Tag Archives: Ponderings on Romance

Musings on Heroes

Have you ever heard of Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman? She is a former city girl who married a rancher and now lives on a big ranch in the middle of nowhere in the state of Oklahoma with four children, a dashing husband, several cowboys, a few dogs, and several thousand moo cows, bulls, calfs, and horsies. Not to mention calf nuts.

Last week I stumbled across her blog, which has won several bloggies this year, among them the “Best Weblog of the Year” award. She writes about ranch life, homeschooling, cooking, and calf nuts – with not even the tiniest bit of dragon-tail in sight. I was instantly hooked. And then I discovered the section “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels,” the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. As far as romances go, this was the best I’ve read in a while.

And the very bestest thing?

Ree’s Marlboro Man.

Reading Ree’s real-life love story (lovely alliteration, isn’t it?), I realised (ha! here’s another R) that there aren’t many strong, caring, kind men in romance. Alpha heroes are usually grumpy and tormented. They might turn out nice and caring at the end of the novel, but before that, they’ve got serious problems with their anger management.

So last weekend I stood in front of my romance shelves in my library, looking for kind heroes.

The only one I found?

P.C. Cast’s ClanFintan.

A centaur.

Brilliant.

What’s wrong with romance heroes, I ask you? Why are most of them so very grumpy? (Okay, okay, I admit that getting branded by the heroine at the very beginning of the story does not make for a sunny disposition.) (And I also admit that usually like tormented heroes. But not right now!)

So have you got any recommendations for romances with truly nice heroes? Who are not tormented? (Or at least not horribly tormented.)

Romance Writers Do It & Write About It*

And thus make romance readers happy, I should imagine. Well, this romance reader anyway. 🙂 After having spent the past weeks reading nothing but Heyer novels, I woke up this morning, craving a romance with sex in it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not necessarily in favour of the recent sexing-it-up trend. When reading a straightforward, mainstream romance novel, I don’t need the characters to jump into bed on page two, to have wild bunny sex every twenty pages, or to indulge in any kinky sex games. The hero most certainly doesn’t need to have a monstrously big penis nor one with any retractable appendages. Nor, heaven forbid, any body parts that glow in the dark (even if this might help to cut the cost of electricity!).

I like sweet romances, but I also like to read about characters getting physically intimate. After all, physical intimacy forms such an important part of a relationship. So as a reader I want to be shown that the characters also click on that level.

In my late teens, I read a lot of historical novels and I found most love-scenes included in those rather off-putting (e.g., the goat-sex scenes in “Die Kinder des Gral,” or the voodoo doll scene in “The Wise Woman”). When I stumbled across historical romance, I was enthralled by the love scenes in those books. Active women? Check. No off-putting descriptions? Check. Men who love pleasing their women? Check. Female point of view? Check, check, and check again.

One of the first romance novels I read was Stephanie Laurens’s “A Rake’s Vow.” I positively adored that first love scene, in which Patience secudes Vane to secude her. Strong woman gets hunky hero, and in the end they live happily ever after. And don’t die on top of some stupid tower with arrows raining on them. Ha!

And who could forget that wonderfully funny love scene in Jo Beverley’s “The Devil’s Heiress,” in which the heroine is comparing what she feels and sees to what she read about making love in a book called “The Annals of Aphrodite” (“‘It was rather alliterative.'”)? I mean, who could forget something like this:

“Men have books, and women steal them.” She was still looking at his Rod of Rapture, wondering if the book was right, and he would like her Felicitous Fingers.

*g* Beverley should get top marks for coming up with the most hilarious euphemisms in the history of the romance novel. (And they are hilarious on purpose, not by accident! *ggg*)

A love scene doesn’t even need to be explicit to pack a nice, emotional punch. Dorothy Dunnett’s “Checkmate” anybody? When Pippa and Francis finally made love, I cried buckets. It’s such a beautiful scene, and I was so very happy for them.

And then his true courtship of her had its beginning; and to the worship of his body, he joined the fairest garlands from the treasure-house of his mind, and made a bower for her.

*happy sigh* It doesn’t get any better than that! 🙂

* The Valley Forge Romance Writers RWA chapter sold tee-shirts with this motto at the 2005 RWA National Conference. I met a lady wearing such a tee-shirt at my stopover in Dallas on the way to Reno. I still remember this meeting not just because of the cool shirt, but also because she remembered that I had won the chapter’s Winning Beginnings contest in 2003. As a result of that first place in the historical category, I sold my first novel to Chris Keeslar. 🙂

My Top 100 Romances: 1-25

While browsing the AAR message boards, where they are talking about the results of the Top 100 Romances poll, I’ve realised I’ve never posted my own Top 100 list. So here we go: # 1-25:

1. Susan Fox, THE PRODIGAL WIFE
2. Penelope Williamson, KEEPER OF THE DREAM
3. Jane Austen, PRIDE & PREJUDICE
4. Jane Austen, PERSUASION
5. Gaelen Foley, LORD OF FIRE
6. Anita Mills, THE DUKE’S DOUBLE
7. Margaret Moore, THE WASTREL
8. Liz Fielding, A WIFE ON PAPER
9. Teresa Medeiros, YOURS UNTIL DAWN
10. Victoria Gordon, A MAGICAL AFFAIR
11. Janelle Denison, BRIDE INCLUDED
12. Julia Ross, NIGHT OF SIN
13. Lucy Gordon, THE PREGNANCY BOND
14. Laurie McBain, DEVIL’S DESIRE
15. Victoria Holt, THE DEVIL ON HORSEBACK
16. Susan Sizemore, WINGS OF THE STORM
17. Rachel Gibson, “Now and Forever”, from SECRETS OF A PERFECT NIGHT
18. Sherrilyn Kenyon, “Fire and Ice”, from MAN OF MY DREAMS
19. Teresa Medeiros, THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST
20. Kathleen Givens, KILGANNON
21. Stephanie Laurens, A RAKE’S VOW
22. Alison Fraser, THE STRENGTH OF DESIRE
23. Kathleen Harrington, THE MACLEAN GROOM
24. Valentina Luellen, THE DEVIL OF TALLAND
25. Barbara Cartland, A HAZARD OF HEARTS

Comfort Reads

As my library pics have shown, I greatly enjoy Mills and Boon novels. Of course, this is in part because of all the secret babies, amnesia, second chance at love stories, and those wonderfully grumpy, brooding, sulking alpha guys. But even more importantly, I think this is because reading a Mills and Boon novel is one of the best ways for me to relax. Other novels might grip me more deeply and over a longer time, but this can be a disadvantage when my. mind is full of other things. With a Mill and Boon novel you can dive into the story and come out of it only a short time later, feeling happy and refreshed.

Mills and Boon novels are the only books I re-read front to back on a regular basis. Indeed, I can safely say so far I’ve I re-read nearly all of my M and B novels at least three times. One of the authors who never fails to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling is Susan Fox. My favourite book of hers is THE PRODIGAL WIFE — rancher plus second chance at love. Luvehly!

More about this tomorrow before I fall asleep over the keyboard.

Good night, everybody! :O)