I learned two important things during last weekend’s “The Romance of Words”: 1. Standing near a huge stack of romance novels with names like Unraveled, Unveiled, Unclaimed and Heart of Darkness makes me feel really uncomfortable; and 2. Romance novelists cry at vow-renewal ceremonies. A lot.
“Romance,” a pre-festival event for the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival, featured seven romance authors reading from their works at the Chapel of the Flowers. It was as faux Vegas-y as you could hope for—the whole thing took place in a chapel, with creaky pews for the 20 in attendance, piped-in music, artificial stone arches and flower arrangements. And to put the whole thing over the top, the event was capped by a vow renewal by a couple married 58 years. (Complete with limo, photo package and reception. Are you kidding? This is Vegas.)
The readings by Ann Aguirre, Zoë Archer, Vivian Arend, Lauren Dane, Tessa Dare, Megan Hart and Courtney Milan were occasionally interrupted by the sounds of laughter and slamming doors from the chapels around us. While these women read from their tales of romance—from historical to apocalyptic paranormal to post-apocalyptic dystopian—the real thing was happening just beyond the walls. Yeah, you couldn’t really have found a better setting to read a section from Devil’s Kiss than this.
Every reading was a hit with this crowd, especially Arend’s lively narration of Turn It Up, which seemed to center around things to drink—five references to coffee, one to tea and one to being “sh*tfaced,” all ending in a marriage proposal. (Wait, isn’t that the Britney Spears story?)
There was no question-and-answer segment after the readings. The authors took their places in the crowd to become witnesses to the renewal of vows for Dottie and Jack Crawford. When the officiant told the crowd that the Crawfords had said “two lifetimes wouldn’t be enough,” Aguirre lost it, gushing tears through the entire ceremony.
Aw, shucks. Even the non-romantics among us had to admit, that was just adorable.