then came you, then came you

I have big news of another first in my life: I read my first romance novel all the way through. Then Came You, on loan from the Annie library, written by a former Miss Massachusetts who writes, according to her author’s bio, from her own personal experiences. Love that. You wild thing.

It was a hoot and a page-turner. I even started to enjoy that the characters have wildly inappropriate names for 1820s London, like Ross, or Derek, or Zach. (Where’s Josh?) It just firmly cemented the action in an alternate reality, maybe a parallel universe, rather than in the fictional past.

Eventually my thinking mind realized that there was a lot of ‘no means yes’ driving the plot forward (do I mean plot?). I suppose when you are involving your protagonist with a smoldering man with giant upper body strength, a solid understanding of the female orgasm, and a commitment to getting off ONLY after she has, who cares about a little thing called respecting boundaries. Ami right??

But I risk sullying the romance genre with reality, when it works so well as fantasy. And there’s nothing wrong with fantasies of being overcome by a hot exemplar of skilled manhood.

What really sullies the romance genre is a little book called Tender Adversary, which I picked up from the thrift store without understanding that ‘inspirational romance’ is code for ‘this book was written by the Christian morality police and there will be no kissing none’.

It’s the tale of two star-crossed lovers (or just fully-clothed huggers?) in Chicago, lawyers on opposite sides of a case. Damned if I couldn’t write a great romance novel on that premise and with this very cover (although why IS he wearing a shirt?). But no, I suffered through maybe 20 pages of horrendous writing only to find that blondie is deeply and pompously religious, at which point I skipped with disgust to the last page to see how it ends. He offers her a job, and they kiss, thereby violating the basics of workplace ethics. WHAT.

But perhaps the most troubling aspect of this book is the author’s bio (“a wife, homemaker, and mother”) which explains her career with this story: “On her birthday, her husband surprised her with a work processor, agreeing to renew the lease each year she completed a book!” And then I understood why there’s nothing hot about this book.

So I may still be a romance novel newbie, but I’m learning. I’m learning.

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