When I was twelve years old, I found a book at a garage sale that would forever change my life. The book was called All The Sweet Tomorrows, and it told the tale of Skye O’Malley, a beautiful raven-haired widow on a mission to find her not-so-dead-after-all husband in Algiers. This book introduced me to dildos, dubcon, anal sex, foot torture, and pony play. No, I’m not kidding, this book, which was originally published in 1986, had all of that.
That book set in stone my destiny as a romance reader and writer. It also really helped hone my reading skills; as a child with learning disabilities, I was supposed to practice my reading. Nothing makes you want to practice reading more than learning about the seedy sorts of things adults are getting up to with their private parts.
Since that book, I’ve read many, but not all, of Ms. Small’s novels. I say not all because she wrote over fifty in her career, each one a grand, sweeping saga that helped define old school romance, as well as evolve the historical genre. When I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Romantic Times convention in 2008, I asked her to sign my favorite.
When I handed it to her, she smiled fondly at the cover and said, “Oh! I love this book.” There is nothing quite as fantastic as hearing the creator of something you love express how much they also love it. It’s a feeling I will never forget.
I also told her my story about finding All The Sweet Tomorrows and how her work had shaped my career. “And now,” I told her proudly, “I’m a USA Today bestselling romance author, and I never would have been if I hadn’t read your book.” I had tears in my eyes. So did she.
That was the one and only time I ever met Ms. Small, who wrote “God bless!” in her kink-tastic novels and dotted the “i” in her name with a heart. She passed away on Tuesday at age seventy-seven, leaving behind a legacy that will live on for as long as the romance genre endures. I won’t say that we lost one of the greats, because that phrase doesn’t cover it. I will say instead that we were lucky enough that she shared her ingenuity, her boundless talent, and her fantastically wicked imagination with us all.
Rest in peace, Ms. Small.