So, this article on MSN got me thinking. For those who are too cool to click, the article is titled “Can’t judge romance novel by its steamy cover”–Audience expanding as genre is no longer all about smut, shirtless heroes. (Thanks for the link, Sybil).
From the article: ATLANTA – Strong women and edgy plots about relationships are replacing the heated passion and ripped bodices of swooning damsels in distress traditionally associated with romance novels.
You know what? I like books about heated passion and ripped bodices. I like damsels in distress (granted, mine usually aren’t swooning, but still.) In fact, I just wrote an almost-genuine bodice ripping scene the other day, in which the hero tears the heroine’s dress off, and damn, I enjoyed that!
I miss romances like they were in the 70’s and 80’s (and if anyone ever wants to buy ol’ December a giftie, I collect 60s/70s gothic romances, the ones where the heroine is always wearing something diaphanous and running away from a large looming mansion with her hair flying in the wind behind her. I love those books.) I miss shirtless heroes and those luridly colored old clinch covers–I love those covers. I miss the huge, bloated, sex-filled romances I read when I was a young teen. (Many of those, btw, were my mother’s. I’m not THAT old, okay? I’m only almost 33.) The ones where the couples fight and fuck and have adventures across three continents, and there’s very little worry about how they’re growing as people.
This is one reason why I love Connie Mason’s books so damn much. So Connie isn’t the best writer in the world. So some of Connie’s dialogue passes the verge of ridiculous and plunks itself right down in the middle of stupid. So her characters are sometimes a little TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). So what? How can one resist prose like, “His mouth took hers once more as he spread her thighs and fondled her, his drugging kisses turning her to putty in his arms” or “Their bodies were all but glued together, and she felt his man part prodding ruthlessly against the secret place between her thighs.” Who doesn’t love that shit? C’m ON! Connie’s books are just sex scene after sex scene, and the spaces in between are filled with pretty people having dumb-ass arguments and doing dumb-ass things. But they’re good books. They’re FUN. Romance should be FUN.
Can I get an amen? Romance should be fun. I’m really rather tired of these romances that are all about social issues or how people learn to grow and change. They take themselves so seriously! If I want to read about people growing and changing, I’ll read literary fiction. I like literary fiction. I have quite a lot of it. But I read romance to escape and enjoy myself. I write it because I love writing it.
I’m not saying issues and romance don’t go together. Of course the people have to be real people (although this is one reason why I prefer historicals, both reading and writing–because I don’t have to hear about nuclear war or the environment or whatever in a medieval.) Of course they have to have their issues. You guys know I love heroes with dark secrets and all kinds of damage done to them. Nobody’s saying romance shouldn’t deal with people and their lives.
But I’m so tired of socially responsible romance. I want some hairy alpha males, attempted rapes, forced seductions, life-threatening danger, virgins wondering at the strange new sensations in their bodies and turning into sex slaves, all that good stuff. I want to feel like I’m really having FUN when reading a romance.
And I think the fun has kind of been forgotten as everyone tries so hard to prove that romances are Real Literature.
I’ll probably do a part 2 to this post. I’m planning to start blogging more often but with my sd here I’m not having much chance. She leaves end of the week so hopefully I’ll have more time then.)