I have been a member there (in both its incarnations) since September 2004, most of that time as a moderator. It is hard to keep a place like that afloat, for it costs money and there’s never a lot of that around. The owner of record most often has to bail us out and pay for server space, etc out of his own pocket. To encourage people to stick around and perhaps use the affiliate links, I try to create content when I can. I also re-post my reviews there, eventually (I’m a couple of months behind at present).
There are over 250 of my reviews posted there. I would say that about 99% of them are for romances of one flavor or another. In all the years I’ve been posting all those reviews, I can count with the fingers of one hand the people who have come out and said, “Oh, I read romance” or “Oh, I’ve read that one.”
The number of people who have read those reviews, though, can number in the thousands, and I’m told there are some purchases from the links therein. The stigma of being a romance reader, at least in that community, is very marked. Hence, my occasionally tweaking the members a bit.
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I’m sharing this fairly uncritically. Why I’m sharing it? Because it made me smile, and I’m feeling self indulgent. Why uncritically? Because I’m at work and don’t have the time to follow all the links and find all the evidence I’m aware of that supports these assertions.
The headline is: 7 Ways Romance Novels Actually IMPROVE Your Life.
Unpacking just some of them:
They are women-positive. How? Unless they are m/m, the main protagonist is the heroine, and she gets what she wants. Sometimes she wants to have the millionaire’s baby and stay at home tending the garden. Sometimes she wants to marry the millionaire while working twenty hours a day as a homicide detective.
They are comforting. How? They have a happy ending. Like a detective story, where we know the culprit will be named (and hopefully caught and punished), in romance the protagonists will find true love. Sometimes it will be true HEA (happily ever after) and sometimes it will be HFN (happy for now), but the happy part? Mandatory.
They are freeing. How? Like all fiction, romances invite their readers to step into lives unlike their own. Romances are written in all subgenres of fiction: dystopian post-apocalyptic worlds, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, steampunk, futuristic, suspense, military, small town, paranormal, and some I’m forgetting.
They are liberating. How? Many romance novels explore lives, desires, experiences and beliefs utterly different from our own–and sometimes we find our most secret selves reflected in them. Like any good fiction. (Hint: 50 Shades of Grey is the one that became a blockbuster, but erotic romance with all levels and types of kink have been around since the 80s if not earlier. (Yes, little grasshoppers, before digital publishing, there was erotic romance. In print.))
They are inspiring. How? Well, let’s say that many a husband/significant other has been pretty grateful for their lady’s love affair with romance novels.
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Not surprisingly, there have been no comments to the thread. The views? A few more every day.
I have learned not to expect any sort of acknowledgement if/when I manage to convince someone to open their mind, even the tiniest bit, and try some/any/one of the books I rave about. My hope is that some of the people who read and never comment will find something they enjoy, and perhaps feel a bit comforted to know that there are many of us out here, online, willing to talk about romance, happily ever afters, and good reading.