Thoughts on today's romance novels - and who they are written for.
|I have a confession to make.
I love romance novels. I mean I read them A LOT.
I download a lot of romance novels onto my Kindle. Yes, I read other stuff too…historical novels, time travel and sci-fi mostly. But romance is my number one go to for “Let me escape for a few hours.” Lately I have been having trouble finding ones that I enjoy. I mean where is the romance nowadays? Where is the character development? Heck - Where is the good writing?
I discovered Harlequin Romance novels when I was about 13 years old – almost 40 years ago. The books were on a little twirly paperback rack at a small Cape Cod hotel I was staying at for a week with my parents. My first romance was Innocent Deception by Rachel Lindsey. I remember the girl had a headband on the cover picture. She was an opera singer who had to rest her voice and she took a job as a nanny to the small daughter of a divorced (maybe widowed – like I said it was a long time ago) man who owned an opera company. They didn’t kiss until the very end of the book. But the author knew how to make the attraction evident and almost suspenseful, until it blossomed in their first kiss. I think it is actually funny that I remember this.
While I still really like romance novels, and no, I don’t want to go back to reading the ones written 30+ years ago, I have a real problem with most of the ones written today.
1. Nowadays, the genre has become much edgier…and racier. The couples have sex, a lot of it. (Don’t get me wrong, I like the sex. But enough is enough. There are other ways to develop a relationship in addition to non-stop sex.) Chapters (not paragraphs) of the book describe it in detail, talking about body parts that get wet and get bigger when aroused. It is literally a ‘how-to’ book for teenagers. Speaking of which…
2. Many of the books are written to a teenage audience. The romance/erotica books often have main characters that are in their late teens – some high school, but mostly college age.
3. Along this same vein, even when the characters are older – and they rarely seem to be above 30, they act like 16 year olds. Again, That is exactly the age group I think the authors/publisher are trying to reach.
4. Characters' emotions in situations are WAY overacted. Stomping, crying, sarcasm, eye rolling, and yelling are all common reactions to problems. Stop acting like an immature baby and act like the grown up you are supposed to be!
5. I love that Amazon has made it so easy to get cheap books. And I hate that Amazon has made it so easy to sell poorly written books. There are wannabe authors that come out of the woodwork lately. Unfortunately it seems that few of them hire editors. Many of the books contain loads of spelling and grammatical errors. Other books are just very boring with poor writing. Reading pages of drivel conversations with nothing interesting added to the plot is torture. Yesterday I started a 3-book series (all three books came together.) I got so bored at 13 percent, that I skipped to the last two chapters of the last book and missed nothing. Where was an editor to fix this? I will never buy another book by this author! And this is very common for me. I have no problem not finishing a book if it is poorly written. I have always figured there are plenty of good books out there for me to read that I don’t want to waste my time on a bad one. But it is becoming more and more difficult to find well-written books lately.
Romance novels have always been a ‘business,’ but it concerns me that these very explicit books are targeted to young women, and are so dumbed down as to be unreadable – oh, except for the sex parts. The authors seem to know how to string two thoughts together there.
My apologies to romance writers who actually KNOW how to write a good story to go along with the sex. Please let me know who you are – I am dying to read a good one!