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Romance abounds in bookstore

Newport Beach resident celebrates the 20th anniversary of the opening of her bookstore.

August 12, 2007|By Michael Miller

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."

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Bruner's store has thrived for two decades selling new and used books. Many customers order their books in advance from a catalog put together by the store — and given the prolific nature of most romance novelists, those sales aren't exactly few and far between.

The celebration kicked off at 3 p.m. Saturday, as perfume wafted throughout the store, and titles like "Lady Danger," "Complete Abandon" and "Captive Heart" featured prominently on the shelves. Irvine resident Gerianne LeBlond, who brought a stack of novels to be signed, said she shopped at Bruner's store every week. She developed her taste for romance fiction as a child when she found most of the books in her family's home lacking something.

"All the biographies were men, and I thought, 'Why are there no stories about women?'" LeBlond said.

Some of the authors were equally excited to meet their fans. Cassidy Kent, who lives in Burbank and recently began penning novels, said the appearance at New & Recycled Romances was only her third book signing.

"The feedback is great," she said. "They tell you what kind of stories they like."

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