Carroll Gardens has long been referred to as a sleepy, bedroom community. But it would appear that one local author has decided to turn that phrase on its head—writing explicit romance novels intended to inspire readers beneath the covers.
"The great thing about romance is that it’s largely written by women and for women, and that is something to be proud of and to stand behind," said author Rebecca Rogers Maher, who describes herself as a typical clog-wearing neighborhood lady. "There is nothing wrong with reading about sex. It’s good for us, it’s interesting, and it’s a topic well worth exploring."
Maher speaks from experience. She grew up reading the romance novels her own mother kept around the house.
"I always loved the genre, but I didn’t get serious about writing a book of my own until after my second son was born," the author said.
After several years teaching at a public school in Brooklyn, followed by round-the-clock parenting, Maher said she began writing to give herself a mental break. About halfway through that first book, I’ll Become the Sea, she realized that what she was writing was a romance novel.
"Part of what made it so was an explicit sex scene," Maher went on. "But also, it was the book’s willingness to have a happy ending. That’s a big part of what draws me to romance. In these stories, women can heal and recover and go on to happy, fulfilled lives."
Her latest publication, out May 28, is titled Snowbound with a Stranger (Carina Press) and its hero, coincidentally enough, hails from Carroll Gardens.
"It's pretty explicit," Maher acknowledged, "but it still falls into the contemporary romance category rather than erotica or erotic romance," deliberately drawing a line between what she pens and 50 Shade of Grey, an erotica novel which recently sizzled its way into Barnes & Noble window displays across America.
"It’s absolutely fascinating how deep a chord 50 Shades of Grey has struck," said Maher. "I think the phenomenon says something about our comfort level with our own sexual desire."
Still, that doesn't mean everyone is always on board with her chosen career path.
"My friends don’t get why I write romance novels," she said. "It’s a 'lowbrow' genre that most women in brownstone Brooklyn don’t read, or claim not to. But I appreciate the gut-punch melodrama of romance.
"I also enjoy writing about sex," she continued. "Even though I cringe thinking about my family reading the explicit sections of my novels, it’s fun and liberating to write sex scenes."
By extension, Maher asserted, it can be extremely liberating for the reader.
"My gynecologist told me that she 'prescribes' romance novels to her patients, to jumpstart libidos dampened by childcare, work and everyday stress," Maher said. "I frequently sneak romance novels to friends for this very reason, and it works."
Snowbound with a Stranger is available for pre-order on Amazon at http://amzn.to/IDyWl1.