a287f4cae1d145cc5411898a90e391a3One of the things romance readers share is the undeniable fact that we are all readers.  And, as the dedicated readers we all are, we are passionate about the books we love.

And, in that passion, we want readers to embrace those books.  Whether it’s because we’re seeking validation for our own tastes or – and I think this is the biggest motivator – we want others to experience the joy that we did when reading our favorite books, bringing others on board sometimes assumes monumental importance.

But here’s where I think a line gets crossed:  Some readers are so zealous and outspoken that those who don’t share the love may feel as if they are somehow suffering from some character defect by not embracing what seems to be the Official Romance Land Approved Syllabus.

Word from Sandy:  There is no Official Romance Land Approved Syllabus.

Not every smart, savvy reader loves Ivory.  Or Chase.  Or Brockway. Or Howard.  Or Crusie.  And, you know, that’s okay.

But I’m hearing the almost deafening drumbeat at AAR and at other venues online about a few subgenres that aren’t for me.

In all cases, I’m happy – really happy – that many readers are enjoying the subgenres.  Seriously.  But my chief lament these days is lack of reading time.  And since I already don’t have the time to read all the books I want to be able to read, adding books I’m iffy on just isn’t going to happen.

Category Romances: Time was I devoured them.  I went through an HP phase and then a Silhouette phase and, finally, a Loveswept phase.  I’ve tried them again. And again.  I’ve read some awful ones and some better ones, but as a subgenre, there are far more misses than hits with me.

Ebooks: Back to that limited reading time thing again.  Knowing that quality standards vary widely in ebook world, I’m hesitant to take on the huge task of sorting the wheat from the chaff.  I figure if there’s something I really need to know about, the online buzz will clue me in.  Honestly, I think ebooks are a great venue for subgenre books that have a hard time finding a print-based publisher, but if, say, a Vampire Romance or an European Historical is published only as an ebook, then I’m going to pass until I hear great things that would convince me otherwise.  Just sayin’.

Male/Male Romances: I enjoyed the romance of Brockmann’s Jules and Robin and rooted for them to find their HEA.  I loved (make that loved, loved, loved) the relationship between J.R. Ward’s Butch and V and passionately wanted them to be together.  I found V’s longing for Butch heartfelt and erotic – and, let’s face it, Ward copped out big time in giving them both what felt to me to be flat out second best HEAs.  But, with all that said, I can’t see a scenario in which I would seek out an M/M romance to read.  (I mean, hey, what’s my role in this whole deal, you know what I’m saying?)  Still, with that said, a great storyteller can always pull me in.  But seeking them out?  No, I don’t see it.

BDSM: Just not my thing.

I feel the need to say – over and over again – that I don’t judge anyone who’s into BDSM and I’m not a homophobe. And I’m happy that books are being published for everyone.  But my point – and I really do have one – is that it’s okay for readers not to love what everybody is trumpeting. It doesn’t put your taste into question. And it doesn’t make you a homophobe.  Or sexually repressed, thank you very much.

If I had the time I once had to read, I’d put some of these assertions to the test – just as I have done over and over with category romances.  But time is precious to me these days.  And I have books – many of them titles I need to read for the site – that take every moment I have.

So, what about you?  Have you ever felt the pressure to read something you weren’t interested in?  Anybody else interested in stepping out of the closet with me?

– Sandy AAR

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