Through the academic lens

Blue2Hi, Jo here, delighted to welcome Dr. Catherine Roach to the Word Wenches. Catherine is Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Alabama. I attended her fascinating at the Romantic Novelists Association conference last July and invited her to be a guest on the blog. I'm so pleased she agreed, because her feminist angle on romance novels made me think, and what's more, she's a romance novelist herself. Laroche

Her talk was about the core claims of the romance storyline — the underlying beliefs of the romance reader and the messages contained in the books, and I thought many of them are particularly powerful in historical romance.

However, I'll begin at the end, with Catherine's final paragraph in her paper, as it sets up the discussion. "The romance story. An analysis of the human condition. A prescription for happiness. A blue print for how to live the good life. An illusion. A recipe for disaster. An addiction. A universal truth. Esteem enlivened by desire. The bonding of two into one. The brainwashing of individuals by power structures with something to gain. You decide. Me, I think it's some of all of the above. And more."


Now, on to all that. Her first point was that it is hard to live alone.

Jo: Though some people are happy in a solitary life, that's true for most people today, but even more so in the past. 

RoachCatherine: My point is that it is hard to be alone, in more of an existential sense, whether or not one lives in a household with other people and whether or not one has independent income, no matter the time period or culture. Humans are deeply relational beings. It seems to me that all romances across the subgenres start out from this premise: We need love in some form for a happy and healthy life.

Ah, yes. I see that.

The second element is that it's particularly hard for a woman to be solitary in a man's world. I don't think there's any doubt that it was more of a man's world in the past than it is now, especially for the sort of settings popular in historical romance. How do you think this predicament plays into the popularity of historical romance? 

Catherine: I do think that an historical setting highlights this point. For me, it’s part of the appeal of reading and writing historical romance. You are right, of course: there is much more gender equality now than in the past, although I think that the extent to which it’s still a man’s world, where women struggle for happiness, often underlies the plot conflict in romance novels, especially historical ones.

The historical heroine’s conflicts may include shaming or lack of knowledge about her sexuality, anxiety about her weight or appearance, the threat of rape, the memory of past trauma caused by a man, an overbearing or inattentive fiancé, family pressures to get married, financial vulnerability due to an inability to earn or control an income, or solo caregiver responsibilities (often for a child).

If the heroine’s problems don’t derive directly from a man or the male order, she often has problems that she is powerless to solve without the aid or rescue of a powerful male. The romance story opens and begins to play out in this corrupt world that could also be described as the real world.

(So the reader's response to a historical romance can be based on her own experiences in the modern world? That's not a question I posed to Catherine. It's for you, dear reader. What do you think?)

Catherine, your next point is "Romance entails faith in love as a positive force for the good in many people's lives. In this sense, love functions as religion." I'll confess that I'm not comfortable with the word '"religion." Could it be stated as hope?

Catherine: Yes, you could rephrase to say that romantic love offers hope. My point is that the romance story believes there is an answer to existential problems of loneliness and suffering and that the answer is love. Romance is a hopeful and optimistic form of fiction that stakes its claim on the belief that the world is a good place. Despite all of life’s injustice, both love and love stories make the world a better place. The genre is life affirming.

I see. Yes, there is a necessary belief, and I have it. It's one reason I write romance.

(Reader — are you a believer? Is it part of why you love to read romance?)

You point out that romance/love is hard work, and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. The challenges are what makes for a good story, as do the risks and dangers involved, which you emphasize. "This knowledge (risk of loss or pain in love) haunts romance stories as a shadow text, often present within the story as the path avoided." Does this apply more strongly in contemporary romance than in historicals?

Catherine: I think the riskiness of romance is as present in historicals as in contemporaries. As your own wonderful Rogue series attests, the storyline about reforming the rogue plays very well in historicals! The risk, of course, is that the rogue won’t reform and the romance will end in tragedy. Because of the guaranteed happy ending of romance novels, this risk is evoked but always averted. In real life, people often do get hurt in romance, their hearts broken and worse. I see romance storytelling as a safe imaginative play space to explore the meaning and shape of this element of risk in erotic partner love.

Also, of course, if the author doesn't convince the reader that the danger has gone it won't be a happy ending, despite kisses, "I love you" and rose petals. 

That's an interesting point about imaginative play. Does  also feed in directly to the sixth factor, that romance is healing?

Perhaps unusually for a romance reader/author, I'm not a believer here. My approach when reading any romance, especially one with deeply flawed characters, is "prove it!" However, I love what you write. "Because love pulls us out of and beyond a narrow egoism into genuine care for another, it can lead to maturity, generosity, strength of character, and a type of spiritual fulfillment in finding a purpose in life greater than just oneself. When someone loves you, well and truly, that love affirms your worth and value as an individual. Such love can give you greater confidence, heal past hurts, and grant resilience. It can be easier to take on life's challenges with a good partner at your side."

That, to me, is how it works in a good romance. (Dear readers, have you seen this work in a favorite romance?)

Then you say,  romance leads to great sex. " Sexuality is not shameful, dirty, or sordid, but natural, healthy, and empowering. "

Amen! However, sex in contemporary romance is generally in a context where sensible sex is okay, whereas in historicals sex is part of the risky bit and often risks ruin for the woman. Do you think the positive message about sex is as powerful an element in the appeal of historicals? When we look at "sweet" historicals, with no explicit sex, do they send a different message?

Catherine: I think the positive message about sex and women’s right to sexual pleasure is central to romance across all its subgenres. This message is part of what is subversive and powerful about the genre. Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied, even if such satisfaction is only implied by the quality of the lovers’ relationship and the story’s happy ending. Even in sweet romances, the story lets readers feel confident that the marriage bed is one of pleasure for the heroine. For readers, the romance genre can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.

That's lovely, and leads smoothly to two final points which I see as linked — that romance leads to happiness and also levels the playing field for the woman by union with a good man.

I see this as core to the satisfaction with the end of a historical romance, because in most historical settings, women couldn't get equal power with men of their own rank. Legally, and generally financially, they were restrained. Thus the clearer limitations in the past can be an extreme model for limitations still felt today by many. Why then, don't all women read and relish historicals? Master

Catherine: I agree with you that an historical setting highlights how uneven the playing field can be for women and gives more room for romance to rebalance the equation. For me, historical romances are often the most poignant and powerful stories for exactly that reason. But I’m delighted for all the subgenres to thrive! I think people read what works for them and what makes them happy. And that’s why we read romance.

You have an interesting final comment, Catherine. "Romance may level the playing field and rebalance the odds that are stacked against women, but the romance story does not necessarily change the name of the game as man's world. The reparation fantasy doesn't fundamentally challenge man's world or, if it does, the challenge is too subtle and not pointed enough for the tastes and politics of some. But the story and the imaginative play space it makes possible are obviously very appealing for many readers and for many women – myself included – living as we all are in a still-patriarchal world, even when women have significantly more power than before and a (tiring) mandate to have and do it all."

LOL on that "tiring!" Perhaps some of the appeal of the aristocratic historical romance, which seems to be the most popular today, is the prospect of wealth and plenty of servants! Certainly works for me. Comments, anyone?

You can check out Catherine LaRoche's work through these links. Catherine will give away a copy Knight of Love to two lucky commenters. Please note that only e-books are available at the moment.

Master of Love

Knight of Love

Thank you so much, Catherine. I look forward to some interesting comments and insights on the points you've raised. I'm wondering, for example, if anyone here sees differences in their interactions with books according to period. Does a romance about an Edwardian woman work differently to one about a Georgian woman or a medieval one because of their legal protections and abilities to live an independent life?TheShatteredRose

Jo

The Shattered Rose

160 thoughts on “Through the academic lens”

  1. What a fascinating discussion! You both make so many points that I can’t begin to address them all, but:
    1) As a strong proponent of love helping healing, I agree with Jo that is has to be made convincing on the page. What between these two people is helping them become their best and happiest selves?
    2)Yes, different periods are going to have different underlying assumptions. A Gilded Age story is not a medieval by a long shot.
    3) The aristocratic historcal definitely appeals because of having so much money you don’t have to think about it, or ever clean house!
    Thanks for visiting the Word Wenches, Professor Roach, and Jo, thanks for finding her!

    Reply
  2. What a fascinating discussion! You both make so many points that I can’t begin to address them all, but:
    1) As a strong proponent of love helping healing, I agree with Jo that is has to be made convincing on the page. What between these two people is helping them become their best and happiest selves?
    2)Yes, different periods are going to have different underlying assumptions. A Gilded Age story is not a medieval by a long shot.
    3) The aristocratic historcal definitely appeals because of having so much money you don’t have to think about it, or ever clean house!
    Thanks for visiting the Word Wenches, Professor Roach, and Jo, thanks for finding her!

    Reply
  3. What a fascinating discussion! You both make so many points that I can’t begin to address them all, but:
    1) As a strong proponent of love helping healing, I agree with Jo that is has to be made convincing on the page. What between these two people is helping them become their best and happiest selves?
    2)Yes, different periods are going to have different underlying assumptions. A Gilded Age story is not a medieval by a long shot.
    3) The aristocratic historcal definitely appeals because of having so much money you don’t have to think about it, or ever clean house!
    Thanks for visiting the Word Wenches, Professor Roach, and Jo, thanks for finding her!

    Reply
  4. What a fascinating discussion! You both make so many points that I can’t begin to address them all, but:
    1) As a strong proponent of love helping healing, I agree with Jo that is has to be made convincing on the page. What between these two people is helping them become their best and happiest selves?
    2)Yes, different periods are going to have different underlying assumptions. A Gilded Age story is not a medieval by a long shot.
    3) The aristocratic historcal definitely appeals because of having so much money you don’t have to think about it, or ever clean house!
    Thanks for visiting the Word Wenches, Professor Roach, and Jo, thanks for finding her!

    Reply
  5. What a fascinating discussion! You both make so many points that I can’t begin to address them all, but:
    1) As a strong proponent of love helping healing, I agree with Jo that is has to be made convincing on the page. What between these two people is helping them become their best and happiest selves?
    2)Yes, different periods are going to have different underlying assumptions. A Gilded Age story is not a medieval by a long shot.
    3) The aristocratic historcal definitely appeals because of having so much money you don’t have to think about it, or ever clean house!
    Thanks for visiting the Word Wenches, Professor Roach, and Jo, thanks for finding her!

    Reply
  6. Thanks again to Jo for inviting me to participate today and to Mary Jo for her comments. I do find that the “love heals all wounds” or “love conquers all” motif is central to the romance genre. Throw in wealth and a historic mansion and it’s a wonderful fantasy playground indeed! And may I say that I’ve read romance novels by both of you for years and am quite fan-struck to be chatting with you now!

    Reply
  7. Thanks again to Jo for inviting me to participate today and to Mary Jo for her comments. I do find that the “love heals all wounds” or “love conquers all” motif is central to the romance genre. Throw in wealth and a historic mansion and it’s a wonderful fantasy playground indeed! And may I say that I’ve read romance novels by both of you for years and am quite fan-struck to be chatting with you now!

    Reply
  8. Thanks again to Jo for inviting me to participate today and to Mary Jo for her comments. I do find that the “love heals all wounds” or “love conquers all” motif is central to the romance genre. Throw in wealth and a historic mansion and it’s a wonderful fantasy playground indeed! And may I say that I’ve read romance novels by both of you for years and am quite fan-struck to be chatting with you now!

    Reply
  9. Thanks again to Jo for inviting me to participate today and to Mary Jo for her comments. I do find that the “love heals all wounds” or “love conquers all” motif is central to the romance genre. Throw in wealth and a historic mansion and it’s a wonderful fantasy playground indeed! And may I say that I’ve read romance novels by both of you for years and am quite fan-struck to be chatting with you now!

    Reply
  10. Thanks again to Jo for inviting me to participate today and to Mary Jo for her comments. I do find that the “love heals all wounds” or “love conquers all” motif is central to the romance genre. Throw in wealth and a historic mansion and it’s a wonderful fantasy playground indeed! And may I say that I’ve read romance novels by both of you for years and am quite fan-struck to be chatting with you now!

    Reply
  11. LOL! Welcome to the tribe, Catherine. I’m impressed that you can both tell stories and have serious academic chops!
    I don’t believe that love conquers all, nor that love heals all wounds–but love can certainly help, especially with the healing. (Can you tell I’m trying to rationalize all my tortured heroes? *G*)

    Reply
  12. LOL! Welcome to the tribe, Catherine. I’m impressed that you can both tell stories and have serious academic chops!
    I don’t believe that love conquers all, nor that love heals all wounds–but love can certainly help, especially with the healing. (Can you tell I’m trying to rationalize all my tortured heroes? *G*)

    Reply
  13. LOL! Welcome to the tribe, Catherine. I’m impressed that you can both tell stories and have serious academic chops!
    I don’t believe that love conquers all, nor that love heals all wounds–but love can certainly help, especially with the healing. (Can you tell I’m trying to rationalize all my tortured heroes? *G*)

    Reply
  14. LOL! Welcome to the tribe, Catherine. I’m impressed that you can both tell stories and have serious academic chops!
    I don’t believe that love conquers all, nor that love heals all wounds–but love can certainly help, especially with the healing. (Can you tell I’m trying to rationalize all my tortured heroes? *G*)

    Reply
  15. LOL! Welcome to the tribe, Catherine. I’m impressed that you can both tell stories and have serious academic chops!
    I don’t believe that love conquers all, nor that love heals all wounds–but love can certainly help, especially with the healing. (Can you tell I’m trying to rationalize all my tortured heroes? *G*)

    Reply
  16. It has always been difficult to defend romance from a feminist standpoint, but I’ve never seen it as “Woman needs man to complete her life.” I’ve always seen romance as “We all need love.” So thank you for your more academic insights!

    Reply
  17. It has always been difficult to defend romance from a feminist standpoint, but I’ve never seen it as “Woman needs man to complete her life.” I’ve always seen romance as “We all need love.” So thank you for your more academic insights!

    Reply
  18. It has always been difficult to defend romance from a feminist standpoint, but I’ve never seen it as “Woman needs man to complete her life.” I’ve always seen romance as “We all need love.” So thank you for your more academic insights!

    Reply
  19. It has always been difficult to defend romance from a feminist standpoint, but I’ve never seen it as “Woman needs man to complete her life.” I’ve always seen romance as “We all need love.” So thank you for your more academic insights!

    Reply
  20. It has always been difficult to defend romance from a feminist standpoint, but I’ve never seen it as “Woman needs man to complete her life.” I’ve always seen romance as “We all need love.” So thank you for your more academic insights!

    Reply
  21. “The historical heroine’s conflicts may include shaming or lack of knowledge about her sexuality, anxiety about her weight or appearance, the threat of rape, the memory of past trauma caused by a man, an overbearing or inattentive fiancé, family pressures to get married, financial vulnerability due to an inability to earn or control an income, or solo caregiver responsibilities (often for a child).”
    As I read this I thought, wow that sounds exactly like contemporary circumstances. In some ways, not much has changed for women since those historical times.

    Reply
  22. “The historical heroine’s conflicts may include shaming or lack of knowledge about her sexuality, anxiety about her weight or appearance, the threat of rape, the memory of past trauma caused by a man, an overbearing or inattentive fiancé, family pressures to get married, financial vulnerability due to an inability to earn or control an income, or solo caregiver responsibilities (often for a child).”
    As I read this I thought, wow that sounds exactly like contemporary circumstances. In some ways, not much has changed for women since those historical times.

    Reply
  23. “The historical heroine’s conflicts may include shaming or lack of knowledge about her sexuality, anxiety about her weight or appearance, the threat of rape, the memory of past trauma caused by a man, an overbearing or inattentive fiancé, family pressures to get married, financial vulnerability due to an inability to earn or control an income, or solo caregiver responsibilities (often for a child).”
    As I read this I thought, wow that sounds exactly like contemporary circumstances. In some ways, not much has changed for women since those historical times.

    Reply
  24. “The historical heroine’s conflicts may include shaming or lack of knowledge about her sexuality, anxiety about her weight or appearance, the threat of rape, the memory of past trauma caused by a man, an overbearing or inattentive fiancé, family pressures to get married, financial vulnerability due to an inability to earn or control an income, or solo caregiver responsibilities (often for a child).”
    As I read this I thought, wow that sounds exactly like contemporary circumstances. In some ways, not much has changed for women since those historical times.

    Reply
  25. “The historical heroine’s conflicts may include shaming or lack of knowledge about her sexuality, anxiety about her weight or appearance, the threat of rape, the memory of past trauma caused by a man, an overbearing or inattentive fiancé, family pressures to get married, financial vulnerability due to an inability to earn or control an income, or solo caregiver responsibilities (often for a child).”
    As I read this I thought, wow that sounds exactly like contemporary circumstances. In some ways, not much has changed for women since those historical times.

    Reply
  26. I think this point is an excellent one, Barbara. I agree that these core concerns haven’t changed much. Or for another way to put it, I don’t see a huge difference between historical and contemporary romance novels in terms of the deep anxieties addressed. It is easier, of course, for a contemporary heroine to have a range of job choices and a full career, but she often still deals with employment discrimination or glass ceilings or an over-bearing boss (even if he becomes the hero!).

    Reply
  27. I think this point is an excellent one, Barbara. I agree that these core concerns haven’t changed much. Or for another way to put it, I don’t see a huge difference between historical and contemporary romance novels in terms of the deep anxieties addressed. It is easier, of course, for a contemporary heroine to have a range of job choices and a full career, but she often still deals with employment discrimination or glass ceilings or an over-bearing boss (even if he becomes the hero!).

    Reply
  28. I think this point is an excellent one, Barbara. I agree that these core concerns haven’t changed much. Or for another way to put it, I don’t see a huge difference between historical and contemporary romance novels in terms of the deep anxieties addressed. It is easier, of course, for a contemporary heroine to have a range of job choices and a full career, but she often still deals with employment discrimination or glass ceilings or an over-bearing boss (even if he becomes the hero!).

    Reply
  29. I think this point is an excellent one, Barbara. I agree that these core concerns haven’t changed much. Or for another way to put it, I don’t see a huge difference between historical and contemporary romance novels in terms of the deep anxieties addressed. It is easier, of course, for a contemporary heroine to have a range of job choices and a full career, but she often still deals with employment discrimination or glass ceilings or an over-bearing boss (even if he becomes the hero!).

    Reply
  30. I think this point is an excellent one, Barbara. I agree that these core concerns haven’t changed much. Or for another way to put it, I don’t see a huge difference between historical and contemporary romance novels in terms of the deep anxieties addressed. It is easier, of course, for a contemporary heroine to have a range of job choices and a full career, but she often still deals with employment discrimination or glass ceilings or an over-bearing boss (even if he becomes the hero!).

    Reply
  31. Hi Catherine
    Its great to see another academic entering the (academically despised? ) romance field.
    Discussions by Wenches usually occur on an elevated plane, and this one definitely maintains the ethos!
    When I want to really understand something, I ignore philosophy and go straight to the hard sciences.
    I believe that core human traits, including love and other emotions were forged in the crucible of evolution, though environmental issues can tweak and hone in the early years of development. I’m not a biologist but I think that love probably evolved as a force for protecting the physically weaker female and maintaining a family or group.
    These core feelings are always present independent of historic period and the latter simply defines the predominant barriers and encouragements for expression.
    There is nothing more pleasing than a romance story, which can also include some philosophy (not too much though!) and perspective on the human condition. Knowing that it will all end well is the driver; knowing that I can sleep hapily, feeling that it will all come right in the end; knowing that I can escape from harsh realities of the current world and enjoy a good story; that’s why I read romance! LOL

    Reply
  32. Hi Catherine
    Its great to see another academic entering the (academically despised? ) romance field.
    Discussions by Wenches usually occur on an elevated plane, and this one definitely maintains the ethos!
    When I want to really understand something, I ignore philosophy and go straight to the hard sciences.
    I believe that core human traits, including love and other emotions were forged in the crucible of evolution, though environmental issues can tweak and hone in the early years of development. I’m not a biologist but I think that love probably evolved as a force for protecting the physically weaker female and maintaining a family or group.
    These core feelings are always present independent of historic period and the latter simply defines the predominant barriers and encouragements for expression.
    There is nothing more pleasing than a romance story, which can also include some philosophy (not too much though!) and perspective on the human condition. Knowing that it will all end well is the driver; knowing that I can sleep hapily, feeling that it will all come right in the end; knowing that I can escape from harsh realities of the current world and enjoy a good story; that’s why I read romance! LOL

    Reply
  33. Hi Catherine
    Its great to see another academic entering the (academically despised? ) romance field.
    Discussions by Wenches usually occur on an elevated plane, and this one definitely maintains the ethos!
    When I want to really understand something, I ignore philosophy and go straight to the hard sciences.
    I believe that core human traits, including love and other emotions were forged in the crucible of evolution, though environmental issues can tweak and hone in the early years of development. I’m not a biologist but I think that love probably evolved as a force for protecting the physically weaker female and maintaining a family or group.
    These core feelings are always present independent of historic period and the latter simply defines the predominant barriers and encouragements for expression.
    There is nothing more pleasing than a romance story, which can also include some philosophy (not too much though!) and perspective on the human condition. Knowing that it will all end well is the driver; knowing that I can sleep hapily, feeling that it will all come right in the end; knowing that I can escape from harsh realities of the current world and enjoy a good story; that’s why I read romance! LOL

    Reply
  34. Hi Catherine
    Its great to see another academic entering the (academically despised? ) romance field.
    Discussions by Wenches usually occur on an elevated plane, and this one definitely maintains the ethos!
    When I want to really understand something, I ignore philosophy and go straight to the hard sciences.
    I believe that core human traits, including love and other emotions were forged in the crucible of evolution, though environmental issues can tweak and hone in the early years of development. I’m not a biologist but I think that love probably evolved as a force for protecting the physically weaker female and maintaining a family or group.
    These core feelings are always present independent of historic period and the latter simply defines the predominant barriers and encouragements for expression.
    There is nothing more pleasing than a romance story, which can also include some philosophy (not too much though!) and perspective on the human condition. Knowing that it will all end well is the driver; knowing that I can sleep hapily, feeling that it will all come right in the end; knowing that I can escape from harsh realities of the current world and enjoy a good story; that’s why I read romance! LOL

    Reply
  35. Hi Catherine
    Its great to see another academic entering the (academically despised? ) romance field.
    Discussions by Wenches usually occur on an elevated plane, and this one definitely maintains the ethos!
    When I want to really understand something, I ignore philosophy and go straight to the hard sciences.
    I believe that core human traits, including love and other emotions were forged in the crucible of evolution, though environmental issues can tweak and hone in the early years of development. I’m not a biologist but I think that love probably evolved as a force for protecting the physically weaker female and maintaining a family or group.
    These core feelings are always present independent of historic period and the latter simply defines the predominant barriers and encouragements for expression.
    There is nothing more pleasing than a romance story, which can also include some philosophy (not too much though!) and perspective on the human condition. Knowing that it will all end well is the driver; knowing that I can sleep hapily, feeling that it will all come right in the end; knowing that I can escape from harsh realities of the current world and enjoy a good story; that’s why I read romance! LOL

    Reply
  36. It’s interesting to hear a discussion on love as healing with some other readers. We enjoy those who have flaws, unfortunate circumstances, or tragedy getting some happiness. I’m not sure we necessarily get the healing aspect, partly because a number of romances just miraclely go from first kiss to consummation to HEA. The best of the genre provide depth to the relationship so that it not sex=healing. The other thing we commented on is the increasing trend of a few authors to acknowledge that the pain of the past is past and the future looks good but that mental illness, child abuse, and rape leave scars.
    I think the love of historicals is in part not so much about healing as agency. The genre has evolved a lot, but even historical heroines have their own identity, goals, and sexuality. And they act on it either against a hero and in collaboration with him. But she makes choices and in the end he grants her the freedom and usually sanctuary. It’s something that contempories do but it’s harder (but often done well) to make it magical enough that the reader isn’t left with the retort that “it just doesn’t happen like that.”

    Reply
  37. It’s interesting to hear a discussion on love as healing with some other readers. We enjoy those who have flaws, unfortunate circumstances, or tragedy getting some happiness. I’m not sure we necessarily get the healing aspect, partly because a number of romances just miraclely go from first kiss to consummation to HEA. The best of the genre provide depth to the relationship so that it not sex=healing. The other thing we commented on is the increasing trend of a few authors to acknowledge that the pain of the past is past and the future looks good but that mental illness, child abuse, and rape leave scars.
    I think the love of historicals is in part not so much about healing as agency. The genre has evolved a lot, but even historical heroines have their own identity, goals, and sexuality. And they act on it either against a hero and in collaboration with him. But she makes choices and in the end he grants her the freedom and usually sanctuary. It’s something that contempories do but it’s harder (but often done well) to make it magical enough that the reader isn’t left with the retort that “it just doesn’t happen like that.”

    Reply
  38. It’s interesting to hear a discussion on love as healing with some other readers. We enjoy those who have flaws, unfortunate circumstances, or tragedy getting some happiness. I’m not sure we necessarily get the healing aspect, partly because a number of romances just miraclely go from first kiss to consummation to HEA. The best of the genre provide depth to the relationship so that it not sex=healing. The other thing we commented on is the increasing trend of a few authors to acknowledge that the pain of the past is past and the future looks good but that mental illness, child abuse, and rape leave scars.
    I think the love of historicals is in part not so much about healing as agency. The genre has evolved a lot, but even historical heroines have their own identity, goals, and sexuality. And they act on it either against a hero and in collaboration with him. But she makes choices and in the end he grants her the freedom and usually sanctuary. It’s something that contempories do but it’s harder (but often done well) to make it magical enough that the reader isn’t left with the retort that “it just doesn’t happen like that.”

    Reply
  39. It’s interesting to hear a discussion on love as healing with some other readers. We enjoy those who have flaws, unfortunate circumstances, or tragedy getting some happiness. I’m not sure we necessarily get the healing aspect, partly because a number of romances just miraclely go from first kiss to consummation to HEA. The best of the genre provide depth to the relationship so that it not sex=healing. The other thing we commented on is the increasing trend of a few authors to acknowledge that the pain of the past is past and the future looks good but that mental illness, child abuse, and rape leave scars.
    I think the love of historicals is in part not so much about healing as agency. The genre has evolved a lot, but even historical heroines have their own identity, goals, and sexuality. And they act on it either against a hero and in collaboration with him. But she makes choices and in the end he grants her the freedom and usually sanctuary. It’s something that contempories do but it’s harder (but often done well) to make it magical enough that the reader isn’t left with the retort that “it just doesn’t happen like that.”

    Reply
  40. It’s interesting to hear a discussion on love as healing with some other readers. We enjoy those who have flaws, unfortunate circumstances, or tragedy getting some happiness. I’m not sure we necessarily get the healing aspect, partly because a number of romances just miraclely go from first kiss to consummation to HEA. The best of the genre provide depth to the relationship so that it not sex=healing. The other thing we commented on is the increasing trend of a few authors to acknowledge that the pain of the past is past and the future looks good but that mental illness, child abuse, and rape leave scars.
    I think the love of historicals is in part not so much about healing as agency. The genre has evolved a lot, but even historical heroines have their own identity, goals, and sexuality. And they act on it either against a hero and in collaboration with him. But she makes choices and in the end he grants her the freedom and usually sanctuary. It’s something that contempories do but it’s harder (but often done well) to make it magical enough that the reader isn’t left with the retort that “it just doesn’t happen like that.”

    Reply
  41. Good point, Quantum, on the biology. Have you read Helen Fisher’s Why We Love? Great stuff, and it all plays out in a classic romance novel.
    One powerful aspect is that in nature mostly males have to court females with plumage/power displays/home building/gifts etc. I’d like to see more of that in romance novels, and I’m as guilty as anyone else of missing it at times.
    We also know that physical signs of reproductive health are a big factor in mate selection, and that includes humans. Heroines don’t have to be beautiful, but by nature’s law they should be symmetrical and have the right hip to waist ratio. Males need to be robust and symmetrical, too.
    The question is, in fiction, are we subconsciously factoring in these things, or are we going with more upper-brain views of desirability?

    Reply
  42. Good point, Quantum, on the biology. Have you read Helen Fisher’s Why We Love? Great stuff, and it all plays out in a classic romance novel.
    One powerful aspect is that in nature mostly males have to court females with plumage/power displays/home building/gifts etc. I’d like to see more of that in romance novels, and I’m as guilty as anyone else of missing it at times.
    We also know that physical signs of reproductive health are a big factor in mate selection, and that includes humans. Heroines don’t have to be beautiful, but by nature’s law they should be symmetrical and have the right hip to waist ratio. Males need to be robust and symmetrical, too.
    The question is, in fiction, are we subconsciously factoring in these things, or are we going with more upper-brain views of desirability?

    Reply
  43. Good point, Quantum, on the biology. Have you read Helen Fisher’s Why We Love? Great stuff, and it all plays out in a classic romance novel.
    One powerful aspect is that in nature mostly males have to court females with plumage/power displays/home building/gifts etc. I’d like to see more of that in romance novels, and I’m as guilty as anyone else of missing it at times.
    We also know that physical signs of reproductive health are a big factor in mate selection, and that includes humans. Heroines don’t have to be beautiful, but by nature’s law they should be symmetrical and have the right hip to waist ratio. Males need to be robust and symmetrical, too.
    The question is, in fiction, are we subconsciously factoring in these things, or are we going with more upper-brain views of desirability?

    Reply
  44. Good point, Quantum, on the biology. Have you read Helen Fisher’s Why We Love? Great stuff, and it all plays out in a classic romance novel.
    One powerful aspect is that in nature mostly males have to court females with plumage/power displays/home building/gifts etc. I’d like to see more of that in romance novels, and I’m as guilty as anyone else of missing it at times.
    We also know that physical signs of reproductive health are a big factor in mate selection, and that includes humans. Heroines don’t have to be beautiful, but by nature’s law they should be symmetrical and have the right hip to waist ratio. Males need to be robust and symmetrical, too.
    The question is, in fiction, are we subconsciously factoring in these things, or are we going with more upper-brain views of desirability?

    Reply
  45. Good point, Quantum, on the biology. Have you read Helen Fisher’s Why We Love? Great stuff, and it all plays out in a classic romance novel.
    One powerful aspect is that in nature mostly males have to court females with plumage/power displays/home building/gifts etc. I’d like to see more of that in romance novels, and I’m as guilty as anyone else of missing it at times.
    We also know that physical signs of reproductive health are a big factor in mate selection, and that includes humans. Heroines don’t have to be beautiful, but by nature’s law they should be symmetrical and have the right hip to waist ratio. Males need to be robust and symmetrical, too.
    The question is, in fiction, are we subconsciously factoring in these things, or are we going with more upper-brain views of desirability?

    Reply
  46. This discussion is a definite keeper, to be referred to often and quoted to editing clients. Many thanks to Jo, Catherine and to the other Wenchly commenters for even further insights.
    I clicked over to take a look at Catherine’s books and was disappointed to see that, while both book sales pages are there, the books are not available for purchase right now. I thought Amazon had settled its squabbles with publishers, so perhaps this is a glitch? I can’t even put them on my wish list to buy later right now, dang it.
    But I’ll check again later.
    Meantime, thanks again for this wonderful discussion, and the many other fascinating journeys to places within and without with Wise Wenches as my guide. This is truly my favorite blog of all time.

    Reply
  47. This discussion is a definite keeper, to be referred to often and quoted to editing clients. Many thanks to Jo, Catherine and to the other Wenchly commenters for even further insights.
    I clicked over to take a look at Catherine’s books and was disappointed to see that, while both book sales pages are there, the books are not available for purchase right now. I thought Amazon had settled its squabbles with publishers, so perhaps this is a glitch? I can’t even put them on my wish list to buy later right now, dang it.
    But I’ll check again later.
    Meantime, thanks again for this wonderful discussion, and the many other fascinating journeys to places within and without with Wise Wenches as my guide. This is truly my favorite blog of all time.

    Reply
  48. This discussion is a definite keeper, to be referred to often and quoted to editing clients. Many thanks to Jo, Catherine and to the other Wenchly commenters for even further insights.
    I clicked over to take a look at Catherine’s books and was disappointed to see that, while both book sales pages are there, the books are not available for purchase right now. I thought Amazon had settled its squabbles with publishers, so perhaps this is a glitch? I can’t even put them on my wish list to buy later right now, dang it.
    But I’ll check again later.
    Meantime, thanks again for this wonderful discussion, and the many other fascinating journeys to places within and without with Wise Wenches as my guide. This is truly my favorite blog of all time.

    Reply
  49. This discussion is a definite keeper, to be referred to often and quoted to editing clients. Many thanks to Jo, Catherine and to the other Wenchly commenters for even further insights.
    I clicked over to take a look at Catherine’s books and was disappointed to see that, while both book sales pages are there, the books are not available for purchase right now. I thought Amazon had settled its squabbles with publishers, so perhaps this is a glitch? I can’t even put them on my wish list to buy later right now, dang it.
    But I’ll check again later.
    Meantime, thanks again for this wonderful discussion, and the many other fascinating journeys to places within and without with Wise Wenches as my guide. This is truly my favorite blog of all time.

    Reply
  50. This discussion is a definite keeper, to be referred to often and quoted to editing clients. Many thanks to Jo, Catherine and to the other Wenchly commenters for even further insights.
    I clicked over to take a look at Catherine’s books and was disappointed to see that, while both book sales pages are there, the books are not available for purchase right now. I thought Amazon had settled its squabbles with publishers, so perhaps this is a glitch? I can’t even put them on my wish list to buy later right now, dang it.
    But I’ll check again later.
    Meantime, thanks again for this wonderful discussion, and the many other fascinating journeys to places within and without with Wise Wenches as my guide. This is truly my favorite blog of all time.

    Reply
  51. While I’m an inveterate historical romance reader, my best friend absolutely abhors romance in a book. That might be the result of her three-and-a-half marriages (don’t ask) and six children–she’s seen too much of that part of life, and sadly there wasn’t a true H in the batch. Fortunately for her, she’s always solved her own problems successfully. I, though, appreciate stories where the H and h solve problems together and complement each other. (And I thank you for making me think all that through.)

    Reply
  52. While I’m an inveterate historical romance reader, my best friend absolutely abhors romance in a book. That might be the result of her three-and-a-half marriages (don’t ask) and six children–she’s seen too much of that part of life, and sadly there wasn’t a true H in the batch. Fortunately for her, she’s always solved her own problems successfully. I, though, appreciate stories where the H and h solve problems together and complement each other. (And I thank you for making me think all that through.)

    Reply
  53. While I’m an inveterate historical romance reader, my best friend absolutely abhors romance in a book. That might be the result of her three-and-a-half marriages (don’t ask) and six children–she’s seen too much of that part of life, and sadly there wasn’t a true H in the batch. Fortunately for her, she’s always solved her own problems successfully. I, though, appreciate stories where the H and h solve problems together and complement each other. (And I thank you for making me think all that through.)

    Reply
  54. While I’m an inveterate historical romance reader, my best friend absolutely abhors romance in a book. That might be the result of her three-and-a-half marriages (don’t ask) and six children–she’s seen too much of that part of life, and sadly there wasn’t a true H in the batch. Fortunately for her, she’s always solved her own problems successfully. I, though, appreciate stories where the H and h solve problems together and complement each other. (And I thank you for making me think all that through.)

    Reply
  55. While I’m an inveterate historical romance reader, my best friend absolutely abhors romance in a book. That might be the result of her three-and-a-half marriages (don’t ask) and six children–she’s seen too much of that part of life, and sadly there wasn’t a true H in the batch. Fortunately for her, she’s always solved her own problems successfully. I, though, appreciate stories where the H and h solve problems together and complement each other. (And I thank you for making me think all that through.)

    Reply
  56. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Faith. Catherine’s ideas are very interesting, aren’t they? I didn’t see a problem with her books on line, but sometimes it shows me — in England — different information.

    Reply
  57. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Faith. Catherine’s ideas are very interesting, aren’t they? I didn’t see a problem with her books on line, but sometimes it shows me — in England — different information.

    Reply
  58. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Faith. Catherine’s ideas are very interesting, aren’t they? I didn’t see a problem with her books on line, but sometimes it shows me — in England — different information.

    Reply
  59. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Faith. Catherine’s ideas are very interesting, aren’t they? I didn’t see a problem with her books on line, but sometimes it shows me — in England — different information.

    Reply
  60. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Faith. Catherine’s ideas are very interesting, aren’t they? I didn’t see a problem with her books on line, but sometimes it shows me — in England — different information.

    Reply
  61. Tastes in fiction are as varied as tastes in everything, aren’t they, Mary? I know people who won’t read any kind of fantasy because “it’s not real.”
    Jo

    Reply
  62. Tastes in fiction are as varied as tastes in everything, aren’t they, Mary? I know people who won’t read any kind of fantasy because “it’s not real.”
    Jo

    Reply
  63. Tastes in fiction are as varied as tastes in everything, aren’t they, Mary? I know people who won’t read any kind of fantasy because “it’s not real.”
    Jo

    Reply
  64. Tastes in fiction are as varied as tastes in everything, aren’t they, Mary? I know people who won’t read any kind of fantasy because “it’s not real.”
    Jo

    Reply
  65. Tastes in fiction are as varied as tastes in everything, aren’t they, Mary? I know people who won’t read any kind of fantasy because “it’s not real.”
    Jo

    Reply
  66. Wow–I went to bed (I am in Alabama, USA, with a 7 hour time difference from the UK) and such a lively discussion unfolded! What interesting ideas here! I wish we could talk together face to face, with coffee or better yet wine! Feminist and academic takes on romance have come up a few times. There is actually a growing and lively very big community of academics fascinated by popular romantic fiction, working from many different fields (including biology and philosophy, sociology and cultural studies, etc). If you are interested, check out websites of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, the open access Journal of Popular Romance Studies, and the academic blog site Teach Me Tonight. Short answer: academics don’t despise romantic fiction at all and feminism and romance can certainly go together.

    Reply
  67. Wow–I went to bed (I am in Alabama, USA, with a 7 hour time difference from the UK) and such a lively discussion unfolded! What interesting ideas here! I wish we could talk together face to face, with coffee or better yet wine! Feminist and academic takes on romance have come up a few times. There is actually a growing and lively very big community of academics fascinated by popular romantic fiction, working from many different fields (including biology and philosophy, sociology and cultural studies, etc). If you are interested, check out websites of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, the open access Journal of Popular Romance Studies, and the academic blog site Teach Me Tonight. Short answer: academics don’t despise romantic fiction at all and feminism and romance can certainly go together.

    Reply
  68. Wow–I went to bed (I am in Alabama, USA, with a 7 hour time difference from the UK) and such a lively discussion unfolded! What interesting ideas here! I wish we could talk together face to face, with coffee or better yet wine! Feminist and academic takes on romance have come up a few times. There is actually a growing and lively very big community of academics fascinated by popular romantic fiction, working from many different fields (including biology and philosophy, sociology and cultural studies, etc). If you are interested, check out websites of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, the open access Journal of Popular Romance Studies, and the academic blog site Teach Me Tonight. Short answer: academics don’t despise romantic fiction at all and feminism and romance can certainly go together.

    Reply
  69. Wow–I went to bed (I am in Alabama, USA, with a 7 hour time difference from the UK) and such a lively discussion unfolded! What interesting ideas here! I wish we could talk together face to face, with coffee or better yet wine! Feminist and academic takes on romance have come up a few times. There is actually a growing and lively very big community of academics fascinated by popular romantic fiction, working from many different fields (including biology and philosophy, sociology and cultural studies, etc). If you are interested, check out websites of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, the open access Journal of Popular Romance Studies, and the academic blog site Teach Me Tonight. Short answer: academics don’t despise romantic fiction at all and feminism and romance can certainly go together.

    Reply
  70. Wow–I went to bed (I am in Alabama, USA, with a 7 hour time difference from the UK) and such a lively discussion unfolded! What interesting ideas here! I wish we could talk together face to face, with coffee or better yet wine! Feminist and academic takes on romance have come up a few times. There is actually a growing and lively very big community of academics fascinated by popular romantic fiction, working from many different fields (including biology and philosophy, sociology and cultural studies, etc). If you are interested, check out websites of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, the open access Journal of Popular Romance Studies, and the academic blog site Teach Me Tonight. Short answer: academics don’t despise romantic fiction at all and feminism and romance can certainly go together.

    Reply
  71. I think this issue of reader taste can work either way. In my field research, I interviewed readers who said they saw their husband/boyfriend in every hero they read and that romantic fiction helped them connect to their sexuality. Others said they read romance because they didn’t have that hero type in their life and they enjoyed the vicarious experience of him.

    Reply
  72. I think this issue of reader taste can work either way. In my field research, I interviewed readers who said they saw their husband/boyfriend in every hero they read and that romantic fiction helped them connect to their sexuality. Others said they read romance because they didn’t have that hero type in their life and they enjoyed the vicarious experience of him.

    Reply
  73. I think this issue of reader taste can work either way. In my field research, I interviewed readers who said they saw their husband/boyfriend in every hero they read and that romantic fiction helped them connect to their sexuality. Others said they read romance because they didn’t have that hero type in their life and they enjoyed the vicarious experience of him.

    Reply
  74. I think this issue of reader taste can work either way. In my field research, I interviewed readers who said they saw their husband/boyfriend in every hero they read and that romantic fiction helped them connect to their sexuality. Others said they read romance because they didn’t have that hero type in their life and they enjoyed the vicarious experience of him.

    Reply
  75. I think this issue of reader taste can work either way. In my field research, I interviewed readers who said they saw their husband/boyfriend in every hero they read and that romantic fiction helped them connect to their sexuality. Others said they read romance because they didn’t have that hero type in their life and they enjoyed the vicarious experience of him.

    Reply
  76. Maybe the problem was with the link itself? If you go directly to the Amazon site, it seems to work. You can also download the book from the Simon and Schuster website. Thanks for trying! This whole thing of sales and promotion is very new to me. Academics never really expect their books to sell much at all. My previous academic books (about Mother Nature imagery and striptease) sold about a thousand copies each–pitiful by romantic fiction standards, but actually respectable by academic standards!

    Reply
  77. Maybe the problem was with the link itself? If you go directly to the Amazon site, it seems to work. You can also download the book from the Simon and Schuster website. Thanks for trying! This whole thing of sales and promotion is very new to me. Academics never really expect their books to sell much at all. My previous academic books (about Mother Nature imagery and striptease) sold about a thousand copies each–pitiful by romantic fiction standards, but actually respectable by academic standards!

    Reply
  78. Maybe the problem was with the link itself? If you go directly to the Amazon site, it seems to work. You can also download the book from the Simon and Schuster website. Thanks for trying! This whole thing of sales and promotion is very new to me. Academics never really expect their books to sell much at all. My previous academic books (about Mother Nature imagery and striptease) sold about a thousand copies each–pitiful by romantic fiction standards, but actually respectable by academic standards!

    Reply
  79. Maybe the problem was with the link itself? If you go directly to the Amazon site, it seems to work. You can also download the book from the Simon and Schuster website. Thanks for trying! This whole thing of sales and promotion is very new to me. Academics never really expect their books to sell much at all. My previous academic books (about Mother Nature imagery and striptease) sold about a thousand copies each–pitiful by romantic fiction standards, but actually respectable by academic standards!

    Reply
  80. Maybe the problem was with the link itself? If you go directly to the Amazon site, it seems to work. You can also download the book from the Simon and Schuster website. Thanks for trying! This whole thing of sales and promotion is very new to me. Academics never really expect their books to sell much at all. My previous academic books (about Mother Nature imagery and striptease) sold about a thousand copies each–pitiful by romantic fiction standards, but actually respectable by academic standards!

    Reply
  81. I am interested in your comment that the best of the genre doesn’t represent sex=healing. Great advice that I heard in an RWA Craft workshop is that sex scenes should always make things worse for the protagonists. Sex increases the conflict, raises the stakes, complicates the relationship or the plot, brings things closer to a crisis point. It is love, or love-with-sex, that leads to the healing. Is that a fair way to put things?

    Reply
  82. I am interested in your comment that the best of the genre doesn’t represent sex=healing. Great advice that I heard in an RWA Craft workshop is that sex scenes should always make things worse for the protagonists. Sex increases the conflict, raises the stakes, complicates the relationship or the plot, brings things closer to a crisis point. It is love, or love-with-sex, that leads to the healing. Is that a fair way to put things?

    Reply
  83. I am interested in your comment that the best of the genre doesn’t represent sex=healing. Great advice that I heard in an RWA Craft workshop is that sex scenes should always make things worse for the protagonists. Sex increases the conflict, raises the stakes, complicates the relationship or the plot, brings things closer to a crisis point. It is love, or love-with-sex, that leads to the healing. Is that a fair way to put things?

    Reply
  84. I am interested in your comment that the best of the genre doesn’t represent sex=healing. Great advice that I heard in an RWA Craft workshop is that sex scenes should always make things worse for the protagonists. Sex increases the conflict, raises the stakes, complicates the relationship or the plot, brings things closer to a crisis point. It is love, or love-with-sex, that leads to the healing. Is that a fair way to put things?

    Reply
  85. I am interested in your comment that the best of the genre doesn’t represent sex=healing. Great advice that I heard in an RWA Craft workshop is that sex scenes should always make things worse for the protagonists. Sex increases the conflict, raises the stakes, complicates the relationship or the plot, brings things closer to a crisis point. It is love, or love-with-sex, that leads to the healing. Is that a fair way to put things?

    Reply
  86. I added more comments up above in response to people’s notes: sex, love, display, reader taste. All so interesting! I am about to teach a university seminar starting in January with a big unit on romantic narratives, so this is a timely discussion indeed! Here is a question for writers: Do you really think the romantic fiction genre and its authors are unfairly dismissed anymore than is true of other professions such as politicians or lawyers or other creators of popular fiction? In America, lawyers for example, are routinely mocked in jokes and pop culture as money-hungry or amoral “ambulance chasers” and Hollywood types as shallow. But they laugh it off, all the way to the bank. Sometimes I wonder if romance writers (usually female) have been primed by our culture’s history of sexism to be especially sensitive to such comments. I don’t mean this in a critical way. I’m wondering if we can laugh it off and delight in the genre for what it is: light and pleasurable reading with the deepest of issues at its core.

    Reply
  87. I added more comments up above in response to people’s notes: sex, love, display, reader taste. All so interesting! I am about to teach a university seminar starting in January with a big unit on romantic narratives, so this is a timely discussion indeed! Here is a question for writers: Do you really think the romantic fiction genre and its authors are unfairly dismissed anymore than is true of other professions such as politicians or lawyers or other creators of popular fiction? In America, lawyers for example, are routinely mocked in jokes and pop culture as money-hungry or amoral “ambulance chasers” and Hollywood types as shallow. But they laugh it off, all the way to the bank. Sometimes I wonder if romance writers (usually female) have been primed by our culture’s history of sexism to be especially sensitive to such comments. I don’t mean this in a critical way. I’m wondering if we can laugh it off and delight in the genre for what it is: light and pleasurable reading with the deepest of issues at its core.

    Reply
  88. I added more comments up above in response to people’s notes: sex, love, display, reader taste. All so interesting! I am about to teach a university seminar starting in January with a big unit on romantic narratives, so this is a timely discussion indeed! Here is a question for writers: Do you really think the romantic fiction genre and its authors are unfairly dismissed anymore than is true of other professions such as politicians or lawyers or other creators of popular fiction? In America, lawyers for example, are routinely mocked in jokes and pop culture as money-hungry or amoral “ambulance chasers” and Hollywood types as shallow. But they laugh it off, all the way to the bank. Sometimes I wonder if romance writers (usually female) have been primed by our culture’s history of sexism to be especially sensitive to such comments. I don’t mean this in a critical way. I’m wondering if we can laugh it off and delight in the genre for what it is: light and pleasurable reading with the deepest of issues at its core.

    Reply
  89. I added more comments up above in response to people’s notes: sex, love, display, reader taste. All so interesting! I am about to teach a university seminar starting in January with a big unit on romantic narratives, so this is a timely discussion indeed! Here is a question for writers: Do you really think the romantic fiction genre and its authors are unfairly dismissed anymore than is true of other professions such as politicians or lawyers or other creators of popular fiction? In America, lawyers for example, are routinely mocked in jokes and pop culture as money-hungry or amoral “ambulance chasers” and Hollywood types as shallow. But they laugh it off, all the way to the bank. Sometimes I wonder if romance writers (usually female) have been primed by our culture’s history of sexism to be especially sensitive to such comments. I don’t mean this in a critical way. I’m wondering if we can laugh it off and delight in the genre for what it is: light and pleasurable reading with the deepest of issues at its core.

    Reply
  90. I added more comments up above in response to people’s notes: sex, love, display, reader taste. All so interesting! I am about to teach a university seminar starting in January with a big unit on romantic narratives, so this is a timely discussion indeed! Here is a question for writers: Do you really think the romantic fiction genre and its authors are unfairly dismissed anymore than is true of other professions such as politicians or lawyers or other creators of popular fiction? In America, lawyers for example, are routinely mocked in jokes and pop culture as money-hungry or amoral “ambulance chasers” and Hollywood types as shallow. But they laugh it off, all the way to the bank. Sometimes I wonder if romance writers (usually female) have been primed by our culture’s history of sexism to be especially sensitive to such comments. I don’t mean this in a critical way. I’m wondering if we can laugh it off and delight in the genre for what it is: light and pleasurable reading with the deepest of issues at its core.

    Reply
  91. I also clicked through… the link leads to the print version of the book. I clicked the Kindle version, and was able to easily purchase. Win! for Word Wenches affiliate account and Win! for Catherine.
    This article was like an epiphany for me, and it will take a while to digest everything.
    I recently saw Interstellar, and I decided that “Love” is the fifth dimension.

    Reply
  92. I also clicked through… the link leads to the print version of the book. I clicked the Kindle version, and was able to easily purchase. Win! for Word Wenches affiliate account and Win! for Catherine.
    This article was like an epiphany for me, and it will take a while to digest everything.
    I recently saw Interstellar, and I decided that “Love” is the fifth dimension.

    Reply
  93. I also clicked through… the link leads to the print version of the book. I clicked the Kindle version, and was able to easily purchase. Win! for Word Wenches affiliate account and Win! for Catherine.
    This article was like an epiphany for me, and it will take a while to digest everything.
    I recently saw Interstellar, and I decided that “Love” is the fifth dimension.

    Reply
  94. I also clicked through… the link leads to the print version of the book. I clicked the Kindle version, and was able to easily purchase. Win! for Word Wenches affiliate account and Win! for Catherine.
    This article was like an epiphany for me, and it will take a while to digest everything.
    I recently saw Interstellar, and I decided that “Love” is the fifth dimension.

    Reply
  95. I also clicked through… the link leads to the print version of the book. I clicked the Kindle version, and was able to easily purchase. Win! for Word Wenches affiliate account and Win! for Catherine.
    This article was like an epiphany for me, and it will take a while to digest everything.
    I recently saw Interstellar, and I decided that “Love” is the fifth dimension.

    Reply
  96. Catherine, your question is worthy of a blog in itself! It’s certainly worth a discussion with a group of romance writers.
    It is true that other professions get slammed, but I think romance writers mostly react to the way they are regarded in the context of fiction writers. People don’t slam “authors.” “Genre fiction” gets dissed, but within that, romance gets it worst, and often from other authors, even other genre authors.
    For example, authors of other genres will defend popular fiction and list the genres, but then sometimes leave off romance novels. Some book stores and libraries will have sections for mystery and science fiction, but not for romance.
    In one sense we do laugh it off, because we know how very popular romance novels are, but it’s just plain irritating! 🙂

    Reply
  97. Catherine, your question is worthy of a blog in itself! It’s certainly worth a discussion with a group of romance writers.
    It is true that other professions get slammed, but I think romance writers mostly react to the way they are regarded in the context of fiction writers. People don’t slam “authors.” “Genre fiction” gets dissed, but within that, romance gets it worst, and often from other authors, even other genre authors.
    For example, authors of other genres will defend popular fiction and list the genres, but then sometimes leave off romance novels. Some book stores and libraries will have sections for mystery and science fiction, but not for romance.
    In one sense we do laugh it off, because we know how very popular romance novels are, but it’s just plain irritating! 🙂

    Reply
  98. Catherine, your question is worthy of a blog in itself! It’s certainly worth a discussion with a group of romance writers.
    It is true that other professions get slammed, but I think romance writers mostly react to the way they are regarded in the context of fiction writers. People don’t slam “authors.” “Genre fiction” gets dissed, but within that, romance gets it worst, and often from other authors, even other genre authors.
    For example, authors of other genres will defend popular fiction and list the genres, but then sometimes leave off romance novels. Some book stores and libraries will have sections for mystery and science fiction, but not for romance.
    In one sense we do laugh it off, because we know how very popular romance novels are, but it’s just plain irritating! 🙂

    Reply
  99. Catherine, your question is worthy of a blog in itself! It’s certainly worth a discussion with a group of romance writers.
    It is true that other professions get slammed, but I think romance writers mostly react to the way they are regarded in the context of fiction writers. People don’t slam “authors.” “Genre fiction” gets dissed, but within that, romance gets it worst, and often from other authors, even other genre authors.
    For example, authors of other genres will defend popular fiction and list the genres, but then sometimes leave off romance novels. Some book stores and libraries will have sections for mystery and science fiction, but not for romance.
    In one sense we do laugh it off, because we know how very popular romance novels are, but it’s just plain irritating! 🙂

    Reply
  100. Catherine, your question is worthy of a blog in itself! It’s certainly worth a discussion with a group of romance writers.
    It is true that other professions get slammed, but I think romance writers mostly react to the way they are regarded in the context of fiction writers. People don’t slam “authors.” “Genre fiction” gets dissed, but within that, romance gets it worst, and often from other authors, even other genre authors.
    For example, authors of other genres will defend popular fiction and list the genres, but then sometimes leave off romance novels. Some book stores and libraries will have sections for mystery and science fiction, but not for romance.
    In one sense we do laugh it off, because we know how very popular romance novels are, but it’s just plain irritating! 🙂

    Reply
  101. Eloisa James recently found it necessary to defend the genre against comments like:
    Despite selling over a billion dollars worth of books each year, romance novels are routinely given the no-respect treatment. The latest entry in this ongoing slagging is by William Giraldi in The New Republic, who called romance “uniformly awful and awfully uniform.”
    http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/romance-novelist-eloisa-james-interview.html
    I guess some of the literature academics who criticise may be envious of Eloisa’s sales figures both in fiction and academic journals!

    Reply
  102. Eloisa James recently found it necessary to defend the genre against comments like:
    Despite selling over a billion dollars worth of books each year, romance novels are routinely given the no-respect treatment. The latest entry in this ongoing slagging is by William Giraldi in The New Republic, who called romance “uniformly awful and awfully uniform.”
    http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/romance-novelist-eloisa-james-interview.html
    I guess some of the literature academics who criticise may be envious of Eloisa’s sales figures both in fiction and academic journals!

    Reply
  103. Eloisa James recently found it necessary to defend the genre against comments like:
    Despite selling over a billion dollars worth of books each year, romance novels are routinely given the no-respect treatment. The latest entry in this ongoing slagging is by William Giraldi in The New Republic, who called romance “uniformly awful and awfully uniform.”
    http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/romance-novelist-eloisa-james-interview.html
    I guess some of the literature academics who criticise may be envious of Eloisa’s sales figures both in fiction and academic journals!

    Reply
  104. Eloisa James recently found it necessary to defend the genre against comments like:
    Despite selling over a billion dollars worth of books each year, romance novels are routinely given the no-respect treatment. The latest entry in this ongoing slagging is by William Giraldi in The New Republic, who called romance “uniformly awful and awfully uniform.”
    http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/romance-novelist-eloisa-james-interview.html
    I guess some of the literature academics who criticise may be envious of Eloisa’s sales figures both in fiction and academic journals!

    Reply
  105. Eloisa James recently found it necessary to defend the genre against comments like:
    Despite selling over a billion dollars worth of books each year, romance novels are routinely given the no-respect treatment. The latest entry in this ongoing slagging is by William Giraldi in The New Republic, who called romance “uniformly awful and awfully uniform.”
    http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/romance-novelist-eloisa-james-interview.html
    I guess some of the literature academics who criticise may be envious of Eloisa’s sales figures both in fiction and academic journals!

    Reply
  106. Really fascinating and thought-provoking interview and questions for all of us to ask ourselves. How romance and love, feminine empowerment—along with the other themes we see in romance books—all intertwine is endlessly interesting to think about . . . and write about. Thanks for presenting such an angaging conversation!

    Reply
  107. Really fascinating and thought-provoking interview and questions for all of us to ask ourselves. How romance and love, feminine empowerment—along with the other themes we see in romance books—all intertwine is endlessly interesting to think about . . . and write about. Thanks for presenting such an angaging conversation!

    Reply
  108. Really fascinating and thought-provoking interview and questions for all of us to ask ourselves. How romance and love, feminine empowerment—along with the other themes we see in romance books—all intertwine is endlessly interesting to think about . . . and write about. Thanks for presenting such an angaging conversation!

    Reply
  109. Really fascinating and thought-provoking interview and questions for all of us to ask ourselves. How romance and love, feminine empowerment—along with the other themes we see in romance books—all intertwine is endlessly interesting to think about . . . and write about. Thanks for presenting such an angaging conversation!

    Reply
  110. Really fascinating and thought-provoking interview and questions for all of us to ask ourselves. How romance and love, feminine empowerment—along with the other themes we see in romance books—all intertwine is endlessly interesting to think about . . . and write about. Thanks for presenting such an angaging conversation!

    Reply
  111. Wonderful interview, and thank you for it, Jo and Catherine!
    Jo brings up an interesting point on how males in nature play themselves up to get the female. But I think that does happen in romance as well. That’s why almost all the heroes are billionaires (and 20 years ago, they were tycoons), dukes, lairds, etc. The offer of financial security is its own form of preening in romance, and an enticement that most of us crave, as financial fears exist in almost everyone’s life. It’s rare to find a romance where the heroine earns more than the hero. So I think we get this form of “financial preening” as a courtship tool in romance all the time!

    Reply
  112. Wonderful interview, and thank you for it, Jo and Catherine!
    Jo brings up an interesting point on how males in nature play themselves up to get the female. But I think that does happen in romance as well. That’s why almost all the heroes are billionaires (and 20 years ago, they were tycoons), dukes, lairds, etc. The offer of financial security is its own form of preening in romance, and an enticement that most of us crave, as financial fears exist in almost everyone’s life. It’s rare to find a romance where the heroine earns more than the hero. So I think we get this form of “financial preening” as a courtship tool in romance all the time!

    Reply
  113. Wonderful interview, and thank you for it, Jo and Catherine!
    Jo brings up an interesting point on how males in nature play themselves up to get the female. But I think that does happen in romance as well. That’s why almost all the heroes are billionaires (and 20 years ago, they were tycoons), dukes, lairds, etc. The offer of financial security is its own form of preening in romance, and an enticement that most of us crave, as financial fears exist in almost everyone’s life. It’s rare to find a romance where the heroine earns more than the hero. So I think we get this form of “financial preening” as a courtship tool in romance all the time!

    Reply
  114. Wonderful interview, and thank you for it, Jo and Catherine!
    Jo brings up an interesting point on how males in nature play themselves up to get the female. But I think that does happen in romance as well. That’s why almost all the heroes are billionaires (and 20 years ago, they were tycoons), dukes, lairds, etc. The offer of financial security is its own form of preening in romance, and an enticement that most of us crave, as financial fears exist in almost everyone’s life. It’s rare to find a romance where the heroine earns more than the hero. So I think we get this form of “financial preening” as a courtship tool in romance all the time!

    Reply
  115. Wonderful interview, and thank you for it, Jo and Catherine!
    Jo brings up an interesting point on how males in nature play themselves up to get the female. But I think that does happen in romance as well. That’s why almost all the heroes are billionaires (and 20 years ago, they were tycoons), dukes, lairds, etc. The offer of financial security is its own form of preening in romance, and an enticement that most of us crave, as financial fears exist in almost everyone’s life. It’s rare to find a romance where the heroine earns more than the hero. So I think we get this form of “financial preening” as a courtship tool in romance all the time!

    Reply
  116. Good point, ML, on the rich and powerful hero, but those heroes don’t always have to make extra effort to win the heroine against serious competition. And in my opinion, if they’re already having sex, especially in a historical, it undercuts any attempts on her side to show serious interest in other contenders. 🙂

    Reply
  117. Good point, ML, on the rich and powerful hero, but those heroes don’t always have to make extra effort to win the heroine against serious competition. And in my opinion, if they’re already having sex, especially in a historical, it undercuts any attempts on her side to show serious interest in other contenders. 🙂

    Reply
  118. Good point, ML, on the rich and powerful hero, but those heroes don’t always have to make extra effort to win the heroine against serious competition. And in my opinion, if they’re already having sex, especially in a historical, it undercuts any attempts on her side to show serious interest in other contenders. 🙂

    Reply
  119. Good point, ML, on the rich and powerful hero, but those heroes don’t always have to make extra effort to win the heroine against serious competition. And in my opinion, if they’re already having sex, especially in a historical, it undercuts any attempts on her side to show serious interest in other contenders. 🙂

    Reply
  120. Good point, ML, on the rich and powerful hero, but those heroes don’t always have to make extra effort to win the heroine against serious competition. And in my opinion, if they’re already having sex, especially in a historical, it undercuts any attempts on her side to show serious interest in other contenders. 🙂

    Reply
  121. What and interesting and thought-provoking interview. I’m going to keep it in my PC for future references.
    Certainly, one of the things that make me love this genre is, for instance, what it’s said here about sex: the positive message about sex and women’s right to sexual pleasure is central to romance … Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied… For readers, the romance genre can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.
    And it’s a pity that so many critics of the genre don’t realize how feminist, how empowering, this idea is. Even in literary fiction female sexuality is usually described with clichés.
    I’ll try to answer some of the questions you put for us, the readers, in the few parts that I don’t quite see things the same way.
    I’m not sure about this thing she says about historicals. Because the ones that I love now are not those in which the heroine’s problems are solved by a powerful male, but those in which she rescues herself. I expect from the hero nothing more than understanding and support perhaps a little bit of help, but she must be the one to do the task. Perhaps that response is based on my own experiences in the modern world, I don’t know. But I prefer independent heroines that solve their own problems.
    Your second question is more difficult, but I’ll try to answer it in a short way: No, I’m not a believer. I agree that the genre is, generally speaking, optimistic. If I read romance novels, among other genres is precisely b/c human beings do not make this a good world for other human beings –and certainly for the rest of species out there-, and many romance novels do accept that idea, even when the couple have their HEA. I prefer it that way. It sounds more realistic to me.
    I do agree with the third statement, that love can give you a sense of worthiness. I’m not sure how many of my favourite romances do state this so openly. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas implies this feeling with the hero. He thinks he’s not good enough for the heroine, but in the end they are together, so I guess that in a sense the love for the heroine makes him believe that he’s a better man than he thought.
    I’m not sure I’m a fan of historical romance novels, precisely b/c I love historical novels and I think that nowadays many writers –I’m not thinking of you, wordwenches- do not even try to recreate a believable past in their novels. Those historical romances that I love, well, I’m quite sure I don’t read them for the prospect of wealth and plenty of servants. My favourite ones tend to be those of more social justice and that show somebody fighting or at least being conscious of the social issues, the different clases, the terrible unjustice & racism of imperialism… That’s something that worries me not only in historicals but also in contemporaries. I love it when out of the blue, I find a historical or a contemporary with common working people or people that at least have got this social & political conscience.
    So I guess I’m in the minority in this point. It has got more to do with my personal POV about life & the genre. My main critic of romance novels is not –it has never been- from a feminist POV, but the political one, which is something I rarely see stated in Academic papers about the genre.

    Reply
  122. What and interesting and thought-provoking interview. I’m going to keep it in my PC for future references.
    Certainly, one of the things that make me love this genre is, for instance, what it’s said here about sex: the positive message about sex and women’s right to sexual pleasure is central to romance … Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied… For readers, the romance genre can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.
    And it’s a pity that so many critics of the genre don’t realize how feminist, how empowering, this idea is. Even in literary fiction female sexuality is usually described with clichés.
    I’ll try to answer some of the questions you put for us, the readers, in the few parts that I don’t quite see things the same way.
    I’m not sure about this thing she says about historicals. Because the ones that I love now are not those in which the heroine’s problems are solved by a powerful male, but those in which she rescues herself. I expect from the hero nothing more than understanding and support perhaps a little bit of help, but she must be the one to do the task. Perhaps that response is based on my own experiences in the modern world, I don’t know. But I prefer independent heroines that solve their own problems.
    Your second question is more difficult, but I’ll try to answer it in a short way: No, I’m not a believer. I agree that the genre is, generally speaking, optimistic. If I read romance novels, among other genres is precisely b/c human beings do not make this a good world for other human beings –and certainly for the rest of species out there-, and many romance novels do accept that idea, even when the couple have their HEA. I prefer it that way. It sounds more realistic to me.
    I do agree with the third statement, that love can give you a sense of worthiness. I’m not sure how many of my favourite romances do state this so openly. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas implies this feeling with the hero. He thinks he’s not good enough for the heroine, but in the end they are together, so I guess that in a sense the love for the heroine makes him believe that he’s a better man than he thought.
    I’m not sure I’m a fan of historical romance novels, precisely b/c I love historical novels and I think that nowadays many writers –I’m not thinking of you, wordwenches- do not even try to recreate a believable past in their novels. Those historical romances that I love, well, I’m quite sure I don’t read them for the prospect of wealth and plenty of servants. My favourite ones tend to be those of more social justice and that show somebody fighting or at least being conscious of the social issues, the different clases, the terrible unjustice & racism of imperialism… That’s something that worries me not only in historicals but also in contemporaries. I love it when out of the blue, I find a historical or a contemporary with common working people or people that at least have got this social & political conscience.
    So I guess I’m in the minority in this point. It has got more to do with my personal POV about life & the genre. My main critic of romance novels is not –it has never been- from a feminist POV, but the political one, which is something I rarely see stated in Academic papers about the genre.

    Reply
  123. What and interesting and thought-provoking interview. I’m going to keep it in my PC for future references.
    Certainly, one of the things that make me love this genre is, for instance, what it’s said here about sex: the positive message about sex and women’s right to sexual pleasure is central to romance … Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied… For readers, the romance genre can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.
    And it’s a pity that so many critics of the genre don’t realize how feminist, how empowering, this idea is. Even in literary fiction female sexuality is usually described with clichés.
    I’ll try to answer some of the questions you put for us, the readers, in the few parts that I don’t quite see things the same way.
    I’m not sure about this thing she says about historicals. Because the ones that I love now are not those in which the heroine’s problems are solved by a powerful male, but those in which she rescues herself. I expect from the hero nothing more than understanding and support perhaps a little bit of help, but she must be the one to do the task. Perhaps that response is based on my own experiences in the modern world, I don’t know. But I prefer independent heroines that solve their own problems.
    Your second question is more difficult, but I’ll try to answer it in a short way: No, I’m not a believer. I agree that the genre is, generally speaking, optimistic. If I read romance novels, among other genres is precisely b/c human beings do not make this a good world for other human beings –and certainly for the rest of species out there-, and many romance novels do accept that idea, even when the couple have their HEA. I prefer it that way. It sounds more realistic to me.
    I do agree with the third statement, that love can give you a sense of worthiness. I’m not sure how many of my favourite romances do state this so openly. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas implies this feeling with the hero. He thinks he’s not good enough for the heroine, but in the end they are together, so I guess that in a sense the love for the heroine makes him believe that he’s a better man than he thought.
    I’m not sure I’m a fan of historical romance novels, precisely b/c I love historical novels and I think that nowadays many writers –I’m not thinking of you, wordwenches- do not even try to recreate a believable past in their novels. Those historical romances that I love, well, I’m quite sure I don’t read them for the prospect of wealth and plenty of servants. My favourite ones tend to be those of more social justice and that show somebody fighting or at least being conscious of the social issues, the different clases, the terrible unjustice & racism of imperialism… That’s something that worries me not only in historicals but also in contemporaries. I love it when out of the blue, I find a historical or a contemporary with common working people or people that at least have got this social & political conscience.
    So I guess I’m in the minority in this point. It has got more to do with my personal POV about life & the genre. My main critic of romance novels is not –it has never been- from a feminist POV, but the political one, which is something I rarely see stated in Academic papers about the genre.

    Reply
  124. What and interesting and thought-provoking interview. I’m going to keep it in my PC for future references.
    Certainly, one of the things that make me love this genre is, for instance, what it’s said here about sex: the positive message about sex and women’s right to sexual pleasure is central to romance … Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied… For readers, the romance genre can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.
    And it’s a pity that so many critics of the genre don’t realize how feminist, how empowering, this idea is. Even in literary fiction female sexuality is usually described with clichés.
    I’ll try to answer some of the questions you put for us, the readers, in the few parts that I don’t quite see things the same way.
    I’m not sure about this thing she says about historicals. Because the ones that I love now are not those in which the heroine’s problems are solved by a powerful male, but those in which she rescues herself. I expect from the hero nothing more than understanding and support perhaps a little bit of help, but she must be the one to do the task. Perhaps that response is based on my own experiences in the modern world, I don’t know. But I prefer independent heroines that solve their own problems.
    Your second question is more difficult, but I’ll try to answer it in a short way: No, I’m not a believer. I agree that the genre is, generally speaking, optimistic. If I read romance novels, among other genres is precisely b/c human beings do not make this a good world for other human beings –and certainly for the rest of species out there-, and many romance novels do accept that idea, even when the couple have their HEA. I prefer it that way. It sounds more realistic to me.
    I do agree with the third statement, that love can give you a sense of worthiness. I’m not sure how many of my favourite romances do state this so openly. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas implies this feeling with the hero. He thinks he’s not good enough for the heroine, but in the end they are together, so I guess that in a sense the love for the heroine makes him believe that he’s a better man than he thought.
    I’m not sure I’m a fan of historical romance novels, precisely b/c I love historical novels and I think that nowadays many writers –I’m not thinking of you, wordwenches- do not even try to recreate a believable past in their novels. Those historical romances that I love, well, I’m quite sure I don’t read them for the prospect of wealth and plenty of servants. My favourite ones tend to be those of more social justice and that show somebody fighting or at least being conscious of the social issues, the different clases, the terrible unjustice & racism of imperialism… That’s something that worries me not only in historicals but also in contemporaries. I love it when out of the blue, I find a historical or a contemporary with common working people or people that at least have got this social & political conscience.
    So I guess I’m in the minority in this point. It has got more to do with my personal POV about life & the genre. My main critic of romance novels is not –it has never been- from a feminist POV, but the political one, which is something I rarely see stated in Academic papers about the genre.

    Reply
  125. What and interesting and thought-provoking interview. I’m going to keep it in my PC for future references.
    Certainly, one of the things that make me love this genre is, for instance, what it’s said here about sex: the positive message about sex and women’s right to sexual pleasure is central to romance … Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied… For readers, the romance genre can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.
    And it’s a pity that so many critics of the genre don’t realize how feminist, how empowering, this idea is. Even in literary fiction female sexuality is usually described with clichés.
    I’ll try to answer some of the questions you put for us, the readers, in the few parts that I don’t quite see things the same way.
    I’m not sure about this thing she says about historicals. Because the ones that I love now are not those in which the heroine’s problems are solved by a powerful male, but those in which she rescues herself. I expect from the hero nothing more than understanding and support perhaps a little bit of help, but she must be the one to do the task. Perhaps that response is based on my own experiences in the modern world, I don’t know. But I prefer independent heroines that solve their own problems.
    Your second question is more difficult, but I’ll try to answer it in a short way: No, I’m not a believer. I agree that the genre is, generally speaking, optimistic. If I read romance novels, among other genres is precisely b/c human beings do not make this a good world for other human beings –and certainly for the rest of species out there-, and many romance novels do accept that idea, even when the couple have their HEA. I prefer it that way. It sounds more realistic to me.
    I do agree with the third statement, that love can give you a sense of worthiness. I’m not sure how many of my favourite romances do state this so openly. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas implies this feeling with the hero. He thinks he’s not good enough for the heroine, but in the end they are together, so I guess that in a sense the love for the heroine makes him believe that he’s a better man than he thought.
    I’m not sure I’m a fan of historical romance novels, precisely b/c I love historical novels and I think that nowadays many writers –I’m not thinking of you, wordwenches- do not even try to recreate a believable past in their novels. Those historical romances that I love, well, I’m quite sure I don’t read them for the prospect of wealth and plenty of servants. My favourite ones tend to be those of more social justice and that show somebody fighting or at least being conscious of the social issues, the different clases, the terrible unjustice & racism of imperialism… That’s something that worries me not only in historicals but also in contemporaries. I love it when out of the blue, I find a historical or a contemporary with common working people or people that at least have got this social & political conscience.
    So I guess I’m in the minority in this point. It has got more to do with my personal POV about life & the genre. My main critic of romance novels is not –it has never been- from a feminist POV, but the political one, which is something I rarely see stated in Academic papers about the genre.

    Reply
  126. What a fascinating discussion. I read mainly historicals, because they are more of an escape from everyday life.
    I think another way the heroine gains power and agency in a romance, is that she is often able to provide the hero with the complete acceptance and love which he was unable to get elsewhere in his life. So while she may need him for financial security, social status, etc., he needs her for other reasons. I especially like stories where the heroine rescues the hero in some sense.
    As far as your question re: the positive message about sex, I think it is MORE important in historicals. Because of widespread ignorance and denial of women’s sexuality in earlier eras, woman didn’t have much of a chance for a satisfying sexual relationship unless they were lucky enough to find an enlightened man. They couldn’t exactly go out and pick up a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”. If they had sex before marriage they were indeed taking a huge risk. But when it happens between the H&h in a romance, we love it because we get to see her gamble pay off. It’s a bit of a high wire act.

    Reply
  127. What a fascinating discussion. I read mainly historicals, because they are more of an escape from everyday life.
    I think another way the heroine gains power and agency in a romance, is that she is often able to provide the hero with the complete acceptance and love which he was unable to get elsewhere in his life. So while she may need him for financial security, social status, etc., he needs her for other reasons. I especially like stories where the heroine rescues the hero in some sense.
    As far as your question re: the positive message about sex, I think it is MORE important in historicals. Because of widespread ignorance and denial of women’s sexuality in earlier eras, woman didn’t have much of a chance for a satisfying sexual relationship unless they were lucky enough to find an enlightened man. They couldn’t exactly go out and pick up a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”. If they had sex before marriage they were indeed taking a huge risk. But when it happens between the H&h in a romance, we love it because we get to see her gamble pay off. It’s a bit of a high wire act.

    Reply
  128. What a fascinating discussion. I read mainly historicals, because they are more of an escape from everyday life.
    I think another way the heroine gains power and agency in a romance, is that she is often able to provide the hero with the complete acceptance and love which he was unable to get elsewhere in his life. So while she may need him for financial security, social status, etc., he needs her for other reasons. I especially like stories where the heroine rescues the hero in some sense.
    As far as your question re: the positive message about sex, I think it is MORE important in historicals. Because of widespread ignorance and denial of women’s sexuality in earlier eras, woman didn’t have much of a chance for a satisfying sexual relationship unless they were lucky enough to find an enlightened man. They couldn’t exactly go out and pick up a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”. If they had sex before marriage they were indeed taking a huge risk. But when it happens between the H&h in a romance, we love it because we get to see her gamble pay off. It’s a bit of a high wire act.

    Reply
  129. What a fascinating discussion. I read mainly historicals, because they are more of an escape from everyday life.
    I think another way the heroine gains power and agency in a romance, is that she is often able to provide the hero with the complete acceptance and love which he was unable to get elsewhere in his life. So while she may need him for financial security, social status, etc., he needs her for other reasons. I especially like stories where the heroine rescues the hero in some sense.
    As far as your question re: the positive message about sex, I think it is MORE important in historicals. Because of widespread ignorance and denial of women’s sexuality in earlier eras, woman didn’t have much of a chance for a satisfying sexual relationship unless they were lucky enough to find an enlightened man. They couldn’t exactly go out and pick up a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”. If they had sex before marriage they were indeed taking a huge risk. But when it happens between the H&h in a romance, we love it because we get to see her gamble pay off. It’s a bit of a high wire act.

    Reply
  130. What a fascinating discussion. I read mainly historicals, because they are more of an escape from everyday life.
    I think another way the heroine gains power and agency in a romance, is that she is often able to provide the hero with the complete acceptance and love which he was unable to get elsewhere in his life. So while she may need him for financial security, social status, etc., he needs her for other reasons. I especially like stories where the heroine rescues the hero in some sense.
    As far as your question re: the positive message about sex, I think it is MORE important in historicals. Because of widespread ignorance and denial of women’s sexuality in earlier eras, woman didn’t have much of a chance for a satisfying sexual relationship unless they were lucky enough to find an enlightened man. They couldn’t exactly go out and pick up a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”. If they had sex before marriage they were indeed taking a huge risk. But when it happens between the H&h in a romance, we love it because we get to see her gamble pay off. It’s a bit of a high wire act.

    Reply
  131. Excellent points, Karin. I also like stories where the woman rescues or completes the hero in some way, where she helps him grow to a more authentic sense of personhood instead of living with a social mask. In a patriarchal society, emotional straightjacketing is one price males pay for the power the culture grants them. The “love of a good woman” can help him in this regard. I think you are right, that this is one important way a heroine has power and agency in the story. And I love your image of a historical heroine performing a high wire act of sexual trust!

    Reply
  132. Excellent points, Karin. I also like stories where the woman rescues or completes the hero in some way, where she helps him grow to a more authentic sense of personhood instead of living with a social mask. In a patriarchal society, emotional straightjacketing is one price males pay for the power the culture grants them. The “love of a good woman” can help him in this regard. I think you are right, that this is one important way a heroine has power and agency in the story. And I love your image of a historical heroine performing a high wire act of sexual trust!

    Reply
  133. Excellent points, Karin. I also like stories where the woman rescues or completes the hero in some way, where she helps him grow to a more authentic sense of personhood instead of living with a social mask. In a patriarchal society, emotional straightjacketing is one price males pay for the power the culture grants them. The “love of a good woman” can help him in this regard. I think you are right, that this is one important way a heroine has power and agency in the story. And I love your image of a historical heroine performing a high wire act of sexual trust!

    Reply
  134. Excellent points, Karin. I also like stories where the woman rescues or completes the hero in some way, where she helps him grow to a more authentic sense of personhood instead of living with a social mask. In a patriarchal society, emotional straightjacketing is one price males pay for the power the culture grants them. The “love of a good woman” can help him in this regard. I think you are right, that this is one important way a heroine has power and agency in the story. And I love your image of a historical heroine performing a high wire act of sexual trust!

    Reply
  135. Excellent points, Karin. I also like stories where the woman rescues or completes the hero in some way, where she helps him grow to a more authentic sense of personhood instead of living with a social mask. In a patriarchal society, emotional straightjacketing is one price males pay for the power the culture grants them. The “love of a good woman” can help him in this regard. I think you are right, that this is one important way a heroine has power and agency in the story. And I love your image of a historical heroine performing a high wire act of sexual trust!

    Reply
  136. Many thanks to Catherine and all who took part in a fascinating discussion. The randomly picked winners of books from Catherine are Faith and Barbara.
    Happy Christmas!

    Reply
  137. Many thanks to Catherine and all who took part in a fascinating discussion. The randomly picked winners of books from Catherine are Faith and Barbara.
    Happy Christmas!

    Reply
  138. Many thanks to Catherine and all who took part in a fascinating discussion. The randomly picked winners of books from Catherine are Faith and Barbara.
    Happy Christmas!

    Reply
  139. Many thanks to Catherine and all who took part in a fascinating discussion. The randomly picked winners of books from Catherine are Faith and Barbara.
    Happy Christmas!

    Reply
  140. Many thanks to Catherine and all who took part in a fascinating discussion. The randomly picked winners of books from Catherine are Faith and Barbara.
    Happy Christmas!

    Reply

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