So, what do people really believe are in romances that is so abhorrent?

I’ve asked this question before and I’ll probably ask it many times again before I die but it popped into my head yesterday while deep in the mislabeling discussion over at Dear Author.

Only this time I’m not going to fall into the trap of trying to find an answer, partly because I’m not sure there is an answer. Not a single answer, anyway. Usually all asking does is lead to endless unsatisfying speculation. This time I’m going to be smart, I hope, and instead ask for solid evidence. Short of that, I’ll settle for second-hand accounts that maybe we can compile into some kind of pattern.

Here’s the question. If you’re a convert to romance reading, what did you believe was in the books before you converted, i.e. what kept you from trying them? If you’ve always read romances, I’m sure that somewhere along the lines someone in your life has told you what they thought were in the books you read, so what’s the most memorable description?

Now, here’s my offering. I well remember one night when the now ex and I were painting a room. I was taking a break because we’d reached the ceilings and I couldn’t reach them. Naturally, I was reading. For some reason, I started reading aloud to him, which I’d never done before. The book was The Bride by Julie Garwood. I’d read the first couple of chapters when he made a comment that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

“There’s actually a story there.”

Well, duh, granted the man is not a reader and probably never will be but why did he think I’d had my nose stuck in all these books all those years? Staring at the blank pages for the fun of it?

I mean really!

It does give one pause to contemplate the workings of another’s mind. Or the lack thereof. To his credit, he’s extremely proud of the fact that I have managed to pass on my love of reading to our two children. It’s one of his few shining points. 😀

So, what can you offer?

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  • CindyS

    Okay, I started reading romance at 18 and before that I had no clue that sex was even in books. Colour me shocked and well hooked at 18 😉

    Now, here’s what I can tell you. My best friend told me when I asked her why she wouldn’t read a romance book (she was adamant) when she loved fantasy books so much. Her reason? She had promised a grade school teacher she greatly admired to ‘never read one of those trashy romance books’. I was floored and tried to explain to her that there was nothing about romance books that were trashy but she never budged. Can you believe a teacher asking a student to never read a certain type of book? I wouldn’t even be a reader today if it wasn’t for romances!

    I think from this story was born my fear of letting people know what I read. If my best friend wouldn’t even read them how was what I was reading any good?

    I think those who think romance books are beneath them should be made to read Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale or For My Lady’s Heart. Yeah. Tell me those aren’t worth your time.

    Better yet, why dontcha go watch that real stimulating TV show with that Hilton girl again.

    Ooops, I think my ‘rage’ slip is showing. Sorry.


  • Tara Marie

    Well, I’ve semi converted my husband, he’ll read Romantic suspense. I should point out he wouldn’t be caught dead in the romance section of a bookstore unless he was shooing me along.

  • Zeek

    I know many who read romance believe it’s got such a bad label attached to it because people, men specifically, are uncomfortable with a woman’s sexuality. That just seems to over simplified to me. Many men NOW, becaue they’ve been raised with NOW women, are not uncomfortable with women and their more open sexuality. MY bf loves it!

    Academics think Romance isn’t “meaty” enough. Other’s, like the bf, dismiss it as chick porn.

    Here’s my response when a similar question was asked at Romance Divas( bascially my history of romance reading):

    I’ve always read cross-genre, even as a kid, but I learned early romance novels were less than acceptable compared to other genres. I grew up hiding my romance reading addiction- literally. Because my mother thought it was smut as well- religious reasons rather than academic- I had all my books stuffed in a suitcase I kept under my bed. (My favorite rereads I kept in a separate train case!)

    Later I hid it from my roommates by reading them behind acceptable reads; in other words- literature. They disdained romance novels for academic reasons. (hmmm I wonder if academia realizes they DO have something in common with the religious right after all?)

    Although now I’m more open about my reading preferences, (the books are out and proud on bookshelves rather than hid away and I no longer read them like a teenage boy slobbering over his porn mag tucked into a textbook), I do gravitate to non-clinch, no bare-chests covers.

    It’s tough to completely erase a 20 year history of being made to feel shame for what I like to read. ::shrug::