I know there's a reason why I'm here, all pouty and sullen on this Amtrak train speeding back to New York City. There has to be. It's one of the first beautiful days of spring in 2009, but I'm not appreciating it the way I should. My situation is causing me some confusion. If the irony of my lame love life and my profession as a romance editor is a cosmic accident, then life is truly absurd. This is why I need a chocolate doughnut before boarding.
The boyfriend I call Superman is sitting next to me, looking extremely gorgeous. He's that elusive alpha male I've always dreamed of dating, the hero who fills up the pages of many romance novels — and he was mine for five months. Now we're not speaking. The weekend at his country home was a disaster. I can't wait to be home.
I have no idea what I'm doing anymore. At forty, I should have this part of my life figured out. And I of all people really should know better, right? I've been a romance editor at Harlequin for more than ten years. As a supposed expert in the field, the mechanics of love are familiar to me. I've read the dating books (combined with a dizzying number of romances) and given real‑life romance my full attention for over twenty‑five years. Though I never deluded myself that my hero would be James Bond or Heathcliff (who was a head case, by the way), you'd think I'd have come close. I have this vast knowledge of romance in print, a gigantic dating pool in Manhattan, and I'm no Quasimodo. But it's been a long time, and I haven't met anyone close to Mr. Darcy. Maybe it's time to take a break.
But never a break from reading love stories. The novelty of editing romance is still there: I read romance through terrible times and it gives me a boost. Every day, I work with friendly, smart people at my job. I get to deal with writers who love writing about love. They make me love love, even when I hate it. These books even compel me to hope that everyone finds her own happily‑ever‑after — not just me. And it's not because authors send me chocolate on Valentine's Day, always ask about my personal life, supply me with manuscripts to feed my book‑reading obsession, and are interesting people. Who doesn't want to escape for a little while? Really, it's sick that I get paid to do this.
Imagine the agony I endure on a day‑to‑day basis: A surly FBI agent — let's call him Jake Hunter — has to find the latest serial killer menacing a small community. Even though he has been through hell — maybe his wife died in a car crash or his partner was killed by a drug cartel — he has this crazy attraction to the town's knitting‑store owner with a name like, say, Cassie McBride, who happens to be a virgin. Knitting Girl has no clue a stalker — most likely an ex‑boyfriend or jealous friend from high school — wants her dead because she's so unforgettable. And why is an FBI agent in her knitting store? He's definitely sexy, and it's been a while since Cassie's no‑good boyfriend dumped her.
Yes. This is what I want to read most of the time. My average day is a good one. In the morning, the sun hits my neck, and I'm drinking my coffee and plunging into a tale of characters overcoming obstacles, having amazing simultaneous‑orgasm sex, and then realizing they're destined for each other. It's a far cry from this sad, depressing Amtrak ride.
I gave dating my best shot. I did everything I was supposed to do: made myself available but not too much, dated like I shopped, online‑dated on numerous sites, went out, was cheerful, didn't talk about my ex(es) or whine. I took extra care with hair, clothes, and makeup. I was ready for any opportunity. But then years — decades — went by and here I am, still. I've read so much, tried so hard, and I figure I'm happy even without real romance in my life. I'm okay if it's just me. The final verdict is: My life is nothing like these books, not even a little bit.
Or, maybe my real‑life romance is just around the corner. . . .
From Romance Is My Day Job by Patience Bloom. Copyright 2014 by Dutton Adult. Excerpted by permission of Dutton Adult.