Shared experience, meaning and transcendence.

Unless the subject is sports, my husband doesn’t often reflect. Well, that’s not entirely true. He’s a very reflective kind of guy, he just doesn’t always discuss his reflections unless they have to do with sports.

But this morning my husband said– It seems to me our society has lost many of its core values. Values like caring and concern for our neighbors and our community. Taking responsibility for ourselves and our children. Taking seriously what it means to have children in the first place, or to have a sexual relationship, or to marry for that matter. It seems like we no longer respect differences of opinion. We’ve become so intolerant, especially the groups that once promoted tolerance, the groups I was a part of.

Even music– It’s all for show, nothing more than superficial bling, glitz and glamor.

And then he shook his head and he read about the San Francisco Giants. It’s almost baseball season, you know. Every year is defined by baseball. Just my opinion.

He loves the Kindle Fire I bought him for his birthday. He listens to Pandora – can dial in the music he likes. He was listening to this music when he said those words:

Which reminds me of a recent discussion I had with an author friend. She and I agree on the following – the Romance genre is in danger of losing its heroes. The appeal of romance has always been the heroic archetype or the hero’s journey. Yes, I said it. Heroic Archetype. Hero’s Journey. A hero in a real romance novel will descend into the depths of hell for his woman. And she will do the same for her man. The hero’s journey, the archetype, provides context and meaning, and ultimately change and transcendence. Real romance is all about true love. Think The Princess BrideDeath cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.

What do we have now? We have the increasing popularity of asshole heroes, men who would be considered abusive in real life. Yes, these men are complicated and fascinating and yeah, they suck you in. But in real life they are very dangerous. I should know, I was married to one once upon a time and barely escaped with my life (and my son).

So we have A-hole heroes, a glut of BDSM stories–all interchangeable, many of them built around, as my friend Lorca Damon says – barely legal virgins.

Want to read a great romance? No, not by Jane Austen although I do prefer Austen to much of what’s out there today. Truly one of the best traditional romances I’ve read~

Winter Woman by Jenna Kernan.

Winter Woman by Jenna Kernan.

Or if you really want to read a terrific Gothic romance, nothing beats Jane Eyre.

Speaks for itself...

Speaks for itself…

 

Fools for Luv and here’s to tomorrow!

Fools For Luv badge

Romance author Penny Watson and I are at the Fools for Luv bloghop – come join us for food and fun.

I’ve shared a recipe for Thai Pulled Chicken and Penny has shared one of her faves – the famous (or infamous) Mango Martini!

Stop by:  Fools for Luv.

You can win a book too!

I promised to promote this blog hop, because it’s gonna be smokin’ hot, but I’ve been super sick.  Just climbed out of bed with a semi-functional brain.  So I apologize to the hosts.  Forgive me.

To paraphrase Scarlet O’Hara– “I’ll get my health back, because tomorrow… is another day.”

So how do you like your heroes?

With a side of grits?  Hashbrowns?  Bacon?  Ham?  On whole wheat toast?

The subject came up between hubby and myself when I read a post about why men should read romance and women, thrillers.  I read both, duh, in addition to books in most genres, provided they are well-written.  You can read the post for yourself at The Red Pen of Doom.

My husband reads the occasional romance.  Shocking, I know.  It all began back when I worked my way through Karen Marie Monings’ Highlander romances.  He and I were on vacation and I handed him each book as I finished.  Some he thought were just plain dumb, but the one book he truly enjoyed was The Immortal Highlander, Adam’s book.  He liked this book because not only is Adam a complex character, a perfect chimera of good and bad… kind of a trickster figure, Gabrielle is an intelligent heroine.  I’ve noticed that once a story is finished, KMM’s heroines (when they reappear in later installments) tend toward TSTL.  Gabrielle seemed to be the type to remain in character throughout.  In addition, my husband felt she had a damn good reason for remaining a virgin into her twenties.   She was a Sidhe Seer and she was attracted to the fae males, not human males.  There ya go.

He got the concept all right – women who were virgins for whatever reason/excuse/prevarication/rationalization…. mostly because at the heart of each of Monings’ stories lies this theme – the virgin heroines are waiting, like Sleeping Beauty, for true love’s kiss, whether they realize it or not.  Hubby just didn’t believe it.  It didn’t fit with his world view – which is this– women enjoy sex as much as men.

Maybe it takes the right man, a strong, secure man, to read romance.  Who knows?

I think I’m lucky.  This will make my husband blush, but every one of my heroes is he.  Or is it him?  Each hero possesses one or more of his attributes.  (Hey, get your nasty minds out of the gutter!)

I have my own personal hero to model my characters after.  And he likes to read a few romance books.  He reads all my books!  I’ll tell you the romance hero he personally identifies with the most – because my husband is very into seduction - and this is one of my favorite books - he loves Marc Chastain from Kill and Tell.  For that matter, he’s also a big fan of Gray Rouillard from After the Night.  So macho, so alpha, so protective and so big hearted.

Men really should read romance.  It would be good for them.  They might just get the emotional connection we women crave.  I know thrillers, provided they are not gratuitous gore-filled slash-fests, are good for me!  I mean, look at all the existential angsty pleasure I derive from The Walking Dead and the time paradox I get to think about while watching The Terminator…

 

I want to talk about something of interest to me: forced seduction….the appeal or lack thereof.

Jessica at her site, Read React Review, recently posted about the campy fun of reading ye olde bodice ripper.

She featured The Raider, by Jude Deveraux.  Here is a quote from the book.  Keep in mind, it’s taken out of context…He kissed her again. “You have a choice. We make love tonight on the soft cool sand or I rape you tonight on the sharp rocks.”

The Raider was released in 1987.  I didn’t read romance back in ’87 – while I know many of you have been reading romance all your lives, I’m a relative new-comer to the genre.  My history with romance goes back…maybe 5-6 years.  The only actual semi-bodice ripper I’ve read is Sweet Savage Love, by Rosemary Rogers.  Anyway, Jessica and I engaged in a bit of a discussion regarding the appeal of bodice rippers.  I don’t generally find a story involving a forced seduction appealing, regardless of the quality of the writing – this isn’t a Politically Correct thing with me.  Having experienced a sexual assault first hand, I venture to say there’s nothing seductive about force.  Jessica, however, made a good point.  She reminded me that in previous generations, a woman could not be sexually promiscuous, or even engage in premarital sex and still be considered a good girl.  Ah…the slut factor!  A bodice ripper gave a woman permission to express her sexuality in a socially acceptable way.  In other words, the mind could still say no, it’s wrong, while the body said – Yess, give it to me baby!  And that was okay because our heroine could remain virtuous and in the end our hero always did right by her.  C’mon ladies and gents, fess up…is this our secret, deeply buried desire?  Or was it at one time?

Here’s Jessica’s post:  http://www.readreactreview.com/2010/06/16/review-the-raider-by-jude-deveraux-with-matching-figurines/ It’s well worth the read.

I’m including the definition of a bodice-ripper from the U.K. because, well, we all know the U.K. is the setting for most bodice rippers – either there or the American West.   “These books owe much in style to the work of English romantic novelists like Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. Nevertheless, the term itself is American. The first reference in print is from The New York Times, December 1980:

“Women too have their pornography: Harlequin romances, novels of ‘sweet savagery,’ – bodice-rippers.”

“It soon caught on and appears numerous times in the US press from that date onward. Here’s an early example, in a story about [then] emerging novelist, Danielle Steel, from the Syracuse Herald Journal, New York, 1983:  “I think of romance novels as kind of bodice rippers, Steel says.”

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/bodice-ripper.html

I’ve found a couple of book bloggers who have unique and entertaining takes on the subject.  From Alive and KnittingOnce upon a time, historical romance as we now know it did not exist as a genre. The only romances were the sweet little contemporary Mills & Boon romances that came out every month. Then, Kathleen Woodiwiss wrote a book called THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER which sold like crazy. We would now call this an historical romance – it was set in England and colonial America, featured a heroine who came into her own over the course of the book and a strong hero, had lots of historical detail (especially social history), lush prose and explicit sex. (Many thought the sex in this book was too explicit – the first intimate act between the hero and heroine is not consensual.) This book sold and sold and sold, effectively launching a genre. There was a lot of trial and error in the subsequent years, as editors and publishers weren’t entirely sure what element of this book (and other books by Woodiwiss) was so resonant for readers, but Woodiwiss always sold well.” See the link below:

http://www.delacroix.net/wordpress/?p=744

Then head over to check out  all three posts about Bodice Rippers from No Book Left Behind“Those of you who know me know that romance novels are my not-so-secret shame; there’s no amount of college-educated veneer that can cover up my craving for far-flung adventures, flowery purple prose, and aesthetically pleasing protagonists who find themselves falling in love in the most improbable ways.

“And, as I have mentioned on my blog before, I am excruciatingly picky about which bodice rippers I get to buy. None of your $4 Harlequin romances for me – give me the $6-$8 paperbacks with the shimmery gauze and flowers on the front cover (which often conveniently hides the potentially embarrassing Regency-era bodice-ripping tableau underneath), or your contemporary romances with cartoon women in fancy heels and silky scarves! Give me something that has the words “New York Times Bestselling Author” on them, and you’ll know I’m a sucker from the get-go.”

http://nobookleftbehind.blogspot.com/search/label/bodice%20ripping%20cliches

I would love to hear your opinions on the subject.  Do you find stories involving forced seduction entertaining?  No judgment here…be honest.  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Do you like just a taste of coercion, such as the story of a forced marriage where the two parties end up falling in love?  I’d love to hear what books you’d recommend.

I’ll let you in on a secret and this is so not politically correct – I love the movie Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway.  I cannot deny that the movie contains a forced seduction.  I love the scene but still I cringe a little when I watch it.  Robert Redford plays a good guy who is forced by circumstances to do things he wouldn’t otherwise do.  Faye Dunaway is pulled into his world – forcibly, including…well…watch it for yourself!

Did you buy a romance novel for Christmas?

Romance Novel Sales are Booming

in this tough economy.  While other genres are down somewhere between 14% and 17%, Romance has seen an increase in sales – some studies sight an increase of 2.5%  over last year, while other information indicates an increase in sales upwards of 34%!

What do we want for Christmas around here?  I guess we want a happy ending, by gum, by golly!  This economy – while perhaps stabilizing and even improving in some sectors, it sure sucks around here…where I live.  My very intelligent, very capable son has been out of work for a year and a half, and despite his endless applications, he’s had nary a nibble.

FYI, the nurses I work with have been forced to accept 1-2 days a week of unpaid furlough, thus my on-call hours have been cut because my co-workers who need the income to support their families vie for the extra shifts I would normally get.  It’s the trickle-down effect.

What do I want to read in these economic times?  Oh, honey, save the depressing angst for pundits!  Every day I spot my neighbor’s pickup in his driveway, I know he still doesn’t have construction work.  Every morning I see the guy across the street head out for a run instead of a job, it means he’s still looking for an accounting position.  Every time I glance at the empty shell of a house that was home to our best friends until a year ago, tears fill my eyes.  Enough already!  Bathe me in love, romance, passion, mind-altering sex!

Romance is affordable and you know you can count on an HEA.  Sentimental sap that I am, I’ll take an HEA any day.

Speaking of romance writers, author Ericka Scott is over at Literary Escapism, talking about her new release, Crisscross – head over there and you might pick up a new recipe, not to mention a new book!

http://www.literaryescapism.com/

Plus a big thank you to all who wished me a Merry Christmas and  those who signed up for my newsletter!  Your books will eventually be in the email!