Category: Trashy Romance Novels

Jun 29

Words for Worms Rewind: Fifty Shades of Shenanigans

Rewind, Trashy Romance Novels 5

Greetings Bookworms!

I realized recently that some of my older posts somehow got dropped when I did a website migration. I’m not sure exactly how many, but there are a couple that I found particularly amusing, and thus I’m going to re-publish them. The following post was originally published in August of 2012 (one of my very first posts!) It’s about the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy. Since the latest installment of the series, Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian, was just released, it seemed timely to revisit this post. Here goes nothing.

To quote the great Dr. Evil, “I’m hip. I’m with it.” Actually, I’m no more “hip” or “with it” than Dr. Evil and his Macarena, but even I, she of the rock dwelling, have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Like many of the socially awkward, I’m more likeable in a digital format, so I spend a decent amount of time on Facebook. Whenever a bestseller comes up as a frequent topic of conversation, I like to be able to chime in with a self-satisfied “oh yes, I already read this, here is my opinion…” So I was vexed when Fifty Shades was everywhere and I hadn’t read it. I looked up the synopsis, and it didn’t sound that intriguing, but the sheer volume of readers it had made me feel left out.

fiftyshadesHeck, even my Mom was telling me all about it. Actually, she was telling me that one of her co-workers’ husbands had taken to hiding from her because Fifty Shades had turned her into a wanton woman. A little bit of background information on Fifty Shades in case you’re still under a rockIt started out as Twilight fan fiction. Fan fiction can go in all sorts of directions, from re-writing endings to writing unauthorized sequels to just taking the beloved characters you’ve grown attached to and throwing them into an alternate universe. Fifty Shades is Edward and Bella, minus the supernatural, plus the super lustful. For every instance where Twilight was wholesome (the characters didn’t sleep together until marriage at which point Bella conceives a lethal Halfling child- a cautionary tale to the teen readers I presume), Fifty Shades is, well, unwholesome. It’s erotica.

Fifty Shades didn’t invent the genre. Steamy romance novels have been around forever. My college roommate Chrissy introduced me to them. Harlequin romance novels, to be specific. It was fun to take a break from studying to read a trashy book. It was downright hilarious to read them aloud in a group after a few cocktails. Frankly, if you need smut to inspire you to read, so be it. It may not be great literature, but you’ll improve your vocabulary (creatively!) and indulge in escapism. Win-win. So, if you read Fifty Shades of Grey and you never read anything else, I applaud you! Yay for reading! You can stop reading this blog right now, because I’m about to completely trash your favorite book.

You’re still here? Okay here goes. My problem with these books (they’re a trilogy, I read the whole thing) is not the S&M element. Well, maybe a little bit. But only because Anastasia wasn’t really sure she wanted to be doing it, but did it anyway. The coersion skeeved me out, and that’s a whole OTHER ball of wax, but let’s back burner that for a second. I’m nobody’s moral authority. Nobody else’s nocturnal activities are any of my business. My biggest problem with these books is that they send the WORST POSSIBLE MESSAGE to women about their independence.

Oh did I just get political there? Yes, I did. It makes me angry. Being a recent college (or high school, or fifty_shades_of_grey_ver5grad school or whatever) graduate is terrifying. You’re officially out of the world of academia and expected to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, find gainful employment doing so, and somehow manage to support yourself in the process. People make mistakes, they learn, they grow. But you know what never happens? A gorgeous BILLIONAIRE never falls madly in love with you and buys you a publishing company to play at while he lavishes you in finery. Also, with the amount of nookie going on in these books, I frankly can’t figure out how anyone ever slept at all. And THAT is unrealistic. Because people sleep and snore and drool and fart and that’s just LIFE, okay?!

I hate the idea that the new “ideal” man is a hunk who wants to control you to the point of dictating your eating habits. And if that weren’t enough, Ana, through her love and devotion, “FIXES” Christian’s problems. Yeah, there’s a therapist involved. But really, it’s romanticized to her being all “oh let me fix your broken psyche.” Because American women don’t fixate enough on “improving” the guys in their relationships. A single episode of daytime television will show you how well THAT works out! I’m not anti-romance. But I am anti “if I just wander around being adorable someone will come along and make all my life decisions for me so I never have to think and I’ll also get to wear designer shoes every day.” (I’ll admit it, I might be a little jealous about the shoes…) Not to mention, Ana has really low self esteem and can’t figure out why this Greek God of a man wants her. You know why she can’t believe it? Because it’s ridiculous. Even the main character has trouble suspending her disbelief in light of her situation.

Don’t be stupid ladies. If you want to read these books to indulge in a little scandal and spice, then by all means, enjoy. But for the love of Pete, don’t try to glean any life lessons from them. Please. Sorry for ranting.

PS- Is anyone else concerned about how they’re going to make this into a movie? I really can’t see how it can be done without being full pornography. There’s precious little story to go along with the spanking and shenanigans.

UPDATE: Since this post is ancient in internet time, the first movie has long since been released. Did any of y’all actually see it? How did they manage to make it viewable in standard theaters?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jun 12

Pirate Booty! (The Windflower by Laura London)

Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 26

Ahoy, Bookworms!

Who’s up for a little romance on the high seas? You’re not? Well, TOO BAD! A few weeks ago, I ran across an article on NPR books discussing the re-printing of a well loved romance novel from the early 1980s called The Windflower. After that kind of review, I couldn’t NOT read this, so  I downloaded a copy for myself. I must recommend reading this digitally as the cover art is so far beyond cheesy it may as well have Fabio photo-bombing the background. Don’t be fooled by the cover, though. This book was pretty fantastic.

windflower

I make no apologies for the cheesiness of this cover. At least it isn’t Fabio.

Merry Wilding lives in Virginia with her spinster aunt in 1813. The British are still kind of ticked about the whole Revolutionary War thing and are stirring up another fuss. Merry’s patriotic heart causes her to join her brother on a little scheme to help the cause when she accidentally meets with a band of pirates. Being the charming little thing she is, Merry manages to escape the situation with no more harm to her dignity than having had her first kiss (a not so chaste one, at that!)

A few months later, however, Merry’s Aunt April decides that going back to England would be the safest option for them with conflict looming. On the eve of their departure, however, Merry is kidnapped by that very same band of pirates, with the issuer of that scandalous first kiss becomes her warden.

Devon (Mr. Kissyface) and Merry spend as much time sparring as trying to deny their attraction to each other. While the two are on the outs, Merry has a chance to meet and endear herself to the rest of the pirate crew, the jolliest lot of rapscallions ever to tipple a bottle of rum.

Readers of Outlander, take note! While there are no sci/fi elements and a great deal less political intrigue, The Windflower offers the same sort of breath-catching romance that makes Outlander readers’ hearts go pitter-pat. Sure, it’s a bit ridiculous with the pirate element, but my word, I LOVED some of those pirates. Cat and Raven and Cook?! If I were ever to sail the seven seas, I’d want those scallywags on my crew!

If you have ever enjoyed a historical romance, you simply must read The WindflowerOr walk the plank. Take your pick, you scurvy dogs!

Talk to me, Bookworms. Who’s got a favorite romance? Who is willing to admit indulging in the occasional bodice ripper? Who thinks Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was a hottie? 

 

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Sep 12

Getting Rid of Bradley (Because He Totally Sucks)

Chick Lit, Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 40

Howdy Bookworms,

Sometimes you just need a break, you know? I’ve been reading a lot of dystopias and apocalyptic fiction lately, and I decided I needed a goofy little romance. I read Jennifer Crusie’s novel Bet Me a while back, and enjoyed it so much I decided to buy a bundle o’ Jennifer Crusie on the Kindle at a bargain price! I had the set waiting for me for just such an occasion, so I decided to cleanse the old brain palate and dive in.

gettingridofbradleyThe first book in my set was Getting Rid of Bradley. Lucy, our protagonist has just gotten divorced. As in, she has JUST gotten out of the courtroom. Lucy’s obscenely wealthy sister managed to grease the wheels of justice so thoroughly that Lucy’s divorce was finalized a mere two weeks after the initial filing. I don’t know a lot about divorces, but I’m pretty sure even rich people have to wait their turn. Of course, what’s a little fudging of reality between friends?  Lucy and her sister headed to a diner for a post divorce lunch when…

A pair of cops saunter in. One is clean cut, the other dashingly rugged. The cops are hot on the trail of a white collar criminal, lying in wait in said diner thanks to an anonymous tip. While they wait for the perps to show up, Zack (Mr. Rugged) laments the fact that he’s 36 and has no desire to settle down. He’s more than a little bit moody and broody.

Lucy and her sister head out of the diner and the cops split up to follow and question them. Lucy naturally mistakes Zack for a mugger, and during their little alleyway tussle, a shot is fired. MYSTERY and DANGER now follow Lucy. Zack is predictably smitten, despite her horrendous dye job. (Women always give themselves tragic makeovers when they are trying to put a failed relationship behind them… Or they choose vodka and Chaka Khan.)

Because it’s totally normal and in line with police policy, Zack decides to bunk at Lucy’s house until they’ve figured out who the mystery shooter is. It seems that Lucy’s ex is somehow tangled up in the whole white collar criminal thing- it doesn’t help that they’ve both got “Bradley” in their names (this was funnier in The Importance of Being Earnest.) Anyhow. INSTA-LOVE ensues and the bedsheets are all a-tangle. Also there are dogs with science names. And mysteries are solved. Love conquers all. You know how it works.

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as Bet Me, but I didn’t have super high expectations. I wanted a fun little romance to take my mind off all the doom and gloom, and this book did exactly that. If you need something light with a hint of steam, this could be a good book for you.

So, Bookworms. What do you like to read when you need a palate cleanser? Any hopeless romantics out there enjoy the occasional romp through this type of novel?

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Jun 10

I'll See Your Romance Novel and Raise You a Chicken Marsala (Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie)

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 45

Woah! It’s Monday!

Ain’t that a kick in the teeth? It is for me, because I had last week off to staycation. It should come as no surprise that I spent many of my gloriously unencumbered hours devouring books. Oh yes. And visiting my nephew. He’s brand new and cuter than a son of a gun. Gratuitous Auntie photo!

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy. (Seriously. I nicknamed my nephew Squishy. It's sticking.)

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy. (Seriously. I nicknamed my nephew Squishy. It’s sticking.)

I’m not really here to write about my Squishy. I’m here to talk about a book! I’ve mentioned that I enjoy a little romance novel from time to time, right? One of my Certified Awesome compadres, Sarah of Sarah Says Read recommends Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie with a fair amount of frequency on her Top Ten Tuesday lists. Given her penchant for OutlanderI trust her taste in the romance department, so I decided to give it a shot.

Bet Me is the tale of an unlikely romance. Minerva Dobbs (who is second only to Minerva McGonagall on the list of Minervas who rock) is an actuary. She’s 33, not especially thin, and a rabid Elvis Prestley fan. One night she’s out at a bar with her girlfriends. Shortly after being dumped by her douchebag boyfriend David, she overhears David making a bet with a studly gent that he won’t be able to get the matronly Min in bed within a month.

Min may not be a fashion plate, but the girl is smart, and she’s got her pride. To spite her newly ex boyfriend, she takes Calvin (AKA the beastly dreamboat) up on his offer for dinner. Cal is successful and astonishingly good looking. Since Min knows he’s only with her to win a bet, she allows herself to let her guard down. She is honest, pithy, and has delightful taste in shoes (If you can rock a sandal with a goldfish on it? Get down with your bad self.) Calvin is not used to being so challenged by his lady loves and finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her.

betme

You guys. For a romance novel? I really liked this! I liked that it was unconventional. Yes, Minerva does get the “makeover” that’s so common in these tales. HOWEVER. Cal tells her that she dresses like she hates her body. Which is true. And I think that’s a trap a TON of curvy ladies fall into. Really, any woman who isn’t completely thrilled with her body can fall into this trap, no matter what size she wears. Confidence is what’s preached, not dieting, and that’s refreshing.

Also refreshing? This book was NOT just a series of bedroom escapades. I don’t necessarily have a problem with those sorts of books, but sometimes lingering looks and a handful of smoldering kisses are just as effective. I mean, HELLO, everyone loves Pride and Prejudice because it’s so swoony, and there’s nothing even remotely hanky panky like that goes on in Austenland. True, it is a little bit cheesy. It has some decidedly Julia Roberts movie undertones. But it’s charming enough that it makes up for the cheese factor. This would be a fabulous summer beach read! (Fair warning, you will really want chicken marsala and donuts after/during reading this. Worth it.)

So, Bookworms. Romance novels. Yay or Nay? Do you ever tread into these waters? Do you like a little romance or are you completely put off by the silliness that so often accompanies it? Do tell.

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Jun 10

I’ll See Your Romance Novel and Raise You a Chicken Marsala (Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie)

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Trashy Romance Novels 45

Woah! It’s Monday!

Ain’t that a kick in the teeth? It is for me, because I had last week off to staycation. It should come as no surprise that I spent many of my gloriously unencumbered hours devouring books. Oh yes. And visiting my nephew. He’s brand new and cuter than a son of a gun. Gratuitous Auntie photo!

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy. (Seriously. I nicknamed my nephew Squishy. It's sticking.)

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy. (Seriously. I nicknamed my nephew Squishy. It’s sticking.)

I’m not really here to write about my Squishy. I’m here to talk about a book! I’ve mentioned that I enjoy a little romance novel from time to time, right? One of my Certified Awesome compadres, Sarah of Sarah Says Read recommends Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie with a fair amount of frequency on her Top Ten Tuesday lists. Given her penchant for OutlanderI trust her taste in the romance department, so I decided to give it a shot.

Bet Me is the tale of an unlikely romance. Minerva Dobbs (who is second only to Minerva McGonagall on the list of Minervas who rock) is an actuary. She’s 33, not especially thin, and a rabid Elvis Prestley fan. One night she’s out at a bar with her girlfriends. Shortly after being dumped by her douchebag boyfriend David, she overhears David making a bet with a studly gent that he won’t be able to get the matronly Min in bed within a month.

Min may not be a fashion plate, but the girl is smart, and she’s got her pride. To spite her newly ex boyfriend, she takes Calvin (AKA the beastly dreamboat) up on his offer for dinner. Cal is successful and astonishingly good looking. Since Min knows he’s only with her to win a bet, she allows herself to let her guard down. She is honest, pithy, and has delightful taste in shoes (If you can rock a sandal with a goldfish on it? Get down with your bad self.) Calvin is not used to being so challenged by his lady loves and finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her.

betme

You guys. For a romance novel? I really liked this! I liked that it was unconventional. Yes, Minerva does get the “makeover” that’s so common in these tales. HOWEVER. Cal tells her that she dresses like she hates her body. Which is true. And I think that’s a trap a TON of curvy ladies fall into. Really, any woman who isn’t completely thrilled with her body can fall into this trap, no matter what size she wears. Confidence is what’s preached, not dieting, and that’s refreshing.

Also refreshing? This book was NOT just a series of bedroom escapades. I don’t necessarily have a problem with those sorts of books, but sometimes lingering looks and a handful of smoldering kisses are just as effective. I mean, HELLO, everyone loves Pride and Prejudice because it’s so swoony, and there’s nothing even remotely hanky panky like that goes on in Austenland. True, it is a little bit cheesy. It has some decidedly Julia Roberts movie undertones. But it’s charming enough that it makes up for the cheese factor. This would be a fabulous summer beach read! (Fair warning, you will really want chicken marsala and donuts after/during reading this. Worth it.)

So, Bookworms. Romance novels. Yay or Nay? Do you ever tread into these waters? Do you like a little romance or are you completely put off by the silliness that so often accompanies it? Do tell.

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Sep 28

Confession Friday: Craving Cheese? Harlequin Romance Novels Satisfy!

Trashy Romance Novels 19

Welcome to the confessional, Bookworms. I wanted to write about the “cheesiest” book I’d ever read, because I’m overly literal and wanted to capitalize on my use of the term “word nachos.” I’ve read more Harlequin romance novels than I care to admit. I’m going to go ahead and lump them all into the same pile ‘o cheese because really- who can differentiate?

I place the blame for this habit squarely on the shoulders of my college roommate and butter-churning-best-friend-from-a-past-life Chrissy. I distinctly remember Chrissy distracting me from studying for something or other by tossing me a cheap paperback with a picture of a redhead lounging in a bubble bath on the cover.

The covers alone are hysterical:

Yes, I actually read this one.

Over the years, Harlquins evolved to accommodate a wide range of interests- they truly have something for everyone. You like your romance rated PG? They’ve got your wholesome wait-until-the-wedding-night set. You have a thing for cowboys? Greek tycoons? Middle Eastern princes? Check, check, and check. You can count on Harlequin for two things. The first is you’re guaranteed a couple of steamy scenes (I’ve never read one that went full 50 Shades, but they vary in intensity.) Second, you can expect epic and relentless CHEESE. I’m talking full on word nacho liquid cheesy goodness. They’re so bad they’re good.

You thought I was kidding about the Sheikhs, didn’t you?

So, what can you expect as far as plot lines? Boy meets girl. Boy and girl are undeniably and impossibly attracted to each other. Boy and girl must overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to be together forever. (I read one where this guy didn’t want to get into a relationship because his doctor had told him he might have an unnamed incurable blood disorder. This was his reasoning for holding his soul mate at arm’s length. I didn’t say the scenarios were realistic.) The boy and/or girl each keep the truth of their baggage a secret and inadvertently break each other’s hearts… and their own. Of course, they eventually figure things out. And they ALWAYS live happily ever after.

They usually end with an engagement, a wedding, or a baby.

Harlequin romance novels and their ilk are literary junk food. Small doses are just fine, but reading romance novels exclusively will probably rot your brain. But you work hard! Give yourself a break from reality and indulge. You might even pick up a creative new vocabulary word! Bookworm tip- there are a number of trashy Harlequin romance novels available on the Kindle for FREE.

Anybody out there care to admit their guilty literary pleasures? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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