If you read…

27 Feb

(I originally posted this to MyMedia, where barely anyone at all admits to reading, let alone liking, romance. After a bit of thinking about it, I decided to share it over here too. No need to thank me 🙂 )

If you read romance–and by this, I mean, you have read at least six to ten romance genre books–and if you like it, you will find this both hilarious to the point of tears, and completely accurate.

If you don’t read romance, you may still find it funny and interesting, but you’ll probably miss a lot of the inside jokes.

A bit of a foreword:

Several times throughout the year, but invariably during February, a number of think pieces on the romance genre will make the rounds–from large media outlets to lesser known sites, people who do not actually read the genre will write condescendingly about it. Often, the author will make it clear that she is a fan of science fiction, or literary fiction, or action; any romance she read was only in the interest of research. Also, invariably, the books she read for the article are not, alas, actual genre romance. (No, Wuthering Heights is not genre romance. No, Rebecca is not genre romance. No, by all that’s holy, Flowers in the Attic is not genre romance. No, genre romance is not mommy porn, there’s plenty of romance without graphic sex. (Also, for those who are interested, mommy porn is just like men porn: sex that doesn’t require any emotional involvement, preferably without the tacky soundtrack) No, it’s no more a formula than any other type of genre fiction, because what matters is the journey and the character arc.)

The condescension over genre romance shows up often enough that some romance readers have grown…well, just a wee bit jaded about the whole pink heart-shaped ball of wax. Some, more generous than me, have even published some guidance for those who must, simply must write a romance think piece. (To whit: Romance Novel Think Piece for Dummies, by Jessica Tripler at BookRiot)

(Really, if you are going to snark, go big or go home.)

However, things get even better when a clueless someone writes a romance novel think piece, and another someone, who is both a life-long fan, and a successful author, in the genre, takes the premise of the think piece, and writes an actual analysis of the trope in question.

Behold, Brief Analysis of Alphahole Trope in Romantic Fiction, by Ilona Andrews.

Please note: comments on that post are closed because Ms Andrews is on deadline and thus unavailable to moderate at present; if you are so inclined, feel free to discuss here.

Also note: language in that post is rather on the adult side.

Final note: some of the books cited are in the middle of long series; if you are intrigued by the article and would like to read in the genre, but if you are also anal erm…if you must read series in order, and would rather not commit to ten or sixteen books, I’ll be happy to offer alternative titles within similar categories.

And the very last note: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not reading any genre that doesn’t spark your interest. Fans of that genre, however, would likely prefer that people who don’t read it, refrain from explaining it to them.

7 Responses to “If you read…”

  1. Jules Jones 28/02/2016 at 6:34 AM #

    Thanks for pointing at that. Funny, insightful, and also a crash course in writing the alphole hero. It made my morning. 🙂

    • azteclady 28/02/2016 at 9:03 AM #

      This comment made me very happy!

      (You are so very welcome)

  2. Frances 29/02/2016 at 7:48 AM #

    I read the post on Ilona Andrews’ website and found it very interesting. In particular the scale from Alphahole to Caretaker to Beta hero got me thinking about authors I like and I realised their heroes don’t seem to be of the Alphahole variety e.g JaniceKay Johnson ( caretaker heroes) Nora Roberts (not sure how to classify except to say very masculine ) Georgette Heyer( some Alphas, some Betas) Mary Balogh ( ditto to GH heroes). I realise I get very annoyed if the H treats the h badly or meanly or shows such little insight into his own behaviour that he wants to demean or punish the h because some woman treated him badly in the past or because he decides the h deserves to be treated badly for some imagined sin. Books where the the H is an Alphahole or the h is TSTL end up in my DNF pile because I don’t care if they get a HEA or not.
    Interestingly, if you are following the serial (Innkeeper 3: One Fell Swoop) on the Ilona Andrews site you will know that recently the main character’s sister was introduced into the story and already there is discussion in the comments about pairing her off with one of the main male characters. Ilona Andrews does such a good job of writing characters the reader cares about that already we are invested in wanting HEA s for them.

    • azteclady 29/02/2016 at 8:29 AM #

      Welcome to my humble corner of the intrawebs, Frances.

  3. Bona Caballero 05/03/2016 at 2:07 PM #

    I loved this post. You’re totally right. I remember one of those articles that included Romeo and Juliet in a list of romance novels and it is not even a novel! Why can’t they make a basic research before writing about the genre? If they are so ‘accurate’ about everything else they write…

    • azteclady 05/03/2016 at 3:03 PM #

      Ah, but the thing here is, these self-appointed, self-proclaimed experts writing these think pieces on romance, usually are aiming to an audience that already thinks romance sucks and/or know even less about the genre than the writer does; if they were writing about something else, they would have to be more careful, not only because there would be people calling them out, but because the people calling them out would be heard, and those criticisms would be considered seriously.

      When assholes condescend on romance, and romance readers and/or authors say something about it, the criticism is usually dismissed as ‘hysteria’ and nonsense. Or, even worse, there are the ‘oh please, why do you get so worked out about it? it’s only trash, after all’ comments.


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