Friday, January 26, 2007

Why I Read Romance Novels

I often get razzed for reading romance novels. I almost always get razzed for reading paranormal romance, particularly because I prefer those with vampires. I've apparently earned the dubious title of "vampire porn girl." But I don't read those books for the "good parts." I heartily enjoy them, of course, but that's not the main draw.

I live an average life. I have a woderful husband whom I love very much, a beautiful and intelligent baby girl, and an ordinary house. I knit, I clean house, I spend time with Peanut and my other half. We watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. It's a great life, but an ordinary one. Basic. Simple.

I love it, but my mind craves adventure, great stories, seeing the guy get the girl. I love seeing two people fall in love in all the myriad ways that can happen. I love seeing them have their happily ever after in a committed relationship. Today's romance heroines are strong and willful, not the wilting female who swoons and knows only how to let her man sweep her off her feet. Women still get swept away, but on their own terms and with alpha males who want a relationship with an equal.

As for the paranormal tales I favor, I find that there's no better way to go somewhere in my head than to visit a place that is so far away it isn't real. I love the various angles on the vampire myth that authors take and how those differences affect the story. And whether it's vampires, valkyries, witches, or werewolves, I love seeing the humans try to make sense of it.

And as for romance novels being "girly porn," that irks me. I read a wonderful article on writing good lovescenes By one of my favorite authors, Angela Knight. She said in her blog:

Repeat after me: Romance does not equal porn

A year or so ago, I saw an RWA-sponsored ad to the effect that romance novels don’t really have all that much sex in them. It then listed various books and the number of love scenes in them – generally just one or two.

That ad really ticked me off, because it implied that a book with only one sex scene is somehow more moral than one with four or five. I’ve encountered that attitude a lot in other romance writers who sniff that they write love scenes only because their publishers demand it.

Apparently, like Victorian wives suffering the attentions of randy husbands, they lie back and think of England.

My personal belief is that somebody who writes mechanical sex solely to placate a publisher and make money is a lot more guilty of being a pornographer than I am.

No matter how much some writers might like to pretend otherwise, at their core, romances are about a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, not a purely spiritual union of souls. After all, when was the last time you read a romance staring Ghandi?

I think Knight pretty much summed it up to a tee. So don't call it vampire porn anymore. ;)


angie said...

You can't ruin my fun! You stole my pink background.

Courtney said...

Uh, no I didn't. I blogged before you blooged. :P

Shanghi said...

So love the quote by Ak. She totaly got it right! Porn is just gratuitous sex simply for the sake of sex alone. Romance is about the developing and growth of relationships between two people.

Christine said...

I love this write up, Courtney. I read it a few weeks ago and came back to tell you how much I appreciated reading it. At one time I had mentioned to a circle of friends what genre of books I was into and I immediately got laughs and jokes all around. I held my own, but walked away feeling embarassed and insulted. So I wasn't sharing my reads with anyone. Then I became a Cellie and read your post here, and now I don't care who knows what I read. In fact, I'm spreading the word! Thanks, Courtney

Kat O+ said...

OK, I'm the first person to defend the merits of romance, but..."vampire porn girl"? I would totally wear that as a badge of honour! *lol* (Found your blog through the Cell, by the way. :-)