Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Vampires "R" Us

I must admit at the beginning of this blog that I really don't 'get' the latest trend in paranormal romance and that is Vampire Romance. Oh, I've read them. In fact I probably started reading them before they became the rage. I read Interview with a Vampire long before the movie with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt came out. The first vampire romance book I read was Maggie Shayne's Twighlight Phantasies which I read when it first came out in 1993. I also read Forever and the Night by Linda Lael Miller and a few by Amanda Ashley who was also writing vampire books around that time. While I enjoyed them, I wasn't that taken with them that I was hooked on the genre.
The genre really took off I think due to the popularity of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. I watched those shows sometime but didn't really 'get' them either.
It's not that I haven't read quite a number of the current crop. I've read Christine Feehan, Susan Sizemore, Karen Harbaugh, Sherryilyn Kenyon and a few others. I just don't understand why they are in so much demand these days. So many authors are writing them. It's not that I don't like the authors. I loved Feehan's Wild Rain and Sizemore's time travels. I just don't enjoy their vampire books.
To be honest, a lot of them creep me out. Let's face it, the vampire heroes are cold and dead. I don't get the appeal of a cold, dead love interest. I was reading one of Christine Feehan's Dark books and when the hero explained to the heroine who he had just converted why they had to sleep in the ground, I thought "EEWWW. No matter how you try and spin it that's just not romantic." And the whole drinking of blood just gives me the willies. Maybe I watched Dracula with Bela Lugosi too many times when I was young.
It's not as if I don't like the paranormal. I like werewolf books. Susan Krinard has some really good ones. Rebecca York has a series of werewolf books that I like better than quite a few reviewers. And I love a good ghost love story. Lynn Kurland wrote a wonderful ghost story in Stardust of Yesterday. Christina Skye wrote some wonderful ghost stories in her Draycott Abbey series. Susan Plunkett in another "ghost" author. Susan Krinard's Body and Soul is a book that had me tearing up. Yes, I know, the hero/heroines are cold and dead in ghost stories too. But somehow it seems different.
So quite a few of the wildly popular vampire authors of today, MaryJanice Davidson, Katie MacAlister, Lynsay Sands won't be making it onto my bookshelves.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Some Like it Hot

Some like it hot in their books and I confess I am one of them. Years ago I read the bodice rippers; the books by Rosemary Rogers with Steve and Ginny, Kathleen Woodiwiss etc. Then I got away from romance for a few years and when I went back, I tried these books again and found them quite honestly, dreadful. I found the 'heros' borderline abusive to their women and in some cases they crossed the line. I didn't like the women any better. I decided then that I would stick to romance books with no sex. I read Patricia Veryan, Marion Chesney, Slyvia Thorpe and others in that would be labeld "kisses". Unfortunately or fortunately as the case may be, I read faster that those mild romance books were being written and slowly started reading books that contained mild or very tame sex scenes. And I found myself liking them; quite a bit actually. I began to to widen the box and read books with more explicit sex scenes. Books by Linda Howard and Nora Roberts. It was a completely different experience than the old boddice rippers I used to read. Both the hero and heroine were equal partners. Ther heroes weren't forcing themselves on the heroines any longer. There was love and respect now involved, something that was missing in those early books. I've now completely changed my reading habits from those first days when I returned to romance and I'm much more likely to pass on the "kisses" books and go for the "hot" or "burning" books. Maybe it's my age. I don't read the sex scenes for the titilation any more. I read them as part of a passionate relationship between two people who love each other.
The odd thing is though, often I skim rather quickly through the sex scenes. It's something I can't quite figure out about myself. If it's a well written book, the hotter the better, but I often don't really read it.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

What I have learned from Eve Dallas

Eve Dallas, for those who don't know, is the heroine from the In Death series of books by JD Robb aka Nora Roberts. She is a tough as nails police lieutenant in the New York police department in the year 2053. I first tried to read this series years ago but was very put off by her toughness and edginess. I tried this series again after seeing them widely praised in the cyber world romance book review sites.
As I persevered with the first book (Naked in Death) I began to learn something about her and myself. In the real world, this type of woman terrifies me and at the same time I admire them tremendously. Eve is strong, very strong, confident and doesn't take s&*%t from anyone. She seems to have nerves of steel and nothing seems to intimidate her. At least on the inside on the other hand, I am a mass of insecurities. I am jelly; a quivering mass of insecurities and second guesses. I'm always astonished when someone implies I am self confident. That couldn't be further from the truth.
As the series progresses we learn more about Eve's background. She was horrifically abused as a child and that abuse defines much of what she does and what she thinks. We learn that while yes, she is very confindent in her abilities as it pertains to her job, in other areas of her life; her relationship with Roarke her husband, her relationship with others, even her relationship with herself as a woman, she is riddled with insecurities.
So, if Eve Dallas, a woman with amazing strength doubts herself in areas of her life, maybe, just maybe women like her who exist in the real world as opposed to the fiction world, suffer their own share of insecurities. Maybe I have more in common that I thought with women who are sure of themselves; the ones I admire and am intimidated by at the same time.
What a releasing and freeing thought!
And as an afterthought, an overall thanks to all those who ever recommended these books. They have become my favourite books in a world of wonderful romance books

Friday, February 18, 2005

Can a Hero be too tortured?

I love a tortured hero as much as the next romance fan. But can it ever go overboard? There is an online romance discussion group I frequent. One book comes up for discussion every so often, Her Secret, His Child by Paula Detmer Riggs. The main theme of this book is date rape. Whenever it came up for discussion in the past, I didn't join in. Not having read the book, I never felt I could honestly participate. A few months ago I found this book in my TBR (to be read) and decided to read it in case it ever came up for discussion again. I barely got into the book when I realized that I wouldn't be able to finish it. Not because of the subject matter . That doesn't pertain to this post. The reason I couldn't finish it was because the author "tortured" the hero too much for me to be able to continue. He was a paraplegic, injured when he was trying to save someone's life. He had come from a very disfunctional background and I knew that when he met the heroine she was going to lay a very heavy duty guilt trip (whether he deserved it or not I will never know). But before that I knew it would be too much torture ahead to this guy for me to continue.
Another author who comes very close to this line and on occasion crosses it, is Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor. Don't get me wrong. I think she is a good author and I have most of her books, but on occasion I think she puts her hero through just a little bit too much torture for me to really enjoy the book.
So, if the Riggs book ever comes up for discussion again, I'm afraid I'm still going to have to stay out of it and be content with reading others opinions.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Why Romance??

Since this blog is about my romance reading habits, the first question one would ask is why romance? Why not mystery? Why not horror?
The main reason would be fear of the unkown. I've been an avid reader all my life. From those very first days of 'See Dick Run' - yes I'm that old - I have been hooked on reading. My first series of books I checked out of our local bookmobile were Freddy the Pig books. To this day I seem to be the only one who has read that wonderful series about Freddy the talking pig detective and all his various friends; the cat, the mice, the cow and the horse.
I've read all types of books in my life. I went through a Stephen King phase. I went through a true crime phase. I went through a biography and autobiographical phase. I even went through a sports book phase. I read Don Cherry's book. But now my choice of reading material is strictly romance. Many years ago, long before I settled on romance, I read a book called The Balloonist. Many of the details are sketchy; we are talking quite a few years ago, but the gist of the story is a young woman and small crew took a long flight in a hot air balloon over the Atlantic. Things did not go well. They ran into many difficulties and their journey was doomed. I wish I could remember exactly how it ended. It would strengthen my case, but suffice it to say, they didn't survive the journey. It was a totally unexpected ending. I even turned the book over, opened it again and checked to make sure I didn't miss some pages where they miraculously escaped. But there wasn't, and they didn't.
With that end and similar type endings in other books, I realized over time that when I closed the cover on a book, I wanted to feel better than when I first opened the book. I wanted to KNOW that there would be a happy ending. Romance books fill that need. And with all the different genres in romance today, I can still have different choices.