Authors I Don’t Get

In a recent comment, the lovely Shannon Stacey expressed shock that Sarah is having me read SEP’s Honey Moon as part of our April Bad Book Challenge. (Her task is to read Desire’s Blossom, and may I say that I think she has the short end of the stick? Like, the SEVERELY short end; so short, it’s more a nubbin than anything actually stick-like.)

And that got me thinking: you know, there are quite a few really, really popular authors other people love that I don’t get. Some of them actually produce books I detest. So here I go again, busting out my bulleted lists:

    Authors other people love that I think are just kinda meh:

  • Nora Roberts
  • Suzanne Brockmann
  • Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle
  • Jude Deveraux (yes, even her old stuff, and yes, including A Knight in Shining Armor)
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Authors other people love that make me go “WHAT THE HELL? AAAAAGH!”

  • Linda Howard
  • Liz Carlyle
  • Stephanie Laurens

But you know what I truly think are the most grossly overrated author and love story of all time? Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights.

Am I actually allowed to be romance novel reader and say that out loud without being punished severely? Like having the soles of my feet whipped with birch rods for seven hours straight. Or being locked in a room with only Avril Lavigne to listen to and nothing but potted meat product and pickled pork rinds to eat for a whole week straight.

I think Shannon’s right. I’m going to burn in Hell. S’OK, I’ll request that my family burn me little paper effigies of SPF75 sunblock during the Hungry Ghost festival. Hey, if my other dead relatives get Hell passports, Hell electric razors, Hell TV sets, Hell furniture and Hell money, I can request that mom and dad get me some Hell sunscreen, right? I mean, if you think cracked, peeling skin is a bitch here on Earth….


More authors I don’t get: Julie Garwood (meh), Adele Ashworth (about 50-50 meh and EEEGAH!), Sandra Brown (99% EEEGAH!) and Elizabeth Lowell (meh).


Random Musings

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  1. Wendy says:

    Well when “they” burn you at the stake I’ll be joining you – I don’t “get” Linda Howard either.  I listened to Mr. Perfect on audio and thought, “Um, well…that was OK.” Most LH fans tend to gush uncontrollable over that one. I then tried Dying To Please (is that one with the lady butler?) and found it entirely unlistenable.  I didn’t even make it through the first tape.  The heroes in both books were totally interchangable in my mind.

    My current “I don’t get” author is MaryJanice Davidson.  I’ve read one short story and one full length novel and they were essentially about the same characters.  They just had different names 😉  Also, I tend to find the snarky voice grating after about 70 pages – so the verdict right now is “Read her short stories.  Stay far, far away from any book over 100 pages.”

    All that said, I can totally see how some readers adore both of these authors.  I’m just being difficult as usual….

  2. Rene says:

    I have given birth to three children, one completely natural and she was 9lbs. 5 oz. and you know what?  None of those experiences have been as painful as reading Knight in Shining Armor.  I HATE THAT BOOK with a passion that borders on the psychotic.  Of course my fellow romance readers think I must be the Anti-Christ or something.

    I loathe Wuthering Heights.  I’ve read cereal boxes that held my interest more.  What do you think of when you think of Heathcliffe and Cathy?  Two tragic lovers or two characters from the comics?

  3. Candy says:

    Wendy: I agree, Linda Howard’s heroes tend to kind of run together for me. I call them “Big Dicks With Big Guns.” And I haven’t tried any MaryJanice Davidson yet—but interestingly enough, Sarah mailed me Undead and Unwed and Undead and Unemployed, which I just got in the mail. So we’ll see how I like ‘em.

    Rene: I wouldn’t insult comics by comparing them to Heathcliff and Catherine. I like comics; they at least provide a modicum of amusement. By about 1/3 of the way into Wuthering Heights, all I wanted to do was toss Asshead and his equally dismal light o’ love and the narrator and the narrators who narrate to the narrator and really, everyone else in the book over the wind-swept cliffs. What drove me nuts, I think, was how unnecessary everything was. All through the book I just kept thinking “DUDE. Just TALK to each other. Stop being jerkwads.” The narrative device was somewhat interesting, but that was about the only interesting thing about the whole damn book. I read it once as a fairly young girl (I think I was about 11 years old) and didn’t like it, then had to read it again for British Romantic Lit in college and realized wow, I hated it even MORE the second-go-round.

  4. Jorie says:

    I rate Suzanne Brockmann up there with Jennifer Crusie and Laura Kinsale!  And SEP almost there.

    But I know what you mean about meh, and AAAAAGH!

    The AAAAAGH! ones usually have something that actively bothers me and throws me out of the story (characterization, triteness, anachronistic behavior, craft issues).  The meh ones, I can often see what is good but I’m somehow not engaged.  I don’t care.

    I’ve found some big authors, like Nora Roberts and Linda Howard, to cover the entire range from LOVE!  to AAAAAGH!

  5. L.N. Hammer says:

    Wuthering Heights isn’t a romance, and isn’t trying to be one.  Anyone who tries to fit those deeply disfunctional people into a romance mould will be outraged.  Bronte wrote it as an anti-romance, essentially a deconstruction of the Romantic hero (and heroine) showing how the Byronic Dude makes very poor romantic fodder.

    That said, I don’t like it either—or rather, I can’t finish it, because I get bored.  Besides, there’s Jane Eyre and Anne’s books and Trollope by the buckets to read instead.

    Agreed about Deveraux and, especially, Quick/Krentz/Castle.  The only book I’ve thrown across a room was a Quick, and because it was a library reading room, I got in trouble for it.


  6. Shannon says:

    There might be something wrong with me.

    I would walk 10 miles in the snow, uphill, with no boots, to get the newest SEP or Suzanne Brockmann.

    And Knight in Shining Armor is one of my all-time life-long (so far) favorites. 

    I’m going to have to give some thought to my least favorite—ever—romance.

  7. I can’t get Stephanie Laurents.  Nor can I get Adele Ashworth.  Duke of Sin left me underwhelmed.  Jude Deveraux I have tried several times to like, and just can’t make myself do it.

  8. Candy says:

    Oh no, I definitely wouldn’t call Wuthering Heights a romance. It’s classified within the British Romantic tradition, but of course that has nothing to do with modern romance novels—hence my use of the term “love story”. I’ve read and enjoyed books with people even more dysfunctional than the people in Wuthering Heights; I’ve mentioned Perfume before (Grenouille is hard beat in the “wow, that’s fucked-up” category). Lolita, Crime and Punishment, Marabou Stork Nightmares and Trainspotting are only a few other books on my keeper shelves that feature deeply dysfunctional people as protagonists. What sets these books apart from Wuthering Heights is how the authors make the characters’ behavior somehow… organic. You know what I mean? In Wuthering Heights, I was conscious at all points of Bronte manipulating everything with great deliberation, and that somehow made me angry—I wanted her to leave the characters alone, if that makes any sort of sense at all.

    The reason why I brought up Wuthering Heights is because I view Heathcliff as the prototypical tortured hero that many romance authors have used as a template for their own tortured heroes, and because almost everyone views Wuthering Heights as being a wildly romantic story, what with all the “HEATHCLIFF IS ME SOB SOB SOB” and “CATHERINE IS MY SOUL OH SHIT SHE’S DEAD DARLING PLEASE HAUNT ME AND MAKE ME NUTS” claptrap. Personally, I’d argue that it might be Romantic, but not at all romantic, unless deeply sociopathic people are somehow romantic. The Heathcliff soul-meld is often held up as a sort of ideal in romance novels as well: the hero needs the heroine more than he needs anything else, and you know that if the heroine dies (which would never happen in a romance novel, of course, so this is a strictly academic question) that the hero would snap like one of James Fenimore Cooper’s dry twigs.

  9. Giselle says:

    Ok I might be risking life and limb here but what the heck. One author that just makes me go ARRRRGGGHHHH is Julia Quinn (ducking to avoid the rotten tomatoes ):ahhh: . I really don’t get her. When people gush about how her dialogue is so witty and so funny I just scratch my head in bafflement :-S

  10. Candy says:

    Shannon, there’s nothing wrong with you—in fact, if popular opinion is any indication of “right” or “wrong”, us naysayers are the ones who are nuts. But since when you get down to it there’s really no right or wrong when it comes to personal tastes (except maybe Cassie Edwards novels 😉 ), it’s all good. So lambast away at what you think are overrated authors and novels.

  11. Nicole says:

    Oooh..I love this post.  I admit to usually liking Stephanie Laurens, though I stopped reading A Lady of His Own about halfway through and still haven’t picked it up.  Julia Quinn’s earliest stuff is my favorite of hers. 

    Authors I don’t get why people like:  Christine Feehan.  Ugh, those are books I threw across the room. Dara Joy, she of the atrocious covers isn’t a fave,  I started reading the first Stephanie Plum book and couldn’t get into it, she just grated on my nerves.  That one I’ll try to finish in hopes that it gets better.

    I do like MJD, but I have to be in the mood.  And there’s no way I’m paying $14 for a short story like Hello, Gorgeous. Thank goodness Brava is releasing their books later on in mass market. 

    So far, Angela Knight is a ehh…I have started two of her books and not been engaged enough to pick them up once they were put down. 

    Hrmm….I’ve actually never read an actual Nora book, but I DO like the JD Robb books. I like that I can pick up a new book in the series and know what happened before without her writing in an info-dump.  And SEP was never one I was ever interested in reading.  Never read Sandra Brown and never plan to.  And um, never read Linda Howard.  Hmm..I seem to be anti-contemporary. 

    And no idea why I’m writing this except that it’s rather cathartic.  There, I feel better.


  12. Alison Kent says:

    My first loves in romance were the early categories by Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Sandra Brown, etc.  I think writing has ruined me though, LOL, because now I need to escape from romance for my reading pleasure.  That said, I still buy all of SEP’s books (and Sandra Brown’s) – and HONEY MOON is my fave SEP of all time!!!  :):)

  13. Shannon says:

    Diana Palmer.

    That’s all I’m going to say, because I’m convinced it’s bad writer karma to say more. *g*

  14. Rene says:

    I know I’m in trouble when I’m talking to someone about what they are reading and they say “I just LOVE Danielle Steele.”  At that point, I start making excuses to get the hell out of there.

  15. Karla says:

    I have to suffer through Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre for English Lit. My god, those were without equal, the worst classes ever.  Wuthering Heights’ most obvious issues have already been mentioned, but dead little Jane Eyre was escaped.

    Jane Eyre is way too long, Bronte apparently runs out of realistic plot devices and puts in mystical voices toward the end, not to mention the surprising conicidences at the end, her counsins take her in, and old uncle leaves her money.  The only way Rochester is even remotely good enough for Jane – I want to be Maytr – Eyre is blindness and limb-loss.  Although Jane Eyre, the prototype Mary Sue, is probably so go that if we’d had another couple hundred pages of torterous prose, Rochester would have regained both sight and limb. 

    Add to that Jane Eyre refuses to allow herself to actually talk about anything, she runs away all the time.

    Why Rochester wants such a nasty woman is beyond me.  Jane is critical to a fault of everybody, nobody can match her christian perfection and she makes sure the reader knows it through interminable narration on her purity, piety, and selflessness.

  16. Liz says:

    I could not stand Wuthering Heights.  It gave me many a headache, especially since I had to read it for school.  The other so called “romance” that I loathed was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurie.  My mom and I both couldn’t get through it.  I made it to chapter 9 before throwing it in the never see the light of day pile—books I wouldn’t even give the library in fear that some unsuspecting reader would borrow it and then come looking for me so they could kill me.

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