Hey everyone, today is the last day to enter to win a signed copy of Sarah Wendell’s Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels!
Enter by leaving a comment here at my blog.
New contest will be announced tomorrow…it’s an exciting one!
I’m giving away a signed copy of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels by Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell over on my website! This book is really important to me because it encapsulates why I’m so proud to be a romance reader—not only is Sarah awesome and her commentary insightful and hilarious, but it brings together views and opinions from dozens of romance readers and writers. I love the romance community AND romances and this book is all about that!
I thought of something I did learn from romance novels, especially erotic romance. I learned what my kinks were! Before, I had no idea why some men would turn me on and other men, who seemed equally decent and suitable, did not. But after reading a lot of romance novels, some of which made me think, ‘Meh, this doesn’t do it for me’ and some of which made me think, ‘Yowza! This does!’ I have pretty much sorted out the kind of man I need. (And it has nothing to do with looks.)
A long time back, when I thought the romances I was writing were getting lots sexier, I asked a good friend with decades of experience in books to have a look. She was eighty at the time and I wanted to write a sexier novel, but I didn’t want to cross the line and lose earlier readers and I asked her to give me an opinion before the manuscript was turned in. She called with many comments about the book, then finally said, ‘And Robyn, about the shower scene…’ I thought, oh damn, I’ve done it; I’ve gone too far. But she said, ‘That brought back wonderful memories.’
Ultimately, romance novels aren’t about the heroic ideal, or individuals so perfect, real humanity can’t measure up. Certainly some portions of the novels and the characters within them are idealized, but really, the pairing of the protagonists is what matters. They are not perfect, but perfect for one another. They are made up of characteristics[…]that just about anyone can acquire and demonstrate—if not all, then many of them. Not being a complete douchecanoe is the first step in being your own ideal romance hero or heroine—and it’s absolutely an attainable ideal.
Romance novels taught me it is never OK to let a man take advantage of you. I was so turned off in my early reading years with the ‘force my mighty sword-o-lovin’ on you and you will love and loathe me for it’ storyline. Ick. I remember never allowing a guy to just slobber and grope his way about without my explicit permission, remembering how awful it sounded when I read scenes such as that. The ‘I can’t stop, I’m so in lust and out of control for you’ line never worked on me. A knee to your groin will help then, right?
In real life and in fiction, and after thirty-four years of marriage, the most enduring, endearing, and important characteristics of a hero for me are these: Is he someone to be trusted with all the things that matter? Does this person have the respect of his peers? Is he someone others count on?
The fictional hero-type that fits this bill for me is Cosmo Richter from Suzanne Brockman’s Hot Target. He is equal to all situations except the emotional ones. He has a plan, a course of action; he is prepared and ready. People count on him and know their lives are safe in his hands.
In one word: CAPABLE. And CONSTANT. Okay, that’s two words. Make it three: HONORABLE.
My husband is all this. And you can quote me on that.
[R]omances taught me not to settle. Young women are frequently taught to settle. With their high-school boyfriend, or anyone who is ‘good enough.’ Not to say there is any such things as a perfect person, as a soul mate, just two people with a lot in common who love each other—romance novels trained me into thinking I was worthy of adoration, not just someone who kept me around, thought I was cute, and guessed they could put up with me. Someone who saw every part of me and loved me so fiercely it was insane. Someone who loved me, in short, like a romance novel hero. And I was told that that sort of love doesn’t exist, that it doesn’t stand up to every day, that men are borderline dumb animals who have to be trained into humanity. But I looked, because I wouldn’t settle. I couldn’t imagine anything more soul-destroying, and after a lot of fun, I found someone exactly like that. And that romance-novel love has lasted seven years, through severe illnesses, depression, his terrible farts, etc.
When the ‘big misunderstanding’ in a story is cause by a failure to communicate, it not only annoys me but it reminds me to try and be more open and to talk more about what the issue is, or what is going on in my real life. I am also much clearer about what I am looking for in the other person because I have tried on for size the heroes in romance stories. I also think you can’t underestimate the role of redemption in romance novels, with their message that we all get things wrong and must consciously work on fixing what is broken.
Romance shows us that you have to look out for yourself first, and place the quest for someone else as a secondary concern to your own happiness. This is one aspect of romance novels that many people who don’t read them don’t quite get: at no time is anyone sitting around waiting for Lord Wonderful and His Majestic Pants to come galloping in on a giant (and yet well-behaved) horse to sweep the heroine off her feet and into a blissfully purple and fuchsia happy-ever-after. Hell to the no.