Mocking Romance and the Revolution

Song of the Day: Blood by In This Moment

It could have happened.

Hey…It could have happened.

You see, most people who have know me prior to five years ago are surprised to find that I have become an author. With books. For sale. I admit, I’m surprised, too. Growing up, my dreams did not include the endless hours of solitude tapping away on a keyboard, mass amounts of research, the hari kari of reviews, marketing, and time displacement. No, I dreamed of rock stars and race horses. Don’t ask.

I stumbled upon my career. And I’m glad I did. I love it. But I don’t just write stories. I write romance. This coming from someone who shuns chick flicks and sappy greeting cards.

Not too long ago, an old friend asked me about my writing. It was small talk on their part. I don’t believe they were really that interested. But it was how they asked that drew up my hackles. Especially since the exact term used was ‘sex books’. Really? Sex books? I asked him (yes, him) if he had read one of my sex books. He bluntly said no, nor would he. Grrr…

“Why?”

“It’s not my thing.”

“What’s your thing? Shoot outs?  Car chases? Explosions? Danger? Intrigue?”

“And babes. Don’t forget, babes.”

“Right. Romance doesn’t have any of that.”

RF getty xxx

A romance author’s keyboard

A couple years ago, at a party, a woman I’d just met asked me about my books with great interest. That is, until I told her I wrote romance. She gave me the lip curl and proceeded to tell me she only read real books. I was stunned by her rude behavior and rendered ill-equipped with an impressive retort. Not to mention that for a split second, I felt the sting of belittlement. I don’t remember what my response had been exactly. I threw out a few facts, but she was unimpressed, saying it was nothing more than porn for women.  Boy, she just doesn’t know what she’s missing. But, I wasn’t going to change this woman’s impression of the genre, or of me. For the record, I bet she has a video collection of porn.

There is a stigma attached to romance books. Some of which is aptly earned from the romance books of the 70’s and early 80’s. But a large part of the misunderstanding of romance books stems much, much further back.

I am sharing a video I received from another forum (thank you, Ella Quinn!)  that does a wonderful job explaining why and how romance books were once considered dangerous. Yes. DANGEROUS. It’s a little more than 4 minutes, but well worth the viewing.

Back to my friend…
I educated him about my books. I challenged him to read one. Hell…just read the ‘sex’ part, if he wanted. I all but guaranteed he would not only see me differently (and maybe make his jaw drop, too), but see romance differently. He might just enjoy it. And I might even teach the guy a trick, or three.

They did what?

They did what?

To those who would mock the romance novelist, I dare you to read one. Come on…there are loads of sub-genres to choose from. Whatever tickles your fancy. Suspense, sci-fi, paranormal, historical, thriller, steam punk, and more. Take your pick. Read and get lost in an adventure.

Have you ever encountered someone who mocked romance? If so, how did you respond? What are your thoughts on those who look down on romance books? as always, I’d love to hear from you.

15 Responses to Mocking Romance and the Revolution

  1. Carly Carson says:

    Have I ever encountered someone who did NOT mock romance? (Aside from the wonderful romance authors I know.) I will never understand why it’s socially acceptable to be interested in war, murder, and mayhem, but not in romance. (I’ve even read some excellent romance books from the 70s and 80s and even further back – Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, M.M. Kaye.) I don’t have a good response. It’s prejudice, which is always hard to fight.

    Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      As with the woman at the party, you can’t change people’s minds who refuse to open their eyes, Carly. Prejudice people don’t budge. And they are usually ignorant to the important of what they hate. It’s a shame, really. Once I started reading for pleasure, romance wasn’t my choice of books. Stephen King, Dean Kootnz, and authors who wrote scary stories and mysteries were the books that I got lost in. Then one day, I read a paranormal romance. And everything changed.

      Thanks for popping in!

      Like

  2. Linda Pennell says:

    As a professional reading specialist who worked in the public schools for many years with secondary students suffering a wide variety of reading difficulties, I can speak directly to the power of a well wriiten romance novel in enabling low performing girls to succeed and improve their reading abilites. I have seen girls push themselves to read several years above their insturctional reading levels because they so wanted to know what happened to the couple in the novel they had chosen. When it came time to push my kids out of the classroom nest into indepenedent reading, the school librarian would be ready for us with a long list of high interest novels from which the students would choose. For girls who hated to read and/or thought they couldn’t read, the YA romance novels openned their eyes to a new world of personal growth possibilities, and I knew exactly how they felt. When I was a kid, I was a late bloomer in reading. I am forever grateful to Victoria Holt whose first novel caught my imgaination like nothing ever had before and led me on to Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and all of the other wonderful romance novels that came after them. It should never be forgotten that some of the classics of English language literature are also romance novels.

    Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      So true, Linda. The world turns for love and war. But many fail to see that it is always love for something that stories are told. AT least that’s the way I see it.
      I’m so glad that there are people like you out there that recognized and nurture struggling young girls through reading. There is so much power in books, broadening imaginations, giving hope, and empowering them to shine. 🙂

      Like

  3. A quick glance in the Library and Movie Room are proof enough of how flat out wrong this guy is. “Romance” is not necessarily “Boy Meets Girl” or “Happily Ever After.” Sir Gawain, Lancelot, Captain Blood, Rhett Butler, and The Saint are all considered ‘Romantic’ figures. Strip everything else away and DIE HARD and DIE HARD 2 are stories about how far a man will go to rescue the woman he loves. ‘Romance’ is in the way we live and the things we do and especially how we do them.

    Beat THAT with a stick, Jenn’s Friend…:)

    Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      You couldn’t be more right, Will. Even the bloodiest action, thriller, suspense, war, they all stem one way or other to matter of the heart. ❤

      Like

  4. I have and my response is that the research that goes into my books is just as intensive as other historical fiction, the only difference is that mine have a happy ending. I’ll tweet when I get off twitter time out.

    Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      And thanks again, Ella, for posting that video on the Hearts Through History chapter loop. It was what sparked my recollection of my conversation with my friend-who-will-not-read-romance and thus leading to this post.

      Like

  5. Sarah Andre says:

    Dude!
    That totally looks like you with the guitar! What’s your stage name?

    My latest Mocking Romance Smackdown:
    I attended a snooty-Ivy-League-School MBS 25th reunion last Oct. (ha, ha: no not mine! My husband’s. But I understand your confusion.)
    So. 25 years later. These people (mostly men) were now mega-important people. International CEO’s, inventors, real estate moguls and obviously most were now mega-billionaires. Intimidated? Hell no. My secret weapon? I am passionately happy writing romance because it’s legitimate day-dreaming. And I’m the CEO of day-dreaming, baby!

    So the first evening we all met at a ‘class party’ and I expected them to be mega-snooty. Much to my surprise they were fun, friendly and quite silly when drunk, And as usual, I stayed silent while everyone described their mega-important careers to the others. I nodded, looked impressed and my patient smile never wavered. Patient? Yeah. I prefer to go last. Because I have all 4 aces.

    They eventually (at any party) got to me. “And what do you do?” My smile widened. Strap in tight, boys.

    “I write novels,” I answered, with a wink and a seductive smile. And then waited.

    “WOW!” Pretty much the general response. They were truly impressed. And as expected, I instantly became the darling of this (or any) party because writing novels evidently is exotic, exciting, and on everyone’s bucket list. And naturally, it beats any CEO of blah-blah anywhere in the world. I win every time.

    And like all parties, the responses went in this exact sequence:

    VERY first comment: “Oh, I keep meaning to write a novel too.”
    I nodded. Of course you do.

    Second comment: “You know, my life story would make a great novel.”
    I raised my eyebrows in interest even though inwardly I snorted. Or snored.

    Third and final remark: “How cool! What do you write?”

    Aaaaand the honeymoon is over.
    “Romantic suspense,” I replied, in the same tone I’d use to say: “I’m the Queen of England.”

    Smiles froze. Eyes blinked. You can almost see the hamster wheels spinning…what to say now? But remember, they were fun, friendly and silly when drunk. And I’m a lot younger than they and their wives are, I’m the hottest-dressed chick at that party and these old dogs want to keep talking to me. So how will they respond without insulting me?

    I wait in glorious anticipation. What creative s**t will come out of these mega-CEO billionaires mouths?

    Well, the responses tumbled out in this order:
    MALE: “That is SO cool. Give me your name again. My mother reads like 80 of those trashy novels a month. She’d LOVE yours.”

    FEMALE: “OMG, I read all those bodice rippers when I was a teen. I LOVED them.”

    MALE: “What’s romantic suspense?”

    I had to laugh. Read the responses again. They were honestly still impressed with the writing part and honestly didn’t want to INSULT me and, OK, they were drunk and couldn’t access the region of their brains that housed tact. But damn! 3 back to back slaps meant as compliments. You gotta love it.

    I answered the way I always do, by asking them to name their favorite suspense movie. Then immediately pointed out the man-meets-woman-loses-woman-gets-her-back-HEA parts in the ‘suspense’. Jaws dropped.

    “Every suspense you’ve ever watched or read is a romantic suspense,” I said, still smiling like the Queen of England. And then I excused myself, because with an exit line like that who needs to stick around?

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    • jbrayweber says:

      OMG, Sarah. I’m seriously girl-crushing on you, right now. HAHA! This was great.If only your dazzling grace and witty responses could rub off on me. 😉

      Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      Oh…and my band…if I had ever put one together, Sarah, would have been The Bare Necessities. Stage name: The Blonde with the Rack. LOL!

      Like

  6. Marie says:

    I saw one definition of Romance being that it emphasizes emotion over libido.
    So, my dear Jenn your novels include a lot of emotion, It culminates into libido and you are a great writer, So you engage us emotionally and that is a good thing. Love your writing style.

    Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Marie. Your kind words truly mean a lot to me. Plus, it makes me want to smack my friend upside the back of his head and say “See!” 🙂

      Like

  7. jeff7salter says:

    After some 30 yrs. of librarianship, I can tell you that libraries circulate a LOT of books which would likely be categorized as “romances” … though that label is misleading. There are, as you know, multiple genres which appeal to (predominately) female readers … of all ages. And with good reason: statistically, women read a LOT more than men and also borrow more library books than men and furthermore BUY a lot more books than men. So it’s a no-brainer that authors would want to write — and publisher want to publish — material to meet that demand.
    Of my 7 completed novels (2 published and 1 with a contract), none are typical romance … but I believe all can or will appeal to readers who also enjoy romances (whether the straight ‘formula’ types or some of the blended genres).
    As nearly everybody who knows anything will tell you, it’s the story that counts … and the characters. Sure, some readers have very narrow limits on what they read, but most readers want an enjoyable, engrossing story!
    BTW, nice outfit on the young lady today. Ha.

    Like

    • jbrayweber says:

      You’re right, Jeff. It’s all about the story and the journey the reader is taken on. I’m willing to bet my gold doubloons that most romance naysayers have unwittingly read a romance novel they thought was something else, and liked it.

      It never ceases to amaze me when a woman scoffs at romance books. Sure, you don’t have to like the books. But there are so many genres to choose from. It seems preposterous to lump them all in one derisive heap.

      Glad you approve of the photo, Jeff. It’s me, taken about a week ago. LOL!

      Like

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