I am stealing this from another board I love, a non-writing, non-book board. It is a board of women who think.
My friend Beth wrote:
I’m beginning to understand the stigma of romance novels/novelists. It’s akin to sex toy parties, erotica, male/female dynamics, admitting that women need men, etc.
There’s a blushing frailty associated with romance novels, sweeping vistas and grand gestures and traditional strength. When I first started reading these, I thought, well, I was an English major who did her Honors Thesis on Milton’s Paradise Lost, I’ve earned the right to read whatever I want. And I found myself wanting to justify it. And then I began to hate that feeling and thought, I like strong men and hot sex. Why should I be ashamed to admit that.
So, whatcha readin? Vampire Sex. Lots of hot, hot Vampire sex.
While obviously unrealistic in their entirety, I think these books can help a woman understand what she likes, wants in her relationships, sex-life, friendships. I’m amazed at the things I’ve learned about myself and how responsive Mr. B has been to those requests/changes.
I’m a romance convert, and I’ll soon be publishing my thesis on romance novels and the women’s movement. ROFL
Seriously, smart women read romance. Smart women write romance.
I hear a few major schools of badmouthing romance.
First IT IS FORMULAIC. Girl meets boy, boy and girl get nekkid, boy and girl fight, Happily every after(HEA). *substitute boy meets boy or girl meets girl for growing gay/lesbian romance*
That is kinda life people. How many people get married every year or fall in love? Yeah, love, that emotion that has fueled life since, oh, time began! And I reeeeeeeally want a copy of that formula that people assume is so easy. As for the HEA, does the police drama not have the bad guy getting caught? Sometimes there is a wedding, sometimes it is a ‘We are good for now’. depends on the author and the subgenre but there will always be some closure.
Take Gone with the Wind. Did Rhett leave Scarlet? Sure as hell did, left her sitting in a pile of skirt and tears. She survived. The romance was part of her journey not the crux of the tale. The tale was how Scarlet changed and her manipulations. It is NOT a romance. It is women’s fiction with romantic overtones.
SECOND COMMON BADMOUTH “It is all sex”.
And this is a problem… why?
No, it isn’t. The growing trend for the past decade or more is less and less closed bedroom doors and there are more positions beside vanilla missionary BUT there are some fantastic books with NO SEX in them. Yeah. Shocking.
There is no doubt erotica and romantica (phrase coined by Ellora’s Cave ePublishing) have skyrocketed. You can now buy ‘dirty’ books on line without going to a seedy store and getting condescending looks from a prim bookseller. You can read about anal, BDSM and menages. You do not need to practice these acts to read about them and enjoy it no more than you need to commit or solve a murder to enjoy a Grishom novel.
Major publishing houses are still somewhat publishing shy on gay romance so epublishing found a niche that exploded. Who knew that straight women would enjoy reading about gay men or group sex or whatever? What they enjoy is a good story. Period. And not all GAY stories feature open door sex.
There is sex in Stephen King, the Bible and a slew of other “non romance” genres. maybe not as much or as detailed, but there. Sex is normal. Deal with it.
THIRD COMPLAINT: The men are too perfect and it degrades women.
And Playboy and Penthouse are what, biographies?
Seriously, all books are fantasies in that they strive to take you out of your life and let you live someone else’s journey. Dickens did it. King does it. Picoult does it. So the men are hot. Big Deal. I want a few hours where I can fantasize- Sports Illustrated Swimsuit for women.
Couched in pretty words and stories, today’s romance often gives women –and girls– examples of healthy relationships, gives insights to what they as individuals might not be able to voice in their own minds. It isn’t rocket science. It is knowing it is okay to say ‘Touch me like this’ or ‘I would like to try that’ or even ‘I don’t want this’ and know that there are other women asserting themselves. You don’t have to be butch to say I want more oral but sometimes it is easier to say ‘honey, read this passage then come upstairs’.
FOURTH COMPLAINT: It is not real literature.
Commercial fiction: Divine Secrets of the YA-YA Sisterhood, Water for Elephants, the Notebook, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Davinci Code, The Stephanie Plum Series, etc.
Literary fiction and commercial fiction have different goals from the outset, from the application. It doesn’t benefit anyone to mock the other. There are some damn fine stories in both and some gouge my eyes out with an ice pick in both.
Okay, I have a challenge for you if you have made it through all that drivel on a soap box.
There is one book that springs to mind right now that combines everything I have said above.
~It is commercial fiction but has literary undertones.
~It is a romance but not a traditionally-perceived boy/girl/happy kitty story.
~It is heterosexual(M/F) but explores attitudes and perceptions of homosexuality without actions from the main characters.
~There is loving sex but not melt your panties heat.
~The storyline is universal but something most people will never experience.
~Despite the author being a known talent and major ties with NY Publishing, no house would take a chance on it.
~It topped the lists this summer as being the best Beach Read as an epublication, surpassing huge numbers of print books.
~Reviews have been outstanding.
~It is a fine example of intelligent and emotional storytelling.
It ain’t your mama’s romance.