First Time Reading a Romance Novel

 

I’ve been trying to add some variety to my reading list lately, and it occurred to me that I had never read a romance novel. I asked my wife to recommend one, and she gave me The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn. One of the blurbs actually says, “If you’ve never read romance novels, start here.”

The characters are all British, and it takes place in New York during the Revolutionary War. Our leading lady has come to NY to look for her brother, an officer who was wounded and has gone missing. Instead, she finds his best friend, also a wounded officer, who is unconscious in a makeshift military hospital. In order to be allowed to stay with him, she lies and says that she is his wife, hence the book’s title. Of course, he eventually wakes up, and she has to decide whether to continue her deception or to risk everything by coming clean. Complications ensue.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that she is young, beautiful, and innocent; smart, brave, and determined; stronger than she knows yet moved by powerful emotions of joy and heartbreak. Her pretend husband is a little older, more knowledgeable in the ways of the world (and of the opposite sex), strong and disciplined, but also kind and playful at times. I hope I’m not giving too much away when I say that circumstances bring them together, then pull them apart, and then, when all seems lost, bring them together again at the end.

Now, I’ve watched lots of Hallmark movies with the wife, so this was not unfamiliar narrative territory. It was interesting to see it play out in this longer format, although at times it seemed to move rather slowly. It had a little more bosom-heaving than Hallmark, but not much. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of these.

I was looking to see if it had a theme described many years ago by Warren Farrell in his book Why Men Are the Way They Are. He wrote that porn for men meets an obvious desire – sexual access to lots of women – but what do romance novels (the closest thing to porn for women) supply their readers? He read a lot of them and concluded that the one consistent theme was that while the female characters were always capable, it was their connection to men that gave them access to opportunities and experiences they couldn’t have had otherwise. He called this being “Flashdanced” after the movie where a great dancer gets into a school she wants, against the odds, because a man is pulling some strings behind the scenes.

I think that applies to this book to some extent, where the main character plays on her connection to the wounded officer to get a place to stay, the benefits of being an officer’s wife, and help in looking for her brother, etc. I’m not sure it quite lines up as well as Flashdance.

In any case, on to other things. Now reading Troy Senik’s book on Grover Cleveland, which is very good. There aren’t many books about a guy who only served as Buffalo’s mayor for one year.

Published in Literature
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 94 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    TBA (View Comment):

    I can’t remember who said it of women, or exactly what was said, or even what I had for breakfast this morning, but the idea was something to the effect that women find a better work/life balance. Again this is of limited utility, but in the sorting hat of med school seems to put women into House Pediatrics, and House OB/Gyn, while men end up in House Surgery and House Radiology.

    Guess where the flexible office hours are.

    Dermatology.   Allergists.

    • #61
  2. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    colleenb (View Comment):

    If my husband asked about reading a romance novel, I would probably recommend Rebecca or Jane Eyre or an Austen. Have you read any of those? Or would you not consider them a romance as you were thinking of? Thanks.

    I was just thinking of the contemporary ones, since they account for so many book sales. I think romance and mysteries are the most popular genres.

    Yes Matt. That makes sense.

    • #62
  3. danys Thatcher
    danys
    @danys

    I read romances similar to how many watch TV or sports because it doesn’t matter if I forget the plot. Murder mysteries require me to remember plot points and characters.

    Some romance novels are better written than others. Georgette Heyer owns the Regency romance sub genre.

    Chick Lit too often depicts the taciturn hero’s transformation into a more-in-touch-with-his-emotions ideal. Unfortunately, that ideal sounds too much like a woman. Ack! 

    A good romance has the heroine and hero growing into their better selves. For example, in Pride and Prejudice both Elizabeth and Darcy grow: they recognize their faults, learn from the experience, and become better people. 

    • #63
  4. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    danys (View Comment):

    I read romances similar to how many watch TV or sports because it doesn’t matter if I forget the plot. Murder mysteries require me to remember plot points and characters.

    Some romance novels are better written than others. Georgette Heyer owns the Regency romance sub genre.

    Chick Lit too often depicts the taciturn hero’s transformation into a more-in-touch-with-his-emotions ideal. Unfortunately, that ideal sounds too much like a woman. Ack!

    A good romance has the heroine and hero growing into their better selves. For example, in Pride and Prejudice both Elizabeth and Darcy grow: they recognize their faults, learn from the experience, and become better people.

     

    • #64
  5. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Flicker (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    For example…. …sorts.

    I wonder if a woman can ever truly love a finely crafted tool.

    Warning: Straight line is connected to third rail. Do not touch! 

    • #65
  6. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi.  This apparently has both. 

    • #66
  7. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    Interesting names on the cover.  I suppose, chick-fic.

    • #67
  8. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Like stout Cortez.

    • #68
  9. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    Interesting names on the cover. I suppose, chick-fic.

    Cheesy! 

    • #69
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    Interesting names on the cover. I suppose, chick-fic.

    I think this is connected to the Sad Puppies Hugo Awards fracas. 

    • #70
  11. davenr321 Coolidge
    davenr321
    @davenr321

    Romance novels are great! Like this one:

    Yes, I did read it and yes it is good!

    Has anyone read Stacey Abrams’ romance novels? I have a feeling they might be pretty good, too, this one looks interesting (that’s her pseudonym):

     

     

    • #71
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    Interesting names on the cover. I suppose, chick-fic.

    I was thinking they got reviewed by Blue Boy magazine.

    • #72
  13. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Did reading the book change your gender? Or how you self identified?

    That’s what most young adult, LGBTQ-themed, fiction is up to.  That’s what librarians are putting on the shelves. 

    • #73
  14. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    I HIGHLY recommend An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer. She is known for her bodice rippers. But apparently she had access to Wellington’s private correspondence. Part bodice ripper part historically accurate,minute by minute account of the battle of Waterloo, this novel is required reading at military academies around the world.

    For me, it is a ‘ must read’!

    “Oh take me!,” she gasped, “Here on the hot cannon, for I cannot bear to wait longer!”
    “Madam, your need is great, as is mine. But England’s is greater still, for She relies now on the fighting passions of stout-hearted men and I must not fall into temptation like some common Frenchman. There is the additional consideration that the cannon in question has likely attained a temperature akin to a metal stove.”

    Excellent. You may have missed your calling.

    Or writes under a pen name. 

    • #74
  15. DMak Member
    DMak
    @DMak

    I have a friend who used to work for a major publishing house, and she was always bragging about how great romance novels sold, especially the Regency romance novels. According to her, at least a handful of Regency ones are released each day. I once received an entire box of these. I don’t think I’ve ever read so much about dukes and duchesses, marquises and earls, and governesses in my life. Add the occasional Scottish lord, French count escaping the guillotine, or American heiress to the mix as well.

    • #75
  16. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    I read Space Raptor Butt Invasion, skipping over the mushy bits. The science fiction was pretty appalling.

    • #76
  17. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Internet's Hank (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    I read Space Raptor Butt Invasion, skipping over the mushy bits. The science fiction was pretty appalling.

    Did Mayor Pete write a blurb for the cover? 

    • #77
  18. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Did Mayor Pete write a blurb for the cover? 

    I only got the digital edition. Mayor Pete wasn’t quoted in it.

    • #78
  19. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    • #79
  20. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up… 

    • #80
  21. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    As much as an exercise as anything else, I was wrote a romance novel. It was about movies too, to keep my interest. He Saw, She Saw was the title.

    It’s free through Kindle if anyone has a morbid curiosity:

    • #81
  22. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up…

    Especially with the author’s name I sure hope so.

    • #82
  23. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik
    @TroySenik

    Matt Bartle:

    In any case, on to other things. Now reading Troy Senik’s book on Grover Cleveland, which is very good. There aren’t many books about a guy who only served as Buffalo’s mayor for one year.

    I thought the civic function I was performing was restoring the legacy of Grover Cleveland.

    But if it’s also luring people away from romance novels then I weep, for there are no more worlds left to conquer.

    • #83
  24. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Troy Senik (View Comment):

    Matt Bartle:

    In any case, on to other things. Now reading Troy Senik’s book on Grover Cleveland, which is very good. There aren’t many books about a guy who only served as Buffalo’s mayor for one year.

    I thought the civic function I was performing was restoring the legacy of Grover Cleveland.

    But if it’s also luring people away from romance novels then I weep, for there are no more worlds left to conquer.

    So now that you are a rich author I assume that you’ll want to move to a Caribbean tax-haven island with no Internet and live a life of quiet scholarship.

    • #84
  25. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not into romance novels, but I like sci-fi. This apparently has both.

    I read Space Raptor Butt Invasion, skipping over the mushy bits. The science fiction was pretty appalling.

    Did Mayor Pete write a blurb for the cover?

    Unless he ghost-wrote the whole book.

    • #85
  26. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up…

    Two words:

    Bigfoot Erotica.

    • #86
  27. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up…

    Two words:

    Bigfoot Erotica.

    Don’t. Just don’t. Next the thread will swerve sharply to discussion of the ultimate big bad, Jonah.

    • #87
  28. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up…

    Two words:

    Bigfoot Erotica.

    Don’t. Just don’t. Next the thread will swerve sharply to discussion of the ultimate big bad, Jonah.

    Goldberg?  May it never be!

    • #88
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up…

    No, this is a thing. 

    • #89
  30. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Not all dino-pr0n dino romance novels are gay, ya know.

    You have GOT to be making that up…

    Two words:

    Bigfoot Erotica.

    Don’t. Just don’t. Next the thread will swerve sharply to discussion of the ultimate big bad, Jonah.

    Johan?  Did somebody say @Jonah?

    • #90
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.