking place just after World War One from newcomer Meghan Ewald, a fun paranormal from bestseller Leslye Penelope and the first part of yet another paranormal, our serialization, from award winning and bestselling author Anna J. Stewart. You’ll also find a fun sweet contemporary retelling of The Princess Frog from Melinda Curtis (also a bestselling writer) and our first same-sex story by Petronella Glover. Romance flash (stories written in less than a thousand words) is a particular challenge, but our in-house writer Alia Mahmud has seemed to master the skill with a very sweet gender-bending meet-cute.

Along with our fiction selections we have articles on timely topics. Julie Pitzel is starting a re-occurring column called You Read That?. The Column will overview various concepts and tropes in romance in a fun, insightful way; this issue she will discuss covers. Also a wonderful interview with Jayne Anne Krentz about her newest release, an opinion piece on the #MeToo movement and how consent is sexy in romance, a romantic tour of Outlander filming locations, and recommended reads.

You provide the cozy blanket and hot tea, we provide the entertainment. We hope you come for the stories and stay for the romance.


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