On why I love romance novels

So I am writing this ahead of time, not knowing how Jessica’s surgery has turned out, but knowing that I will not be thinking about blog posts once I find out. I will post an update when I can, which will probably be next Monday, and in the meantime thank you for caring enough to check in.

I have often said that crossword puzzles are the only way I make it through the hours in the waiting room, when I cannot concentrate on anything but need a diversion. The beauty of crossword puzzles is that all you have to do is one clue at a time. Just the one clue, and you think about what the answer could be, and you write it down. Then you do the next clue. And if you get interrupted, or your mind wanders off, as will certainly be the case, you just need to bring your attention back to the next clue. If you have enough crossword puzzles, you can get through anything.

But there comes a time after the waiting room, the place between the anxiety of the procedure and the soothing comfort of home, and that is the time when I break out the romance novels. The hardest part is over, or perhaps not the hardest part but the most intense part, and now you must sit, and be ready at a moment’s notice to comfort a crying child, or talk to a nurse or a doctor, or receive a visitor, but you are tired of the crossword puzzles, you are sick of them, if you never see another crossword puzzle again in this lifetime, that will be too soon, but for god’s sake you don’t need Tolstoy. And fluff like People magazine just is not diverting enough for your needs; you need something that takes more than twelve seconds to peruse. You need to get your mind off it, is what you need. Some people read thrillers or mysteries, and I love those for when I am at home but when I am in a hospital room, watching Jessica’s uneasy sleep, only a romance novel will do.

I don’t get the appeal, says a friend who does not understand romance novels, and quite possibly fails to understand life itself. You already know how it’s going to end.

Well, yes. I also know how life is going to end, but is that any reason not to do it? It’s the getting there that’s the point. When I am sitting in a cold hospital room, listening to the buzz of the fluorescent light and wondering how the hell my life brought me here, what I do not need is actuality. What I need is hope, that there is a happily ever after, maybe even right now, and if not right now then certainly soon, just around the corner, if only I hold on long enough.

In all the days I’ve spent on hard plastic chairs, sick with fear, I have never once been comforted by Faulkner or Hawthorne or Melville. The only writers I have ever been able to count on are Jennifer Crusie, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Suzanne Brockmann, and all their sisters.

So this is my fan letter to all of them, to every writer who didn’t let the sneering snobs stop them. Thank you. Thank you for the hope, and for getting me through the long hard days, and most of all, thank you for understanding that we all need to believe in the happily ever after.


  1. Everything I can think of to say seems so trivial. Please know, at least, you and Jessica are being thought of.

  2. Dear Jennifer,

    My name is Rebecca and I am 21 years old. I stumbled upon your blog today and want you to know I am praying for you and your daughter. You have a beautiful gift of writing and I am blessed to have read it! To let you know, I have had fibromyalgia, been hospitalized numerous times for migraines, RLS, clinical depression, anxiety, liver malfunctioning, 16 food allergies, and much more since the age of 15. I only list this to tell you that I can slightly relate to your daughter and tell you that there is such hope to be had during this journey for all of us….though it sure is hard to see it many times. I realize after reading your blog, that the ending of our life doesn’t take away from our purpose and meaning to live fully. Through all my desperation and questioning why I am still here through all this pain…..I have found “life that is truly life” ……Praise Jesus Christ for a reason to live…to find dependency on someone solid, comforting, gentle, loving, and trustworthy….Oh I pray you find the same beauty and experience His grace on your journey 🙂
    * I listed my own website on the bottom (I am an artist)

    Song of Solomon 8:6
    Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. (NIV)

    Song of Solomon 8:7
    Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. (NIV)

    Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

    1 John 4:18-19
    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

    Psalm 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.


    Your friend and prayer warrior,
    Rebecca Stephens

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