Back in March, Candy and I were interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, and oh, what a glorious thing. “Magic Hoo Hoo” and “heteronormativity” were said within moments of each other – on NPR? Win.
The producer of the show that day, a marvelously savvy woman named Petra, is a romance fan, but alas, the host, Rebecca Roberts had never read a romance novel, and wasn’t sure what to think of them – aside from all the negative stereotypical things one usually hears about romances. When Candy and I recommended a few during the course of the interview, we weren’t sure if Roberts was interested, but Petra assured us as we signed off after the taping was done that she would make sure Rebecca read one. Or two.
I honestly didn’t think she’d read one – so imagine our giddy fist-bumping when Candy and I received the following email from Rebecca, who read Chase and Crusie and, it seems, understands a piece of how powerful and evocative a well-written romance can be.
To: Sarah and Candy
From: Rebecca Roberts
Subject: Turning an NPR snob (redundant!) into a romance reader
Congratulations on the success of Beyond Heaving Bosoms.
Let me just reiterate that getting to say Magic Hoo-hoo on National Public Radio was the highlight of my professional career. Of course, Weekend All Things Considered has not asked me back to guest host since then. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence?
As promised, I have now finished a couple of trashy books. I really can’t groove to the supernatural thing (I’m too literal, I suppose. My willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far) so I chose, on your recommendation, Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie.
The first thing I wondered was why is Crusie is considered Romance and not displayed on the table with the pink and blue “Fun Beach Reads!!” sign with the other Chick-lit? (I know, I know, the term chick-lit is degrading and patronizing and all kinds of wrong. But Sophie Kinsella sells a lot of books) Is it the single-minded focus on getting the couple together? The line seems awfully blurry, genre-wise.
Anyway, I thought the book was hilarious and devoured it in one big gulp when I really should have been doing other things. I had such a good time that I went back for more, and read Crusie’s Getting Rid of Bradley. Mistake. They’re the same book! Newly single 40ish woman trying to prove her independence falls for inappropriate man because he is polar opposite of her ex and is kind to her dog(s). Both newly-single-woman and kind-to-dogs-man are hesitant to get together yet secretly having serious lust issues. Both come complete with best friend/sibling who sees that NSW and KTDM are perfect for each other. Finally NSW jumps KTDM and, after a few lame subplots are disposed of, they live HEA. Reading it once was totally entertaining, sexy, and satisfying. Reading it twice started to edge into a waste of time.
So…I decided to try another of your faves, Lord of Scoundrels. I proudly displayed that cheesy ripped-bodice cover (and what’s with the swirly pink title font?) on the DC Metro. I was so into it I missed my stop. TWICE. I started to resent any demands on my time that weren’t Lord of Scoundrels. Like work. And motherhood.
When I was done, and the spell was broken, I tried to figure out why I had been so spellbound. The swaggering hero brought low by a woman who wasn’t afraid of him? The super hot sex scenes (in other words, swaggering hero brought low by a woman who wasn’t afraid of him)? I think, actually, it was the fact that the author seemed to not take herself or her characters too seriously. I think maybe that’s why I was so willing (before I was enlightened by you bitches) to dismiss Romance novels as crap—all that throbbing loins and pulsing womanhood seemed so deadly earnest and tedious.
So, I tried another Loretta Chase, Not Quite a Lady. Loved it. I love that her female leads are unapologetically delighted by sex. I love that the male leads find that hot, not suspect. The books were similar, but different enough that I stayed interested.
So thank you, bitches, for knocking off some of my blind assumptions. I think romance novels for me are like warm chocolate donuts: a steady diet would be a little much, but now and then they’re exactly what you want.
Damn, now I’m turned on AND hungry.
WOO HOO! I love introducing sharp people to romances, and helping them realize that everything they’ve heard about them is most certainly not accurate.
I am telling you, Lord of Scoundrels needs a special title for being a most effective tool in the “Bring Them Over to the Romance Side” arsenal.