Bodice rippers

I have to thank a friend from high school for starting me down this sordid path.  She is another woman that is hooked on books and frequently posts on fb what she is reading.  She was posting the virtues of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and I asked her about it.  I have never, ever read any book that could even be considered in the romance or chick-lit genre before.  But I kept on hearing about this “Fifty” book.  When I heard that libraries in the deep south were banning it I had to see what all the fuss was about.  And with my friend’s glowing recommendation I bought all three books at once.

Yes, at times it is poorly written.  And completely unrealistic.  And I did have to skip some of the BDSM parts because I’m just not into that.  But the overall story was highly entertaining.  I really liked the story between the main characters.

And then I started reading more books from the “romance” section on the smiley box website.  They are usually quick reads, usually for free and usually predictable. They have some things in common:

  • For some reason there is a run on brunettes.  Brunettes with blue eyes and “translucent skin” or “ivory skin”.  They are always “perfectly proportioned with their hair “cascading down their shoulders sometimes to “encircle their breasts”. Women with dark hair seem to be 3:1 over blondies, at least in my reading, but rarely do they have the brown eyes to go with the dark hair.  That’s some kind of genetics.
  • All of the women have self esteem issues.  They can’t possibly fathom why anyone would want to be romantically involved with them!! I have seen this theme over and over again.  I usually just ignore it.
  • Neither character is actually “looking” for a relationship.  Both have been unlucky in love, or usually in the case of the men, they like playing the field and can’t possibly fathom settling down.  Typical.
  • In half of them, the characters have a love-hate relationship or are at odds in some way.  Then they are brought together by circumstances and fireworks go off and they realize they are attracted to each other.  Right.
  • For some reason these days, a majority of the men are filthy rich.  Filthy, stinking, rolling in money, rich.  I have seen this across the genres of the romance world:
  1. So fresh and so clean – this type of romance novel is a pure as driven snow.  And so are the characters.  In their inner monologue, the reader is supposed to believe that both male and female characters do not let sex enter their mind at all.  Sure, you may get an appreciation of the physical form, something like “muscular arms” or “shapely legs” but nothing noting breasts or bulges.  The characters get as far as first base, or maybe share a night due to circumstances (but they only SLEEP together, usually in separate rooms, and only because one of them was sick or injured…right.)  Even by the end of the book they haven’t slept together, or if they have there is no details, only a sentence or two about them being mutually satisfied. Sigh.
  2. Naughty by Nature – This one definitely gives you the details.  This one is my favorite.  It’s not overly crude, and provides just the right information for the reader (or at least me) to enjoy.  There is a decent story, the relationship with the characters is usually developed and the physical attraction and subsequent sex between them seems realistic and natural.  I have noticed that sometimes there is an element of danger present in these ones, the male character is a cop, the woman is in the witness protection program or is being stalked etc.  Descriptions of physical sex acts is not shocking and is almost tender.  And of course, they always stay together at the end of the book.
  3. DO NOT READ IN PUBLIC –   I found out that anything with “erotic” can be placed in this category.  The sole purpose of these books is to provide material for when the husband is out of town.  They are usually short and provide a flimsy story in between shocking sex acts.  Not that I completely dislike them, but they are just not for me.  And the ones written in the U.K. are especially graphic.  The “storyline” is usually completely unrealistic, I read one where a woman was providing sex acts to her boss in exchange for him not pressing charges of embezzlement.  This is where the BDSM crowd finds their kicks.  I realize that everyone is different with what turns them on, this one just isn’t for me.  I even found one so appalling that I had to stop in the middle because it made me physically ill.

Recently I have come across some more atypical romance novels.  “Faking It” by Elisa Lorello is one of those atypical ones.  The main character, Andi, is a thirtysomething starting over after a broken engagement.  She meets a male escort at a party and is fascinated by him and his lifestyle.  She impulsively calls him and offers him writing lessons in return for lessons on how to be a better lover.  But it isn’t what you think.  This book goes deep to the core of womanhood, how we see ourselves and how we behave in relationships.  Excellent read.

“Pulled” by Danielle Bannister is another atypical one.  The two main characters are extremely different.  Different cultures, life experiences.  But they feel literally “pulled” to one another when they attend the same college.  They find out some similarities in their background as they get to know each other, including one crucial detail.  This book was a tearjerker.

So why do I read romance novels?  Not for their stellar, thought provoking writing.  Occasionally I roll my eyes at the stereotypical way women are presented.  I read them because I am in love with my husband.  They are feel good stories, most of the time, that touch on the emotions I feel for him.  And its a change from zombies, the apocalypse, WWII and all of the other things I read most of the time.  Its refreshing to have a rotation: Hitler, the undead, silly love story, Gettysburg.

Now back to the romance novel that involves James (Bond) Donovan…right…

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Book Review: She Has Your Eyes by Elisa Lorello | The Eclectic Bookworm
  2. Trackback: Favs for 2012 « The Eclectic Bookworm
  3. Trackback: Better than Fifty Shades of Grey « The Eclectic Bookworm
  4. Trackback: Books, books and more books!! « The Eclectic Bookworm
  5. Trackback: Books I avoid like the plague « The Eclectic Bookworm
  6. Trackback: Books that haunt me « The Eclectic Bookworm

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