Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

What Sarah’s been reading, August-ish

The middle of August is the start of the school year for me, so on the one hand I’ve got way too much to do to find time for reading, but on the other, reading is a stress reliever for me, so I seem to be reading more. Or at least, sampling more and reading more shorts. All but two of these stories are m/m romance.

Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers (Avon): I’m researching the 1970s blockbuster historical romances this semester and presenting on it in November, so I should be reading a lot of these. I’m not quite halfway through this classic yet, but they’ve already had sex (not rape!) in which she came (multiple times!). I’m still waiting for the bodice ripping to start, honestly. It’s very well written, but SO much slower than novels nowadays.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Dance With Me by Heidi Cullinan (Loose Id): Brilliant but flawed m/m that I will get around to reviewing at some point because of the brilliance. Cullinan’s books are amazing because her characters are so real. Not a perfect book but utterly worth it, just the same, as are all Cullinan’s books.


Muffled Drum by Erastes (Carina): I’ll be doing a review of this soon(ish). The writing’s brilliant, the characters are wonderful — and so TSTL that I end up yelling at the book every time I open it. The entire plot of the book is dependent on not one but TWO Big Misunderstandings, the characters make stupid-ass decisions, and it’s just incredibly frustrating to read, the more so because of the otherwise amazing writing.

Goodreads | Amazon | nook | Sony | Kobo

I Just Play One on TV by A.L. Turner (Torquere): I adored this book, so want to write a review of it…and yet I’m not unconvinced it’s not fanfic with the serial numbers filed off and sold as original fic, except I don’t know the fandoms out there well enough to be able to pinpoint which one it is. Which pisses me off. I’m all for fanfic AS fanfic. But I’ve been burned before by “fake” original fic. To my mind,  if the books for sale, it should be original. And yes, I know the Shakespeare argument. I know that many many fabulous authors got their start in fanfic of many different types. I know people can and should be “inspired by” all the time. But if I want to read fanfic, I know where to go, dammit.

Goodreads | Amazon  | Kobo

Two Christmases by Anne Brooke (Dreamspinner): I was intrigued by Sunita’s short review of Brooke’s For One Night Only, so I bought that, but liked the look of this one too. And it was really good, actually. Told from first person, Danny cheated on Jake, his boyfriend of 9 months, when he was drunk at a bar. The guy he cheated with, Marty, is an ex-boyfriend and vindictive over their breakup. Jake breaks up with Danny, Danny spends a year getting his act together, and Jake and Danny get together again at the end. It’s short — 30 pages — but there’s a lot of emotion packed into the pages. So much, though, that the ending feels really rushed. I wish Brooke had spent 2-3 pages more on the end. Grade: B-.

Goodreads | Amazon

For One Night Only by Anne Brooke (Amber Allure): Short as well, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as Sunita did. Very emotionally powerful, I’ll absolutely admit, but the first sex scene with Andrew was horrible, knowing that he would commit suicide that evening. And then why did Jake get to pull apart Langley’s painful romantic background as his own “penance” for Andrew’s death. Creeped me the fuck out. Grade: C- for me.

Goodreads | Amazon

Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell (Samhain): December release. You guys, it’s SO fucking brilliant, I just can’t tell you. Review on release.

Goodreads | Amazon

Seducing Miss Dunaway by Kate Rothwell (Smashwords): Self-pubbed short. Great writing, some plot holes that made me go WTF, but great sex and fun characters. I’m enjoying this a lot. And NOT a m/m romance! :)

Goodreads | AmazonKobo

Secret Service by Kim Dare (Total-e-Bound): I’m on a Kim Dare kick and have an epic post planned, but this is a stand alone short about a service sub who just wants to serve anyone because his boyfriend refuses to contemplate any BDSM in their relationship at all. The boyfriend’s refusal comes from a bad BDSM experience, but of course he’s a brilliant dom who is finally convinced to turn their relationship into a power exchange. It was a fun little story, showing who actually has the power in a BDSM relationship. Grade: B

Goodreads | Amazon | nook |  Kobo

Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz (Noble): I don’t even know where to start with this story. It’s set in an Alternate Universe of contemporary society that has slavery. It’s not racially-based slavery; it’s just that there’s modern society…with slaves. And no one questions that. While the main character Daniel questions some things he’s told to do, he never questions that he should be punished for not doing them. I sometimes enjoy stories set in slave universes, but that’s when they’re obviously fantasies, and I still prefer for there to be some indication that the narrative disapproves of the slavery. This book was, honestly, an excuse for non-consensual torture porn — Daniel is viciously beaten and gang raped as punishment, two scenes which comprise the bulk of the narrative — with the implicit narrative understanding that readers are supposed to see that this is acceptable and can be overcome emotionally by a caring sexual partner (who was stupid enough in the first place to send you to be gang-raped because he didn’t seem to understand how his own damn world worked). I just…gah. The thing about this book, though, is that the writing itself is incredibly compelling. Brilliant author; awful terrible world-building. Grade: F

Goodreads | Amazon | nook | Sony | Kobo

Master Class by Rachel Haimowitz (Riptide): ARC of one of Riptide Publishing‘s first books. Heavy-SM BDSM romance with deep emotional component. I needed something to wash the foul taste of Anchored away. As I said, Haimowitz’s writing is brilliant and when focused on consensual BDSM, it’s incredibly erotic. Will review upon release in November.

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Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.


  1. Jayne
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:21:39

    Sarah, what other “1970s blockbuster historical romances” are you reading/presenting?

  2. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:26:49

    @Jayne: The first novel or two of the original Avon ladies: Woodiwiss, Rogers, Shirley Busbee, Johanna Lindsay, Laurie McBain, Bertrice Small (and two more?). Most of the very first books were written in isolation from each other, all around 1970 or so, and were strikingly similar. That’s fascinating to me.

  3. Chicklet
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:28:29

    I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the film/TV-based fandoms these days, so if it seems like the characters from I Just Play One on TV are based on film/TV characters, I might be able to tell which fandom they came from before their serial numbers were filed off. :-) My email address is chicklet_girl713(at)yahoo(dot)com if you want to handle it that way.

  4. jayhjay
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:37:21

    Oh, I am so jealous you got a sneak peek at Bad Boyfriend! I loved Eli in Bad Company, can’t wait for this to come out!

  5. Grue
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:48:34

    Based on the plot description alone, I Just Play One on TV sounds like “real person fic” for a tv show I watch. This trope is so common in this show’s fandom that a couple of episodes have featured unsubtle shoutouts to the crazies.

    I’ve read a couple ebooks in the last year that turned out to be fanfic. In one case, discovering the origin of the fic ruined my experience of the book–once I realized that the two main characters were AU stand-ins for a certain werewolf and a certain vampire, no amount of good writing could make up for my distaste for the source material.

  6. Sirius
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:52:19

    I so agree on Anchored, even when I read it for the first time, I found stuff to like, but so many things that you noted just went me go GAH? And I found the world building to be annoyingly nonexistent actually and Carl the idiot of all idiots. But yeah what you said.

    I absolutely loved Dance with me by Heidi Cullinan. Kim Dare I tried once with Duck. Found that she does great sex scenes and cannot do nothing else with her characters, except to show the sexual aspect of their personalities and never picked up another book by her again and not planning too.

    Muffled Drum was pretty high on my TBR but now I am scared, I hate Big Misunderstanding as plot driving device.

    Love Anne Brooke’s books and really enjoyed For one night only.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:55:39

    I think it is interesting that the author of Anchored was able to write a book you absolutely hated and one that you liked a lot. What was the difference?

  8. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:55:58

    @Grue A friend of mine said that it was Supernatural fic.

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:57:21

    @Jane: The one was non-consensual torture with no pleasure for the slave and crappy world-building. The other was intense but consensual BDSM, in non-AU contemporary world, with an emphasis on the SM, which is rare in romance.

  10. Jayne
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 10:58:29

    @Sarah Frantz: Could it be the editor(s) at Avon were looking for a similar style in historicals and thus picked these authors’ manuscripts?

  11. Jia
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 11:12:00

    Haha, I already told you which fandom I thought I Just Play One on TV was from, and I’m pretty sure @Grue is talking about the same one.

  12. jmc
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 11:27:45

    Am jealous that you’ve already read Bad Boyfriend! Am impatient for its release.

  13. Sunita
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 11:56:06

    Sorry the Anne Brooke I liked didn’t work for you but I’m glad another of hers did, she’s a good author who seems to fly under the radar.

    I read Anchored and simply do not get the five-star reviews for it on Goodreads and Amazon. I realize tastes vary, but there is no worldbuilding, and no hint, let alone an explanation, of why slavery (and only in the US?). The characters are one-dimensional and I’m at a loss to understand how the violence is supposed to be erotic. I’ve read compelling erotic non-con, so it’s not that I don’t think it exists; I know it does. This is not it.

  14. DS
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 12:01:55

    @Jayne: I would not be surprised if you were correct. Woodiwiss was the first one I think her book came in over the transom. Avon also bought the paperback rights to some older historical novels with some romance, or at least republished them, with similar covers. That was how I found Roberta Gellis. Bookstores were quite confusing for a while with racks of books with similar covers by all of the major PBO publishers.

    @Jane: I think your friend is right.

  15. Sirius
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 12:06:06

    @Sunita: OMG, yes exactly. When I was reading Anchored, the most distracting thought I had was please explain how the slavery came to be in what appears to be our world? It is not like it was an AU reality in a sense that it is a different world. I mean I know that technically any reality which is somewhat different from our world is considered AU reality, but you know what I mean? It was incredibly distracting. I did not get a sense that violence in this one was supposed to be erotic, just horrifying actually, but thats how I felt. And Carl’s reactions made zero sense to me no matter from which angle you look at them. I hope she will make his character more consistent in the sequel, which I still will be buying because I want a happy ending for Danny, but a lot of things annoyed me in this one.

  16. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 12:12:47

    @DS Said friend is Jia. LOL

  17. kate r
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 12:51:07

    I have a copy of Bad Boyfriend too. While I was paying off my expensive RWA bills last month I thought hey, but at least I got a copy of a KA Mitchell early.

  18. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:23:45

    @Jayne: Yes, absolutely. But Woodiwiss was SUCH an outlier. Except…she wasn’t. And the others wrote their first stories before they’d read Woodiwiss, so they all created separately very similar texts. When Woodiwiss was then published, sure, they all sent their manuscripts to Avon because they knew they’d have an audience. But it all initially happened independently.

  19. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:27:10

    @Sarah Frantz: I still have my first edition copies of McBain, Busbee, Rogers, etc. from the 70s, but for someone who had been reading historical romance for at least 10 years before that, they were not really all that new in terms of story material. More sex than Yerby or Schoonover, but not so much difference in story. And I’m speaking as a reader who started writing (bad, very bad) adult fiction at age 11.

    There was much precedence for TFATF, everything from Dumas and Hugo to Sabatini to Elswyth Thane to Phyllis Whitney to Norah Lofts to Jan Cox Speas to Noel Gerson to Anya Seton to Kathleen Winsor to Grace Metalious. The “bodice rippers” written in the late 1960s and early 1970s were not created out of whole cloth; they had a natural genesis from a long, long line of romances that the authors had read.

    I read them; I still have most of them, in inexpensive “Dollar Book Club” editions like the ones my dad had. Kasey Michaels read them. Rebecca Brandewyne read them.

    What Nancy Coffey and Avon did was to put the books out in inexpensive paper editions that could be bought at the grocery or drug store and carried around in a purse or pocket by women who were more and more entering the workforce, had financial independence and time to read, and were less afraid of sexuality than their mothers and older sisters, due to cultural changes.

    It really irritates me when people suggest Woodiwiss or McBain or Rogers or Busbee started something new. They didn’t. They continued and refined a marvelous and wonderful tradition, and I for one am damn fucking glad they did.

  20. A. L. Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:30:49

    Since your blog is named “Dear Author” I thought that was sort of an invitation for me to respond (yes, I’m Google-tracking myself, it’s my first book…)

    While I am certainly the author of plenty of fanfic, and I have no objection to fanfiction, I Just Play One On TV is absolutely not based on any real actors or any real shows. In fact, I had a great deal of fun creating the composite show that Vince and Alex act on, and coming up with the characters themselves. It did, very early on, come from the frustration of being unable to tell the story I wanted to tell in an RPS fanfiction universe, but I would never simply file the serial numbers off a fanfiction story and try to pass it off as original.

    And for the record, I have hardly ever even watched Supernatural, sorry guys!

  21. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:32:07

    @Linda Hilton: Okay, yes, the packaging was new. The way the publishers thought about these books was new.

    I do not know the prehistory you speak of here very well (or, indeed, at all). Was there sex in Woodiwiss’ predecessors? Because it has been said that the explicit, open door sex was the other thing besides the packaging that was new.

    Thanks for your knowledge! I appreciate it.

  22. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:32:59

    @Linda Hilton:

    Thank you for that. A thousand times, thank you.

  23. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:33:56

    @A. L. Turner: Good to know! I will review accordingly. :) (Loved it, btw. LOVED loved loved.)

  24. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:34:43

    @A. L. Turner so your story is based on a frustration of not being able to tell the story you wanted of RPS but it is not based on RPS fanfic?

  25. A. L. Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:35:15

    @Sarah Frantz: Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  26. A. L. Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:36:55

    @Jane: I needed my own characters and my own world to tell the story I wanted to tell the way I wanted to tell it.

  27. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:39:45

    @A. L. Turner All I am saying is that your comment (which isn’t very clear) mentions that you wanted to tell the fan fiction story that you wanted to tell. Moving outside the canon doesn’t make your story NOT based on the lives of two real people, it just takes it outside the canon.

  28. Tripoli
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:40:07

    I picked up Seducing Miss Dunaway after seeing it tweeted or blogged about somewhere, and for 99 cents, I thought it was a really charming little historical. Glad to see another good quality self-published story out there.

  29. A. L. Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:45:19

    @Jane: The seed of the idea was the question “What is it like to be a gay actor playing a subtextually gay character? What if the attraction was also there in real life? What might happen in this situation?”

    It was a general idea that had nothing to do with the particular actors in question, and the resulting characters are completely my own creation (of course, there’s a whole debate to get into about how much RPS resembles the “real” actors anyway, but in this case, I was not even trying to imitate existing actors).

    Does that make sense? :)

  30. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 13:48:59

    @A. L. Turner But you clearly must read FF as you use the term “RPS” which is something only fan ficcers would really know as the regular reader would have no idea what RPS is (or how it relates to fan fiction).

  31. Sunita
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 14:04:40

    @Linda Hilton: I wrote about this a while ago here at Dear Author, focusing on the changes in publishing and print technology:

  32. A. L. Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 14:09:13

    @Jane: I never said I don’t read or write fanfic. I do! :)

    But in the case of my book, the characters and the situation are completely original; they are not based on any real people or television shows–except to the extent that all fictional characters and situations are based on real life people and circumstances (for example, Prianka was drawn in part from a friend of mine from high school, and the television show they act on is a playful composite of a variety of fan-favorite shows, from X-files to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even, yes, a bit of Supernatural).

  33. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 14:13:52

    (for example, Prianka was drawn in part from a friend of mine from high school, and the television show they act on is a playful composite of a variety of fan-favorite shows, from X-files to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even, yes, a bit of Supernatural).

    @A. L. Turner But you almost never watch Supernatural, right? ;}

  34. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 14:15:56

    @Sarah Frantz: Personally, I don’t think anyone can really understand the Woodiwiss/Rogers/McBain/etc phenomenon of the early 70s without a grounding in the literary background. For example, the way Edison Marshall wrote a globe-trotting adventure from the pov of the female hero in The Infinite Woman (1950). Or any of Shellabarger’s strong and independent heroines.

    It wasn’t so much that explicit sex was featured in TFATF as some kind of groundbreaker; there had been hints of it in the earlier books. Moll Coppinger rouged her nipples in Leslie Turner White’s Lord Johnnie published in 1949. (For reference see one of the HaBO threads from the past weekend over on SBTB.) But explicit sex hadn’t been prominent in any genre (except maybe male porn) before; again, that was more a product of the culture of the late 1960s — Hair debuted to shock everyone in 1967 — and into the 70s, when graphic sex began to permeate all of popular culture, not just historical romance novels.

  35. A. L. Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 14:46:24

    @Jane: I feel like I’m being attacked, and I’m not sure I understand why.

    I don’t know if we are having a difference of opinions about how we are defining “fanfiction with the serial numbers filed off” or what, but to me, a story that is about completely original characters in a completely original world is not fanfiction, even if the inspiration for the idea behind the story may have come during musings about real actors on a real television show.

    Which I have never denied that it did. Though I will deny that it was Supernatural, because it wasn’t. :)

    As a writer of slash fanfiction, and a queer person myself, I am urgently interested in the presentation of gay characters on television, and in the way Hollywood treats gay actors, and I wanted to tell a story about that. I wanted it to be my own story, about my own characters, and so I created people and a world that would suit the tale.

  36. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 15:04:14

    @Sunita: Oh, Sunita, there went 30 minutes of wonderfully spent time, as I checked out your thread and the one you linked to at ReadReactReview. Good stuff!

    One thing I’d have to disagree with some posters on is that the level of emotional involvement between reader and character changed with Woodiwiss & Co. I don’t think I’ve ever read any other novel that pulled me into the character’s thoughts and feelings and desires and fears the way Yerby’s The Saracen Blade did. And I won’t ever forget Peter Blood’s tears as the Arabella goes down, or Lola’s description of Jeffrey’s laughter at the end of The Infinite Woman. The Count of Monte Cristo was all about emotions — love,jealousy, revenge.

    In many ways I think some of the earlier romances reached far deeper into the characters’ emotions than do the current crop because for one thing they explored a greater range.

    But again, that’s just me.

  37. Robin/Janet
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 15:18:52

    @Linda Hilton: It really irritates me when people suggest Woodiwiss or McBain or Rogers or Busbee started something new. They didn’t.

    THANK YOU!!!!! I do not understand WHY the perception so stubbornly persists that Woodiwiss et al “invented” genre Romance, but OMG it frustrates the holy living hell out of me.

  38. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 15:59:54

    @Robin/Janet: When I finally acquired a copy of Pamela Regis’ A Natural History of the Romance Novel a few months ago, the first thing I did was hit the index, which is what I usually do with non-fiction. No mention of Dumas, no mention of Hugo. No Yerby, no Sabatini, no Holt, no Cartland. Mitchell and DuMaurier only as authors of not-quite-a-romance, even though those authors’ works had ENORMOUS impact on the authors of the romance novels that were published circa 1972 and Woodwiss. I felt as if Regis had given the books some kind of autonomy, as if they’d written themselves without benefit of human authors who had read all kinds of books that influenced them.

    I thought back to the books I’d read as a pre-teen and teenager, when I was starting to write those bad, very bad romantic novels. H. Rider Haggard. Jules Verne. Thomas B. Costain. Was what I wrote really any different from, say, today’s online fanfic if I imagined Forever Amber with an HEA? What Woodiwiss and McBain and Rogers were doing, wasn’t it just removing the guilt and saying, hey, it’s okay for the girls to have adventures and excitement and good sex AND get the guy at the end? But even the HEA wasn’t new — many of those earlier authors, male as well as female, had given the characters a guilt-free HEA.

  39. riga
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:05:28

    Wow. Posting a (mini)review that includes implications that a story might have started out as fanfiction based on nothing more than a hunch, and then encouraging friends and readers to try to sniff out what fandom it may have come from (or at least doing nothing to discourage them.) Keeping it classy here today.

    I don’t begrudge anyone for feeling upset about having paid good money for books, only to find out it was fanfiction with the serial numbers filed off, but hello, there are a lot of tropes common to fanfiction that are also common to romance novels because, hello, fanfiction writers borrowed liberally from romance novels to start with. Of course there are going to be similarities.

    How about a little presumption of innocence to start out with? Might be nice, and might avoid a few potential witch hunts which seem to be brewing amongst the denizens of romance bloglandia these days.

  40. Jane
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:13:34

    @riga Thanks for the encouragement!

  41. Robin/Janet
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:20:30

    @Linda Hilton: Regis’s book definitely makes some important contributions to the study of genre Romance, but I would NOT really call it a history. I also have a (okay, kind of large) quibble with her insistence that Pamela kicked off the genre, although I’m glad she touched on books like Hull’s The Sheik, which Violet Winspear practically light-box traces in Blue Jasmine many decades later, and which had such a profound influence on the development of the sheikh Romance (and other subgenres, IMO).

    I personally don’t think you can study genre Romance without 19th C novels of sentiment and sensation (IIRC, Regis discussed some of these works), and I personally would reach even further back to the Indian captivity narratives and other 17th and 18th C texts. But even within the 20th C, I’d love to see a really comprehensive evolutionary study of the genre, as its roots are obviously pretty deep and wide.

  42. jmc
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:32:44

    @kate r: It’s not nice to gloat like that, Kate :P

  43. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:46:37

    @Robin/Janet: Exactly.

    When I proposed my undergrad honors thesis in 2000 on romance novels, I was told it had to be at least 25-30 pages in length. My advisor said that if I couldn’t come up with that much, I’d have to select a different topic, and she offered some alternate subjects. I turned in 85 pages of text and told Dr. S**** I’d barely scratched the surface. When she and I scheduled my “defense” with my other two readers, she originally believed one hour would be sufficient; it lasted three hours, because I had presented so much information that not one of the three of them had ever heard of, considered, imagined. At one time I had a noted print publisher interested in a full-length version of it, but life intervened and it never got written. Besides, I’m not an academic.

    But yes, definitely, the family tree of the romance novel as we know it today has many, many roots.

  44. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:53:36

    @Linda Hilton:

    Linda, I’d be interested in a book like that. *strong hint*

  45. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 17:06:55

    @Moriah Jovan:

    Aw. . . . .

    I’m sittin’ here, shakin’ my head with a rueful smile and a blush, lookin’ at the still-growing collection of reference books: George Dekker’s The American Historical Romance is one of the more recent acquisitions. It’s a subject I’m absolutely fascinated by.

    Half Heaven, Half Heartache:
    Discovering the Transformative Potential in Women’s Popular Fiction
    by Linda Ann Wheeler Hilton

    An Honors Thesis Presented in Partial Fulfillment
    of Honors College Graduation Requirements
    Women’s Studies

    Arizona State University West
    May 2000

    Ya think? Maybe?

  46. MaryK
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 17:07:32

    @Moriah Jovan: I thought the same thing when I read @Robin/Janet‘s comment. I’d buy that book.

  47. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 18:01:27

    @Linda Hilton:

    Ya think? Maybe?

    I can throw in a *stink eye* and a *foot tapping* if you want…

  48. Linda Hilton
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 18:13:50

    @Moriah Jovan:


    I read through the first couple of pages, and some of it is quite dated, but yeah, maybe it’s a foundation to build on.

    Because my degree was in Women’s Studies, I focused on that particular aspect in writing the thesis. But iirc what got the discussion going at the defense was the history of the genre. I have my bound copy handy, but what I need to dig out of the files are the three copies from the three profs, because they had some incredible comments. They had no idea there was any difference between a romance novel and a tv soap opera. They thought all romance novels were Harlequins, short contemporary versions of Jane Eyre with a virginal (usually poor) heroine and a brooding, rich, older hero. They didn’t have a fucking clue. (Then there was the fist-fight that almost erupted at the defense of my master’s thesis, but that’s a whole ‘nother tale!)

    Later this evening I’ll post the first few paragraphs of HH,HH over at my blog with some commentary on how I see it from the perspective of eleven years out, but just as I’ve gone back to actually writing romance novels after this grand hiatus, maybe it’s time to revisit a few other passions.

    Thank you so very much, all of you.

  49. Janine
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 19:44:53

    I remember reading Sweet Savage Love when I was fourteen or fifteen. There is some bodice ripping in it but not nearly as much as in some of Rogers’ later books. Wicked Loving Lies for example! Or The Insiders. I read her books with horrified fascination as a teen. I think the one I liked best was Love Play, which (to paraphrase something a friend said) is like a Harlequin Presents on steroids.

  50. Christine M.
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 20:15:43

    @A. L. Turner:

    Just my two cents here but FF with serial numbers off for me implies that an actual fanfic (RPS or FPS for that matter, it doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things) was edited (change the protags’ names, the location and the likes) and pushed as a new novel. Say, if Cassie Claire (aka Cassandra Clare) had edited her Draco Trilogy and passed it off as original fiction (For that matter, her Mortal Instruments trilogy isn’t 100% pure orignial fiction; it first appeared on the interWebs as fanfic before she got her publishing contract). It’s not original fiction because the story is a second take on a story.

    On the other hand, an idea that was never before written by an author, even if at first it sprung from a concept/idea that could apply to a fandom, isn’t a fanfic so long as the idea/concept wasn’t put into words in the said universe/fandom, with recognisable characters, etc. /two cents

    I hope this makes sense. :)

  51. Christine M.
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 20:16:47

    @Christine M.: Gah, should have been directed at both you and @Jane. My bad!

  52. anon
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 20:58:41

    Where do you draw the line? Say the author has written fan fic; then, later on, the author doesn’t edit that fan fic, but writes a story from scratch with new characters and plotlines & with no scenes lifted from the old fan fic, but some of the ideas from the fan fic (ideas the author came up with, not ideas taken from episodes of the tv program the fic was based on) incorporated in new ways–is that still just edited fan fic, to your mind?

  53. Christine M.
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 21:28:44

    @anon: Of course it’s not fanfiction! So because I once wrote a fanfic about a couple who was breaking up I could never write an original story with the same theme? Puh-leeze. With that sort of thinking, many, many authors (of romance, UF, Historicals, PN, fantasy, thrillers and many other genres) would have never published more than 2 or 3 books because they would be writing fanfiction of themselves. Stephen King? LK Hamilton? Anne Rice? Helen Fielding? They are/were (IMO that is) great authors but they’re not reinventing the wheel in each book.

  54. Kaetrin
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 05:41:24

    Um, what is “RPS” please?

  55. Kaetrin
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 05:47:02

    Also, what is “FPS”?

  56. Christine M.
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 06:43:22

    FPS -> Fiction Person Slash
    RPS -> Real Person Slash
    Slash fiction -> Genre of fan fiction dealing with same-sex relationships or sexual encounters (basically, m/m or f/f fanfic, originally dates back to the 1970s)

  57. Kaetrin
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 17:35:24

    @ Christine M. Thx! :)

  58. Corina
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 21:33:43

    @A. L. Turner: I bought your book based on this mini review of Sarah’s and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’m totally intrigued by the premise and the sample I read was great.

  59. Anony Miss
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 22:11:09

    I also am intrigued by “I Just Play One on TV.” I wanted to ask, is it a full-length novel? For +$5 I want to be getting more than 20K words, and I never can figure out how many pages X number of KB translates into.

  60. Sarah Frantz
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 22:29:38

    @Anony Miss: Yes, definitely full length. Category length, but still, a full story.

  61. Anony Miss
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 12:03:43

    @Sarah Frantz: Thank you!

  62. etv13
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 03:48:56

    Re Anchored, I liked Daniel a lot and wished him well, but I can’t quite settle on what I think is the right word for Carl: “jerk” seems a little strong, given his consideration for Jane and Dave, but “dork” is too weak, given his complete failure to understand anything at all about Daniel. It’s not just that he doesn’t understand how his world works, although he certainly, and unconscionably, in my view, doesn’t. It’s his failure to see that Daniel is scared to death; to even attempt to understand Daniel’s life history; to grasp that you can’t just see someone you’re attracted to and buy them and expect them to be attracted to you in return. He’s just completely and inexcusably clueless.

    And I say this as someone who likes the Thom Lane Amaranth books, although I kept thinking, especialy during the third one, that what that society needed was someone to found a new religion. And I’m an atheist.

  63. etv13
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 04:39:36

    Re the development of the genre, I too was reading in the late sixties/early seventies, and before I read The Flame and the Flower I’d read a whole bunch of Victoria Holt, Barbara Cartland, Mary Stewart, and at least a couple of Heyers. I also read Frances Parkinson-Keyes and the Angelique books, as well as The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Prisoner of Zenda, and I was aware that Dorothy Dunnett was out there. (I didn’t know then about Wilkie Collins, but surely he comes into play, too. No-Name has a terrific heroine, and its last couple of paragraphs are simultaneously incredibly sappy and wonderfully romantic.)

    I think the descent of regencies is a heritage of its own, with Austen and Heyer and Clare Darcy and Catherine Fellowes and (some) Sylvia Thorpe and Joan Smith and Joan Aiken Hodge in that lineage.

    And has anybody looked into the relationship between the growing sexual explicitness in other genres (e.g., D.H. Lawrence, Philip Roth, Sidney Sheldon) and romance novels? What about movies and plays? Surely everything from Shakespeare to Rodgers and Hammerstein has some relationship to the development of genre romance. I saw the revival of South Pacific last summer and was very struck by how romance-novely it is, not just in the relationship between the main characters but in Emile’s back-story and the depiction of the military mission he and the lieutenant go out on.

  64. Maili
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 12:50:56

    @Linda Hilton:

    It really irritates me when people suggest Woodiwiss or McBain or Rogers or Busbee started something new. They didn’t.

    Amen! I know I’m predictable, but I always feel a tad happy each time someone says that. Like I say somewhere (I talked about it so often that I can’t remember where I rambled), Woodiwiss’s novel was the first to be heavily marketed as “a Romance novel for women by women in original paperback” by a mainstream U.S. publisher, but I still reject the current claim that that novel pretty much invented the genre (modern or not). It makes much more sense if Woodiwiss’s book was the first, for Avon, to open up a specific market to romance-centric writers for Avon.

    Before Avon, similar romance novels were published and categorised as historical fiction, family sagas, and “epic novels”. Think railroad tycoons, Mississippi steamboat melodrama, southern plantations, etc. (And yes, some of those featured sex.) I feel those are the missing link in the U.S. Romance genre’s family tree.

    I would like to say that as a film geek, I believe cinema has a huge role in the development of the Romance genre. Many origins in romance novels can be traced to films and vice versa. But I digress.

  65. Anon
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 06:04:06

    I was curious about I Just Play one on TV, I am reading it right now. And it´s interesting, i love the setting, but I got a problem with the fanfic thing. It´s not that it reads like fanfic exactly or RPS reworked (not exactly, though admit not read much of fanfic and never RPS), it´s because its plot seems like a fanficcer´s wishfulfillment dream – can not give examples without it being spoilers. Urgh. Not finished it yet, but it is becoming a real problem – not that it is fanfic, but that it seems like a fanfic dream.

  66. Anony Miss
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 15:49:47

    @Sarah Frantz: Do you think you’ll write that review of “I Just Play One on TV”? I was kind of holding off on buying it until I could read the full review…

  67. Sarah Frantz
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 16:49:59

    @Anony Miss: Yes, I will write one soon, promise. Sorry for the delay.

  68. What Sarah was Reading in September - Dear Author
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 12:23:27

    […] It was super-intense and really heavy BDSM, but very well done. Review on release. Apparently I talked about this one last month. I’ve skimmed it since then too which is why it’s on this month’s list too. […]

  69. REVIEW: I Just Play One on TV by A.L. Turner - Dear Author
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 18:45:43

    […] read your book back in August and loved it, but it’s taken me a while to get back to it for review. Reading it a second […]

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