Yes, I read Romance Novels

I’m back in reading mode again, and even though my WIPs are begging me to visit, the only thing I’ve been able to accomplish is to finish yet another outline for a story. I have it done, the location list and character bios started, and I realized that I now have several (read: 5) of these “story ideas” filed, awaiting their chapters and flesh on the bones. I’m hopeless when I’m in reading mode! Seriously! But, its writing of a sort, right? Right…. add to that, after watching Robin Hood (oh bestill my beating heart, but *#@$ that movie rocked), I’m on a (new) kick for Robin Hood-esque type romances. Bring on sweaty men and horses! Yay! (oh, and a conveniently placed pool for bathing once the battle/chase scene/hard ride to rescue the damsel is over).

Despite my self-beratement for no progress on any writing of substance, I do enjoy being on a kick, especially such a rompy one. Right now, my escape time is filled with swashes being buckled, sumptuous gowns, chivalry, country manors the size of a Holiday Inn, and errant bulls (I just finished Laura Kinsale’s Lessons in French, hilarious!). My “read” stack is slowly getting bigger than my “unread”, and recently, at a garage sale, I sold off most of my Harlequin Blaze monthlies and a Katie McAllisterSteamed for those that are interested, her foray into Steampunk time travel romance – that a fellow avid reader had been looking for. She was so happy she’d found the book, I gave it to her, with the promise to pass it along when done! I found the book interesting, but it wasn’t on my “keeper” list. Katie McAllister normally writes about paranormal stuff like vampires and zombies and werewolves (oh my!), and I tend to give that kind of stuff a miss. Since I have a fascination with Steampunk, I thought I would give it a whirl. You know, I do look ridiculous in goggles, but those corsets are So.Freakin’.COOL!

I’ve always found myself gravitating towards historical romance, “Regencies” as they are commonly referred to. Most are set in the Victorian era, but a few Middle Ages or even Mideaval era slip in, not to mention the whole Scottish Laird story line (Thank you for that obsession Diana Gabaldon). This is what I have been devouring lately, at the exclusion of all else. I’m also drinking more tea, and have a strange desire to go shopping for gowns.

So yes, I read romance novels, and I really do enjoy them. My husband is wondering if I’ve started a new compulsion, and I calmly tell him I’ve always had it. Straight from my teenage days where I read Danielle Steele’s Palomino, and Nora Roberts’ Montana Sky, and had an instant and abiding love for this genre. The story lines so perfectly complete by the end of the book, and the Happily-Ever-After that gives a closure I almost crave in my stories. I hate sad endings. I want to celebrate, not mourn! I also admit I really enjoy the love scenes, and the Moment-of-Truth when the hero and heroine finally figure it all out, usually with much kissing and various other flowery descriptions for getting their humpity on.

I had a comment from a friend awhile ago and it made me sad for her. The friend basically asked me why I read “trashy novels” instead of literary fiction and serious works. Why would I waste my hard earned dollars on smut and “bodice rippers” when I could read Giller prize winners? She couldn’t fathom why an educated woman, such as myself, would lower herself.

I had a hard time explaining myself to her in concrete terms. I know, hard to believe since I have such a conviction about my “girly books”. I quoted statistics about how this genre sells more than any other, about how I enjoy the story without having to think about the consequences of it, but none of it seemed to hit the gong, to say “this is why!”. I told her that romance is out there in other genres, using Avatar as an example, or David Edding’s Belgariad and Mallorean series, where the romance for Garion and Ce’Nedra is a recurring theme in a book series read traditionally by fantasy and Sci-Fi lovers. (May he and his wife Leigh rest in peace). I told her it was escapist fiction, and that felt like a cop-out, and somehow cheapened the amazing authors and stories I have read over the years. I thought, later on, how so many people in the past have said that romance is for “Undersexed housewives who drown their marriage inadequacies with fantasy, created by an unnatainable description of what love is supposed to be”.

Oi. Heavy.

So I sat and thunk on it. I read a couple of Lisa Kleypas novels, re-read some cover snark from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I knew that I was not a closeted romance reader, and I refused to hide my choice of book behind a political periodical or trade publication. I knew that I wanted to write in this genre, and publish in it someday. I knew….

And there it is. I don’t have to justify my choice to anyone, nor have the concrete WHY! at my hand’s ready to fling at the next person who asks me why I read “that crap”. I just do. I like it, it makes me happy. So there *nyah*. And thus, my defense is done.

So now, with that monologue out of thew way (and my shoulders lighter for the realization), I ask you, dear reader, what it is that you read, and love, and do not have to justify to anyone else? tell me why, or why not, and tell me what you do think about romance and its misconceptions and stereotypes. I want to know, not to defend its honour, but to understand and learn how someday, my books might be percieved!

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5 thoughts on “Yes, I read Romance Novels

  1. Here Here! I am glad you said it, because I was going to. I am not ashamed, I read trashy romance novels. I can’t even call them all romance novels, they are a blend of Romantica, and Erotica, some Romance…not pornography.

    These books are not for the undersexed or unhappy housewives. Actually the women that write them are very happy oversexed housewives or career mavens. One of my good friends who writes them just finished her degree in forensic science, and she doesn’t read the “Red Tent” or any other literary fiction.

    Why do we, seemingly smart, I am an accountant by trade, women read these novels? I can say that in my own view from my own room that there are some days where I just want to turn it off. I want to read and be emotionally engaged and not mentally engaged. In speaking in very general terms here, why are we assumed that we only want to be intellectually stimulated?

    What if we want more than intellectual stimulation? What if we actually want some type of emotional attachment that we can’t get from literary fiction. Sure, we will be stimulated in the mind, but what if we just feel like saying, “This man right here is a cutie.”?

    I do love romance novels, and always have, since I was little. If you are going to write it, read it.

    It is funny to me though, those who call romance novels ‘trashy’ have stereotyped them all as bodice rippers. They obviously are just reading the wrong books.

  2. I used to get a lot of flack for watching soap operas. But here’s the thing. Sometimes I don’t want to think. When I spent my days working and reading and thinking, I was tired at the end of all that and just wanted to turn my brain off. I don’t think there is anything wrong ith that.

  3. I watch some truly mindless TV. Truly. Which is probably like the video equivalent of the romance novel. I like it. I enjoy entertainment. I don’t understand why something that is actually FUN is considered low brow as a matter of course.

  4. Amber: That is a good question. Why does fun = frivolous or cheap? Not sure sometimes, I suppose that answer is different for everyone, based on perception and definition of the term.

    Brie, Exactly! I spend my days with words, typing and thinking technical diddley. I want to not do that for a little while at the end of the day. And nope, nothing wrong with that. For awhile, I watched General Hospital, about ten years back… but having a day job makes itdifficult to keep up. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nevea: Welcome! Have you read Charlotte Featherstone’s Addicted or Sinful yet? Both are fantastic, and right up your alley. I think Dear Author reviewed Sinful recently. And yes, I agree. if you are going to write it, read it. that is how I tell my husband a new book purchase is “research” ๐Ÿ™‚ I think he might buy it, but likely not… LOL.

  5. Some romance is trashy, it’s true. Plenty of educated women read it. But there is plenty of well-written romance, too. Romance is a pretty broad definition, and lots of different books fall under that umbrella, so I don’t think it’s fair to always lump all romance together and call it all trashy.
    Having said that, though, most romance isn’t really my thing. I prefer YA realistic and dystopian novels. Why? Who knows? I don’t think you have to justify your taste.

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