The Seducer and the Seduced

doublestandard As a genre, romances have largely moved beyond the “bodice ripper” forced seduction-style stories (despite lingering stereotypes). They still pop up from time to time, but generally now the “she said no, but I know she really means yes” and “her body betrayed her” are ridiculous, sexist, and indicative of rape, not romance.

Gender norms have long dictated that men are insatiable and always willing, while women are more hesitant and require an emotional attachment. There was a double standard: men were allowed to sow their wild oats (whatever that means) and women who behaved similarly were sluts. It’s been this way for centuries, until the past few decades in which society has recognized that, yes, respectable women are allowed to have sex before they get married as men have been doing for centuries, and they can enjoy it, too.
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Vive la France!

France_Paris_Night1This subject has been on my mind for a while, but two recent-ish blogs got me writing: Joanna Bourne’s musings on the topic, and Lynn’s request for Italian-set romance novels.

See, I love France.  I love the food and the art and the cinema.  I love the cobblestone streets strewn with leaves and dog poo alike, and I love the mega-stores and tiny boutiques.  I appreciate their massive anal attitude towards their language, and am utterly envious of French women who all seem born with the Instant Style Gene.  Whenever I go to France, the minute I step off the plane, I feel like I’ve come home.

In other words, I don’t get the semi-automatic “anti-French, anti-revolution bias” that Jennie at Dear Author says is “common to most everyone but the French”, but that, honestly, I think is really only common to English-speakers.  (Stereo)typically-speaking.  So I’m happy whenever I read a book that’s mainly set in France.  (The temporary excursions just, somehow, don’t count.)  Pre-Louis XIV is pretty thin on the grounds, but there’s always Susan Carroll’s witch series, starting with Silver Rose, and the second book of the Renaissance Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.  In the pre-Revolutionary 18th century there are Georgette Heyer’s classic These Old Shades and Anne Stuart’s recent Ruthless.  Turn-of-the-century, I’ve read Susan Johnson’s Forbidden and Judy Cuevas’ Beast, and heard amazing things about Bliss and Dance. All are really good books.

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