Exploding the Cold Shower Myth

The cold shower is the romance novel male equivalent of the internal hymen: you see it in books so frequently that you probably don’t notice it anymore, but when you stop to think about it, something’s off. In fact, everything is off. The cold shower, it seems, is just as grounded in reality as the mythical internal hymen.

What is the cold shower? Here are just a few of the many, many examples:

After ogling the heroine Jennifer, the hero Cletus reflects:

A cold shower was in order. And yoga. And then another cold shower. – Beard Science by Penny Reid

After ogling the heroine Lucy, the hero Zack reflects:

He needed a shower. A cold one. – Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

After ogling the heroine Emma, the hero Connor reflects that if he couldn’t

take a cold shower, he’d have to settle for cold drinks. And maybe he should just pour the next one one in his lap, where it would do the […]

By | 2017-07-03T18:28:01+00:00 July 4th, 2017|Categories: Caroline AAR, Real Life, Romancelandia|2 Comments

Writing Across Cultures: Right or Wrong?

Earlier this month I was chided on Twitter for saying this:

I’m 70% through A Bollywood Bride by @Sonali_Dev. I now feel bereft that I’ve never been to an Indian wedding. Or worn a sari.

The chider is a woman and author whose opinion I respect. She asked me why I would ever have had an occasion to wear a sari. This then generated a lengthy and interesting Twitter conversation about cultural appropriation. I’ve thought about the points she raised as well as those raised by those in my Twitter stream who felt strongly that anyone who wants to wear a sari or a kimono or lederhosen should do so if she wants to.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an article entitled “To the new culture cops, everything is appropriation.” In it, the author Cathy Young asserts that those who criticize artists and writers who draw on cultures other than their own–whatever that means–are ignoring […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:17+00:00 August 23rd, 2015|Categories: Characters, Dabney AAR, Romancelandia, Settings|28 Comments

Maya Rodale talks about Dangerous Books for Girls

Dangerous-Books-For-Girls-big-400x600I was at an absurdly hip underground pop-up dinner (eleven tiny courses based around the 1968 Volkswagen bus) and seated across from a couple both of whom were cancer researchers. In the midst of a discussion about Americans’ (mis)perception of what modern medicine can cure, the man stopped to ask me what I did. I said, among other things, I was a publisher at a website that reviewed and discussed romance novels. It was as if I’d said I made hats for leprechauns, he stared at me with such disbelief. I continued to smile. He asked why I’d do such a thing. The conversation became strained –I tried to remain well-mannered as he talked about 50 Shades and the vapidity of the genre–and he finally started an argument with his wife over his choice not to eat the itty bitty handcrafted creamsicle we were given as the […]

I've Been Mulling over the DA/Jen Frederick Disclosure But It's Not Looking Any Better

I’ve spent enough time in Romlandia to see that there are kerfuffles that seem huge and all-consuming but then, after all the ink is spilled and spleen is vented, they’re quickly forgotten. And then there are things like the Big Reveal Jane Litte dropped last week. The effects of that little revelation keep spreading, and I suspect we haven’t heard the last of it yet.

As someone who has observed, participated in, and written about books and this community for years, my first instinct was to dive right in, and start reporting with a timeline. But my gut kept telling me to stop and weigh my words a bit. A mentor I’ve long trusted always told me to listen to the gut and I’m glad I did this time.

My first reaction on hearing Jane’s news was, “Okay, good for her,” but then more facts started coming out. And as I tried to put together all the facts, I started to see problems. And I’m not the only one.

Right out of the […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:20+00:00 April 3rd, 2015|Categories: Lynn AAR, Publishing, Romancelandia|Tags: , , , |44 Comments

Grown-Up Reading: Why Romance and Happy Endings Matter

QRMI heard George RR Martin on the radio the other day. Asked about the Game of Thrones body count he said something like (this is a paraphrase): “I used to read stories that had happy endings, where people did good things and nobody got raped…then I grew up.” Meanwhile, in an article on children’s fiction, author Robert Muchamore observes, “While a childish thirst for happy endings satisfies and entertains us, the real world is so complex that unambiguously happy endings hardly exist.” […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:25+00:00 October 24th, 2014|Categories: Guest Posts, Reading, Relationships, Romance, Romance reading, Romancelandia|Tags: , |25 Comments

Read Anything Interesting Lately?

Ever had one of those frustrating weeks where you just don’t get to curl up with a book as much as you’d like to? Yeah, me too. My day job pretty well ate my life last week and had me sitting in traffic all over northern Virginia as I went from appointment to appointment. On the plus side, I did get to catch up on blog reading in between all of the mad dashes and I found some interesting stuff over the past few days.

I like to read Jezebel every now and again because some of their writers do offer useful perspectives on women’s lives and they can be very supportive of women’s choices, history, literature and so on — except when they’re not. My general reaction to reading this article which somehow takes the idea of Jane Austen having both highbrow and lowbrow appeal and conflates it to the notion that her books are basically well-written […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:30:52+00:00 January 30th, 2013|Categories: All About Romance, Reading, Romancelandia, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |18 Comments

Who Are You? And Who Needs to Know?

CNSPhoto-Simpsons Everything I’ve ever written or posted at AAR has been under my own name. My real one. Since I’ve been doing this for well over a decade and have an unusual name, I figure I am about the easiest person to find on the internet. You google me, you get me. I made the choice early on, and I’ve always been comfortable with it. But we have several staff members who use a pseudonym. Reasons vary; for some it’s a professional issue, for others a privacy one. Honestly, when a reviewer wants to use an assumed name I don’t feel the need to ask them why. I don’t really care what you call yourself as long as you are professional.

By | 2017-06-23T08:31:05+00:00 July 16th, 2012|Categories: AAR Blythe, All About Romance, Romancelandia, Uncategorized|12 Comments

Breaking Romance Ranks

womanIt’s impossibly hot here in D.C. today and writing a cogent opinion is beyond me, I’m sorry to say. The best I can do is come up with a few things that I’ve been thinking about lately.

But first I better explain what I mean by my title.  Here in the online romance world, some things become accepted as the general prevailing opinion fairly quickly.  After all, we are all smart women who also love romance, and, as in all parts of life, the loudest and most persistent dominate.  That is what it is.  But little old me  (and, I hope, others) don’t always feel as if I’m on the majority opinion team.  So, here are a few ways I don’t feel part of the prevailing romance voice.

  • I like Dukes marrying seamstresses. Okay, so I know it didn’t happen and I don’t give a rat’s ass.  I read romance for fantasy and the Cinderella story is one of my very favorites.  And when […]
By | 2017-06-23T08:31:06+00:00 June 29th, 2012|Categories: Reading, Romance reading, Romancelandia|Tags: |102 Comments

My Personal Rita Reading Challenge

I have a long-term relationship with the Ritas. I had no friends who read romances (or at least admitted that they did) when I began reading romances in the 1990s. So soon after I finished Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick’s complete backlist, I began searching the Web for ideas about which books to read next. Among the first resources I found was the Romance Writers of America’s Web site. Imagine my delight to discover the “best” of romance in their listing of recent Rita winners.

I was convinced these must be the best romance had to offer and began selecting romances to read from recent Rita winners; the process was a bit hit or miss. I discovered some winners that have become favorite romances, while others quickly went into my DNF pile. Still, I was – and remain – fascinated by the whole specter of the Ritas. I can remember sitting in my living room, with an old AOL dial-up connection (I did say this was the 1990s), watching as the Rita’s were presented […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:31:10+00:00 May 2nd, 2012|Categories: Authors, Books, LinnieGayl AAR, Romancelandia, RWA|Tags: , |16 Comments

When “I Can’t” Becomes “No One Should”

jerseyshoreI hate Jersey Shore. I saw it just one time, when my daughter was watching the first episode and I happened to be in the room. I found the people horrifying, and the very idea that I was watching them filled me with despair. The only reason I would ever read Snooki’s book is if I was locked in a padded cell, and it was the only available reading material (in which case I’d read anything, up to and including all sixty zillion volumes of the annoying Magic Treehouse series, Cassie Edwards’ exclamation point filled backlist, and my husband’s tax accounting books). Clearly, Snooki and friends are not for me. Two of my colleagues, on the other hand, just can’t get enough of the Guidos and Guidettes. They eagerly await each new season and frequently discuss what’s happening. To them, it’s a guilty pleasure. Are they just idiots? Is MTV irresponsible for producing Jersey Shore? It’s not exactly high brow, after all. […]

By | 2017-06-23T08:31:11+00:00 April 23rd, 2012|Categories: AAR Blythe, All About Romance, Romance reading, Romancelandia|Tags: , |45 Comments