What Lies Beneath

Most women who read romance feel an inherent urge to hide the fact. There are very few women who will openly acknowledge owning and reading romance books, and even less who stand up and defend their right to read romance. Men have their crime/thriller books—almost always accompanied by a healthy dose of flesh and gory details, but you never see them shying away from owning their reading pleasure; while women will go to extreme lengths to hide their romance fix from their husbands, families and even their friends. And as for spicier reading—let’s not even go there.

Then along come eBooks and Fifty Shades of Grey—a marriage made in heaven if ever there was one. A secret pleasure fully enabled by the anonymous device used to read it. There are no tell-tale cover illustrations and no need to hide one’s book in bigger, more appropriate reading material.

Which is all well and good, but not terribly empowering. So that’s my grouse. Why should women hide the fact that they have eclectic reading habits—and get pleasure from handsome heroes, feisty heroines and happy endings? We all need and deserve our brand of TLC. Bollywood is unabashedly romantic and you will not find people going around hiding the fact that they like films. So what’s the big deal where books are concerned?

eBooks are a wonderful invention—convenient, easy to carry around, can be read any place at any time on any available device—they are a godsend for readers.

Nevertheless, I dream of a time when women carry their eBook of choice proudly and stand up for the right to read what they like. That is the day closet fans of dashing heroes and Fifty Shades will march out, heads held high and a romance book—an Indireads title, hopefully—tucked under their arms.