The latest participant in my series The Secret Lives of Male Romance Readers wishes to remain anonymous (but you can find him on Instagram at: Off_The_Record_Romance). He's the brother of one of my favorite romance reading friends and when I heard he was finally bowing to the gentle pressure of the amazing community that is the romance genre community I knew I needed to interview him to learn his thoughts about the experience thus far.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Your sister has been a romance reader for years and years and year, so you weren't going into the romance-reading experience totally blind. You probably had an impression of them built up in your mind from your exposure to her, but what did you think of romance novels prior to picking up your first book?
Off The Record Romance: Fun fact, I've actually been into romance since high school, but it was mainly romance animes that I would watch, never read. Oh god, that was ten years ago. I guess my first impressions of romance novels was that it was just another medium, but probably far more detailed and intricate that an anime, comic, or movie could ever be. I joked with her about romance stereotypes, but that was only because I didn't know she was interested in romance novels until late last year! It helped keep my love for romance a secret from her...until I cracked and finally let her in on it!
Romantically Inclined Reviews: How did she finally convince you to pick up a romance novel? What was your first book? And, most importantly, what did you think of it? Were you surprised that you enjoyed it?
Off The Record Romance: Well, I was dating a girl and she mentioned she was interested in romance books, so of course to have a conversation topic on the next date I asked my sister for a recommendation. She recommended Call Me Maybe because I was very similar to one of the characters, Cal. She was right. I felt like the author studied me while writing her book! I loved the story. It was so fun and awkward and clumsy, like how real love can be!
Romantically Inclined Reviews: What was it that you liked about the book that made you want to keep reading more romance novels? What sort of romance novels do you think interest you the most (tropes, character types, subgenre, etc)?
Off The Record Romance: Well, as I said above, I had a very similar personality to one of the characters in the book, so it helped the story feel a little more read to me. I mainly prefer romantic comedies and stories set in present day with normal people. I may branch off eventually and since a romance comic I'm reading is about an alien girl and guy, I guess science-fiction might be in my future, too!
Romantically Inclined Reviews: Judging from your Instagram profile you seem to have a preference for listening to audio books over reading physical books. What do you enjoy about the listening experience? When you select a romance novel to listen to what are you looking for (length, good narrators, dual perspective, etc)?
Off The Record Romance: My preference for audiobooks is mainly because I have such a short attention span and reading a physical book is hard. I'll read a paragraph and then do something else and then forget I was reading or get distracted on my computer. Audiobooks help me focus on the story because I have constant stimuli. Whether it's the narrator's voice, or sound effects, or multiple narrators doesn't matter, as long as it keeps my brain from being idle. I just finished The Hating Game which was 11 hours (I think). I did enjoy a longer story as I felt more invested in the characters. I'd say 3 hours or more is a good length and I do really like the dual perspective stories, like in Call Me Maybe and Sweet Talk.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: What authors and/or books have you been enjoying lately? What books are on your TBR?
Off The Record Romance: Since I'm pretty new, basically everything I post on the 'gram is what I've read so far. Sally Thorne did make a great impression on me with The Hating Game so I might check out more titles from her. I also know that Cara Bastone is going to have another audio book out this year, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for it.
Romantically Inclined Reviews: What advice would you give to people with misconceptions about romance novels to convince them to give them a shot?
Off The Record Romance: My opinion on this might be a bit hypocritical, since I'm staying anonymous, but don't be embarrassed about liking romance! It's not just cringey, romantic, sexy-talk all the time. It has some really beautiful stories and you grow with the characters and they feel like real people, so you feel for them too. As someone who didn't talk about romance with anyone for over 8 years I found that the community is amazing and caring and welcoming. So, don't be afraid to take the jump and read/listen to a romance. You won't regret it!
A big thanks to Off the Record Romance for participating in this interview series! I am such a huge fan of picking through people's brains and demanding answers to why they love the romance genre, so these are always fun for me to write! Again, feel free to follow OTRR at his Instagram page: Off_The_Record_Romance. You'll enjoy getting to know him through his opinions and book preferences and passion for the romance genre!