I have frequently preached the necessity of reading widely both within your genre and outside of it. I want to read as widely as I can, but I have had trouble expanding into some genres. For me, romance is a genre I’ve had trouble with. I just can’t seem to find authors or subgenres I like. I'm not one for the classic mass-market romance novels with Fabio types strewn about the covers. I've tried more contemporary romance too and not really like it either. Honestly, I like a bit of death and mayhem in my genre fiction, which is how I stumbled into The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens.
When I picked up The Restorer, I didn’t really know what to expect. The series is based on a cemetery restorer named Amelia Gray. That alone is interesting enough for me, but the twist is that Amelia can see ghosts. Mix that up with a murder mystery set in Charleston and I was all in. The book sprinkles cemetery trivia throughout the book, which, if you are weird like me, is really interesting. Pretty early on, I found the description of the detective on the case, John Devlin, to be a bit melodramatic. Dark hair, dark eyes, charismatic and magnetic, yet very serious. I mean, I don't think I've seen that level of brooding since Twilight. Still, I continued on.
It wasn't until I was about half way through the book and half a dozen scenes full of heated stares and charged encounters that I looked at the imprint on the back of the book and realized it was billed as a Harlequin Paranormal Romance. All of the brooding and longing suddenly made so much sense, but I was too invested in the mystery to back out. The pieces of the story were all starting to fall into place and there were so many possible suspects still in play. So, I powered through the last half of the book pretty quickly and found myself wanting to pick up the next book in the series.
For true romance readers, the romance is probably a little thin on the ground in this one. Much of the story is focused on unravelling the murder mystery and dealing with the ghosts Amelia can see, which was perfectly fine with me. I would never have picked up something in the bookstore being sold under the "Paranormal Romance" section, but I'm glad that I did. It definitely goes to show that we shouldn't discount genres we don't normally read. All it takes is one book that's subject is right in your wheelhouse to make you change your mind.
While I don't think that I will become a romance convert any time soon, it has encouraged me to try more books from authors I'm not familiar with and to ignore genre or imprint when trying to decide what to read. After feeling skittish of anything that might be described as a Harlequin Romance, I've realized that not all Harlequin Romances are the same and discounting them all could mean throwing out something like The Graveyard Queen.