COSTA MESA — Twenty years ago, Toni Bruner received 600 romance novels as a birthday gift from a friend. She had about that many in her collection already, so the Newport Beach resident leased a small building on the Westside and opened an all-romance bookstore.
On Saturday, Bruner was glad she took that gamble.
New & Recycled Romances, located at the edge of a residential neighborhood on Broadway Street, celebrated its 20th anniversary with wine, food and visits from more than half a dozen novelists. Scores of female customers — and, except for the pinups on the wall, very few men — packed the store's slender aisles with stacks of their favorite novels, while the writers sat at tables outside with pens poised for signing.
"So here we are, 20 years later, still in the happy ending business," Bruner said. "And we're getting busier and busier, because so many small bookstores are closing."