The time -- I can't recall exactly, but it was after school.
The year -- Well, shoot. I can't recall that exactly either, but it was near the end of my middle school years, which were late 70's. Let's say 1978.
The title -- Hey, wait a minute. I know this one. Young and Fair. The title caught my attention on the elementary school library shelf (this was back when you simply had elementary and high school, and I was an "upper classman" in the elementary school realm -- 7th or 8th grade).
The author -- Well, what do you know. I know this one too. Rosamund du Jardin. Wonderful author. WONDERFUL!
The hero -- Greg Colby. Is that an amazing hero name or what? Greg...Colby. Kind of rolls off the tongue and has your heart skip a beat. So, naturally, when the modern-day Colby hero (Colby Donaldson from Survivor) surfaced, I was all in favor of the cutie winning the million. He came close, didn't he? And as Greg Colby was in Young and Fair, his modern namesake also ended up being a nice guy. Did the nice guy finish last? I don't think so. I saw Colby in the movie Red Eye last weekend.
The heroine -- Lissa Powell. Great heroine name too. Lissa. I can say that when I read this book, I "became" Lissa, the foster girl who lost her parents and found love. Oh man, what a story. The major event? -- My introduction to the world of reading, and loving, romance. I can still recall the way that hardcover book, a historical, felt in my hand as I turned the pages slowly, not wanting to miss a single word of Lissa's story. And then I recall checking out all of Ms. du Jardin's books from the library and reading them cover-to-cover, and then checking them all out again and again. I was hooked.
Would you like to see the cover that sparked my interest way back then? I found it in an antique bookstore recently...
The blurb: Lissa Powell has always wondered who she really was. Discovered by her foster parents when she was about four during the Chicago fire of 1871, the story begins when she is sixteen years old and forced to go out on her own when her foster mother dies. She stays at a boarding house where she meets Effie Cunningham who helps her to find a job at Harrison Colby's, a large department store. There she meets Greg Colby, the handsome son and heir of the store owner. When Lissa finds out who she really is will her feelings change for this or any other young man in her life?
So, how did that very first romance affect my life? Hmmm...let's see.
1) I decided to write professionally. Did this book do that? Probably not by itself, but it sure didn't hurt.
2) I cheered for Colby on Survivor before the rest of the world drooled over him when he described Jerri's description of chocolate.
3) I became a foster parent (a wonderful and rewarding experience, let me tell you). True, my hubby and I may have made that decision on our own without the fact that I loved the people who took care of Lissa in Young and Fair and wanted to be like them. But there had definitely been a spark planted way-back-when by Ms. du Jardin's wonderful story.
Now, there you have it. My introduction to romance, courtesy of Rosamund du Jardin's Young and Fair. Care to share your very first romance novel? Do you remember the title? The hero? The heroine? Would you, like I did, search it out in antique bookstores so you could have a copy to always remind you of the special bond between a reader and romance?
Share, share, share :)
Kelley St. John