The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name…
We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a “special place” where we store them. Let’s face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what’s with all the shame?
Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan—the creators of the wildly popular blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books—have no shame! They look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of romance novels and tackle the hard issues and questions:
-The heroine’s irresistible Magic Hoo Hoo and the hero’s untamable Wang of Mighty Lovin’
-Sexual trends. Simultaneous orgasms. Hymens. And is anal really the new oral?
-Romance novel cover requirements: man titty, camel toe, flowers, long hair, animals, and the O-face
-Are romance novels really candy-coated porn or vehicles by which we understand our sexual and gender politics?
With insider advice for writing romances, fun games to discover your inner Viking warrior, and interviews with famous romance authors, Beyond Heaving Bosoms shows that while some romance novels are silly—maybe even tawdry—they can also be intelligent, savvy, feminist, and fabulous, just like their readers!
Now, I normally stick to the clean romance novels, but I’ve recently become obsessed with learning as much as I can about the genre as a whole. That’s why I picked up this book, which is a review of the history of the genre. It’s also a defense of the genre, which so many people seem to look down upon.
I can admit that I used to stick my nose up at romance novels. They were cheap and easy to read, which I assumed meant they were easy to write. As I learned to write, however, and as I read more romance novels, I quickly discovered that there’s an art to romance novels, and not every author has mastered that art.
Wendell and Tan understand the art of the romance novel, and they look back to the beginning of the genre to help identify the its trends, strengths, and weaknesses. Because I prefer to read the sex-free novels, I didn’t recognize most of the authors they referenced, but I found their dissection of the genre and their understanding of its popularity to be both entertaining and enlightening.
Honestly, I’m not really sure who to recommend this book to:
- If you think romance novels are stupid and don’t understand why anyone would read them, this will help you understand those who love the novels.
- If you love romance novels and want to know more about what works and why, consider reading this book.
- If you’re a writer or editor who just loves learning as much as you can about fiction writing, I think you’ll enjoy this book.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a clean read — there’s plenty of swearing, and the choose-your-own-adventure chapter at the end surprised me quite a bit, so I wouldn’t advise reading that if you want to stick to a clean read.
As a writer and editor, though, I loved the examination and insights that Wendell and Tan offered. If you’re a writing nerd like I am (and you don’t mind a variety of cuss words), I think you’ll enjoy this book.