Real Girl Romance – From Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash

by |April 24, 2013

You may find this difficult to believe given the glamorous creature I am today, but once upon a time, I was awkward. Not fairy tale awkward (long-limbed, unusually-featured girl turns into supermodel à la The Ugly Duckling) and not rom-com awkward (girl in overly-matching outfits with quirky sense of humour wins the heart of the secretly smart and soulful school jock), just plain awkward.

No surprise then, as mentioned in my first blog post, that I turned to Mills & Boon romances at an early age. It wasn’t just my lack of male interaction that led to my dirty paperback obsession, it was the chance to read about women who were beautiful, graceful and effortlessly elegant (at least from the hero’s perspective).

These women never burnt their foreheads while using the iron to straighten their hair. They were never confused for being a lesbian due to their lack of boyfriends. They had never felt the cool rush of air on their bare behind after ripping their new sparkly denim skirt in a less than sensual bend-and-snap dance move (on the same day they decided to debut their beige coloured g-string). So you can see the appeal.

As I got older (left high school, learned to tame my hair, speak to boys and apply liquid eyeliner), I found that I was open to different kinds of romance. Books in which the girl doesn’t always get it right in front of her chosen guy. Books with women who didn’t have enough cash, patience or care factor to look awesome all the time, but who could look quite lovely on occasion. Women who weren’t necessarily sexy, but told a helluva dirty joke. Women I could relate to.

Women like Kristan Higgins’ Faith Holland – a jilted, twenty-something year old with a penchant for food, gay men and spanx.  Certain episodes of my life would fit perfectly into one of Higgins’ books: that time where I fell up the stairs on a shuttle bus (en route to an evangelical church) and shouted a curse word.

That night when I fell on stage and almost into the arms of my crush, flashing most of my undercarriage to the world. That date when I confidently took the unopened bottle of red wine, only to push the cork into the bottle with such force that I wore most of the contents of said bottle all over my clothes and face.

That’s why I love Kristan Higgins’ books. Not just because she writes a damn sexy hero, or the kinds of romantic situations you can both laugh at/with and swoon over. Mostly, I love her books because I feel like they could have been written about me but with a guarantee happy ending – something we’d all like to have.


Haylee Nash has been reading and raving about romance for 15 years. She has previously worked as the Publishing Manager at Harlequin Australia and during her time there launched the Harlequin Teen, Harlequin Spice and local acquisition programmes, as well as Harlequin’s digital-first romance imprint, Escape Publishing. Haylee is now the Romance Specialist at Booktopia.

You can follow Haylee on twitter at @HKretrospect

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

Follow Andrew: Twitter


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