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We've spent some Saturday evenings geeking out about science fiction and mystery novels. Tonight it's time for romance novels.

Romance novels are, fundamentally, about people falling in love. In the case of mass-market genre romance, those people are a man and a woman. (Do please chime in in the comments on gay romances; the last time I read any the ones I found didn't hew very close to the genre conventions I most enjoy, so I stopped reading and am way out of date.)

So what differentiates one from another? Well, there are subgenres, of course. The big divisions are between historical and contemporary, and single-title or category. Tonight I seem to be in a contemporary single-title mood, so that's where I'll focus this time.

Beyond those distinctions, romance has not been immune to the vampire craze, and there are plenty of other supernaturals out there. Within historicals, you can find many different time periods and locations (though the sheik-and-harem plot of cliche is extremely dated, if in fact it was ever common). Many straightforward romances of no particular subgenre have a mystery subplot.

But subgenre aside, different authors have different styles. They build distinctive characters, they play with one element of the genre or another, they return to their own specific tropes.

You could drop me inside a Jennifer Crusie book and it probably wouldn't take me long to figure it out. Most of Crusie's books have a central item of food, a favorite musical artist, and a pet with a lot of personality. Also humor, strong friendships between women, and lots of romantic sparring -- the descriptions of Dove bars in Welcome to Temptation may send me running for the fridge (or grocery store), but one of the strongest tells you're in a Crusie book is that the women rate their relationships with each other as highly as any relationship with a man.

In Crusie's brash, fun Bet Me, there's a cat with personality, both Elvises -- Presley and Costello -- and oh, the food. Cal gives Min permission to eat food that tastes good, even if she does have a bridesmaid dress to fit into. This one goes above and beyond one central food: Chicken marsala, hot dogs, Krispy Kremes...all lusciously described and woven not just into desire but acceptance between two people with as much baggage as they have wit.

Bet Me bounces lightly off of fairy tales from several angles. There's a fairy tale wedding, a spot of love at first sight, a Beast, an improbable fairy godmother figure...and a dyslexic businessman and an overweight actuary.

Crusie's Fast Women has a few things to say about bad marriages, and they're things that a group of best friends tell each other:

"It's a terrible thing to be married to the wrong man," Margie said. "It's like being trapped at a bad party that never ends. The voices are always too loud and the jokes are dumb and you end up standing against a wall, hoping nobody notices you because it's so much easier that way. It's like you're trying to avoid somebody who's the only other person at the party."

"So we didn't have sex," Nell said. "I know, I know, it was the middle of the day and we were at work, but do you know how long it had been since I've necked? I mean, just necked? Tim and I never did that. We talked about work and we had sex, but we never fooled around and then didn't do it." Nell shoved the last of the chairs under a table. "I'd really gotten to the place where if I got kissed, I started taking off my clothes."

Fast Women also fits into the class of books where the baggage the heroine enters with is exhaustion -- a woman who has spent so long taking care of everyone around her that she has nothing left for herself. That's when the hero steps in. You could read these books as "weak woman, strong man" stories, but does that really describe a story of a woman who keeps the people around her going until she's sucked dry? And can you see why such stories might appeal to a woman who comes home from work to household labor and family needs?

In Jude Deveraux's Sweet Liar, Samantha Elliot has nursed her dying father, supported her no-good husband by working two jobs, and been shoved out of the life she knows. Michael Taggert takes her shopping. He feeds her pate and chocolate mousse. And together they find the truth about her long-missing grandmother. In its details it's a more extravagant fantasy than Bet Me or Fast Women -- the clothes are more expensive, the food less everyday, the man a multimillionaire math genius weightlifter from a giant extended family of romance heroes -- but maybe to you that's not as satisfying as Fast Women's story of professional respect after years of pretended passivity or Bet Me's contentious family dinners. Some of us are looking for fantasy elements and some of us want our fantasy to be framed in the everyday(ish).

That's the trick, really. A romance novel should be an unabashed fantasy. For someone. The question is which fantasy is yours.

I could go on...and on and on. Like football? Seek out Susan Elizabeth Phillips' interconnected books about the Chicago Stars. Like figure skating? Try Kathleen Gilles Seidel's Summer's End. Her Please Remember This can't be summed up by naming a sport (as if any of them can, really), but you'll find a rich story of small-town life, archeological excavation, speculative fantasy fans, and fine needlework.

So tell us. Who do you like to see falling in love?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:02 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Me. Just got out of a messy divorce from a (9+ / 0-)

    Massachusetts marriage.  All I want is a sweet guy.  There doesn't seem to be very many in my community.

    Proud gay as a goose Kossak. Btw, PLEASE give to Barbara Boxer, she's in trouble and we NEED her!!! And I love her!

    by BoyBlue on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:04:35 PM PDT

    •  Ahem! I would argue there are more sweet guys (7+ / 0-)

      in your community than in my (hetero) one. Most (all, I think) of my friends in long, stable, wonderful partenships or marriages: sweet guys with Teh Gay!

      And, of course, sorry about your messy divorce. Hugs and quick healing!

      My DVR is tanned, rested & ready for Jeff Lieber's Miami Medical, Fridays on CBS at 10p/9p central. Yours too?

      by earicicle on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:07:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So to both of you, (6+ / 0-)

        what in a novel would make you feel like it could be you? Since it sounds like you both want a fantasy of "it could be me" as opposed to lavish everything.

        •  Well, I wouldn't exactly call it a "romance" (3+ / 0-)

          novel, by any stretch of the imagination. But one of my fave novels (maybe at the top of my all-time list, certainly in the contemporary era) is James McManus' Going to the Sun (1996).

          The focus of the book is not the protagonist's love story, but her battle with herself: overcoming a lost love (lost, as in "to a hungry bear as they're camping together") and making peace with her lifelong struggle with diabetes. She undertakes an arduous long-distance bike trip, and, well, meets someone along the way. Don't really want to give away anymore of the story.

          If I find an author I like, I voraciously devour everything else in his oeuvre. Have to say I didn't find any other book-length work by McManus that I even liked. So, if you've read and disliked his stuff, still give Going to the Sun a try. It blew me away, and I've reread it several times.

          My DVR is tanned, rested & ready for Jeff Lieber's Miami Medical, Fridays on CBS at 10p/9p central. Yours too?

          by earicicle on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:34:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Who do I like to see falling in love? (9+ / 0-)

    Well, um, me. But there's no novel about that.

    Yet. ;-)

    Nice post, Laura.

    My DVR is tanned, rested & ready for Jeff Lieber's Miami Medical, Fridays on CBS at 10p/9p central. Yours too?

    by earicicle on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:04:51 PM PDT

  •  Plucky women and handsome, adventurous men (8+ / 0-)

    for starters.  When my mother died, to keep grief at bay I drowned myself in romance novels.  To me, the late Anne Weale is the absolute mistress of this genre:  her command of the English language is impeccable and her settings were always exotic or at the very least, interesting.  Of course these books are written to a formula, but that was okay.  I wanted no-brainers.  Luckily, Ms. Weale wrote 80 of the things and I think I've read them all by now.

    Another writer I thoroughly enjoy in this category is Marion Chesney and her series of Regencies and Edwardians. Yes, formula again, but with the injection of a great deal of humor!  I frequently find myself laughing aloud as I read them.  I've read just about all of these too.  

    Most of what I've been reading is out of print, so I have to hit on AbeBooks and Alibris to get my fix.

    In the gay romance category, I find Mel Keegan to be the master!  I loved Fortunes of War (set in the 16th century) and have read it twice.  I also liked White Rose of Night (about the Crusades), Dangerous Moonlight (highwaymen in the 18th century), and The Swordsman. Keegan has also written a couple of gay vampire romances, but I don't do vampires.

    To me the pleasures of TV and film can never, ever compare with the pleasure of completely losing myself in fiction.  I'm on an unromantic kick now, with Nelson Demille's smart-alec protagonists, all male so far, who amuse me no end.

    Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:13:51 PM PDT

    •  I definitely want to hit (7+ / 0-)

      historicals next.

      And sometime I really need to start making my way through the list of recommendations I've gotten around here. Lately I've just been so busy and tired, I reread the old favorites again and again.

    •  See my comment below... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, earicicle, bookgirl

      you'd likely love the In Death series.

      Evil is making the premedicated choice to be a dick -- Jason Stackhouse

      by Frankenoid on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:18:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not so fond of Chesney (0+ / 0-)

      Once I'd read a handful, there started to be a sameness, and she's more careless with her research than I'm willing to accept. She also has a few too many unpleasant characters for my taste.

      Chesney currently writes two mystery series as M. C. Beaton (I believe her birth name was Marion Chesney, and she married a man named Beaton, giving her a ready-made name for that genre): one featuring Hamish Macbeth, and a second featuring Agatha Raisin. I rather liked the first Agatha Raisin, but by the third I was wondering why she was getting so tiresome, and why the writing seemed familiar, when I suddenly realized who she was. That was it for me.

      © sardonyx; all rights reserved

      by sardonyx on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:34:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Must say I agree about Agatha Raisin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sardonyx

        The only reason I haven't read all the Agatha books is because Agatha Raisin is (to my mind) such a dislikable character.

        On the other hand, I adore Hamish MacBeth and all his doings!  I like getting bits of description about Scotland.

        I also adored Rhys Bowen's "Evans" series, but when I contacted the author about when the next one was coming out, she replied possibly never.  Her publisher doesn't want to print any more in that series.  Bummer.  I wanted to know how Evans was getting on in the domestic sphere.

        Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

        by Diana in NoVa on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 11:16:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Crusie is a hoot -- one of the few romance (4+ / 0-)

    writers I still read.  Most of the time I'm too skittish of the whole topic.

    Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be -- John Wooden/twittering RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:14:36 PM PDT

  •  I liked that the boy in Connie Willis' (5+ / 0-)

    To Say Nothing of the Dog has a crush on the girl in Doomsday Book.

  •  I like it when the main characters are strong but (5+ / 0-)

    not brash, with self-confidence (though it may be hidden). They should be respectful of each other and their environment, and neither should be a jerk -- especially that the guy, if any, should not be a "knows what he wants and takes it" ass. It's also nice when there's something else to the plot besides their relationship, and bonus points if it's not tedious or tiresome crap that the characters have to slog through.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Ponder Stibbons on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:16:24 PM PDT

  •  While I've enjoyed (6+ / 0-)

    the Sookie Stackhouse novels, my true, favorite romance genre trash are J.D. Robb's (a/k/a Nora Roberts) "In Death" series.

    They're amusing, profane, set in a well-imagined near future New York, ten or twenty years after the world wide "Urban Wars".  The protagonists are Eve Dallas, a female, kick-ass NY detective, and the mysterious and beautiful Roarke (no first name) -- the richest man in the world -- who fell in love with and married her.

    Evil is making the premedicated choice to be a dick -- Jason Stackhouse

    by Frankenoid on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:17:37 PM PDT

    •  J.D. Robb is great, but interestingly enough, (5+ / 0-)

      I cannot read Nora Roberts (the actual author of the JD Robb books).  I've tried many times and just don't like them.  On the whole, I prefer historicals, especially Regencies:  Barbara Metzger is my favorite.  She writes in the humor vein with strong women, hapless heroes and charming pets (mostly dogs) often are featured. If you can find an old Susan Carroll Regency, it's a gem.  She's since veered into Midievals and now some contemporaries, but the genre she started with is still the best.  The time at the start of the 19th century is one where women were just beginning to realize that they could play an independent role in the world.  While society still confines them to being either wife or mistress, the best stories show this coming of consciousness of both the women and the men in them.  And when they fall in love with each other, it's electric.  

      One thing to note about Regencies:  there is no sex.  There's a fair amount of foreplay, but in those novels marketed as "Regency" part of the formula is no sex.  If it's a Regency-era historical, then let the sex begin!  Mary Balogh is notable in this sub-section, as is Kinsey Michaels.

      •  Totally agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonderful world

        I can't read Nora Roberts, either.  'Course I feel the same about J.D. Robb.  I have low tolerance for that (to me) lame futuristic stuff.

        War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

        by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:05:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Funny. I like Roberts ok, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PurpleMyst

        at least some of them. But can't read JD Robb.

        •  Like Robb, not Roberts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          politichic

          Yes, I know they're the same person (or writing shop).

          I've read all her In Death books.  Love the group of secondary characters she's developed, and how Eve Dallas is slowly pulled from her solitary existence into real relationships with them (and with Roark) well outside her comfort zone.

          The humor is good - especially when Eve is trying to figure out the next relationship challenge.  I do find myself laughing out loud, which is a big point in their favor.

          Robb pays off regular readers by catching us up on various characters.  Just when you're thinking, what's happened to Louise or Leonardo, up they pop in a subplot.

          I do sometimes skim over the violence, but find the crime solving interesting.  The sci-fi aspects are not particularly imaginative (no global change by the 2050s?) but not awful.

          I've tried some Roberts, but they don't catch my interest.

          Surprise, we live in a Left-Of-Center Nation! Act accordingly.

          by VA Gal on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:46:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I tend not to like series (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            askew, politichic

            with the same characters over and over. My father is very firm on that; I'm less so but I agree with him that at a certain point, the author stops having anything new to do with the character.  That's probably something I like about romances in general -- it's one and done in almost every case.

            •  I also get tired of those "trilogies" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              askew

              Like where three brothers have to fall in love and get married off in consecutive novels.  By the last one, I am more than ready to move on.  

              But I'm sure it's great for the author -- one research project, three novels.  Kind of lazy, no?

              War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

              by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:13:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Hey, they have flying cars... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            politichic

            but she doesn't tell us what the fuel source is.

            However, that all but the super-rich consume veggie-based proteins, and fake coffee, is a nice touch.

            Evil is making the premedicated choice to be a dick -- Jason Stackhouse

            by Frankenoid on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:11:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I like Roberts very early stuff (0+ / 0-)

            and I like the JD Robb stuff. Genuine Lies and some other of the early works are good. Writing as Robb, the strength is in the secondary characters she has created. And the dialogue. Love the dialogue between Eve and Peabody.

      •  If you like regencies (4+ / 0-)

        go to regencyreads.com where you can download oldies but goodies (or maybe just new-to-you) and the best part is that the authors receive part of the payment, unlike at used book stores where the authors get zero.

        "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

        by wonderful world on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:33:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If you're going to read Regencies, start with (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan, SadieSue, JenS

        the creator, Georgette Heyer.

        Heyer wrote comedies of manners, set in both Regency and Georgian times; it was her popularity in the mid- to late '60s that led to a host of imitators, and then a full-out genre with competing lines of books from a number of publishers.

        The Regency has diverged since then. If you're looking for sex in Heyer, you won't find it; Heyer's accurate to the time, which means a certain formality is de rigeur, especially when dealing at the highest levels of English society.

        Interestingly, there's a fair crossover between science fiction fandom and Heyer fandom, and elements of the comedy of manners have found their way into any number of sf novels, from Walter Jon Williams and Connie Willis to Teresa Edgerton, Rosemary Edghill (whose first published book was a Regency; she later switched genres), and the team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

        © sardonyx; all rights reserved

        by sardonyx on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:26:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heyer's books (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BachFan, JenS

          were the only romance novels I could read for a long time -- loved the language, and her consistent plot/characterizations.  

          Life is full of surprises, and there is always hope. - Ruth Reichl

          by Hope Despite All on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:37:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I looked for the flavor of Heyer's novels (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            politichic, BachFan, JenS

            for the longest time. Elsie Lee, in the '70s, was close once or twice, and a couple of other authors made creditable tries.

            One novel that came close for me on first reading was Loretta Chase's The Devil's Delilah.

            Patricia Veryan hearkened back more to Jeffrey Farnol (one of Heyer's influences), and some inevitable swordfighting, but some of her early novels had some wonderfully outrageous (in the funny sense) scenes.

            © sardonyx; all rights reserved

            by sardonyx on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:47:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Loretta Chase . . . (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sardonyx, BachFan, JenS

              ... would be my Heyer backup, as well.  Not quite the same level of sophistication, but I like her a lot.  My favorite is The Last Hellion.  It's quite old now, i think.

              War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

              by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:13:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Last Hellion was published in 1998 (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BachFan

                Depends on your definition of "quite old", of course.

                Chase's next book returns to the Carsington clan: Peregrine and Olivia, the children from Lord Perfect, are grown up, and it's time for their story. Well, not quite yet; the book isn't due out until August.

                © sardonyx; all rights reserved

                by sardonyx on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:42:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  The most important ingredient for a successful (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                politichic, BachFan

                Regency is the dialogue. The haute ton was built around the bon mot, and if an author can't get the right flavor of the back and forth one-upmanship then the book doesn't work for me. Witty banter is the regency version of foreplay and Heyer and now Chase do it very well. Mary Balogh is pretty good at it, too.  Jo Beverly's earlier works are good examples also.

                This might be why I read. A well-constructed relationship between would be lovers, explicated through conversations is my favorite way to spend time, either in a romance novel, fantasy, science fiction or Shakespeare for that matter.

                Fictional narratives are a way to explore what makes us human, how and who we love and how to be the best we can be with the help of loving relationships in whatever form that takes.

  •  I loved the romance (5+ / 0-)

    in Contact, between the scientist and the philosopher.

    The recent legislation in Arizona threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans. --B. Obama

    by mem from somerville on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:19:08 PM PDT

  •  after Janice Radway's study, I just could (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world

    not read romance in print again. Cinematic version are all I can tolerate.

    "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

    by annieli on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:19:14 PM PDT

    •  What study was that? Haven't heard of it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, wonderful world

      Did the study say that only mushbrains read romances?

      One can get tired of the formula, of course.  That's one of the reasons I read gay romances, gay sci-fi, and so on.  It's nice to read about two handsome guys who are equal in brains, courage, and character.  There's none of this "stupid female ignores warnings, gets in trouble, has to be rescued by brave, totally intelligent male" business.  That can get old really fast.

      Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

      by Diana in NoVa on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:22:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world, annieli

      When did you read Radway? To me, by the time I read it, the genre had moved on so much that her study clearly remained important, but there was a lot different.

      •  I read it when it came out, but I confess to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonderful world

        thinking that the genre has not really changed for the same reasons that Radway indicated were sustaining features of those interpretive communities

        "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

        by annieli on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:32:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Reading the Romance (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, wonderful world

          is a book by Janice Radway that analyzes the Romance novel genre using reader-response criticism. It was first published in 1984 and had a reprint in 1991. The 1984 edition of the book is composed of an introduction, six chapters, and a conclusion, structured partly around Radway’s investigation of romance readers in Smithton (a pseudonym) and partly around Radway’s own criticism. Radway herself expresses preference for reader-response criticism throughout the course of the book, as opposed to the popular new criticism during the 1980s....Yet while there seems to be a lack of quality, this structure is not comprised due to laziness. The romance genre is precisely that: a genre, and one that serves not as an artistic tool but one that, for a little while, assures its readers of their own self-worth and ability to affect a patriarchic world, so by the end of the novel the female readers, often mothers, feel invigorated and ready to take on the day-to-day tasks of managing the home and family. However, Radway asserts that it is the individual woman’s choice to read romance novels, and that this selection not only fabricates a predictable, happy ending but depicts a heroine who discovers her own individuality through her ability to care for others, as opposed to unique personal qualities.

          "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

          by annieli on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:35:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Written in 1984? (3+ / 0-)

            Shoot, I can't stand to read any romances from those days and I loved them once.

            However, just like everything else, the genre moved on since then. Even the book everyone in the industry liked, and I used to write romances for a couple of companies, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women is way old-fashioned now. It may still explain some elements of the appeal but romance now contains more kick-ass heroines partnering with men than the old days ever could have imagined.

            "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

            by wonderful world on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:37:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's about genre as a form, whereas (0+ / 0-)

              content of course may have "moved on", but the genre remains the same in terms of audience (readers as a component of the form). The demographic/market is the same and "more kick-ass heroines partnering with men" is certainly fine but to use an analogy, Betty Page and Madonna do have a family resemblance aside from sharing a gender and with all due respect to your craft, Sarah Palin as a constructed character (pit bull c/lipstick) might be seen as one of those "kick-ass heroines" with whom that same demographic might identify.  

              "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

              by annieli on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 07:16:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  PARANORMAL ROMANCE FOR THE WIN!! (6+ / 0-)

    Check out authors J R Ward, L A Banks, Kim Harrison. If you like interracial romance (White Male, Blk female) Indio Books has tons of authors. My favorite historical romance author is Lisa Kleypas, she does series.

    http://www.lisakleypas.com/
    http://www.leslieesdailebanks.com/
    http://www.vampire-huntress.com/...
    http://kimharrison.net/
    http://www.goodreads.com/...

    "Science is mans way of discovering what God has already created." - My Mom

    by S C B on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:21:20 PM PDT

    •  Kim Harrison is really horror (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      S C B

      because the romance is VERY secodnary to the horror plotline. NOT a big Banks fan at all. I'd throw in Lynn VIehl.  More interesting characters, and I love her female doctor  who is in all of them. Interracial as well, that romance.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:03:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also Jennifer Weiner (5+ / 0-)

    writes book with plus size romantic interests for the big girls !! http://www.jenniferweiner.com/

    There are a few more, I can't think of them off the top of my head right now.

    "Science is mans way of discovering what God has already created." - My Mom

    by S C B on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:23:50 PM PDT

  •  I didn't know sheik-and-harem was a cliche (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ezdidit, Ponder Stibbons

    I thought the cliched ones were the ones that were nominally set in the Regency period (basically because it's the latest period you can get men in knee breeches and hose, and the earliest when you can get men without periwigs) and yet somehow the men and women all talk and act exactly like contemporary men and women.

    "Lord Bernard!" Celia exclaimed.  "How dare you intrude upon me when... I'm having my period!"

    Lord Bernard settled himself upon the chaise longue and placed his handsome morocco-leather spurred boots upon the ornately carved mahogany writing desk.  "That's okay, babe," he smiled.  "I can wait."

    A quiet beeping noise ensued.  Lord Bernard frowned and fished something from his waistcoat pocket.  "Wait a minute," he hesitated.  "Someone's texting me."

    •  I hope that was an attempt to be funny (4+ / 0-)

      'cause I worked my ass off to get my details right as does every one I know in the business. Sometimes a bad book gets through, but not often. This is a serious business that makes as much money as the National League.

      "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

      by wonderful world on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:39:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ANd sometiems it's the editor's fault, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonderful world

        who changes details without the author's knowledge.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:01:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I for one, appreciated your attention to detail (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politichic, wonderful world

        Not knowing your nom de plume and not knowing if I read any of your works, I can still say that if the use of a historical era was not used correctly, the book was ruined for me.  My biggest complaint about authors was when they violated the rules of the universe they had constructed for the reader.
        If you are writing a regency, then use the era's details to inform the story.
        Someone up thread mentioned JR Ward. There was one book that she came up with a plot device that enraged most of  her fans because the device violated the rules of the vampire universe she had been building for several novels.
        Same with historical or regency. If you are going to set the story in that era, you must have a reason for doing so. Have faith in that decision, but don't let laziness keep you from being  true to that era.
        I am in awe of the research many authors have performed in pursuit of a good story. So thank you!

        •  I've made some beaut mistakes (0+ / 0-)

          but they were usually because I couldn't find the facts in time for the deadline. Nobody knows how fast we have to write sometimes...and we're off on another before we have a chance to really clarify the last one.

          Not that that is a good excuse, but it's all I got.

          "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

          by wonderful world on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 05:57:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, come on (0+ / 0-)

        I take a look at these bodice-rippers on the supermarket shelves every now and then, and they purport to be about Vikings or Native Americans or Scottish clan chiefs, and you open them up and there will be six or seven glaring historical errors in the first few pages.  For these authors, all of these are identical 'exotic', 'savage' cultures that will produce an identical burly-but-sensitive he-beast for the heroine to fall in love with.  It's cookie-cutter writing, and there's not the least attempt at historical accuracy.

        •  And you are, I suppose, an expert in the (0+ / 0-)

          fields of Vikings, Native culture, and the clan structure of 17th century Scotland?

          Maybe you are wrong about your conceptions of life at that time.

          "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

          by wonderful world on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 07:54:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I do know quite a lot about these things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wonderful world

            But you don't need to be an 'expert' to see through the shabby superficialities of romance-novel 'history'.  And what's really sad is that for a lot of readers, these books are the only source of knowledge they'll ever have on the periods (supposedly) described.  The long-term result is that we have generations of people who think that the entire world, and the entire span of history, corresponds to the bland and monotonic romance-novel fantasy.

            I also notice the overall absence of heroes and heroines of African or Asian ancestry.  Heroes either are white, or can pass as white (the 'Native American' on the cover looks like a white man with a tan).  I dare say there are exceptions -- written for a niche market -- but they don't show up on the supermarket shelves.  Why is the romance market still stuck, in terms of this racial mythology, in the beginning of the 20th century?

            •  Actually, there is a very popular genre (0+ / 0-)

              of African-American romances. They have their own section in the bookstores due to their popularity.

              Stop judging an entire genre of books by what you happen to wander across in the supermarket...which is stocked very much according to prevailing mores in your community. If you don't like what you are seeing, maybe it's where you live rather than the industry?

              "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

              by wonderful world on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 11:51:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Here's MY DK diary on romance fic as activism! (5+ / 0-)

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    my report on the first conference on romance fiction and American culture "Love as the Pursuit of Freedom"  Princeton U, 2009

    Glad to see the topic getting the attention here it truly deserves. 1/4 of all books sold (1/2 of paperbacks) are romance fiction so they can be a huge vehicle for the transmission of progressive values.

    Hillary Rettig is author of The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way (Lantern Books, 2006), www.lifelongactivist.com

    by lifelongactivist on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:26:25 PM PDT

  •  Gay romances have difficulty (6+ / 0-)

    following the conventions of straight romances. Even when straight romances are updated to portray reasonably egalitarian relationships they still work on some notions about differentiated gender role behavior. The big change is not to place more value on one gender or the other. This really doesn't fit gay relationship realities. It is all a lot less predictable.

    When it first became possible to market gay themed novels on the open market there were attempts to produce gay copies of traditional romance novels, just because it was our turn. Those really weren't very successful.

    There is an extensive array of online amateur gay writing. A minority of it is fairly descent reading. A staple of the genre is the teenage coming out romance novel. The tension of coming out and secrecy has about equal weight with the puppy love romance.

    I seriously doubt that there will ever be a gay Pride And Prejudice.

    •  OMG: I think "Gay Pride & Prejudice" would (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world

      make an AWESOME title for a sweeping saga! To the parchment and quills, novelists!
      ;-)

      My DVR is tanned, rested & ready for Jeff Lieber's Miami Medical, Fridays on CBS at 10p/9p central. Yours too?

      by earicicle on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:37:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've read a couple (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonderful world, earicicle

        of attempts at it that were miserable failures. To begin with you need a Jane Austen and they don't come along often. Anything trying to portray a settled comfortable gay relationship in an historical period would be pretty anachronistic. However, all that being said, Mr. Darcy can carry me off to his mansion any time he wants to.

      •  Since "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" came out... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slinkerwink, SeekCa, wonderful world

        ...that's probably not gonna happen.

        It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

        by Jaime Frontero on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:48:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I refused to look at the book. I am a firm (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          politichic, Richard Lyon

          Janeite--and zombies just don't work. For one thing, they're strictly Caribbean or Louisiana, and have NOTHIGN to do with ENgland. NOTHING. I DID buy Little Vampire WOmen, kinda looked at it at random, and decided all the writer did was change a few words here and there to make it vampires...badly odne. It is scheduled for the used bookstore next trip. NOT WORTH IT

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:59:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's actually pretty funny... n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BachFan

            It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

            by Jaime Frontero on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:10:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  SO is Jane Austen. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BachFan

              And FAR smarter and better weritten.  Myself, I think its written to appeal to 22 year olds who think they're clever, soerta semi-literate Jd Aptow fans. ANd who don't know shit about literature.  AUsten IS comedy, but dry British humor  as opposed to stupid slapstick. I saw they're doing ROmeo and Juliet with vampires,. Won't waste my hard-earned money on this adolescent schlock any more

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:24:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Are you familiar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonderful world

      with Neil Bartlett's work? I was very young when I read "Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall" but it is still one of my favorite books. His book on Oscar Wilde is pretty good too.

      http://www.neil-bartlett.com/...

    •  Ebooks are where they dwell these days (0+ / 0-)

      written by straight women for other straight women...no, REALLY. Sent one Catholic romance writer of inspirational (read: no sex) romances into a tizzy when she tried to get RWA to ban writers of the subgenre from membership. Nora ROberts put her down firmly, bless her heart.  I diaried about this a couple of years ago.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:56:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've had a good bit of involvment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politichic

        with the world of online gay writing. I remember how surprised I was when I first found out that straight women were a significant part of the fan base. My theory is that they enjoy stories that have men behaving in a romantic manner like they wished straight men would behave toward them.

    •  Emma Holly did a story she calls (0+ / 0-)

      her WIll and Grace novel--the subplot is the hero's gay brother falling in love with the steward and finding happiness in France. It's a neat twist, and you really do like the brother (maybe more than the cliched hero).

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:00:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A great gay romance (4+ / 0-)

    Suzanne Brockman has kind of gone off the deep end with icky serial killers of late, but before she did, she wrote a fantastic gay romance between a Hollywood actor and an FBI agent whose relationship served as subplots in several novels before they finally got their own story.  It began in Hot Target, continued in Force of Nature, and ended -- well, I suppose they are still together, after all -- in All Through the Night.

    War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

    by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:34:31 PM PDT

  •  I don't read a lot of romance novels, (4+ / 0-)

    but I love Crusie's books. Her books are just funny. She is like a Janet Evanovich without the mystery element.

  •  Best description I've heard of Twilight (5+ / 0-)

    plot (don't read, fans): Girl must choose between necrophilia and bestiality.

    Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be -- John Wooden/twittering RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:38:41 PM PDT

  •  I'll admit it. I read romance novels. Yes they (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadieSue, wonderful world

    are all similar but the good romance writers get you to like their characters.  Emile Richards' quilt series has good characters.  Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Jennifer Chiaverini (again quilts. do you see a pattern?)  Judith Ryan Hendricks can describe food better than anyone.  Maybe they don't have as much substance as other books, but romances are entertaining.

    "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." B. Franklin - "So that's what I'm doing wrong."

    by deweysmom on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:40:05 PM PDT

  •  watching Law & Order, I'm glad to see (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, irishwitch, wonderful world

    Lt Van Buren with a love interest, given that in TV years, she is "old" (the character is what, late 40's? But in TV, that's old).

    Since I read mostly science fiction, most of my romance is in TV & movies. I like to see romances with non-typical characters. Older, larger people... people who look more like me. I want the female character who is larger than a size 2 & out of her 20s. The guy doesn't have to be perfect, either.

  •  Humor in the novels is a must (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, BachFan, SadieSue, wonderful world, JenS

    Julia Quinn's  Bridgerton Series; the humor in the books are fantastic..  I also like that the secondary character are interesting and fun. The books are connected, but can be read separately.  Great Summer read.  

    These books are considered Regency Period Historicals.

    http://www.juliaquinn.com/...

    Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official... ~Theodore Roosevelt

    by Pam from Calif on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:44:08 PM PDT

  •  I always return to the classics (8+ / 0-)

    For the Regency period, you just cannot beat Georgette Heyer.  Wit, language, great characters ... when you've read all of Jane Austen, start in on Heyer.  Seriously.

    War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

    by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 06:44:38 PM PDT

  •  Some Nora Roberts (5+ / 0-)

    many are too formulaic, but she comes out with some good ones every once in awhile, even now after all these years of writing.

    I'm actually a big fan of her JD Robb mysteries. They've given me some good escapism and I have no problem re-reading them occasionally, though her futuristic elements are never good enough for me.

    I like strong women and men, strong in the best possible way, of course.

    Thanks, Laura, for the topic today.

    (I'll take this moment to plug the Millenium series, too, by the late Steig Larsson (sp?); Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played with Fire, and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. All exceptional and riveting. Not romances, but can't-put-'em-down stuff nonetheless).

    •  Futuristic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VA Gal, exmearden, wonderful world

      >> her futuristic elements are never good enough for me.<<</p>

      That's it exactly.  It's just gadgetry, it seems. Never really addresses societal issues like sci fi and futuristic fiction is supposed to.

      War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

      by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:13:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've read the first two "Girl who" books (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exmearden, wonderful world

      and loved them. Sort of worried the last won't live up to them, though, so I hesitate to read it. I will eventually, though.

      •  the last one lived up for me. (0+ / 0-)

        Tied up a lot of loose ends, but not so neatly that it makes it look like the author was just trying to finish out the series, as some trilogies appear to end.

        Thoroughly made me wish we would see more from Stieg. So sad that he died so young and so soon after delivering these to a publisher.

        I'd like to pick up a Swedish version and see what differences I find between the Swedish and English translation, though it's been over thirty years since I read any Swedish. Probably won't get around to it.

  •  Crusie is chick lit, imo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world

    Which is not exactly romance. It's more tongue in cheek than a true romance. I'm more of a romance fan, although I did enjoy "Bet Me"

  •  Anybody old enough? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world

    Haven't consistently read much romance in years, although I used to devour Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland regencies.  But this discussion led me to reminisce about some romances I got into as a teen (and they were ooooold then), books by
    Kathleen (Thompson) Norris

    Well, since I'm in the middle of loading my Kindle for vacation travel, I went to see if there was anything there to add to my old-timers collection (Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, etc.), and indeed there was a collection of 12 Norris books - now added to the Kindle load. Be interesting to see what I think of them 40 years after the first reading.

    Legalism: strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

    by Catte Nappe on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:13:49 PM PDT

    •  Heyer, I love--and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sardonyx, Catte Nappe, BachFan

      having doen a thesis on Austen and a script when in grad school on the periiod, I can tellya that if she says a certain piece of gossip with hsitoricakl characters happened, it DID.

      Cartland?  GAG.  Lobotmi8zed teenage virgins whose sweet innocence brings the big, bad rake who'd initially planned to rape them (there's a NASTY  undetone to them) to his knees with an engagement ring in hand. YUCK> ANd yes, I read them. Thank God int he 80s, women took over the editing and the whole rape theme Went Away from romances.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:48:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Research Question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonderful world

    What is the one "Action/Adventure" Romance - if there is such a sub-genre - a straight male should read?

    "...[one] must still have Chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." Nietzsche

    by ATinNM on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:16:07 PM PDT

    •  Try Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ATinNM, BachFan, wonderful world, JenS

      They are based on Navy Seals, have tons of male camraderie, and, at least in the earlier ones, a lovely way of braiding in stories set in World War II (while the main plot and subplots take place in our time).

      I would start at the beginning of the series, though.  Like many authors who try to write too many novels too quickly, she has run out of steam of late.

      War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

      by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:28:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  PERFECT! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politichic, wonderful world

        Exactly what I was looking for!  Thank you.

        "...[one] must still have Chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." Nietzsche

        by ATinNM on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:42:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But take their miltiary accuracy with a HUGE (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan

        shaker of Morton's. She found out back in the early part of this decade that her supposed vet adviser was, well, not a vet, let alone an expert.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:45:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oooh, I hadn't heard that (0+ / 0-)

          More, please?

          War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

          by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:01:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was aroudn 2001-2. I heard it on a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            politichic

            romance list at Yahoo--Brockman used to post there, and she apologized profusely. The guy had passed himself off as Special Forces O to her--turns out he MAY have been military but NOT a Special Forces type, nor perhaps even a vet actually--they weren't clear on that.

            I gave up after ONE book, in which there was a female on the team--a COMBAT team, as a sniper. DOES NOT HAPPEN. My hsuband was a sailor for 15 years of our marriage, and I also had tons of friends in AF and Army as well.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:29:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that "COMBAT team" was not a team (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              politichic

              it was an unofficial group of people coming to support the SEAL team leader - who was on medical leave - on an unauthorized, unofficial investigation, so it didn't violate any of the military's rules. The whole idea was that they were volunteering to help, not there officially.

              In fact, the book made a point of how Alyssa Locke would never be allowed to be a SEAL, and that book is the only time she's in the field with Team 16 while she's still in the Navy. She resigns and becomes an FBI agent in the next book.

              She's also one of the best biracial characters I've seen in a romance series.

    •  You could also try Shannon McKenna (0+ / 0-)

      who has a romantic life worthy of its own novel. Lots of adventure and nasty organized crime bad guys.

  •  The Outlander Series (5+ / 0-)

    by Diana Gabaldon is/was interesting.  Unwilling time-traveller Claire finds herself in Scotland before the '45 and falls in love with Jamie, a Highland warrior.  The series has gone on way too long and Gabaldon must get paid by the word - she really needs a good editor to discipline her.  But the first 3 books in the series were enjoyable.  A really nice break from the serious literature I usually gravitate toward...

    "Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really." -- Agnes Sligh Turnball

    by EyeStreetMom on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:21:30 PM PDT

  •  Great chic lit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, wonderful world

    Barbara Samuels came out of the romance genre, where she did some wonderful work (In the Midnight Rain is just superb), but now she is doing mainstream chic lit to great effect -- started with No Place Like Home and has written 5-6 since then. Very, very nice characters, contexts, and real dilemmas, like alcoholism and aids, for example. Sounds like a downer, but her books aren't.

    War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

    by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:21:35 PM PDT

  •  When it's time for a romance, I usually go for (3+ / 0-)

    the lesbian fiction.

    I have a real fondness for the ever-popular YA teen-falling-in-love-and-coming-out subset of that and have way too many examples on my bookshelves for a 32-year-old woman.  It would be less embarrassing if these were books I'd gotten as a kid and kept, but no, I've gotten all of them in the last 10 years.

    I like romances where a good chunk of the book is spent on the build-up.  It gives me the time to get to know and care about the characters and to feel like rooting for them to be together.  I like anticipation and unresolved sexual tension.  Falling in love at first sight, or hitting the sheets too quickly, feels lazy.  That type of arc can work on film or TV, where you can get a sense of character by looking at the actors, and feel palpable chemistry (hopefully) between them, but with a book, the words on the page are all I've got, and some of those words better be spent on character-building and relationship-building.

    My favorite lesbian romance would have to be Sarah Waters's Fingersmith.  It has one of my favorite, if not my favorite, type of romantic storyline, a con artist falling in love with her mark.  (Escapist romance for me, definitely, as IRL I'd never reunite with a con artist no matter how sorry she is.  I play it very safe, as I need to be able to trust.)  And there's a great twist halfway through.

    Some of the best lesbian romances, though, are ones that I had no idea going in about.  Then I get that delicious frisson of "Hmm, something seems to be going on between these two women.  But will it go there?  Am I just imagining things?"  I like unexpected romance best of all, but obviously if I pick up a Romantic Lesbian Novel, I know going in.  So these lesbian romances sort of hidden away are wonderful.  And of course there is no way for me to intentionally get my hands on more of these unexpected surprises because the name of the book itself works as the spoiler.  What a quandary.

    On a tangent - some romances should never be gone near.  I don't think it's a trend anymore, but remember the "rape romances"?  My mother had a duology by Rosemary Rogers, which I read while growing up because I read every book in the house back then.  Ye gods.  In the course of this "love story," the female lead was raped by the male lead dozens of times.  Oh, but she always climaxed, so it was okay.  Sheesh.

    •  Like Brokeback Mountain? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Black Knight, wonderful world

      I guess most people read that short story after the movie came out, so they knew where it was going.  But if you read it before the movie, you were like ... "Wait a minute, are these two guys, like, ....???"  It was really cool.

      Totally agree about Rosemary Rogers.  Oh my god what a mess those books were.  Example: "Sweet Savage Love" has a "hero" named Steve Morgan who should've been locked up on page 1.

      War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

      by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:33:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, just like that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politichic, wonderful world

        I too had the experience of seeing the movie before reading the short story, so there was no surprise there...but I would have loved it if it had been the opposite way.

        And the Rogers book you named is one of the two I read - I couldn't remember the title.  Steve Morgan, what a nightmare.  And that romance was just so good that she wrote a sequel to it so that Steve could rape Ginny some more.  I can't believe the first book was published, let alone did well enough that a sequel was warranted.  Ack ack ack.

      •  I don't think that I would call that a romance. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politichic, wonderful world

        It is all about bitter realities and no fantasy. It is a good short story and a very good film.

      •  Sweet Savage Love (5+ / 0-)

        I picked up a copy about ten years ago and was reading it in the car. It had been the book when I was in high school. Driving along, my husband said, "What are you muttering?"

        I was saying, "Just kill him, you stupid woman. He gave you a knife, just kill him."

        Autres Temps....

        "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

        by wonderful world on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:50:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  She was a dummy, alright. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          irishwitch, wonderful world

          I wonder what her name was.

          The romance heroine has come a LOOOOONG way since SSL.

          Thank goodness.

          War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

          by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 07:54:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Back then, the editors were MEN. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          politichic, wonderful world

          Their notion was that romance readers would only accept women habing sex if they were raped.  In the 80s, WOMEN edited, and that cliche went away, thank GOddess. I hated BOTH lead characters and figured they deserved each other, frnakly. Better they make each other miserable than two smarter, nicer people.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:52:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, according to Wikipedia... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            politichic, wonderful world

            Editor Nancy Coffey at Avon Books was the one who decided to publish Rogers's SSL, which Rogers had spent a good number of years writing and finally decided to submit for possible publication on the advice of her teenage daughter.

            I then went to Amazon and looked up those first two books, and came away appalled.  There are women posting about how Steve Morgan is the perfect man.  (And a few more sensible posts.)  I also realized that I had mercifully blocked out huge parts - I remembered the nightmarish kidnapping ordeal during which Ginny is raped every single night by Steve, but didn't remember her later gang-rape by other men or her forced prostitution.

            I had also completely forgotten that there's a third Rogers novel my mother owned that I read, and in that one the heroine is gang-raped while the hero watches and shrugs.  Sooooo romantic!

            Back to the Morgan books, it apparently turned into a series of six, and were reissued about ten years ago.  When I think of the far more worthwhile books out of print...

            •  Doesn't disprove my point. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wonderful world

              The majority of the editors were male. And so were the SENIOR staff who had to approve it. I am surprised to hear that a woman bought that ghastly book. You woukldnn't see that sort of book bought today--except maybe by one of the specialty puiblishers who deal with S/m (and not the real S/m, but what is considered fantasy).

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:26:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sure, absolutely... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wonderful world

                but Rogers wrote that book entirely on her own.  It was a childhood story (eek!) that she later turned into the book that she then submitted for possible publication.  No one told her what to write, or how to write it, or that all the sex scenes should be rape ones.  (Although, I do remember that in SSL, Ginny loses her virginity to Steve in a completely consensual, nonviolent encounter.  The rapes begin a little later.)  Rogers was pretty clear in the interview I read that she wrote the kind of books she wanted to read.  And, of course, a lot of women did buy her books.  Enough to warrant a re-issue decades later.  Eek, again.

                You're right that nowadays this book wouldn't be bought for publication - not by any mainstream publisher, not by any responsible S/M publisher.  I've read some S/M.  It's not my favorite thing by a loooooong shot, but I've read some S/M and between the featured lovers, there was always mutual consent.  This, of course, is not true in Rogers's work in which the "hero" is forever raping the "heroine."

                •  Remember when it came out--60s. (3+ / 0-)

                  The general notion was only bad girls had sex (despite the Sexual Revolution unfolding all around them). ROmances were supposed to be read by teenagers or bored housewives who were probably Eisenhower voters. The ONLY acceptable way a Nice Girl could have an orgasm was if she didn't consent to sex. The Sweet Savage novels were a way around it.

                  Rogers is a product of her time and it's mindset. I suspect she had her own internal set of issues on the subject of sex and regarded Steve as so virile and dominating....

                  The books sucked. I HATED them--got a coupel as freebies from my agent back then who wanted me to write bodice rippers.

                  I've sold a few bdsm erotica pieces a few years back.  They were romantic and cosnensual and the emphasis was on the characters rather than whips and chains. One of them had a 50 year old widow as hero. And it's close to something that I did after my first husband died (though I was 34 at the time). I porefer female-oeriented erotica  esp dealing with BDSM because there is plot and characterization, not jsut whips and chains and broads with big boobs (nothign agaisnt htem; I pack a 38C myself, but male porn tends to have no plot or characxterization at all.....)

                  The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                  by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:01:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  '70s, actually (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    wonderful world

                    But you're right, still a product of the times and mindsets.  I'm sure Steve is her fantasy too, and she and Ginny (she's said that her heroines are herself) are very welcome to him, as I certainly don't want him.

                    I agree about female-oriented erotica having actual plots and characterization.  On the whole I'm not that interested in reading for sex specifically, but when I do I feel the same way as I do about romance in general - I need to know the characters and care about them.  In erotica they usually have sex quite quickly, yes, but even so a good writer can still get me to care about them first.  And I have to care about the characters to find written sex scenes hot.  I don't feel the same way about visual sex scenes, because I can just ogle the pretty, but again, in a book, words are all there are, and a sex scene involving people I don't care about just has something of a functional, sterile feel to it.  Boring.  I skip past a lot of sex scenes in books.

                    •  I usually read the first love scene (0+ / 0-)

                      in a book, then skip all the rest.

                      I have to put a quarter in a jar if I call 'em 'sex scenes'.

                      "No, it's all right," said the prospective diner. "The slugs have formed a defensive ring." -- Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett.

                      by wonderful world on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 05:55:51 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Couldn't recal if it was late 60s or very early (0+ / 0-)

                      70s. I know I read it on a train from DC to Baltimore which meant I was either commuting from my first job or grad school or in college still. HATED the book. Didn't much like Kathleen Woodiwiss either for that matter.

                      Sadly there are stil women who like rape stories--he rapes her, they fall in love.  Learned this the heard way when we discussed it on severalk romance list. It's still around ine book erotica but most publishers  on hte Net actually warn people ahead of time, and have a kind of rating code on how explicit the sex is. SOme women also hate realistic language--"cock" and "fuck" ruin it for them for some reason.

                      The theree shorts I wrote are allcharacter driven--you know the characters before the sex, and in one there's no sex,just a woman seducing a man through a bellydance.  

                      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                      by irishwitch on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 11:21:02 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Rosemary Rogers et al (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            irishwitch, wonderful world

            I agree about the horribleness of her misoganistic "heroes".  Nearly that whole genre left me feeling ill after reading them.  The one exception was Katherine Woodeweis (sp?).  I haven't read her in a decade, at least, but I remember some of her novels quite fondly.

            •  Woodiwiss (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              irishwitch, lady blair

              She wrote (writes?) well, but was also in the rape camp, unfortunately.  Remember when that dumb ship's captain mistook one of the heroines for a prostitute and "had his way with her?"  I doubt that would be acceptable in such a novel today.

              However, I will say this:  Diana Gabaldon has a similar scenario somewhere in her multiple pages where Claire's daughter goes on board a ship and gets raped by the captain.  When readers protested, DG said basically "Get real.  In those times, an unaccompanied woman went on board a ship, she was asking for it."

              I do think we have to be careful not to impose today's standards on historical settings.  This is a big issue when it comes to the historical accuracy of historical romance, debated elsewhere in the comments.  Sometimes, in a setting devoted to romance, the actual history is not going to be compatible with modern mores.

              I admire Roberta Gellis' medieval romances for that reason. Not that I am an expert on those times, but she goes out of her way not to prettify things.  The romance seems to follow a pretty realistic arc for the times, and the h/h do not seem like retrofitted modern folks.

              War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

              by politichic on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 10:41:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Got to have lunch with Gellis once. (0+ / 0-)

                She has a master's in medieval history, and her sources are impeccable-she goes back to period writing and primary sources as much as possible, and she weaves it into the storyline seamlessly. SHe actually mentioned in one book that Simon and his wife occasionally had physical fights--and she was as likely to slap him as the other way around. Not modern, but in context, it was typical of the times.

                As to Gabaldon--I never ws able to finish the first book in the series.   But while you don't want to put modern thoughts into characters' heads, it doesn't mean you have to condone rape and shrug it off as :they did that back then and she asked for it". Becuase not everyone thought that way.  By the 18th century you had the beginning of proto-feminism with women like ABigail Adams who would NOT have condoned it. ANd there's also the fact that because society might think she brought it onherself,  doesn't mean you can't depict the reality of rape from the character's PoV. Beverley does that in ELeanor's story in the first Rogues book.

                I had a go-round once on a lsit with a broad (it was a kink list) who had no problem with the Marquis de Sade historically raping a prostitute and a dozen servants. Her attitude was "They were peasants and they expected to be msitreated, so it likely didn't bother them that much." I think she's nuts and told her so.  Just because you have no place to go after the rape doesn't mean youa ccepted it--or else a lot of American slave women lied in their slave narratives I've read.   People are still people, and rape is a haorrible, painful crime that degrades a woman--and is worsened by societal attitudes toward the victim (and even today if she's not a 12 year old or a nun, some peopl will still beleive she asked ofr it if she wore anything les than a burqa).

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 11:33:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I love when old people fall in love. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    Old people and weirdos. They make the best stories, to me. Old weirdos can be especially good, especially when they fall back in love.

    That said, I go the library on my bike and check out basket-loads of books based on their size sometimes and I just read and like a not-old weirdo and never remember who wrote what I just read and often mash up characters and their stories from different books, so I'm not good to anyone for recommendations. Although the book I'm reading right now, The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris, is awesome.

    •  Define old. (0+ / 0-)

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:44:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  80. (0+ / 0-)

        Not like my SO's mom who has been old since she was 23, I'm thinking chronologically old.

        •  You won't find many. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueteam

          Romances regard 40-50 as older, and pretty much don't go beyond that. Used to be over 30 was old, then they realized their audience was hitting 40...It's harder to do for hsitoricals like Regencies because after A CertainA Ge, you weren't marriageable any more--though I read one recently where the 40 something governess (supporting character) married theman she'dfallen in love with years ago. Kinda nice,t hat touch.

          I wrote a BDSM short story for Riupe Fruit about a 50 year odl widow fonally getting back into life with a younger man.  Did I mention I was widowed at 34 and married someone 7 years younger????

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:05:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Every once in a while you'll find a subplot where (0+ / 0-)

          two seniors get together, but they're not the primary romantic couple. I'm trying to remember where I've seen it recently, but the couples just weren't that memorable.

          © sardonyx; all rights reserved

          by sardonyx on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:47:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Shanna Swendson's Enchanted Inc (0+ / 0-)

    series was cute - here's the What's Next page with the series order. Girl from Texas moves to the big city, turns out she has a talent needed by a big magic firm. I read them because of the Texas & the weirdness angles.

  •  good summer read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    "Going to the Dogs" by Mary Guterson has a funny main character, a really sweet guy and great dialogue.

    It's not about the hundred people whose minds you can't change. It's about the two people you empower. ~ Beth Ditto

    by dejavu on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:16:32 PM PDT

  •  Requiem for the Author of Frankenstein (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    About Mary Shelley, PB Shelley and Lord Byron. Quintessential romance, with a capital "R," actually, Romanticism. The novel was nominated for the 2009 Northern California of the Year and won a 2010 award from the National Women's Political Caucus for "Writing Women Back into History." Written by Molly Dwyer, available on Amazon.

    In a time of universal deceit, the simple act of telling the truth is revolutionary--George Orwell

    by Circle on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:17:36 PM PDT

  •  Like your history accurate (5+ / 0-)

    and your heroines feisty and  smart?  Mary Jo Putney's The China Bride is wonderful for that--a half-CHYinese half-English heroine who spends much of the book disguised as a boy leading her hero through China in search of a famous Shaolin monastery; she's also well-versed in martial arts..  Ditto The Bartered Bride and The Wild Child (they're a serious--Wild Child also presents a sadly accurate description of VIctorian asylums and a truly nasty villain and a heroine who has been so traumatized by her parents' murder she's considered "simple" or perhaps insane).

    Prefer a lighter tone with heroines who don't fit the Regency or 18th century mold?  Jo Beverley's your lady.  Known for her historical accuracy, her Malloren and Rogues series are just about perfect. The ROgues novel which deals with Miles and Felicity also has a wonderful black kitten (who may be a Cait Sith) after whom my Garden/Pookie is named. Devilish, in which the Marquess who helms the family  finally meets his match in the form of a Countess (in her own right, meaning she inherited thet itle herself,. rather than being a widow) must find a husband--and she is smart and independent enough to give Beowulf Malloren a run for his money. I am still not sure who tamed whom.

    I am a huge fan of anything by Laura Kinsale ( um, ninjas in London?) and she is also famous for lush prose and historical accuracy. SHe also deals with child abuse and some painful situations, so they are not for those who want fluff.  My favorite is Forbidden Magic, her first, which has fantasy elements, like the Sidhe, helping the telepathic heroine along in her bid to free her Anglo-Irish husband from guilt and a bad rep..

    I am such a stickler for period detail, and I hate it when the writer screws up basic costuming or furniture styles or facts. I kid you not: I once read a truly awful one where Glenda, the Saxon heroine, grubbed for potatoes--while wearing a hoopskirt. Need I say that in 1066, no one was wearing hoops, and potatoes are a New World food? I could not make that up.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 08:42:46 PM PDT

    •  Agreed on all three (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, irishwitch

      You can't go wrong with Putney, Beverley, or Kinsale. All three have new paperbacks out this year, too.

      © sardonyx; all rights reserved

      by sardonyx on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 09:41:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'ver ead all of them, damn it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sardonyx

        My hsuband has become a Beverley fan and a Mary Balogh fan as well. He was bored, I was outta SF for him--and handed him a Beverley. He likes the formulaic reassurance that the hero and heroine will have a HEA.   I think his favorite character though is Blanche from  e Rogues series. He also loves Katie McAlsiter for the sheer silliness of it--his fav is The COrset Diaries for a tall, plus-sized (but all int he right places) heroine.

        I actually caught Beverley in a goof, and wrote to her. In the Miles and Felicity book, she mentions Edward Fitzpatrick--when it's Lord Edward FItzgerald, which happens to be my family name! She laughed about it.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:08:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Where is there a good discussion group ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    ... on romance these days?  For intelligent, introspective critiques and analyses (like all of you have been providing tonight!) -- that isn't all fangurl and gushy?

    War begins where reason ends. Frederick Douglass, 1866

    by politichic on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:19:27 PM PDT

  •  I love what they call 'chick flick' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    novels, and I secretly like Julie Kenner who's written the series, "California Demon: The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom."

    And Jennifer Weiner is awesome, as is Sophie Kinsella.

    Join Our Countdown To Health Reform! Project I work with Progressive Congress Action Fund, a 501(c)4.

    by slinkerwink on Sat Jun 12, 2010 at 10:32:21 PM PDT

  •  2nd front page article about romance novels (0+ / 0-)

    sweet jesus.

  •  I'm a sucker (0+ / 0-)

    for romances about egotistical millionaire sports stars and the sensible women who cut them down to size. That's why I enjoy Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books about football players and Rachel Gibson's novels about hockey stars. They have loads of witty repartee and innovative plot twists. And both hero and heroine are intelligent people.

  •  Romance is a much maligned genre (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lady blair

    When done right, it is great escapist art.

    Strong characters, interesting plot, visualization of imagery - all contribute to a tale that can obsorb your attention completely.

    My favorites:

    A Knight in Shining Armor
    By Jude Deveraux
    My all-time favorite romance. You'll laugh, cry and be cheering for the apparently hapless Dougless Montgomery to come out the winner in this engaging tale. It's not your average romance, it's an exceptional romance. Some readers don't like the ending.

    Janet Evanovich's histerically funny Stephanie Plum stories

    Jennifer Crusie's oddball heroines will tickle your funny bone and touch your heartstrings

    Diana Gabaldon's extensive research shows in her long (but engrossing) tales of Jamie (the 18th Century Scot) and Claire (WWI British Army nurse) and their family, which stretch from 18th Century Scotland to 20th century America - and various other locals in both time periods.

    Julie Garwood, one of the first romance writers I came to love, back in the 80s.

    Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick, another of my early introduction to romance in the 80s and 90s.

    Jane Feather's historical trilogys

    Julia Quinn's historical Lady Whistledown series

    Sharon Kay Penman's series about the Plantaganet Kings of England, starting with The Sunne in Splendor - while mainly historical in nature, there is whole lot of love and betrayal in these tales, too.

  •  Am I too late to the party? (0+ / 0-)

    I just got registered and had to wait to comment.

    Who do I want to read about?  Me and Fishgrease. by Jennifer Crusie.

    My highest-rated backup Heyer Regencies:  Joan Smith, Sheila Bishop, Paula Allardyce.  Bishop and Allardyce also do earlier periods.  Smith tried at least one contemporary, but she's really better in the more confined social structure of the Regency.

    I like both Balogh and Beverly, though I've always thought of them as expanded Regencies rather than a different genre--in fact many of the titles were actually written and published in a shorter category version years ago.

    Sorry I missed the mystery discussion.  Two words: Sarah Caudwell.

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