Saturday, March 5, 2016

Celebrate Romance Every Day: SOS Aloha's 6th Anniversary (part 1) - Romance blossoms in the Netherlands

File:Motte - Kasteel Limbricht.JPG
Limbricht Castle (Kasteel Limbricht)
Public Domain (link)

Six years ago, I created SOS Aloha while living in Hawaii.  Yet it was an other overseas assignment which introduced me to romance.  In 2002, we moved to the Netherlands when my husband received an assignment to NATO's Joint Forces Command Brunssum (link).  I found myself in the perfect storm to spurn my interest in historcal romance novels:

- We lived across from the Limbricht Castle, a medieval home complete with a moat, tower, and modern duck pin bowling alley!

- I enjoyed afternoon tea with the British Delegation.

- Military families jumped aboard Ryanair to visit London, Dublin, and Edinburgh - home of castles, castles, and castles!

Shortly after our arrival, NATO troops deployed as peacekeepers to Kabul, Afghanistan.  The international staff adopted an orphanage in Kabul and asked the America Spouse's Club to collect donations. So we rolled up our sleeves, cleaned out the long neglected thrift shop (link), and sent boxes with clothes, blankets, and toys. We also received an anonymous donation of $1500 to purchase a generator for the orphanage.

Once the dust settled, I looked around the thrift shop to see what was left - books written in the English language. One paperback caught my eye with its blue cover and tartan sash:

Journey with Cathy Maxwell to nineteenth-century Scotland...a land of romance and dreams. There, away from the stifling ballrooms and idle gossip of London, a debutante hopes to find a life she could only have imagined...and a noble Highlander discovers that the truest love of all awaits him in the form of an unexpected bride-to-be.

After consuming every historical romance from the thrift shop shelves, I moved onto the Army's library where I discovered romantic suspense from my fellow Floridian, Heather Graham:

When private investigator Dane Whitelaw discovers he is being set up to take the fall for the murder of his former lover, Sheila, he teams up with Sheila's best friend, Kelsey Cunningham, to discover the truth.


I also cultivated a friendship with the manager of the Stars N Strips bookstore.  She raved about Bertrice Small:

There has never been a woman like luscious, raven-haired, hot-tempered Skye O'Malley. She is the courageous seafaring captain of her own mighty fleet, and intelligent enough to win a battle of wits with Queen Elizabeth herself. Follow along as Skye O'Malley is swept up in a journey filled with romance and passion that takes her from glittering Ireland, to lush Algeria, to the heart of London in pursuit of a unique and eternal love.

I would later meet Cathy, Heather, and Bertrice once we moved back to the US ... Cathy is a Navy veteran, Heather has participated in a USO tour, and Bertrice's beloved husband, George, was an Army veteran from the D-Day Landings in WWII.   

How did you discover romance?  One randomly selected commenter wins a book choice from my convention stash. Comments are open through Saturday, March 12, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 13.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Next week:  SOS Aloha's 6th Anniversary (part 2) - An Old Fashioned Tea Party with Military Spouses and Romance Authors.

The Tea Party by Frederic Soulacroix


  1. Can you believe I have only been reading romance since 2008 thanks to a little book named Twilight? This book opened the door to the romance genre for me and the door has been wide open ever since! HAPPY 6TH ANNIVERSARY!!!

  2. Happy Anniversary!!!!!! I've been reading romance since before the 80's.

  3. Always fun to hear about your life story. I was always an avid reader since the time I learned to read. I've always said it kept me sane. I just happened to come across Kathleen's Woodiwiss - The Flame and the Flower and I was hooked on romance. I since mix it up once in a while but it's my main form of reading now.

  4. My aunts had a huge box of Harlequin romances they got from a friend - when they were finished with them they gave them to my Mom. I loved to read, so I tried one and was hooked.

    Happy Anniversary and Thank You for all your hard work!

  5. Happy Anniversary, Kim. My older cousin's best friend was a huge romance fan and she gave us a few Julie Garwood books.

  6. I discovered romance as a teen when I ran across Georgette Heyer's books. I read all of her books I could find and it just snowballed from there. :D

  7. Happy anniversary! Can't remember

  8. Woo hoo! Happy Anniversary! Believe it or not, I never liked to read. And one day when I was 30 or so, someone told me I needed to read the Twilight books. Well I did and I was hooked. I read more YA novels until one day, I was looking for something more "adult" and someone had recommended J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. needless to say, I was HOOKED after that. It was then that I needed to devour every romance book I could get my hands on, paranormal or otherwise. And I've been like that ever since!

  9. Amazing it's been 6 years! I'm glad to see you are still blogging and loving it, it takes work but is rewarding.

    Heather is such a genuine person and truly cares about people. And she can write!!

    I think you need to write a biography, Kim. The things you have seen, places you have been, and the people you have met. Amazing.

  10. I discovered romance through none other than the Queen of Romance Johanna Lindsey.. I started ready approximately 12 years ago and her Malory Series was my first romance books and after that there was no turning back

  11. My girlfriend gave me a copy of Exclusive by Sandra Brown, really a romance suspense type, and the rest is history. Had to get every book of hers I could. When I was done reading all of hers, I thought, what do I do now. Then I discovered Debbie Macomber and many others.

  12. I had been interested in the sound of some of the stories, but the bodice ripper covers kept me from trying the books. I still get hassled by my son and daughters. Anyway, I found a copy of THE PRIZE by Julie Garwood that had a lovely cover featuring a beautiful jeweled broach and a silky fabric. I bought it and loved the story. I got the rest of her historicals and haven't stopped reading romance since.

  13. Just started reading it one day

  14. I used to read my older sisters romance books. She was heavily into medical romances at the time.

  15. I used to read my older sisters romance books. She was heavily into medical romances at the time.

  16. I discovered romance in high school when I was told I could not read some book and of course I did.

  17. My Mum used to read them, and that's how I discovered them.

  18. I discovered romance books at the public library when I was a teenager.

  19. I discovered romance at the library around 1967. Around 1973, I was given dozens of Barbara Cartland's romances by my husband's cousin. After that, I discovered Kathleen Woodiwess and have found lots and lots of wonderful authors since.

  20. Happy Anniversary, Kim! Thanks for all your hard work!

  21. Aside from fairy tales, my love of romance is entirely at the fault of my mom and her stash of Harlequins within my reach. I "borrowed" them at a young age in the 70s-80s. Eventually, she found out and bought me teen romances from Scholastic. By then, I was hooked!


  22. Loved reading romance as an early adult.