More Professors Seek to Teach the Romance

Bitchery regular who wishes to remain somewhat anonymous is looking for syllabus assistance, as she was deeply impressed with your work shaping the syllabus for Dr. Frantz’s syllabus last January. She writes:

The course I’m designing is primarily on the *rhetoric* of the romance (and just plain romance itself)—how it’s talked about, portrayed in the media, presented in bookstores, used in advertisting, etc. However, in order to give my students a better sense of the genre as a whole, I’d like to give them reading assignments from the primary source material.

Which is where the Bitchery comes in. Are there anthologies of diverse short romance fiction out there? Anthologies that have samples from paranormal,
suspense, regency, contemporary, even inpsirational? Are there anthologies that incorporate multi-ethnic, interracial, or basically anything other than all-white, all the time romances? If not, can the Bitchery recommend some short stories that I might build into a coursepack for my students? I’d like a diverse sampling from across the genres.

My own taste runs quite dramatically into novels (I have a rather deep-seated loathing of the short story as a genre), so I’m a little at a loss when it comes
to romance short fiction, and I’d like to be able to give them *something* to work from. Even novellas would be fine.

So – what’s your recommendation for anthologies. Is it possible to create a definitive romance anthology? I’ve never been one for the short story in the romance genre, but still – what’s your opinion on this one?


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    rebyj says:

    I avoid anthologies as well. I’ve picked up a few here and there when there is an author who sticks a short story of one of their on going series in there. Irritates me to no end to have to buy an anthology when all I like or want to read is one author!

    Some that have been pretty good reads are Christmas/ Holiday anthologies. One that stands out as a particularly good anthology in my memory is The Brides of Christmas. Authors: Jo Beverly, Margaret Moore, Deborah Simmons

  2. 2
    lijakaca says:

    Well, Irresistible Forces published by Signet includes:

    Lois McMaster Bujold – sci-fi/fantasy
    Mary Jo Putney – historical(Regency) fantasy
    Catharine Asaro – fantasy
    Deb Stover – paranormal (angels)
    Jo Beverley – sci-fi/futuristic
    Jennifer Roberson – medieval fantasy (Robin Hood/Marian)

    Not a huge mix of genres, but a variety of excellent authors

    In a former thread several people mentioned the anthology Big Spankable Asses as being very good as well – I think it’s AA with perhaps IR.

  3. 3
    Marta Acosta says:

    Paula Guran edited a anthology called The Best of Paranormal Romance that had a cross-range of stories.

    “From Publishers Weekly – Starred Review. Guran’s pioneering ‘best of’ anthology, the first in a projected series, offers 12 enthralling tales of romance that incorporate supernatural, fantasy or SF elements.”

  4. 4
    Rebecca2 says:

    Dragon Lovers by Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Barbara Samuel, Karen Harbaugh was a nice set of four paranormal stories. I especially enjoyed “Anna and the King of Dragons,” which was involved a Japanese dragon/ man and a Danish traders’ daughter.

    Playing With Matches by Katherine Greyle, Karen Harbaugh, Sabeeha Johnson, Cathy Yardley, I read because I enjoyed Karen Harbaugh’s story in the first anthology and this anthology was nice as well.  I believe the book is out of print, since I couldn’t find a new copy on Amazon. All of the stories were about other ethnicities, like Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian.  I particularly like that the author didn’t contrive the Indian couple to have sex before marriage, because that would not have fit the characters that she created.  All the stories were set in the US, some matches were within their cultures and one made an interracial match.

  5. 5
    Erin says:

    I *love* the idea of a group of students sitting down in the library, whipping out their chemistry books and their Italian homework, and plopping on top of it “Big Spankable Asses.”

    You have no idea how happy that idea makes me.

  6. 6
    Karen says:

    There are some authors who have a particular talent for short stories.  I’m more of a traditional romance reader, and I think Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly both wrote exceptional short stories in the many Signet Christmas anthologies.  Unfortunately, I can’t think of an anthology that is great all the way through – usually one or two stories is good and the rest, not so good.  (Balogh and Putney both had compilations of their stories released not long ago, although I’m not sure a class would want to read 5 stories by a single author.  However, those might be in print, unlike most of the Signet Christmas anthologies.)

  7. 7

    There’s a contemporary anthology coming out shortly with summer as the theme, and Linda Howard headlining.  Don’t know who else is in it.  The old Signet anthologies were some of the best of the holiday Regency stories, but as Karen said, you’d have to look for them as OOP or look for Balogh’s collection.

    Carla Kelly had a western anthology called “Here’s to the Ladies”.  Not every story in it was a classic romance with the relationship at the center, but most of them fill the bill. “Kathleen Flaherty’s Long Winter” and “A Season for Heroes” in particular would work.

  8. 8
    Amanda says:

    The anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss features the superlative Regency “The Mad Earl’s Bride” by Loretta Chase and “Promises” by Lisa Kleypas which features the daughter of Derek and Sarah Craven. I bought it strictly for those two so I skipped the Kathleen Woodiwiss and Catherine Anderson stories, but the Anderson is a Western. And it’s still in print…

  9. 9
    EmmyS says:

    There are a bunch of paranormal anthologies out there – look for MaryJanice Davidson, Charlaine Harris and J.D. Robb. They write short stories around existing characters from their various series.

    I too don’t particularly enjoy short stories – I prefer to have a lot of character development go along with my plot. I tend to skip anthologies, even if they contain stories by favorite authors, unless those stories revolve around characters introduced in a full-length book.

  10. 10
    Deb Kinnard says:

    For inspirational novella anthologies released as e-books (cheap & easy ‘cause students are tech-savvy & never have any money), check out There. are a number of them if you dig a bit on the web site.

    (conflict of interest statement: one of ‘em’s mine)

  11. 11
    Suze says:

    My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding and My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, both edited by P.N. Elrod are chock-a-block with, well, supernatural romance stories.  By a huge variety of some really good authors.

    Funny how all the anthologies I’ve read are of the para/super/scifi/fantasy variety.

  12. 12
    Tae says:

    Sadly, many of the anthologies with 3-5 authors create short stories or novellas with existing characters.  I don’t know how interesting, or how enjoyable they’ll be as stand alones without the requisite background information.  I rarely read any novella in an anthology of an author whom I have not read before.

    That being said I also recommend Irresistible Forces

  13. 13
    Sugarless says:

    I think it will be pretty hard to find an anthology that will encompass different genres like that. And, though of course take this with a grain of salt since I don’t know the details of how you want to organize the course, but if you’re having trouble finding interracial material, you may want to include a unit on the scarcity of them and why that would be – if you did that it may be best to go after you talk about advertising and marketing romances because I have a feeling a lot of discussino could go in that direction.

    I don’t know, good luck with the course, it sounds fascinating. I wish I could take it.

  14. 14
    Virginia Shultz-Charette says:

    My suggestion is go for some of the best authors in an anthology, not different genres. I don’t normally read anthologies but one I did read , A Spring Bouquet,  included Debbie Macomber,  Janet Dailey, Jo Beverley and Rebecca Brandewyne. The first two did an adequate job on the contemporary scene, but the Jo Beverley (historical) and Rebecca Brandewyne (time travel through a TV) were exceptionally good. I’ve been a devotee of Jo Beverley ever since – and I still think of this novella as one of her best works and I love this take on a time travel western by Brandewyne. It’s amazing that after all this time and the thousands of books I’ve read that I still remember this anthology!And it’s one of the few books I’ve not sold on EBay or given away.

  15. 15

    can the Bitchery recommend some short stories that I might build into a coursepack for my students?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding this, but why is there a particular requirement to include only short stories? Is it just that you want a quick way to introduce the students to the variety available in the genre? And is the plan to copy entire short stories and include them in a coursepack? Wouldn’t that breach the authors’ copyright?

    There are some authors who offer free online stories, and perhaps the students could be sent directly to the webpages of these authors. Here’s a list of some that would give you a bit of diversity.

  16. 16
    Adah says:

    Instructors can reproduce copyrighted material for educational purposes as long as it’s with a very limited distribution.

  17. 17
    RfP says:

    I have a rather deep-seated loathing of the short story as a genre

    It seems rather unfortunate to study a genre by using examples that you yourself dislike.  I happen to love short stories as a genre, but not everyone writes them well.  How will you select good examples if you loathe them all on principle?

    I wouldn’t look for an anthology at all—many anthologies have at least one complete stinker of a story, and sometimes the collection is several weak or debut authors bolstered by one big-name author who writes a solid short story.  Also, most anthologies are thematic rather than cross-genre.

    Paula Guran edited a anthology called The Best of Paranormal Romance that had a cross-range of stories.

    That’s a good collection with a range of more-or-less romantic paranormal and fantasy stories—but I would say not necessarily a wide range of *romance*.  (I really enjoyed some of the stories; I just wouldn’t choose the collection for this particular purpose.)

  18. 18
    SonomaLass says:

    I enjoyed the anthology Where’s My Hero?, with stories by Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas and Kinley MacGregor.  Julia Quinn’s two Lady Whistledown collections, with stories by Suzanne Enoch, Karen Hawkins, and Mia Ryan, are both very good.  I’m not usually a fan of short romance (short erotica, sure, but I like my romance drawn out and complicated).  There were several stories in these anthologies that had satisfying story arcs, even with the length constraints.  They made me go looking for more books by those authors, too!  (Well not Julia, I knew about her already.  Duh.)

    As a teacher, I agree that you probably want a range of genres, if the goal is to get an overview that shows the differences and the (surprising to some) similarities.  E-books may be the way to go, or possibly a coursepack if you can get permissions at reasonable prices.  I don’t think that educational fair use extends to short stories without paying some royalties, since you’d be using the whole work and not an excerpt.  At least, that’s what I was told about short plays when i wanted to put them in coursepacks several years ago.

    Sigh.  I don’t miss teaching English composition, but I sure miss teaching literature classes.  I’d be in heaven if I got to work up a course like this!  Good luck with it.

  19. 19
    RfP says:

    I don’t think that educational fair use extends to short stories without paying some royalties, since you’d be using the whole work and not an excerpt.

    That may depend on the way the short story is sold—one of the factors in defining fair use is your copies’ effect on the market.  As I understand it, if it’s an anthology and you copy only one story, it may be fair use/no harm to the market.  But if the story’s available for sale as a stand-alone, making a copy of the entire story is a direct substitution for market purchase.

    The university’s library may have an arrangement for copies.  My university had a clever work-around.

  20. 20
    Virginia Shultz-Charette says:

    Why not avoid the copywrite deal all the way around by having them purchase their books? College students, as well as continuing ed, are used to paying $60 or more for their textbooks, though I direct them to Amazon marketplace or where they can get them at a much more reasonable price. For the books suggested, you would probably find most for .01 plus 3.99 for media shipping on Amazon marketplace. Cheaper than copying.

    I do think it would be much better to have them read full-length books, it’s not as though these books take long to read. I usually read one-a-day like a vitamin – more on the weekend!

    I am so jealous, teaching what I love to read. Maybe I can do it at the library – compare Jane Austen with Julia Quinn. Or look at the “Regency” language in a Georgette Heyer that Jo Beverley in a recent newsletter claims is not authentic Regency at all, but purely out of the imagination of Georgette Heyer (I love that all her books are going into reprint- my cousin and I both read Beauvalet when we were teens so many aeons ago and I still have my copy!)

  21. 21
    the semi-anonymous instructor in question says:

    Hi all—

    Thanks for your suggestions! While I would love to teach lots of novels, the constraints of the course require that I don’t teach more than one novel. I’ve decided to teach Welcome to Temptation for my one novel, because it covers issues of definition and it is accessible to non-romance readers.

    I have considered just doing short excerpts from different novels instead of short stories; I am worried about the costs of permissions to create the coursepack, not to mention the issue of maybe not being able to get the permission. But I really appreciate all of the suggestions. :)

    (Oh, and SonomaLass—this IS composition. Hence the many constraints. ::sigh:: But it’s honors comp, so I get a lot more freedom.)

    As for my semi-anonymous status…I intend to use Smart Bitches as required reading for my class, and would rather they not know my handle here.

  22. 22
    Denni says:

    Oh, great fun, good luck with that.  The research alone will be awesome!

    Also not a big fan of anthologies, and what I do read leans towards erotica.  So many bad stories marketed in the anthology/short story format.  Even excellent, experienced novel writers appear to struggle with the shorter format, and the results can be disappointing.  My 2 cents:
    -Janice Maynard writes very good s.s. (cont).
    -Skin on Skin (anth), wherein I discovered Jami Alden
    -Susan Lyons wrote an excellent one in “Hot In Here”, that used an unusual grammer tense (cont).
    -Lace and Blood edited by Degorah J. Ross, a new anthology of “classic period swashbucklers” looks interesting.
    -The Mammoth Book Of Vampire Romance, appears to have great authors…I hear good things, anybody read it yet?
    -Possession (Black Lace), erotic British romance, this Black Lace appears to publish a number of anthologies (& genre).  IMO there is something distinctive/unique about British authors.
    -Hard Candy (menage/erotica), includes Morgan Hawke, Sheri Gilmore, and an interesting story by Angela Knight called Hero Sandwich.  Although I’ve stepped off the Ms. Knight novel train, her short stories are quite good.
    -Forbidden Love: Sacred Bands Issue Three – includes more stories than the average anthology.  And a surprising number are good (mostly m/m) including Jet Mykles & Michael Barnette.

    I can think of several good (pnr) authors that have s.s. free online, like Kelley Armstrong and Amy Lane (

  23. 23
    Gwen G says:

    Check out “Once Upon A Pillow” by Christina Dodd and Connie Brockway. Its one of the few really satisfying anthologies out there.

  24. 24
    Anj says:

    Because it’s not been said yet (that I can tell):

    Jennifer Crusie wrote an amazingly hilarious short story Hot Toy in the Christmas Anthology Santa, Baby. I have to say I wasn’t very fond of the other two stories included, much more sex than romance, but I ended up crying from laughter at the Crusie.
    Although I’ve seen you’ve chosen Welcome to Temptation so maybe only one Crusie.

    Other than that I’m not much help. I don’t usually go in for short stories unless I know I love the author.

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