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 an author is as good as Loretta Chase, that’s all I need to know. I read the last two Chase novels with a great deal of pleasure and enjoyment.
  • I don’t want “gritty realism” in my historical romance. There is enough poverty and problems in today’s world that I don’t want to experience it in those of the past. I don’t care how they cleaned their teeth or where they pissed.  I just don’t want to know.
  • I do not believe that writing about premarital sex in historical times is unrealistic. People have always had sex.  People have always had sexual motivations. And they always will.
  • I am sick, sick, sick to death of the small town contemporary romance novels. Saccharine. Filled with Ma and Pa type characters who haven’t existed for 50 years.  And, of course, the sheriff is always hot.  And single.  I grew up in a small town and, trust me, the Sheriff was a Bubba who undoubtedly kept Mrs. Bubba happy at home.
  • I am sick of all the 50 Shades of Grey bashing. This is especially ironic when it’s clear that the bashers haven’t read the book.  I am certainly not saying that the book is great, but it’s at least a B- to me.  And, as I wrote before, there is something fresh there that I haven’t read in a while.  Bashing the book makes other authors look small and I am tired of reading it on Twitter.
  • I am sick of all the bashing of 50 Shades of Grey readers. What gives anyone the right to judge a reader for a book she likes?  I am sick of the vicious remarks I’ve read on Twitter, but the casual swipes are also getting to me.  And on that subject…
  • I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t. I get that there are some good and maybe even great authors working in that genre, but, for the most part, they are formulaic novels that are, in fact, written to formula.  I understand how they could be a guilty pleasure and a comfort, but to wank on and on about how great they are as literature?  Here’s what I think: If all the Harlequin lovers were subjected to the stuff that is regularly aimed at 50 readers, the sputtering outrage would be off the charts.  But, you know what it comes down to for me?  I liked, but didn’t love 50.  I once liked, but now don’t love Harlequins.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could respect each other and coexist peacefully?  I won’t read the Harlequin reviews or the message board threads and it would be nice if the anti-50 people would do the same.

I hope everyone survives the heat wave wherever you are.  Look at it this way: It’s the perfect time to crank up the AC and read.

- Sandy AAR

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102 Responses to “Breaking Romance Ranks”

  1. Jessica says:

    The funny thing is, writing about premarital sex in historic times is not unrealistic — it happened all the time. Something like 1/3 of all weddings in Puritan New England had been precipitated (the baby arrived well under 9 months later), and there were mechanisms in place to deal with babies born to unwed mothers (and no, not mean mechanisms — the father was expected to step up). It was the Victorians who gave the Puritans the dour, disapproving, have-to-be-perfect reputation they now have.

    I could go on and on with other eras, but the bottom line is, people are people, and they haven’t changed that much over the years.

    • Tee says:

      Jessica: …but the bottom line is, people are people, and they haven’t changed that much over the years.

      Haven’t yet made up my mind if that’s a positive or negative comment. :)

  2. JFTEE-Auburn says:

    Hurray for purposeful crankiness. Loved the column.

  3. Blythe says:

    I don’t find premarital sex in historicals unrealistic, but I do find it unrealistic when no one thinks twice about the consequences. Especially if they live in an era when preventing pregnancy isn’t as simple as taking pills or buying readily available condoms. I’m also not the biggest fan of cross-class romances – partly because I find them unlikely, but also because it is nearly always the hero who is from the upper class, and often he sees this as an excuse to take advantage of the heroine. I avoid them when I can.

    So that may place me in the “prevailing wisdom” camp. That said, I think a good author can make you buy into nearly anything – or if you’re not exactly bought in, you can at least enjoy the book so much that you don’t care. I tend to prefer the semblance of realism (gritty or not), but there are wallpaper-y books I enjoy simply because they are fun and the characters are engaging. When you’re not enjoying the book otherwise, your niggles (But she’s a seamstress!Why isn’t she concerned about pregnancy! They’re driving a car in 1782!) can become major sticking points.

    I don’t think anyone should have to apologize for liking something someone else doesn’t. Whether it’s Cinderella stories, category romances, or 50 Shades.

  4. AAR Sandy says:

    Blythe, with regards to the gritty realism, how realistic do you mean? I don’t think that any romance is as gritty as life could be back then. What was the maids life who had to work from dawn until late at night really like? Romance is going to insulate us from that. I think “semblance” is the right word.

    As for the premarital sex thing, I agree that when there is no thought to the consequences it’s unrealistic. Bonking at every turn is a problem. But do I think that couples in the heat of the moment said to hell with the consequences? Yes, I think they did.

    And, yes, peaceful coexisting is where we need to be.

  5. I got to go there!
    1. I loved the first one, wasn’t too keen on the second. It went wildly too far for me. Chase is still one of my fave authors, though.
    2. I don’t know anyone who does “gritty realism” apart from saga writers
    3.In past times, premarital sex meant pregnancy, which meant either disgrace or marriage. No way around that. So as long as the writer accepts that, or explains how the woman can get away with it, I’m good. Besides, many people engaged in non penetrative sex, or anal sex, pre marriage. They were a lot more adventurous!
    I want my historical romances to be, well, historical. I would love there to be a historical fantasy category. That would take care of all that stuff. As it is, I’ve given up reading historicals, until they bring the history back, and I’m not the only one who feels that way.
    4. Small town, yes, agreed. No argument.
    5 and 7, yes. Let people read what they want to read. I’m just delighted that people are reading a book instead of playing video games or something. But doesn’t that go for Harlequin, too? I love a good category romance. Tightly plotted, with all the emphasis on the romance, you can’t beat it when it’s well done. So maybe live and let live applies to Harlequins, too?
    definitely not formulaic. Or there wouldn’t be so many. They do have strict requirements, but if there was a formula, we’d all be writing them!

    • AAR Sandy says:

      Lynne Connolly
      5 and 7, yes. Let people read what they want to read. I’m just delighted that people are reading a book instead of playing video games or something. But doesn’t that go for Harlequin, too? I love a good category romance. Tightly plotted, with all the emphasis on the romance, you can’t beat it when it’s well done. So maybe live and let live applies to Harlequins, too?
      definitely not formulaic. Or there wouldn’t be so many. They do have strict requirements, but if there was a formula, we’d all be writing them!

      I just had to get it off my chest, Lynne, there is so much love for Harlequins at AAR and all over the Web. And, yes, acceptance is what I’m talking about. I hope that came through.

  6. Blythe says:

    Real enough so I can believe it, but not so real that I’m completely grossed out? There’s a scene in one of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books where the hero is sick and the heroine lovingly empties his chamber pot. I found it gross and weird, but mostly because of the flowery way it was written. Diana Gabaldon could write the same scene and make it work, but only because Claire would be real – not romantic – about emptying Jamie’s chamber pot. I guess that’s the best I can do as far as explanation goes.

    I totally believe people get carried away – they did it then and they do it now. That’s not the part I take issue with. It’s when they refuse to think about it afterwards. Not a moment of “Oh, @$%&, what if I’m pregnant?”, but “I’m not going to marry this handsome, titled man who is trying to do the honorable thing because he asked me awkwardly and I don’t know that he’s in love with me.”

    • AAR Sandy says:

      Blythe: Real enough so I can believe it, but not so real that I’m completely grossed out? There’s a scene in one of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books where the hero is sick and the heroine lovingly empties his chamber pot. I found it gross and weird, but mostly because of the flowery way it was written. Diana Gabaldon could write the same scene and make it work, but only because Claire would be real– not romantic – about emptying Jamie’s chamber pot. I guess that’s the best I can do as far as explanation goes.
      I totally believe people get carried away – they did it then and they do it now. That’s not the part I take issue with. It’s when they refuse to think about it afterwards. Not a moment of “Oh, @$%&, what if I’m pregnant?”, but “I’m not going to marry this handsome, titled man who is trying to do the honorable thing because he asked me awkwardly and I don’t know that he’s in love with me.”

      Yes, that last occurs frequently in wallpaper historicals. Not a big fan either.

  7. Lynne says:

    @Lynne Connolly- I just think of all historical romances as historical fantasy and that solves the issues of egregious inaccuracies in “historical realism” for me. After all, how many upper class folks actually had the luxury of marrying for love in the first place. Now what annoys me in historicals is sloppy or inconsistent world building.

    I would however like to see worlds based on something other than the English Ton in the Regency. I’m starting to get really bored with that particular world.

  8. Clutterconqueror says:

    Amen!
    In contemporaries, I like virgin heroines. I’d rather not read the socially responsible conversation between the H/h about birth control and std’s. And if I never have to read another scene that includes the heroine’s vibrator, it would be ok with me.
    Yes, yes, I know it’s unrealistic and socially irresponsible, but I don’t care.

  9. DabneyAAR says:

    ” Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could respect each other and coexist peacefully?”

    Yes.

  10. JMM says:

    (I am sick, sick, sick to death of the small town contemporary romance novels. Saccharine. Filled with Ma and Pa type characters who haven’t existed for 50 years.)

    Actually, they never really existed… the whole “small town contemporary romance” field makes up a world that always was an illusion. A pretty pastel world without crime, without malice, without any REAL flaws, full of good ol’ boys and Nice People who will always be… nice. Even the Not-Nice people just need a nice home-cooked meal and a good talking too to become… Nice.

  11. dick says:

    I’d find it difficult to disagree with any but #7. Some Harlequin authors write better books than many mainstream authors do, and they manage to do it in (usually) less than 300 pages, demonstrating not only great story-telling but also great skill, e.g. Justine Davis, Amy Fetzer, Elizabeth Rolls, Kylie Brant, and many another.

  12. xina says:

    Wonderful column Sandy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pointing out certain behavior. Oh, and I don’t want “gritty realism” in my romances either.

  13. LeeF says:

    Yeah, well, we are cranky down here in Texas too so I can absolutely agree with all of your points. Especially since I am working the next seven days :-( I am very glad that there is a such a wide variety of romance options out there- how lucky are we as readers!

  14. TFQ says:

    I totally get the feeling of living in Crankytown. But honestly — “I am mystified by serious readers” who haven’t gotten over the Harlequin love? Not a whole lot of acceptance going on there. And by the way, what is a “serious reader?”

  15. Julie B. says:

    I’m another reader who is baffled by your comments regarding Harlequin. I’ve been reading category romances for years and I think that there’s such a wealth of talented writers writing series romance that it’s a shame that people – even romance readers – can’t look beyond their own prejudices and preconceived notions about the genre and give the books a chance. Harlequin publishes fabulous books, good books, average books and awful ones, but in the last few years, I’ve had more disappointments reading single title romance than category.

  16. Janet W says:

    • I like Dukes marrying seamstresses. It depends.

    • I don’t want “gritty realism” in my historical romance. It depends.

    • I do not believe that writing about premarital sex in historical times is unrealistic. Agreed.

    • I am sick, sick, sick to death of the small town contemporary romance novels. Disagree – although I only read a few of them so perhaps I’m not overwhelmed. Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, someone new I haven’t read yet that’s wonderful: sign me up.

    • I am sick of all the 50 Shades of Grey bashing. Sick of bashing from non-readers and wish so much of the criticism didn’t come from within the rom community.

    • I am sick of all the bashing of 50 Shades of Grey readers. Yesterday on twitter I saw 50Shades readers called newbies to rom, members of AAR, stupid, folks who only read a book a year … no one will convince me that readers aren’t being criticized along with criticism of the book.

    • I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t. Don’t agree. I’m a serious reader and I find books and authors I love everywhere. I thought being part of romlandia meant you didn’t have to choose. I don’t like being called non-serious for any of the books I read. I take my reading time and my reading choices seriously, I really do.

  17. leslie says:

    There are 591 holds for the e-book 50 Shades of Grey at the Seattle Public Library. Don’t get it, I thought the writing was crap, but many people at my workplace think it’s fantastic ground breaking stuff. Whatever floats your boat. I’m just glad people are reading and talking about a book which is better than gossiping about co-workers. Hopefully other authors will benefit. I keep suggesting alternatives.

    Smalltown romances are so fucking annoying, especially smalltown Texas.

    I’m not usually a Georgian era fan, but I really HATED the first two books in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. Ridiculously unbelievable relationships.
    The Georgian era was a lot more class conscious than the Regency era which is why I can believe an Earl/Duke might marry a governess/seamtress/vicar’s widow in 1815, but not 1750. I like historical accuracy in my reading.
    Don’t get me started about the redemption of murdering thieves. I hate the angel and the badman trope.

    I am sick of the romantic suspense novels where the H/H find love and have time for fantastic athletic sex while chasing evil sadist serial killer, rapist, child molester. Total turn-off.

    I just read a contempary romance with an immortal virgin witch/librarian.
    Of course she falls for the smalltown hunky cop. In the Hamptons! Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

  18. farmwifetwo says:

    Just read Sacred Sins by NR and can’t believe I’ve missed that one and have things really changed over the 40 some years I’ve been alive… always a time warp shock to return to the 80′s (FWIW, loved being a teen in the 80′s – still the best music). But there’s a good mystery, honest characters, that little darker that is 80′s writing, Nam, and of course the time warp feeling. Loved it. Want more of them. They don’t write stories that way anymore and it shows when you return to that print time. SJ Rozan’s books are like oil and water in the before the 7 yr gap and after. The before being much better.

    Binged on historicals as a teen…. can’t stand most of them now. Keep trying, keep returning partly read to the library.

    Small towns… I live outside of a village. I live in a rural municipality. Lovely fantasy they keep writing in their stories and not the least bit realistic.

    Shades a Grey… the bashing is a farce. I have the first – just bought it – haven’t read it yet. I think some that did, did it solely to mock it yet their mocking is just that… juvenile. There is no reason for it except IMO good old envy. IMO…. if it makes her rich… GO FOR IT!!!! NOBODY told you you had to read it and you knew what the genre was before you did…. so there’s no reason to bash something you knew you wouldn’t like in the first place. But that’s just my opinion on that topic.

  19. farmwifetwo says:

    Oh, hqns… remind me to quit buying them in the store. Yes, there are some good ones, but most aren’t. Remind me to get them from the library instead.

  20. Stephanie says:

    Since we should hit 110 today in St. Louis it IS the perfect day to read in the AC. Spend the day revisiting some old friends to remind you why you ARE reading romance. Linda Howard, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Elizabeth Vaughan, and I are going to have a ladies afternoon.

    Yes, I agreed with the majority of the list and comments. But, Each to their own. Don’t drag me down when I want to read something or like an author or story. Somedays I’m in the mood to be swept away on a pirate ship and some evenings others through the ballroom. Other days I won’t visit historicals even if paid. That’s the strength of genre.

    Hope everyone has a chance to cool down and enjoy a good book.

  21. JMM says:

    (I am sick of the romantic suspense novels where the H/H find love and have time for fantastic athletic sex while chasing evil sadist serial killer, rapist, child molester. Total turn-off.)

    I know. I think Leslie Parrish managed to balance the romance/suspense well. Karen Rose, perhaps.

    But I’m tired of supposedly intelligent, clear-headed heroines who simply forget their mission and yank off their panties the second they meet the hero.

    “Stripped” was a BIG example of this.

  22. Diana says:

    Sandy said: Here’s what I think: If all the Harlequin lovers were subjected to the stuff that is regularly aimed at 50 readers, the sputtering outrage would be off the charts.

    Heh. You sure got that one right. I’m bummed that Romland has got such a short fuse lately. I wonder how many I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO IS NOT A HYPOCRITE blog posts we’ll see by the end of the day.

    • xina says:

      Diana: Sandy said: Here’s what I think: If all the Harlequin lovers were subjected to the stuff that is regularly aimed at 50 readers, the sputtering outrage would be off the charts.Heh. You sure got that one right. I’m bummed that Romland has got such a short fuse lately. I wonder how many I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO IS NOT A HYPOCRITE blog posts we’ll see by the end of the day.

      It will certainly get these people worked up. I was just reading a few comments on Twitter about this post. Don’t know why I bother. So much of Romland reminds me of a Jr. High school cafeteria, and it’s not about the delicious meals. heh.

  23. xina says:

    I have been reading a few blogs sputtering about Sandy’s last point about Harlequin. Now, I have that classic song by Alanis Morissette running through my head…Ironic. Hmmm, I wonder why?

  24. AAR Sandy says:

    I’m getting cranky again. There is no dearth of Harlequin love all over the net, including here at AAR. I expressed an opposite point of view that I haven’t liked them in years and people get irritated. In no way did I say that others are not allowed to read them. To each their own. I used to read them and I am persuaded again and again to try one and it just doesn’t work for me. That ship has now sailed. I accept, however, that others don’t agree. Why can’t others accept my opinion?

    • Ridley says:

      AAR Sandy: Why can’t others accept my opinion?

      It’s just hypocritical, that’s all. You *are* doing to category readers what has been done to 50 Shades fans. You didn’t just say “Harlequins don’t work for me.” You said, “I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t.” That implies two things: 1. that enjoying Harlequins is a stage one matures out of and 2. “serious readers” should know better than to enjoy them. That’s not criticizing a sub-genre, that’s judging the *readers* of a sub-genre, which you recently railed about in your 50 Shades post.

      If you didn’t mean to condescend to category readers, fine. Reword that bullet point to make plain that you only speak for your own tastes. But as it’s written, you’re taking aim at the readers, not the books.

  25. GreytBritta says:

    Thanx for making me laugh out loud today! #2 was hilarious and yes, I do NOT need a description of hygiene; however, I DO sometimes wonder if they ever clean their teeth/have bad breath.. You know, kissing after a 10 course meal could become quite messy… ‘-) Or after a night of athletic sex if there is a morning bath in the offing… Just me musing on while reading. Love reading all your reviews, keep in rocking, AAR!
    BTW, not having a twitter account, TV or following any entertainment blogs saves me from “public opinion” and therefore I am free to not give a rats ass whether any books get bashed/raved upon. I like to decide myself which books I like, no matter what the “public opinion” on it is. Live and let live is my motto.

  26. Jessica says:

    I really enjoyed this post … until the last bullet point. I think Ridley’s comment is on the money. If the intention was to just say “I don’t care for categories,” that would be fine. But the 6th and 7th points don’t play well together as written.

  27. bavarian says:

    AAR Sandy says:I’m getting cranky again.There is no dearth of Harlequin love all over the net, including here at AAR. I expressed an opposite point of view that I haven’t liked them in years and people get irritated. In no way did I say that others are not allowed to read them. To each their own. I used to read them and I am persuaded again and again to try one and it just doesn’t work for me. That ship has now sailed. I accept, however, that others don’t agree. Why can’t others accept my opinion?

    Perhhaps because there is such a wide range between the Harlequin books? The truly bad ones and the good ones? If you have found an author you really like and does a good job in her writing you feel offended by the general Harlequin (and combined reader) bashing.
    As Dick has already said there are outstanding authors and such writing unreadable books. I should add that I’m not a regular Harlequin reader but sometimes I just have the time for a short read and then one of the “tried” authors mostly doesn’t fail bringing a few ours entertainment and distraction from every day stress.

    To other points:
    Historical accurcy: There should be some resemblance to the reality of the era, the social (and not to forget the religious!) mores of the time. I’m really tired of the feminist attitude of so many heroines allegedly living in Regency England. As for the seemstress marrying a duke: It stretches the probability a bit wide but miracles do happen and if the book otherwise is humorous and not too serious, why not? (By the way, the last of a very wealthy and very influential line of a noble family in Bavaria – they were high ranking Grafen = Earls – married the daughter of a small town innkeeper in the 1820s. Unfortunately they did not have children. A Habsburg archduke, Johann, married the daughter of a Posthalter (= he run a post station) with the acceptance of his brother the emperor. The marriage itself was morganatic but he did not lose his political influence and power.)

    Gritty realism: Concerning hygiene, sometimes one would like to read more realism or nothing at all. “Older” authors managed that quite well, better than many today.
    Concerning poverty and other dire circumstances people lived in: I wouldn`t mind reading more about it and not always about glittering ballrooms. But! One day I like to read realism, the other I’m in the mood that I want to get away in a not so realistic world and the ball rooms are just the right thing for the moment. So I think both kinds of books are legitimate (don’t know the correct English word but hope I made myself understandable) on romanceland too.

  28. Blackjack1 says:

    I loved Sandy’s post this morning and agree with all of it. I am though a college English teacher and spend a great deal of my work day teaching pre-20th century literature, and so I am steeped at times in social realism, aka the “gritty” kind. Romance literature as a genre awkwardly handles the realism of poverty and easily can pull you out of the fantasy that love conquers all. I certainly found this to be the case with Meredith Duran’s _A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal_. In literature grittiness is the final word on romance. Death from consumption or starvation is a more likely resolution. I always like to think of _The English Patient_ as a perfect novel that explodes the idea of romance and happy ever after in the war destroys personal relationships.

    On the topic of Harlequins, I read them as a teen with my mom and so have nostalgia for them. I imagine that there could be some nicely written Harlequins out there but generally I find it nice to have a more leisurely exploration of a romance, and so in that sense I’ve outgrown them.

  29. I don’t care who dukes marry.

    I like gritty realism, hate the idea that only rich & beautiful people live HEA.

    Premarital sex is fine anytime.

    I’m not sick of small town contemps, but I haven’t read that many.

    Most 50 bashing is just healthy discussion. So what if some people think the book is poorly written or a bad representation of romance/bdsm? I don’t see any reason for readers to get offended or insecure about varying opinions.

    Reader bashing, ugh. I’m tired of that also. It’s a book, not a litmus test of intelligence or genre familiarity. Liking it doesn’t make me stupid and hating it doesn’t make YOU smart.

    Harlequin’s category romances: I’ve read some great ones.

    • xina says:

      Jill Sorenson: .Most 50 bashing is just healthy discussion. So what if some people think the book is poorly written or a bad representation of romance/bdsm? I don’t see any reason for readers to get offended or insecure about varying opinions.
      Reader bashing, ugh. I’m tired of that also. It’s a book, not a litmus test of intelligence or genre familiarity. Liking it doesn’t make me stupid and hating it doesn’t make YOU smart.

      Oh, my dear pot…meet kettle.

  30. maryann says:

    I agree with Sandy’s post, and have just one thing to add:
    Jane Austen made choices in her life that would define her as a feminist in today’s world. It’s not a dirty word, and I think romance readers should embrace it.

  31. erika says:

    I enjoyed this thread because I’ve felt I’m always breaking romance ranks for instance I don’t consider virgin heroines in contemporaries unrealistic, I love wealthy uber ahole heroes, the more aristocrates the better and I still read Harlequin Presents(30 yrs). I also wouldn’t mind seeing more Stormfire/Ginny and Steve sagas published. The drama and angst was so compelling.

  32. Beth says:

    This whole article/post cracked me up. I tend to agree mostly.
    Dukes should so marry seamstresses
    Realism without the grit. I would like them to brush their teeth once in a while.
    Premarital sex is fine, but I do like when the Hero or Heroine kinda worry or try to avoid pregnancy etc.
    I disagree about small town perfection. I like that fantasy as much as the Duke/seamstress fantasy, vampire fantasy etc. None of it is real, so why not solve our towns problems with a cuppa coffee and some pie.

    50 Shades- Over it. Read it or don’t. I don’t care. Is it good or not? Don’t care. Everyone has given scathing reviews for books I’ve loved and glowing reviews for books I thought were crap. If you think it suck then don’t read the rest. But don’t bash someone else. Do whatever floats your boat. Now, I still reserve the right to read a book and review it on my blog. If I don’t like something, I’ll say so.
    Harlequin. I’m personally over them. I find them too short to do real justice to character development. But someone must love them because there are plenty of them at the bookstore and walmart. So if you love them, read on. More power to you!
    Enjoy your hot summer days and Happy REading.

  33. xina,

    Are you saying that I’m offended, insecure, or reader bashing? I certainly didn’t mean to bash Sandy. She expressed her opinions, and I agreed with some of them. I thought the topic was open for discussion.

  34. AAR Sandy says:

    Thanks, everyone, for the feedback.

    I did some thinking last night and I kept coming back to this: Blogs are opinions and points of view of an individual writer. I wrote my opinion. You all are welcome to agree or disagree with what I said — as Jill said, the topic is open for discussion — but it is not welcome to tell me what I should have said. I wrote what I wrote. It is my opinion.

    How boring would the world be if we all became afraid to express an opinion.

    • M says:

      AAR Sandy: Thanks, everyone, for the feedback.I did some thinking last night and I kept coming back to this:Blogs are opinions and points of view of an individual writer.I wrote my opinion.You all are welcome to agree or disagree with what I said — as Jill said, the topic is open for discussion — but it is not welcome to tell me what I should have said.I wrote what I wrote.It is my opinion.
      How boring would the world be if we all became afraid to express an opinion.

      But you contradict yourself. So which of your own statements do you actually believe?
      Because it’s coming across that you realize you worded that in a way you shouldn’t have but you’re too stubborn to acknowledge it and correct it as you should.
      *Can* you answer the question directly and honestly?

    • M says:

      AAR Sandy: Thanks, everyone, for the feedback.I did some thinking last night and I kept coming back to this:Blogs are opinions and points of view of an individual writer.I wrote my opinion.You all are welcome to agree or disagree with what I said — as Jill said, the topic is open for discussion — but it is not welcome to tell me what I should have said.I wrote what I wrote.It is my opinion.
      How boring would the world be if we all became afraid to express an opinion.

      But you contradict yourself. So which of your own statements do you actually believe?
      Because it’s coming across that you realize you worded that in a way you shouldn’t have but you’re too stubborn to acknowledge it and correct it.
      *Can* you answer the question directly and honestly?

  35. Ell says:

    Wow. Sandy, you poked the hornet’s nest, didn’t you?

    I am tempted to add my two cents worth point by point, but it all comes down to this: you read what you like, and I’ll read what I like, and its all good. I admit to feeling disappointed when someone doesn’t like a book or an author as well as I do. No doubt other people feel the same way when I can’t get into their favorites. Doesn’t matter, it doesn’t mean I like, or respect THEM any less. Its just a matter of taste.

    A couple of points I can’t resist making though…..one is like somebody else said, if a book has me, then I won’t notice, or pay much attention to anyway, historical errors. That said, most authors that can catch me up in their story don’t toss in massive historical mistakes. On the other hand, if I’m not really into the story anyway, then I tend to pay more attention to any mistakes that are made.

    And second, or connected to the historical inaccuracy thing is this: I have read historicals where slaves were treated not only not like slaves, but like members of the family. Or where gay relationships were accepted, casually accepted, by everyone. No one in society so much as blinked about it. I get that the author doesn’t want the book to be about that struggle, but it seems really wrong to pretend that it wasn’t hard fought for years, and years. It feels vaguely disrespectful, to me, when its all just glossed over. And I always have trouble with that.

    Anyway, I read this recently, and I think all of us readers feel the same way. I wish I could remember the line well enough to quote it, but here it is somewhat mangled….”I missed the concert because the book I was reading turned out to be crack”. And there you go. That’s what keeps me reading, those books that are impossible to put down, the ones that I can’t stop thinking about even when I’m done. Maybe one day y’all could put together a list of books that are crack. Yeah?

  36. Susan says:

    Hmm my only comment is on the pre-marital sex. The thing is that married couples worried just as much about the consequences of pregnancy as unmarried couples. My grandparents, growing up in the 30s, and then post war 40s Germany were constantly worried about having another child because they could not afford to feed another one. They had my mother and that was it.

    So even married couples in Regency, Victorian, EVERY historical period would consider the consequences of sex. Let’s just thank our lucky stars we have many methods of birth control available.

  37. Karen Scott says:

    @Sandy The way you feel about Category enjoyists (my own made up word) is pretty much the way I feel about Fifty Shades fans. That’s pretty much me assuming that you aren’t a ‘serious reader’ seeing as you gave it a B. Just my opinion of course…

  38. AAR Sandy says:

    And you’re certainly welcome to it, Karen. BTW, I gave 50 a B- so I am hardly a “fan.”

  39. AAR Sandy says:

    M, I stand by what I wrote in the blog, just to be clear.

    • AAR Sandy says:

      AAR Sandy: M, I stand by what I wrote in the blog, just to be clear.

      And I do not see any contradiction.

      • Ridley says:

        AAR Sandy: And I do not see any contradiction.

        Nothing about the juxtaposition of “I am sick of all the bashing of 50 Shades of Grey readers” and “I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t” strikes you as contradictory?

        Are you playing dumb with us to avoid owning up to a mistake, or do you really not see the disconnect?

  40. M says:

    Let me quote you, then, and we’ll see if we can’t work past your confusion over your own statements.

    “What gives anyone the right to judge a reader for a book she likes?”

    “I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t.”

    You are surely intelligent enough to see the contradiction there, so I have to conclude you’re being deliberately obtuse because you don’t like admitting you made a mistake.
    I think you might feel better if you just go ahead and acknowledge the contradiction and correct it. People generally have more respect for someone who can admit to being wrong and apologize.
    To continue to protest that you made no contradiction when there’s solid evidence you did only puts your integrity into question. Own up and you’ll feel better about it in the long run (assuming you value integrity over pride.)

    Oh, and sorry about the double post. The site keeps presenting a blank page, so it was difficult to tell whether the post had gone through.

  41. AAR Sandy says:

    And once again my point is proved. If Harlequin readers were subject to the same kind of crap regularly directed at 50 readers, the sputtering outrage would be off the charts.

    I am one teeny tiny voice in the overwhelming deluge of Harlequin of love on the Internet.

    As for the “intelligent enough” dig. Gee, thanks.

    • xina says:

      AAR Sandy: And once again my point is proved.If Harlequin readers were subject to the same kind of crap regularly directed at 50 readers, the sputtering outrage would be off the charts.I am one teeny tiny voice in the overwhelming deluge of Harlequin of love on the Internet.As for the “intelligent enough” dig.Gee, thanks.

      It astounds me how people continue to miss the point you made. They didn’t get it yesterday, and they are not getting it today. Shoe is on the other foot. It is indeed a sputtering outrage. You did get the neighbors talking!

    • M says:

      AAR Sandy: And once again my point is proved.If Harlequin readers were subject to the same kind of crap regularly directed at 50 readers, the sputtering outrage would be off the charts.I am one teeny tiny voice in the overwhelming deluge of Harlequin of love on the Internet.As for the “intelligent enough” dig.Gee, thanks.

      I think a point has been proven, but regrettably it isn’t yours.

      You neatly sidestepped the direct question, so I would guess you aren’t capable of owning up to your mistakes. I did very frankly assume you were of sufficient intelligence to see the contradiction in your statements. It wasn’t meant as a “dig” but as a straightforward observation. But I don’t believe you’re looking at your statements and reading them with an honest eye for their content.

      That you are one teeny voice is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand.
      You stated that bashing readers was a bad thing to do, and then a few lines later, you bashed readers. You won’t at least own up to that? Really? Just for the sake of your own credibility?

      • AAR Sandy says:

        M:
        I think a point has been proven, but regrettably it isn’t yours.You neatly sidestepped the direct question, so I would guess you aren’t capable of owning up to your mistakes. I did very frankly assume you were of sufficient intelligence to see the contradiction in your statements. It wasn’t meant as a “dig” but as a straightforward observation.

        AAR Sandy: M, I stand by what I wrote in the blog, just to be clear.

        • Ridley says:

          AAR SandyM, I stand by what I wrote in the blog, just to be clear.:

          If you want to stand by words that make you look hypocritical, that’s your decision, I guess.

  42. Ridley says:

    As far as I’m concerned, you can bash category romances and their readers all you want. I think everything’s fair game.

    But it’s hypocritical to take a swipe at category readers after just decrying everyone who’s taken swipes at the 50 Shades readers.

    Why are Harlequin fans deserving of your condescension, but 50 Shades fans aren’t?

  43. Beth says:

    You guys are cracking my up. Sandy, I don’t think they get it. You said one comment that could be viewed as negative about Harlequinn (which I tend to agree with) but everyone is going berzerk. Meanwhile, none of those that are angry seem to get it that they and others have been bashing 50 SoG. I say, don’t dish it out guys if you can’t take it.

    I honestly think all the stink has proved Sandy’s point. Ultimately, if you don’t agree …then quit reading her posts. It’s not that big a deal and certainly not worth argueing about.

    pardon any spelling errors, my keyboard needs replacing.

    • xina says:

      Beth: Meanwhile, none of those that are angry seem to get it that they and others have been bashing 50 SoG.I say, don’t dish it out guys if you can’t take it.I honestly think all the stink has proved Sandy’s point.

      It’s kind of funny to see supposedly intelligent people NOT GET THE POINT. Excuse the shouty caps!( yeah…that’s a 50 Shades thing.)

    • I don’t like it when AAR readers & reviewers are called names, either. This site has been very good to me in terms of reviews and I’ve enjoyed many of the discussions. What you’ve presented here isn’t really a discussion though. It’s a call for everyone to stop criticizing 50, and a retaliation at bloggers you feel slighted by.

      I admit that I’ve cracked a few 50 jokes in my tweetstream, but I’ve also made comments in support of the book and its fans. I’ve written a couple of blog posts encouraging authors not to slam it. I’m a neutral party here!

      I’m also not sure I understand your definition of “bashing.” Can you give examples? I don’t want to bash anyone, ever, so it would be helpful if I knew exactly what you meant.

      Beth: I honestly think all the stink has proved Sandy’s point. Ultimately, if you don’t agree …then quit reading her posts. It’s not that big a deal and certainly not worth argueing about.

      I could easily say that those who don’t like 50 criticism should stop reading it. But ignoring the people and ideas we disagree with is hardly a step towards mutual understanding.

  44. xina says:

    And OMG…I clutched my pearls and they have fallen all over the floor. Whatever shall I do???

  45. Helen says:

    I haven’t read “50″ yet and until I do, really have no opinion on the book. Though I do enjoy reading the pros and cons of the “50″ novel.
    And the only Harlequin books I enjoy reading are the Presents series. And other than the criticisms of the HP’s and “50″ (since I have not read that novel), I pretty much agree with your commentary Sandy on everything else.

  46. xina says:

    OMG…a certain poster does not get the point. I have never typed this online, but here goes….headdesk…..1,000 times. wow.

  47. Sarah says:

    Get over it already people. Sandy has opinions and she was making a bigger point. Try to figure out what it was if you missed it. Get a helicopter if you need one to see the whole picture.

  48. Sarah says:

    Hint – it’s a forest and not just a tree.

  49. Las says:

    So…Sandy was being deliberately provocative to prove a point a bout people bashing 50 fans by bashing Harlequin fans? Because that would some kind of sense, if she weren’t insisting that there’s no contradiction or hypocrisy.

    • Sarah says:

      Las: So…Sandy was being deliberately provocative to prove a point a bout people bashing 50 fans by bashing Harlequin fans? Because that would some kind of sense, if she weren’t insisting that there’s no contradiction or hypocrisy.

      Lordy, lordy. Go back and re-read her opening title and text but not her opinions. Let that sink in. Take a deep breath. Now quit being provoked by opinions. We’re talking about thoughts and feelings about romance here not global catastrophes. I’m speaking for myself only. These are my opinions.

      • Las says:

        Sarah: s post along with a few others regarding 50 Shades are just disgusting. To imply that if you have an opinion opposite to that of the blogger that you either haven’t read the book or you are jealous is simply insulting to t

        Umm, what? What exactly did I say that implied I’m being “provoked by opinions?” And how, pray tell, do I read her title and text but not her opinions?

  50. kathy says:

    Sandy I just love your writing. I always have. You just wrote exactly how I feel. These people who get their panties in a knot because something isn’t realistic? Really? In FICTION? BTW you really should write a book.I think it would be a big hit.