Good morning, darlings!
I thought it was time about for another Book Riot cross-post. This piece originally ran on Book Riot on February 23, 2015.
As you may know, the major event of the past year of my reading life was that I finally succeeded in learning to love romance novels.
The only reason it took me so long to embrace this delightful genre is that I had no idea what I was doing and, therefore, repeatedly got in my own way.
But I learned from my mistakes, and now I have pearls of wisdom to share!
That’s why I’m here today: to present a humble 5-step guide to aid any of you who may be on your own quest to become a reader of romance novels.
Thanks to Assistant Professor Fabio for getting the ball rolling.
A brief word about terminology before we dive in: I’m using “romance novel” as a byword for “sexy books with sex in them.” There are many nuanced terms that describe books in the romance/erotica field, but I aim to generalize.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Romance novels are just like other books.
Here’s what I mean: when I was first starting, I would choose a romance at random, read it, and then allow my perception of the genre as a whole to be colored by that one experience.
Did I “like romance novels” or not? I changed my mind with each randomly-chosen drugstore read. It would never have occurred to me to think like that about a different genre (although lord knows I have my genre prejudices).
Sexy books are just like other books: they can be in a style you don’t like, they can have characters that don’t speak to you, they can take a tone that rubs you the wrong way. You don’t have to just like or not like them because of the fact that they involve sex.
There’s also a huge variety within the genre. Disliking a book about a brawny rancher who throws his protesting lady love over his shoulder because he knows what’s good for her doesn’t mean that you won’t be over the moon to read about a lady chemist who dresses as a prostitute to conceive a baby with a muscular football player or a previously demure duchess who dresses to be a man to overcome her grief about her husband’s suicide and discovers her sensual side.
2. Find what you like and run with it.
I’m not saying you should never branch out, but when you’re first getting started, it’s easier to latch onto something that consistently works for you.
I tend to like romance novels set in Regency era England (or thereabouts) with a medium amount of smut, strong female leads, and dramatic storylines to accompany the central romance. I also think it’s delightful when the sexing characters fall in love and I have an extremely low tolerance for male aggression, excessive possessiveness, and rape-like situations.
I learned this through trial and error: reading a number of books and noting what I did and did not like, and asking people for recommendations of similar authors once I found an author whose approach felt like what I wanted.
If you like the idea of sexy books, then something out there is going to be exactly your cup of lascivious tea. You just need to find it. Please don’t give up hope!
This bullet point particularly goes out to anyone who read 50 Shades of Gray as their first foray into the world of sexy books and was disappointed.
To read the rest of this post, please click through to Book Riot.
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