Ma’am, Step Away from that Romance Novel!

Speed dating

Readers "speed-date" their favorite and new authors for 3.5 minutes--happy mayhem ensues.

 Last week I attended the second annual in Denver, a happy mingling of writers and readers of popular women’s fiction—aka romances of every stripe, with tales from the Regency to vampires, erotica, and Hunky Highlanders (aka HH). Like last year, the conference was attended by those from 16 to 60–ish. I met an engineer, a trauma nurse, several teachers, and sundry former or current academics.  

 It is women such as these—smart, funny, and very much grounded—who prop up a greater part of the creaky and freaky American publishing industry. And do they get respect—noooo!

 In fact, reading romance novels has been—again—“discovered” to be dangerous to marriages, as reported by The Guardian via an RWA link. Interestingly, such a charge has been leveled against women reading “romances” since there were literate women and “romances” to read. 

 Since warnings to the female gender against the dangers of this genre have failed to stop this activity, clearly the only cure is: WOMEN ARE NOT TO BE TAUGHT TO READ. 

 A few observations:

 The demise of Borders was noted with regret since many readers like to browse the shelves to discover new authors. And while some have switched to an e-reader, others still preferred a “real” book in their hands.

 I must admit, I am amused by the popularity of the HH for readers of the “romance-historical” category. Their counterparts in “historical fiction” would be devotees of anything Tudor.  

 In contrast, however, the whole debate about historical “accuracy” which dogs “historical fiction” is not an issue in “romance-historical.” Readers of that category like a good story, and although many are well-steeped in particulars relevant to their period, they are forgiving of minor historical missteps. And there are even benefits to reading in their favorite period—according to one reader, she successfully navigated her bewildered husband to severalLondon  landmarks based on her reading of Regencies.

 So what’s the most important characteristic in a “romantic” hero for these women who so endanger their marriages by reading about a male character no mere human male can match?

 Two words: loyalty and honor. Some added a third requirement: a flaw or a vulnerability.

 Take that, you wreckers of domestic bliss. Stop writing and reading stories where men are flawed, vulnerable, loyal and honorable—as well as HH.

About Hana Samek Norton

I am a historian who writes 'history with a story' in off-duty hours.
This entry was posted in book promo, history notes, random thoughts, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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