Confessions of a Bodice Ripper Junkie!


 Books have always been a part of my life, even while growing up in an of an old farmhouse, moved there by oxen in 1903. I felt like Laura Ingalls. It truly was "Little House on the Prairie" living, without the prairie. Or the little house.

Our house had bedrooms to spare and plenty of room for my imagination. My only complaint, besides the lack of a stand-up shower, was the dining room. Nearly the size of the house I live in now, the room boasted wall-to-wall wood paneling, including three built-in cherry bookcases filled with enough books to supply a small library.
On Sundays, I was tasked with dusting, polishing, and dry mopping this room, which also housed dozens of vintage cologne bottles shaped like gold coins, moose, and various other oddities; a collection of plates from countless states and cities I don’t think anyone in my household ever visited, pictures of the immediate family and stern-looking relatives from before cars were a thing, and King Arthur’s table—or it might as well have been given its sheer size and outrageous numbers of chairs. We used it once a year at the holidays, and I had to sit at the kid’s table. *Cue the little violins playing a melody known as irony.*
Start to finish, the chore took just over two hours, and a bottle and a half of spray wax. Everything had to be moved so I could clean the shelves—including the books. Every. Single. Last. One. Even those huge photographic books from National Geographic that weighed 40 pounds apiece. For a kid not yet 13, those 120 minutes of manual labor was the equivalent of being tied to a chair and made to watch a Geometry marathon. Boring.
I killed the monotony by reading the back covers of the many Harlequin books gracing one of the “public” shelves. Clean, wholesome Romance stories, for the most part. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy falls in love with girl. And they lived happily ever after. Cowboy rescues damsel, they buy a herd of cattle, and live happily ever after. Sexy doctor treats patient, they take a tropical vacation, and live happily ever after. The covers depicted couples laughing and hugging, nothing too raunchy or unfit for impressionable eyes. Hence, the “public” shelf.
Then there were the “other” books--the ones I was forbidden to touch, let alone look at or read. These taboo titles were hidden in a locked cabinet in the far corner of the room. Every now and then, when my parents were not paying attention, I’d pick the lock (bobby pins serve dual purposes) and sneak a peek.
Speaking of cattle, holy cow! Some of the covers were quite telling without being overly graphic, more than enough to pique the curiosity of a young girl. The back cover descriptions pushed me over the edge. I had to know what kind of stories came to life on the pages of these temptress books.

Read the entire article in the May 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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