My blog may be a bit controversial this week, but I will be interested to hear what you have to say.
I don’t read much romance. Yes, I know! There are two main reasons: (a) Reading romance is too much like what I do for a living each day. I prefer to relax with a mystery or mainstream read. (b) I don’t want to be influenced by what I read into following any trends or–worse–unconsciously plagiarizing. I prefer to follow my own vision. I have nothing against romance as a genre (obviously!) and I do actually read some. If an author is tried and true, I will read her books. If I read a review that catches my attention, I may try the book. And if I am asked to read a book with a view to recommending it, I will do it. And let me stress that I am more often than not happy with what I read and eager to come back for more from that particular author. BUT…
Oh, there is a but, and it has little to do with the picture above, which I actually love and find very romantic. All too often these days I am finding that romances are filled cover-to-cover with sexual tension and sexual innuendo and sex, sex, sex. It is as if too many writers have been to too many workshops where they have heard how important these elements are to a romance and how to achieve the desired effect. I am finding characters who are literally panting for each other every time they set eyes upon each other–and even sometimes when they don’t. I find heroes getting erections all over the place and heroines having the feminine equivalent. I find authors who use every excuse they can think of to get their characters in bed with each other, and even when this can’t be done, then said characters are imagining having sex–in excruciating, graphic detail. And this applies even to historicals, even to Regency heroes and heroines. These characters are totally sex-mad. They are addicted to sex. They need to be in rehabilitation! And I am not even exaggerating too, too much. Is it just me? Have I just happened to hit upon the few books like this that are out there? Or is this the trend now in romance? And I won’t even get into cover art, for which the authors are not always or even often responsible.
Is this what readers want? Is this what authors are being urged to write? What is it with authors of romance these days? (Not all, I repeat!). Romance novels, very generally speaking, should have the three components of sex, romance, and love. Sex is very much a part of a romantic relationship and certainly has its place in a love story. But what about the sheer romance that can make a novel utterly magical? And incidentally it is the romance of a relationship that has given its name to the whole genre. What is romantic about two characters who have the unrelenting hots for each other, even when they scarcely know each other or are caught in a dangerous, potentially life-threatening situation? And what about love? Is the assumption being made that when two characters have had a certain amount of sex with each other and perfected the art of giving and receiving orgasms ad infinitum they therefore love each other and will live happily ever after? What about the gradual building of a real love relationship, moving through romance and sex to something steady and wonderful and likely to last for an eternity?
Give me a wondrously romantic love story any day of the week, even if the most daring foray it makes into sex is a kiss the hero feathers over the heroine’s fingertips (Georgette Heyer’s Frederika) rather than the endless sex romps that sometimes (or maybe often?) intrude into the genre. Right, your turn. What do you have to say? And do feel free to really disagree with me!
THE ARRANGEMENT (yes, with one of those covers) was chosen this week by Library Journal as one of the best romances of 2013. To celebrate, I will send signed copies of both THE PROPOSAL and THE ARRANGEMENT to two people who leave a comment below before the end of next Friday, November 29. Last week’s winner was LuAnn Wherry. Congratulations to her.