Tag Archive | romance novel

Body Image and the Romance Novel

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It never fails. When reading a romance novel, the men are always well built and muscular with enormous genitalia while the women are gorgeous and well proportioned with smooth skin and smell of either some type of flower or confection. Some say this sets the reader up for unrealistic expectations and the beautiful characters can’t be related to. I agree however, there are a few things to consider.

 #1 A large majority of women hate how they look

It doesn’t matter how beautiful, thin or curvy a woman is, most of us absolutely hate how we look. I won’t get into the whole debate about body image in society, impossible expectations portrayed by the media etc. because we’ll be here all day. The fact of the matter is women are our own worst critics. Personally, I look in the mirror at least twice a week and frown at my graying hair and extra flab. Meanwhile my husband can’t seem able to keep his hands off me and I have friends who tell me I’m gorgeous. This brings me to my second point.

 #2 The hero will always find the heroine attractive 

That’s just the way the formula goes or at least that’s how I use it. If you notice, in many novels the heroine hates her body or doesn’t feel she measures up to the goddesses who surround her yet the hero absolutely adores her. The same traits she might hate seem to drive him crazy with desire. Even if she appears homely to the hero at first, it isn’t long before he takes a good look at her and realizes, wait a minute, this woman is beautiful! In my opinion this is where fantasy and reality meet. No matter what any of us looks like the person who makes your heart skip, your pulse race and causes butterflies to flutter in your stomach with a simple touch or look is the loveliest person you will ever meet.

 

#3 How do you write a “realistic body”?

She stood framed in the doorway, her satin robe caressing her figure. He approached her, a goofy look on his face as he undid the sash and slipped the robe down to her feet. He smiled, noting how the corn pads drew his attention to the shimmering polish on her toenails. The varicose veins, born from hours of standing on her feet as a waitress, fanned out like a roadmap on her legs. He massaged her cellulite dimpled behind as he kissed his way up and around her panis. He relished in the feel of her swollen nipples brushing his forehead as he kissed his way up to her bare breasts. As he stood upright, his soft belly jiggled and slid against her body. She groaned, caressing his bald spot and running her hands through the thick hair of his back. She squeezed the extra cushioning along his waist.

“Your love handles drive me crazy!” she murmured.

****

Not too sexy is it? At least, not as sexy as a scene describing a more perfectly formed couple anyway. Reading in general is a form of escapism and the romance genre especially so. While the hero and heroine don’t have to be underwear models, I think there is a growing tendency to make these couples to be a little more realistic while still maintaining artistic license. There’s not as much call for washboard abs and perky breasts and I can’t remember the last time I’d read of a virginal heroine gasping when her hero unleashes an appendage the size of a tree trunk. There are writers who specialize in BBW romances which feature plus sized women and men and I applaud those writers. I understand they’re doing very well and I intend to study those books as I’m curious how they handle the descriptive scenes. There’s also the growing trend of books featuring men who are physically or emotionally damaged and so far the books I’ve come across in this trend are very well written. I’ll encourage anyone to seek out and pick up books featuring these types of characters if you haven’t already.

Some day we may see romance novels featuring people who look just like you and me but to be honest, wouldn’t it be more fun to pretend to be a beautiful enchantress who is driving some gorgeous hunk absolutely wild, even for a little while?

Book Review: Her Highness, My Wife by Victoria Alexander

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time in my life I have found a book that I did not like yet did not feel compelled to fling across the room. Mainly, I think, because I was just too damn BORED! This book was absolutely terrible! It opens with a letter written by a mother to her daughter and from that letter we find out the little country of Greater Avalonia is involved in an insurrection that killed the daughter’s husband and her father and brothers lives are in danger so she takes her baby daughter and runs to England for their safety. Fantastic! This is a story I can get into. Then we see the daughter is writing a letter back to her mother explaining that she has a duty to her country and will not just sit idly by while her father and brothers do all the fighting. The princess, oh excuse me, hereditary princess as she keeps reminding readers, her friends and whoever else she comes across over and over again, then drops in on a man who she’d left suddenly after about a year. No wait, 15 months, 3 weeks and 4 days as he keeps telling her over and over again. After a while I started hearing that song from Rent playing in my head.

Sixty nine million three thousand four hundred thirty six miiinutes….

At this point I found myself getting really distracted. First, the date of the mother’s letter was 1767 but the story opens in 1819. As Princess Tatiana is talking to Lord Matthew I’m wondering where’s the baby and how come neither of them are mentioning her daughter? When they both start talking about her disappearance of over a year I’m wondering where the hell she’s been the rest of the time. Mind you I haven’t actually done the math between the two dates because the last thing I want to do when I open a romance novel is start working on my math skills!

I JUST WANT TO READ!!!

Then I realize it’s not even the same friggin person! The letter is from the Queen to Tatiana’s Aunt Sophia. What makes this really confusing is that Tatiana also lost her husband to an insurrection and her father and brother are still fighting the enemy and she too was exiled to England for her safety except there’s no baby. She comes back to Lord Matthew asking for his help because she wants to document Sophia’s story for her family’s history. She doesn’t want to travel around the country as a princess because “people are intimidated by royalty” so she wants Lord Matthew Weston to come with her posing as her husband because you know, the same people who would get tongue tied around royalty will just open right up and feel totally comfortable speaking to a Lord and Lady, right? Matthew questions the idea not because of her absurd logic but because he never figured her as the scholarly type. To this she goes into a tirade about all the things she knows including his hobby of ballooning.

So despite being hurt by the fact she just up and disappeared one day, breaking his heart in the process, he’s intrigued and tells her he’ll think about it and we find her talking to her cousins and closest confidants about the fact that she’s not actually interested in writing her aunt’s history but she’s searching for some royal jewels that Sophia may have had with her. So yeah, looks like ole Matt was right about that. When cousin Dimitri remarks about how she’s become much more assertive, aka a bitch, over the past year she goes into bitch mode and threatens to have him shot. In the next minute though, she’s all kind and soft again and tells him he could speak freely with her any time. We now discover that her new habit of being a bitch started when she disappeared in Paris for six days. Dimitri has a moment of clarity and realizes the disappearance coincides with the time she met Matthew.

I am a hereditary princess and I will CUT YOU!

So, Lord Matthew is getting bent out of shape and carrying on like a little girl because the mysterious woman he knew for SIX DAYS disappears again and doesn’t reappear for a year (Seasons of Loooooove…). I don’t know what happened in those six days but apparently she managed to discover he was estranged from his family, dreamed of inventing a balloon that didn’t send the operator careening to the ground in a fiery death and wanted to invest in a ship that would finance his balloon dreams. Seems to me they had one good roll in the hay and he opened up like a prank can of peanut brittle.

My friends, this was all before you get to chapter three. I have a rule when reading books. If you don’t get my attention by Chapter one, you’ve had it. If your characters or premise are mildly interesting in chapter one you need to capture my attention by chapter three. Well folks, this book gave me a migraine by chapter three and I find I’m really not that interested in finding out the rest of the story. The introduction is annoyingly confused, the heroine is irritating and needs to take her meds and the hero is a soft whiny little schmuck who today would be engrossed in games of three dimensional chess and rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock!

But we had sex, in my balloon, that means she loved me!

And so I say, avoid this book like the plague. I understand it gets even more confusing before all is revealed and everything starts falling into place. It’s a real shame because judging by what Alexander is going for I think it could have made for a great story but the execution just sucks out loud!

A Book Review: The Famous Heroine by Mary Balogh

This romance novel, first published in 1996 and now re-released with a second novel, is set in Regency England and features a klutzy but warm hearted young woman named Cora Downes. Not entirely low born, as the daughter of a well off Bristol merchant she barely registers on the radar of the infamous ton until she accidentally rescues the grandson of the Duchess of Bridgewater from drowning. The duchess is so grateful to Cora that she takes her to London as her protege with the intent of marrying her off to a man of high society. Cora’s awkwardness is often remarked upon by her brother with exasperation but when she finds herself surrounded by titles, her clumsiness level ramps up to mach 5 and she finds herself tripping over her own to feet at a ball and landing squarely in the arms of Lord Francis Kneller. Luckily for Cora, Francis is a good friend of the Duke of Bridgewater and had been asked to help make her appear more appealing to her potential suitors. At first Lord Kneller simply finds Cora amusing but eventually that amusement becomes something more.

I won’t give away the whole story but this book wasn’t half bad.  I wasn’t crazy about how ditzy the heroine was but I think explaining it away throughout the book as an abject fear of the aristocracy made it work. Even I was able to forgive poor Cora’s moments of stupidity and you really can’t help but love the woman.  I also wouldn’t have thought of Francis as being the hero but once again, his effeminate nature is addressed throughout the story and my only disappointment was that there weren’t more instances of him showing more of a masculine side, especially when he found out she’d thought he was gay.

Still I found The Famous Heroine to be an enjoyable and satisfying read with humorous and likable characters and I intend to search out more of Mary Balogh’s work.

A taste of the tropics

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As a writer my mind is always busy with new story ideas even while I’m currently working on a concept.  So, as I work to finish and release the sequel to Heroes and Hearts in May, here is an excerpt from a contemporary island romance I’ll be working on very soon.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet Keira and Rafael!

*****

Beams of sunlight softly fell across Keira face waking her gently.  She sat up and stretched, her body groaning about the awkward position in which she had fallen asleep.   The breeze carried the scent of the sea into the room and beckoned her out on to the balcony.  From her room she had a terrific view of the sun rising up out of the water.  It was so big and bright she felt like she could touch it.  She looked down on the beach and noticed the silhouette of a man moving on the sand, his movements were slow and deliberate, like a dance and Keira surmised he must be doing Tai Chi.   As the sun rose higher and her eyes adjusted to the light she was able to get a better look at him.  His jet black hair whipped about his head and face.  His broad shoulders were bare and muscular.  The muscles in his arms flexed as they moved back and forth.  His brawny chest and stomach glistened with mist from the sea and his powerful legs were clad in a pair of white loose fitting pants that flapped in the breeze.  Keira suddenly felt very hot and her throat parched.  She threw the man once last admiring glance before leaving him to meditate in peace.  She peeled off her suit, now wrinkled and damp, and headed into the bathroom.  She pulled back the shower curtain and leaned forward to turn on the water when a gigantic spider swung down before her from the ceiling.  Keira let out a bloodcurdling shriek as she stumbled back and fell against the wall.  She shivered as the thing hovered in the air, grabbed a towel and stumbled out of the bathroom.  She wasn’t exactly squeamish about creepy crawlies but the thing in her bathroom looked like something from a horror movie and she wasn’t about to stick around.  Suddenly the door to her room banged open and she turned to find the man from the beach standing in her room, his eyes wild and his chest heaving.  Keira screamed again and pulled the towel around her cursing herself for leaving the switchblade she always carried in her luggage since she couldn’t carry it on to the plane.

“What the hell are you doing?” she screamed, “Get the hell out of here!”

“I-I’m sorry,” he replied, seeming as started as she, “I heard screaming, I thought someone was in trouble.”

Catching her breath Keira went flush with embarrassment.

“Yeah, that was me, sorry.  I found a VW bus impersonating a spider in my bathroom.”

She could see the man relax a little and thought she caught a smile curl a corner of his lip before he grunted, picked up the poker standing by the fireplace and headed into the bathroom.  Edwina rushed into the room as a quick succession of loud thumps and clangs rang out.

“Are you alright Miss Payton?” she gasped.

“Yes, Edwina, just had a few frights this morning.  I’m sorry for screaming,” she replied sheepishly.

Edwina got a shock of her own when the man emerged from the bathroom victorious against the eight-legged beast.

“Rafael, what are you doing in Miss Payton’s room?”

“It seems I am rescuing a damsel in distress,” he smirked.

“You’re Rafael?” Keira asked.

“And you are Senorita Payton, my new boss.” He did not sound happy.

Rafael swore as he tore through the weeds in the gardens.  Once upon a time Sandy Shores had had a bed of flowers that had been arranged to spell out the initials of the resort before it had been neglected and overgrown.  Rafael had discovered years ago that weeding was an excellent way to vent his frustrations.  He was already in a ratty mood from having his meditation interrupted by a vision of loveliness standing on a balcony in the distance.  The sunlight caught glimpses of gold in her shimmering red hair as it danced on the breeze and caressed her alabaster skin.  She had disappeared as quickly as she had arrived so Rafael was sure it was just a hallucination.  Then as he made his way back to the hotel to start the day came a scream that nearly stopped his heart.  Instinctively he bolted for the source of the sound and burst through the door only to have his heart stop again.  Before she had the sense to cover herself, his chestnut eyes took in the details of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  Her eyes sparkled like emeralds, her sensuous lips parted in surprise, her breasts were perfect mounds with pink peaks begging to be licked and teased.  His eyes followed her lithe curves with a hunger he had not felt in years and the feeling greatly disturbed him.  He had to keep hold of his emotions because when his passion got the better of him, trouble ensued.

Dammit, why did he have to work for a woman? When Don Manuel, a long time friend of the family and his only friend left in the world, recommended the job in San Sebastian, it sounded like the perfect escape.  Of course he couldn’t fault Don Manuel, how would he know his friend would drop dead over the course of time it took Rafael to get on and off an airplane?

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Greetings to all and welcome to my site.  Here you will get the latest news on current and upcoming works being published and see quotes and excerpts from books and stories past, present and future.  You will also get to learn a little bit more about me, my favorite things, my take on relationships, and more. When I’m not working on my latest novel I also enjoy cooking as I’m a foodie with a degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality. This means that from time to time you will also be treated to my favorite meals, drink pairings and recipes.  So take your shoes off and get comfortable as you have a look around. Thanks for coming!