You know that feeling when you’re reading a really good book and it’s like there’s a fist around your heart? Like your chest gets all tight and warm and you can barely breathe because of words?
Untamed by Anna Cowan had me there. The entire way through. I actually can’t even handle it. It’s like she flipped everything - every trope, every gender, every relationship. And it was a fucking beauty to behold. I feel truly privileged for having read this book. I swear to god, the next time someone bad mouths the genre, I’m going to hit them over the head with Untamed. Because it’s gorgeous. Utterly, over-the-top, darkly gorgeous.
I have never expected to fall in love with two characters who are so unlike the heroes and heroines that I usually enjoy. I like alpha heroes and bluestockings. But fuck, this has changed. Jude is heartbreaking and Kit blows my mind. They are so utterly perfect for each other but there’s this little discordance that messes it up and makes it that much more wonderful.
Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers because I need to get this out. Jude is bi. It’s not stressed in the book, and it doesn’t define him. It’s just who he is. He is charming and devastating and wicked to all people. And they fall into his hand, basking in his glow. But he’s so far from perfect. He’s damaged in a way that has made him a dick purely out of self-preservation.
Kit is the strongest heroine I have ever read. Physically, emotionally etc. She just kills it. She’s the protector and she’s the brave one. She chops wood, feeds pigs, takes care of her family. She is wild and UNTAMED and passionate and she needs Jude.
The secondary love story of Lydia and BenRuin is one that we’re more familiar with. Big burly hero from Scotland marries ice-cold vixen. But even then, it’s interesting and different and fascinating.
The casualness of the queer characters was fucking amazing. It was so positive and affirming but it didn’t revolve around that. It just was.
I’m going to review it at another time but at the moment, it’s 3am and I have work in the morning but I couldn’t not write down my thoughts. I’m just all fuzzy and warm and my head is a mess because of all the emotions. I’ll just say that the writing was fucking SPECTACULAR and I want to live it and breathe it. This book broke my heart then mended it again. Just perfect.
To the Editor:
I was dismayed to see that of the 15 authors asked to discuss writing about sex in the “Naughty Bits” roundup, none write romance novels — the genre best known for its naughty bits.
Romance holds a huge share of the consumer market, with more than $1.4 billion in sales in 2012, so the omission is surprising. The lack of romance authors is especially glaring when one considers that each week, the mass-market, e-book and combined best-seller lists compiled by The New York Times include dozens of books from this far-reaching genre: historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotic and new adult.
A romance novelist would have added a special perspective on the questions “Why is writing about sex so difficult?” and “What makes a good sex scene?” because writing about sex is a large part of what we do. And our readers — all 75 million of them — expect us to do it well.
Writing about sex is a challenge for the same reason sex is a challenge. Because it’s complicated. Because it doesn’t always make sense and it isn’t always perfect and it’s sometimes awful and it’s sometimes hilarious. But underneath all the clever wordplay, it’s about hope. Hope that someone will see us, and accept us, and perhaps — after all that — choose us. It’s the barest we will ever be. The barest a character will ever be. That’s why it’s difficult.
As for what makes a good sex scene, a romance novelist would have told you that when done well and with a skilled hand, the best sex scenes can at once arouse and empower. Sex on the page gives readers the freedom to explore their own sexuality, their own pleasures, their own identities. With hope. And without judgment.
I hope you will consider including the romance genre in your next “Sex Issue.”
The writer is the author of historical romance novels. Her next book, “No Good Duke Goes Unpunished,” will be published in November.
Read all of the letters to the editor here.
I also want to give Sarah Maclean a round of applause for succinctly expressing what romance is to readers and publishers, from a commercial and a writing perspective. This is what I try to say to people when I tell them I read romance or want to publish romance or -shock!horror!- write romance and they raise their collective eyebrows and say “What, like 50 Shades of Grey?”. Obviously there is (a lot) more to romance novels and her letter focuses on the sexy parts, but I think it’s a great start to a greater discussion (and acceptance) of romance in the literary community.
Asked by Anonymous
Oh, where do we start?!
First of all, good for you for saying stigma schtigma and still reading! We adore that you have a circle of friends to share recs with. And there’s totally no shame! Romance readers are some of the smartest and well-educated women/men we know :D
As for recs, we’d all give you different answers but here are a few faves we have in common:
Those are the main ones but if you need more recs that aren’t historical, then shoot us another ask and we’ll let you know!
Hey guys, I’m working on a few reviews in which I look at books I read and loved as a newbie romance reader. I’m 25 and I’ve been reading romance since I was 8. I’ve tracked down two books I would have read when I was 12 or 13. I’ve started reading one, it is incredibly upsetting and confronting. I’ll wait until I have the second to review them however I was wondering have you got books that you read and enjoyed but now find the books either aren’t as good as you remember or as I’m experiencing finding that they’re problematic?
Claudette in the Shadows is a romantic novella, which acts as a prequel to M.J. Hearle’s Winter’s Shadow and Winter’s Light. I found it a really interesting read and a great little taste of the world Hearle has created.
Claudette is a sixteen-year-old girl, living with her fugitive family in Amsterdam. They have been running from Victor Bonnaire and his men, the Devil’s Bane for as long as she can remember. Claudette is experiencing her first love - Simon Fontellier - and discovering the secrets her parents have kept hidden from her and her twin brother, Blake. At first, she is a little naive (which is understandable for her age) but she matures through the course of the novella, though not in the way you might expect. The dark turn of Claudette’s character arc was one of the most interesting aspects of the story.
As Claudette learns about her family and her father’s history, she is in more danger than ever. The family prepares to leave Amsterdam and settle in a new city, but Claudette rebels and goes to the Fontieller’s ball. Simon leads her into the gardens for a romantic moonlit walk and Claudette has visions of him confessing his love on bended knee, but things take a turn for the worse when some of Victor’s men arrive.
Hearle’s writing style is evocatively descriptive and easy to read. I was really intrigued by the world he has created, particularly the Krypthia and the Malfaerie. Claudette in the Shadows is a captivating paranormal novella with a gothic twist. It would suit younger readers who enjoy tales of magic and mystery, as well as historical romances.
For more info on the book as well as the author, click here.
Also - I LOVE the cover of this book! Very gothic and cool.
A copy of this book was generously provided by Momentum Books.
Close Enough to Touch is on sale for $1.99 today as the Nook Daily Find!!!!
It’s also $1.99 on Kindle! Wooooooot!!!!!
This is the first book in the Jackson series, featuring Grace, my awesomely bitchy tough-girl heroine, and Cole, the sexy Wyoming cowboy with a taste for bad girls. :-) Rawr.
I just added a new page to our tumblr - Let’s Get Critical!
As a group of - let’s face it - Romance Nerds, we love reading books and articles that critically engage with the genre we love. We’ll update the list when we read something and want to share it with our fellow romance nerds/romance scholars.
If you have any suggestions for something we should read (as in critical essay or book on romance) then let us know!
"A shudder shook him as she surrendered in his arms and he inched his throbbing shaft into her incredible warmth, uncertain how much pain he was going to cause her and desperate to lessen it. The time he had taken with her had eased his passage, and he felt her silken warmth tightly sheathing him, expanding to encase him. Twisted into knots of desire, his heart beating painfully, he eased himself into her until he finally encountered the fragile barrier."
As many of you may have heard, last Friday night, we at Orchid & Peach Cocktails gathered to host the event of the season. We threw a trivia night that put all other trivia nights to shame! It was glorious!!
But we digress, Friday was a night of fun, laughter, and penis euphemisms. The three teams that fought for the title of Grand Trivia Masters gathered at UTS to prove their mettle. Competing in four rounds, each team was challenged to answer questions based on the All About Romance Top 100 romances OF ALL TIME (with a few extras thrown in). Amongst our illustrious guests were representatives from Harlequin Australia who played under the name The Last Kiss. We also had paranormal experts from Galaxy Bookstor’s regular Thursday night book club, Misspent Youth. And finally, the night’s champions – Virgin Meatlovers with a Side of Hornypants, which consisted of librarians, PHD students, bloggers, and authors.
With a lot of social lubrication in the form of wine, the teams battled it out for book prizes and the honour of the win.
We’d like to put out a HUGE thank you to the people who supported us and came along, as well as our generous sponsors (thanks Harlequin and HarperCollins!). A special thanks to Book Thingo for letting us crash their site for promo reasons, as well as Galaxy Books who let us attack their mailing list for similar reasons, and Vertigo for the use of their fridge!
Keep an eye out for news of our next trivia event later this year!