Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've been on a romance novel reading kick. Over the last week I've read:

  • Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Fun, fast, funny book. They do talk about why they read these novels, the criticism that it's mindless dreck for women, and the issue of rape in Old Skool romance novels and gender and power. They also provide a Choose Your Own Adventure romance novel in the contemporary (what I think of as chick-lit), Regency England, pirate, and paranormal/urban fantasy settings. Hilarious! And a Mad Libs style game for each style too. This book had me giggling out loud, especially at the euphemisms for male and female genitalia. The Smart Bitches take a critical look at the serious and fun sides of romance novels (and the covers. Oh, my eyes.) I highly recommend it.

  • Bet Me and Faking It by Jennifer Crusie and Agnes and the Hitman by J Crusie and Bob Mayer. Each one took about 6 hours to read. I think I'm done with that author. I don't want to burn out on Crusie. I want to be able to come back and read her other books. I had previously read Wild Ride by Crusie and Mayer which made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  • Rude Awakening of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. A young woman from the Regency era wakes up in the body of a 21st century woman in LA and has to figure things out. It's the sequel to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict which I haven't read yet. Rude Awakenings came available at the library first.

  • currently working on Tommy's Tale by Alan Cumming, yes, the actor. I think this qualifies as a romance because Tommy is involved with Charlie who has a son. This gets party boy Tommy thinking about love and starting a family. If this isn't Romancelandia, a term I got from the Smart Bitches, then I don't know what is.

In other notes, I'm going to NYC later this week and have borrowed from the library and loaded onto the Nook:

  • Where's My Hero: a collection of short stories from romance authors that give a romance to a male character who was also very appealing but wasn't the hero. Will now have to read the books where these characters came from.

  • Manhunt by Janet Evanovich, set in Alaska

  • Vision in White, book one of the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. I have never read Nora Roberts before.

What got me going on this whole romance kick was discussions on NPR's Monkey See blog and podcasts about genres that don't get any respect in the larger culture. As should be abundantly clear by now, I am a big science fiction fan. Not a genre that gets a lot of respect. The same with romance novels.

My favorite romance novels, heck any kind of story, has a heroine who is good as what she does, has lots of skills beyond her job, is sassy/feisty/fiery, has a sense of humor, and rises to the challenge of whatever the plot of the story throws her into. She has a group of friends who also are competent, sassy, funny, etc and have their own plot lines, not just around to support the heroine. The hero is similar and they are both in a situation where they both have to deal with an unknown situation and both experience character growth. I really don't like stories where the heroine is bumbling at her job, needs the hero to save her and solve the case, is described as mildly unattractive (oh, noes, her hair isn't blown-dry!) and yet one or more men, including the hero finds her irresistable. Stephanie Plum, by Janet Evanovich, I'm looking at you.

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