I've felt the hate rise up in me
Kneel down and clear the stone of leaves
I wander out where you can't see
Inside my shell I wait and bleed
--Wait and Bleed, Slipknot
Have you ever wanted a do-over? A chance to just step away from the cakes that say "Eat Me". . . or perhaps you would take an even bigger bite. I wrestle with the do-over desire daily, although the things I end up wanting to do-over most are the things I didn't do. And that sucks doo-doo.
The quirky quantum quartet of Creepy Query Girl, Nicole Ducleroir, Lydia Kang and DL Hammons have given me the chance to have a do over--at least with a blog post. The Deja Vu Blogfest is a chance to dig out a dusty post, slap a new dress on it and call it shiny and improved. Sort of like turkey leftovers. Or Joan Rivers. That being said, when I was looking through my posts, I didn't really think there was anything so earth shattering that it needed to be replicated. So I chose something near and dear to my romance writer's heart. Because if anything is worth repeating, it's got to be some hot sex cliches.
Top Ten Things Romance Novels Oversell
Disclaimer--not for those uncomfortable with images of sexy times.
It’s no secret I am a huge fan of romance novels--I love to read them and write them as well. I even love the “bad” romances, embracing every cliche as I sink happily into HEA bliss. However, I don’t think it has altered my perception of reality, as some would assert. Susan Quilliam says just that in her recent article, which falls into the same tone as the YA argument that examining darkness breeds darkness. I tend to disagree; I think most readers enjoy a good romance novel for the temporary suspension of the real, not-so-titillating parts of actual relationships. Like laundry. And paying bills. And being dog-tired after a day of work but still having to make dinner and change diapers. But I’m confident those readers are well aware of what is real, and what is artistic license.
Some of the fantasies portrayed in romances are good--the strong, self sufficient heroine who meets the hero on equal ground, demanding respect and orgasms. Some are not so good--unrealistic physical ideals, coercion, or unsafe sex. Some are just unbelievable as hell--the brooding male scoundrel suddenly transformed into a sensitive white knight faster than you can say throbbing manroot. But I believe I’m far more likely to become disillusioned by watching the five o’clock news than I am by picking up the latest NYT bestseller.
I would like the pseudo-intelligentsia to stop assuming that readers are silly feeble-minded lemmings who cannot possibly discern fiction from day-to-day living. That a woman with a romance novel is a slobbering porn addict unable of creating a fulfilling relationship outside of fiction central because she’s looking for Mr. Perfect. Hogwash.
So I made this list, just in case anyone out there is having difficulty separating reality from the realm of romancey goodness:
Top Ten Things that Romance Novels Oversell:
10. Men with long hair. I’m a huge fan of this image, and there’s definitely some Hollywood long hairs that make me swoon. But in my experience, most hirsuit Joe Blows either resemble the sensitive ponytail man that Singles made famous or one of the dudes from Sons of Anarchy. And not Jax or Opie.
9. Funtimes in the shower. My hubby is 6’4”. I am 5’3” on a proud day. Sharing a shower always results in one of us (i.e. me) nearly drowning and the other shivering in the periphery of the shower spray. And if you don’t have those plastic appliques that your grandma used in her bathtub on the floor, hip fracture is a real possibility.
8. The heroine and hero getting it on in the middle of a fight/escape/apocalyptic scene. Really, if you have enough time for sexual banter and a quickie, things can’t be that bad. If the world is coming to an end and the dude I’m with is thinking about his pulsating loins, bring on the zombies, because the new civilization is so screwed.
7. The heroine has just gotten her ass kicked by avenging vampires/shape shifters/mall cops and upon sight of the hero, the first thing she thinks of is her raging lust. Jeez, I get a hangnail and that’s enough for me to say “Not tonight, honey.” If I just went jujitsu on someone, pretty sure I’m wanting a massage or an ice pack, not a hot beef injection.
6. Chicks with super long hair fighting like warriors. Or doing other things that require another human in close proximity. I have hair that is almost to my waist. My husband hears the words “You’re on my hair” probably as much as “I love you.” Long hair goes everywhere, gets yanked out by wayward elbows or stuck between butt cheeks or wrapped around vital parts like a hair tourniquet. If you’re into acrobatics, I suggest a good tight French braid.
5. Men who are vocal. This scares me. Romance heroes often cry out or shout or give a hedonistic war whoop during sexy times. No one just grabs the headboard with white knuckles and makes a face that could be confused for seizure activity in any other situation. For the longest time I thought there was some button I was missing that would make a man lose his mind and speak in tongues. While a little sound is normal, I think most men are on the quiet side. It’s bred in them from years of hiding the girlfriend from mom and dad in the next room and then years of trying not to wake the kids.
4. The hero picks the heroine up in his bulging arms and heads for the bedroom, but is so overcome that he can’t even wait to be horizontal. Sex standing up--unless you have a partner who has He-Man quadriceps--is inviting a charley horse from hell and coitus interruptus via herniation. After he stops screaming, the mood is kind of killed.
3. The virgin thing. This still permeates a lot of romances--you know the scene--the heroine goes from quivering neophyte to raging porn queen in sixty seconds flat. Always gives me a mental flashback of my own deflowering, in which I stared at the popcorn ceiling in my parents’ house and thought, “When does all the shouting for God start?” and “I’m missing COPS for this?”
2. The overdeveloped olfactory systems of heroes. The heroine always smells like jasmine or bergamot or rose water. The hero’s nostrils are tantalized and somehow his nasal passages are connected directly to his groin. Hmmm, guess I missed that nerve pathway in medical school. Unless he’s a perfumer, the likelihood of a man being able to identify your smell without coaching is fairly slim. My hubby is equally as enchanted by the smell of my deodorant as by my favorite scent. And that’s OK.
1. Sex in the Great Outdoors. Maybe this has to do with location, location, location. I’m sure somewhere there is a beautiful field of daisies or a secret waterfall where lovers are transported into a perfect sexual landscape where no one sweats or risks attack by small rodents. In reality, sex outdoors during a Nebraska July invites a plethora of blood thirsty arthropods to suck out your marrow. So unless you would like the added sensory pleasure provided by hives on your nether regions, you slather on the OFF, realizing too late that citronella is a lousy aphrodisiac. So now you smell like a candle, sweat’s dripping in your eyes, and one wrong move puts your ass in a patch of sandburs or worse. You know the saying: leaves of three, let it be.
Happy Friday, everybody! To see more Deja Vu, follow this link!