From time to time, when I’m feeling in need of particularly light and comforting reading, I will pick up a romance book. I don’t often review them here, as I’m not sure how many of my readers are interested in romance. I have a theory that the reason that romance tends to be looked down on has more to do with it being a female-only genre and less to do with it having formulaic plots. Yes, romances follow a formula. So do mysteries, thrillers and sonnets, and none of these forms are subjected to the scorn that romance is.
But I’ve also had mixed success with reading romances. Sometimes they are beautiful or funny, with a romance that feels believable no matter that the characters all turn out to be nobility in disguise. Sometimes they are silly, with hackneyed language, blatant ignorance of the historical periods they’re trying to portray, and truly impossible things happen physically or socially.
And sometimes they are offensive. “Ravish” is a synonym for rape. I don’t find it the least bit romantic to read that someone was ravished in any way. Nor do I like the common use of words like “own” and “possess” and “take” when it is always the woman being owned, taken and possessed, never reversed or mutual. Also, it’s very nice if the author sets up her heroine as being intelligent and verbal. But if all this is forgotten as soon as she’s trying to find the warm gooey heart that she knows is hidden in her man somewhere, if what she ends up needing to do is put on some more revealing clothing and use her wiles and gentle feminine goodness to rub the edges off that harsh male exterior – then we have not really made any progress in the last 150 years. I’m talking to you, Lisa Kleypas, and I don’t care if you are a best-selling author. I’m writing your name down here so I remember to look for someone else the next time.
How about you, gentle readers? Do you ever read romances? Do you want to see them reviewed here? Do you notice ownership or rape language in them, and if so, have you found authors who don’t use it? I want to hear from you!