Tag Archives: romance novels

Peeve Tuesday


Last week I ordered a couple essentials from Amazon: cat food and hairspray. I order a lot of stuff from Amazon, a lot. They know who I am and where to find me. As does the clown who signed me up for Us Magazine ~ thanks a lot, dingdong. I don’t want it, I’m not interested in celebs, and it’s going straight to the trash. No one better bill me for it either! (Okay fine, I have been glancing through it, under protest. It’s very shiny.)

Anyway, I forgot my essentials were scheduled to arrive on Sunday because I was so wrapped up in watching The Big Game, as one does. But yesterday I thought, hey, where’s my stuffs? So, I did the tracky thing and lo found an exception. Amazon outsourced my delivery to USPS, who couldn’t get in.

Let’s think about this for a moment. The actual U.S. Post Office, who delivers my actual mail (rain or shine), didn’t know how to get into my apartment complex. WTF? How do they deliver my real mail then? No problem, I figured, I have an account with them, so I will contact them, give them my gate code (idiots), so they can redeliver.

Nope, nope, nope. Can’t do that. Only the sender can intercept. I could be some weirdo trying to steal someone else’s cat food and hairspray in the middle of the delivery. With my own log-in credentials where they have my real name, address, etc, and I’d be at risk of a felony for committing mail fraud. To steal cat food and hairspray. Yes, that could happen and the Post Office isn’t taking any chances. Can’t contact Amazon to give them the gate code to give to USPS because the transaction is now out of their hands. All gone, wheee!

The only thing for me to do is wait and see what happens. Either the USPS buttheads will redeliver my package properly or they’ll return it to Amazon, at which time I can ask them to use another delivery service, or pick it up myself at one of their stations. Luckily however on Monday (yesterday) the next USPS mailperson figured out how to get into my apartment complex (miracle!) and delivered my package.

I received an email notice at noon that my package had been “left with an individual.” An individual? What? Why? Who? I don’t even know any of my neighbors. Would I have to knock on doors saying, “Excuse me sir do you haz my cat food and hairspray?” Was not looking forward to this scenario. NOT AT ALL. Though it could be a romance novel cute meet… But this is real life, and I don’t meet men cutely, or in any way whatsoever. I just want my G.D. cat food and hairspray!

Why is life so hard? I want my mommy! Waaah!

In any case, I had to go out to dinner with friends last night and was forced to play a long complicated game that was sort of like… scrabble plus poker and… well, I can’t explain it, too weird, but it went on forever and I got home after 10PM… and guess what?


What a week I’m having. And it’s only Tuesday.



Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dukes…


Jennifer Weiner has an interesting op-ed in the NYT celebrating sex ed via the romance novel. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read any of Ms. Weiner’s novels and I want to change that soon. I’ve put her memoir Hungry Heart on my wish list and will be grabbing some of her older novels as well. But in the meantime I enjoyed her article in the NYT, even though I didn’t agree with all of it.

We’re on the same page with the idea that “what goes where” sex ed is necessary but not sufficient for young peeps and of course they will be curious for more information. They will search for it relentlessly. I definitely agree with Ms. Weiner that romance novels give a woman’s sexual satisfaction equal priority to a man’s. No fantasy duke or pirate or spy or CEO ever forgets to please his heroine in the bedroom (or wherever), multiple times. Ms. Weiner makes a good point that, unlike pr0n, romance novels describe complete scenes, including birth control (in contemporaries), various other awkward moments, and follow-up conversations.

Talking is important!

But romance novels, like so many forms of entertainment, focus mostly on fabulous looking characters with beautiful faces and perfect bodies. These are the kinds of people deserving of soul mates, true love, fantastic sex, and happily ever afters… this is the message insidiously drilled into our minds as soon as we’re able to read a book or watch a movie. Ms. Weiner quotes Jennifer Crusie in her article, and Ms. Crusie has given us plus-size heroines in several of her novels, but still they are gorgeous overweight women with great legs, lips, and hair, not the ordinary fat chicks you find shlumping around the supermarket. This is not to criticize ~ I lurve Ms. Crusie’s novels and they’re among my favorite romances. I am… JUST SAYING.

[I know some of you go into a peevey fit when peeps just say. Sorry about that.]

Point is, there’s a downside to young people (aka women let’s be honest cuz young men aren’t going to be reading Crusie et al) consuming the emotional content of their sex ed via romance novels. I should know. I was one.

On the bright side, people are still reading books.

The Overheard Confession

There are so many overused tropes in romance novels that if I see one in the blurb I’ll immediately lose interest in reading the book. Amnesia, mistaken ID, twins switching places, dukes pretending to be not-dukes, heiresses pretending to be not-heiresses, the jaded military man, the loner cowboy, the manic pixie dream girl, vampires, yada. One that you generally don’t get alerted to in the description but which sneaks in later is the overheard confession.

It goes like this. One of the protagonists, usually the heroine, will “confess” something, maybe her attraction to the hero, or something else incriminating, and he overhears it, or he hears part of it. He just so happens to walk past the room at the exact moment she says: “I poisoned my father so I wouldn’t have to marry my cousin Fenwick.” Naturally our hero misses the first part of what she says: “I can’t believe anyone would think I poisoned my father…”

This will propel the plot quite some distance before the protags sort it all out. Heroine won’t understand why hero is mistrustful of her when earlier he was so charming and attentive. He can’t understand why such a lovely girl, who cares for the orphans and the puppies, could have coldly killed her father. It’s such a dilemma! And yet he’s still madly attracted to her, which is so horrible for him that it puts him in a foul mood and he’s always snapping at the secondary characters. Naturally they avoid him and gravitate to our heroine, which makes him angrier. Why is she so popular? She’s a murderer, for heaven’s sake! Gah.

Idk if I’ve ever read that particular book, but I feel I have. It seems very real to me now that I wrote the paragraph. I believe it’s a parody/pastiche of various romnovs.

Sometimes it’s the hero who has the overheard confession. I read a romnov where the heroine believed she heard the hero say he never wanted children but in fact he said he didn’t want them with his first wife who would have been a bad mother since she was a drunken whore. Luckily she drowned, hurrah. And the protags solved some mystery and sorted out the baby making so all was well.

I think I’m over my burst of science fiction reading and back to romances, mysteries, and dramas. Of course I’m always up for a good book of pomes or a well-written aminal story (the non-fiction science type).

Goodreads says I read 28 books in 2017 (may finish another one this week). That doesn’t seem like very many, but four of them were A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) ~ in other words, enormous (around 1200 pages each). Lotta confessions going on in GOT, overheard and not.


The Daily Prompt: Confess



After much fluctuating, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo. I’m building in five October “cheat” days to make up for my rocking social life, and the first one is tomorrow. I’m getting excited! It’s been a long time since I wrote my butt off for hours, without expectation. I don’t know what kind of novel this will be, or if I’ll even approach the 50K wordcount at all. Maybe it’ll be semi-autobiographical, or perhaps I’ll cut the selfies later. It might be a suspense novel or a romance. For sure, it will have ghosts, real or metaphorical… or both, most likely.


The Daily Prompt: Expect

My Take on PassionFlix

I know my blogfans can’t wait to hear what I haz to say about PassionFlix: “a premium streaming entertainment service that will provide your fix of classic romantic movies and launch original film adaptations of romance novels.” [quote via Bustle]

Honestly I was pretty freaking excited about the concept, one which I thought of myself ages ago. I mean, of course I thought of it ~ why wouldn’t I? There are so many mediocre romcoms (and lots of great ones too!) and so many good romance novels; it’s only natural to wonder why “they” don’t make the better ones into movies, beyond P&P. It puzzles me, forex, why no Jennifer Crusie romances have been made into movies. Faking It could be a super fun movie, among others. Bet Me, Welcome to Temptation, etc. Then there are the old-timey romances with dukes and pirates. Peeps luv pirates. So much potential!

Anyway, after reading the Bustle article, I ran right over to the PassionFlix site, thinking hey maybe I will subscribe right away! But um… none of the books they have on their list to be made into movies are ones I’ve heard of. Some of the authors ring a bell, like Sylvia Day and Jill Shalvis, but not in a happy bell ringy way. Oh well.

They also stream other romantic movies, so I might sign up for a couple months just to be supportive of the concept. We’ll see. It’s a great concept. Maybe eventually there will be a Crusie book movie. A girl can dream…

And I know some of you are suspicious (or hopeful) that this is simply a pr0n site. Well, it does have a “barometer of naughtiness” (lol), but from the streaming movie list, it doesn’t look that way, unless you consider these movies pr0n:

“We have everything from Moonstruck to Thomas Crown AffairClueless to Last HolidayOverboard, BabyBoom, Roman Holiday, Strictly Ballroom, Love Story, Like Water for Chocolate, Bride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Kate & Leopold, She’s AllThat, Sabrina and Wuthering Heights. [from the Bustle article]

Unfortunately, I’ve seen almost all these movies, or can easily get them from Prime or wherever, so the only thing that would really tempt me to join would be fab original content. As I said… maybe later on.

Romance Awareness Month

August is RAM. I bet you didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. But luckily I have romance novels set as a key term in my Google News feed and ~ voilà ~ an article materialized to inform me of such.

I enjoyed reading what the various authors in the linked article had to say about the genre, about the joy of the happy ending, and especially how predictability is not a bug but a feature. Sarah MacLean noted that the genre is evolving to highlight not only the empowerment of women in general but also has given prominence to the “non-standard” heroine. Yes, we can have overweight women finding their soul mates now, along with older women, disabled women, women of color, on and on. Gone are the days when only “perfect” 19 year old white girls were allowed to find true love.

But romance novels are still scorned by many in a way that other genre novels are not. Sure, there are a lot of crappy romances out there. There are also a lot of crappy science fiction stories, crappy murder mysteries, etc. It does take some effort to find a good romance, since the market is flooded with them, but the same holds true for the other genres as well. This is where the library comes in handy, so you don’t waste $8 on impulse, and/or exchanging paperbacks with friends.

SSC: I have been on a break from romance novels for most of this year, but I’m sure I’ll go back eventually. I always do.

SSC2: I may do NaNoWriMo in October (would end my count on 10/30 to be fair)!



The prompt the otter day was carousel, a lovely word, but I had nothing. Twice before I poasted pomes with carousel and I was tapped out. Years ago I took relevant pics, but I had no time to hunt them down. For whatever reason, the word bounced around in my brainpain throughout the day. Maybe it was the associated music, plus the colorful horsies. Idk. I couldn’t stop thinking about carousels… then I remembered an old Mad Men episode where Don Draper was demonstrating a photo carousel. That was a very moving ep, as I recall. I loved that show until it JTS’d, which for me was around the time he left his wife and she married that creepy politician. Things just got too crazy after that. Plus didn’t it take them over a year to come up with a new season at some point? I lost interest.

Anyway. Thinking about Don Draper naturally led me to the word carouse, which I decided must be related to carousel. Well, isn’t it obvious? But that isn’t the case at all! In fact, I had totally the wrong idea about carouse, which is shocking after all my years of romance novel reading. I assumed it meant a wild night of partying and causing trouble in the streets, being loud, probably making obscene suggestions to women, etc. But no. It basically means a drinking spree. You can be doing the partying, but that’s secondary to the drinking.

1550s, from Middle French carousser “drink, quaff, swill,” from German gar aus “quite out,” from gar austrinken ; trink garaus “to drink up entirely.” Frequently also as an adverb in early English usage ( to drink carouse).

Huh. Well, anyway. I looked up carousel too, which was as expected. I didn’t know the origin though, which is interesting.

“merry-go-round,” 1670s, earlier “playful tournament of knights in chariots or on horseback” (1640s), from French carrousel “a tilting match,” from Italian carusiello, possibly from carro “chariot,” from Latin carrus (see car ).

These quotes are from dictionary-dot-com.

Carousel cake

November Is Coming

Some of you are probably going huh, wut, November? It’s the middle of the summer!


But a few of you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

November is coming.

And I’ve spent couple years faffing about writing poetry, NTTAWWT. Poetry is nice and all. Sometimes you just need to write poetry for a while… well, I do anyway. But then you get tired of creating adorable appetizers and delectable desserts and you want to make the main course again… you need to tell a story.

At some point in the near future, I’ll be organizing the poetry I wrote over the past few years, together with some relevant material from the distant past, into a new themed e-book available for purchase. I may also have one or more of my works narrated into an audio book and see how that goes. Dunno if I’ll do that with a poetry book or one of the romance novels; need to look into the whole dealio first, but it seems like a neat idea.

Aside from all that, however, the story drum is beginning to beat, faintly now, but slowly and steadily growing louder. Tell a story, beginning to end. So, savor my whimsical poasts and musings on social media for the moment. Soon it’ll be time to get serious again.

November is coming.


The Daily Prompt: Savor

Two for Tuesday ~ Cold Hearts

1. Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag. I read 8 chapters (117 pages) of this suspense novel before giving up. I think that’s a fair shot. And the thing is, I don’t really have anything bad to say about the book. It’s well-written, very suspenseful, gory, and exciting. I could have easily continued on to watch poor messed up Dana emerge from her confused mental state following her horrific ordeal at the hands of a madman. I could have hung on for the ride as Dana figured out exactly what the hell went on 7 years ago with her best friend Casey and that handsome tormented soldier turned pizza guy who of course will turn out to be some kinda hero there in the small town in Indiana. Dana has to return to said ‘burb as she recovers from the madman attack in order to be cared for by her sweet mom and her creepy rich politician stepdad, who just has to be some kind of nogoodnik, right?

But I just don’t care. That’s the thing, I guess. In those 117 pages Hoag has not made me care about Dana enough to plow on through her physical therapy and nightmares and stuff. That’s all a lot of work for me, the reader, and I suppose I’m a bit lazy these days. You gotta make me care about the protag if I’m gonna slog to her doctor’s appointments and deal with her anxiety attacks. Hoag has Dana freaking out at every shadow and that gets tiring really fast. See, Dana was this super pretty blonde high school girl who hung around with this super pretty brunette Casey yada yada and then … something happened to Casey, we don’t know what yet, maybe she’s dead, we’re not sure, but Dana went on to college and began her perky journalism career in Minnesota until the madman attack. But so? Why should I care? What about Dana is compelling here? Why should I hold her hand as she struggles for words and freaks out at every little trigger? Some of it is so gory that it’s triggering for me and I am not invested emotionally enough in the protagonist to bear with the story.

That’s what a writer needs to do. Make us care. If this were a movie, I might stick with it because it would be filmed dramatically with voices, expressions, music, etc., and it would engage me in a more visceral way. But reading is a different experience. Scenes play in my mind, with some input from me to fill out the descriptions, and the writer needs to engage me emotionally by making me identify with the protag, in order for me to want to turn those pages. I probably would have cared more about Dana if she’d been an ordinary high school girl instead of a popular perfect girl who never struggled. I’m supposed to relate to a cheerleader? Meh. And Dana does nothing remarkable during her career to make me root for her during her recovery. There was a hint she may have done a heartwarming story about an animal shelter… now that could have grabbed me. Make Dana an animal rescuer, yeah! But… nothin’. Just a pretty pretty princess. Feh.

(Obviously I’m in the minority here because this book has racked up loads of fab reviews.)

2. Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas. Ah, now this one I loved! This was a traditional hot old-fashioned romance novel, set in London in… idk, whenever they were messing up the tenant farmers’ way of life by ripping up the land with railroads (1850s?). Our hero Devon inherits an earl’s title and some lands plus a decrepit castle, and before he sees any of it has already decided to sell off the lot because he doesn’t want to be bothered with any earlish nonsense. His younger drunken brother agrees with this plan and both gents are totes hilarious, as one would expect from well-educated snotty Brits. Lisa doesn’t make me care about these two at the start ~ they’re obnoxious after all ~ but I’m drawn in regardless because they’re so funny and I want to see what happens.

Next we meet Kathleen, the late earl’s widow, who’s a total icy bitch. Now, CHR gets a lot of bad reviews because readers dislike how Devon treats Kathleen at the start, but hello he is a COLD-HEARTED RAKE, remember? And he’s not treating some sweet little miss to his cold-hearted rakishness and causing her to have an anxiety attack ~ he’s being rakish to someone who can take it, freeze it over, and fling it right back in his snarky face. A match made in heaven! I enjoyed their witty banter so much. I loved the supporting cast too: brother Weston, as mentioned, the late earl’s sisters, the servants, the tenants, etc. Lisa took great care to give all her characters distinct and interesting traits. I know there will be more novels coming with some of the other characters in starring roles and I hope to read those as well.

Lisa drew me in by first creating interesting characters, though they certainly didn’t seem like nice people. That’s not necessarily important (many of us were riveted to Tony Soprano’s antics week after week and he was an asshole). Devon and Kathleen were complex. I wanted to figure out what made them tick; I wanted to see what they’d do next. And the story itself was interesting ~ it seemed impossible that the castle and lands could be saved. How would they get the money? As D&K worked on the estate, their personal relationship deepened, and they changed. They began to care more about each other, and then about things beyond themselves. I know, I know, some of you think romance novels are soooo shallow. But the good ones are not.

This was one of the good ones.

Romance, Realistic and Otterwise

So, I went to B&N the other day and checked out the romance novel section. As usual, the emphasis was on cowboys, dukes, and vampires. Just look at these guys ~ aren’t they to die for?


I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about vampire romances (puke) and I have similar sentiments toward the cowboy subgenre.


I remember a time when it was a thing to feature a Native American hero, but I don’t see much of that anymore. Often he’d be half-white, so he could float back into society and pass as an English gentleman or wotever. Probably that’s all way too racist now, so writers stay away from it.

However the duke will always be with us! Not a fat, gouty, nasty old man, but a young handsome studmuffin. Often, he’ll pose as a pirate or highwayman for some convoluted reason and end up kidnapping our heroine by mistake. But it’ll get sorted out after loads of misunderstandings, no worries. I confess that I am partial to the ducal romances.


Hey, how’d that viscount sneak in there?

Here’s a new thing ~ the Realistic Romance section. What could that possibly mean? Well, let’s check it out…


Ah, these would be the firemen, bikers, and billionaires. Much more realistic. I mean, vampires don’t even exist, ffs, but firemen sure do. And also 30 year old billionaires, natch. Who wouldn’t want to nab one of those ruthless dudes and his Lamborghini too? And motorcycle gang members, yummy. Just like on Sons of Anarchy, except with a happy ending.

For whatever reason, I’ve been gravitating more to mysteries lately. And poetry. But it was fun to cruise the romance aisle for old time’s sake.