You Feeling Me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I got in a bit of a rut reading-wise recently. Nothing I picked up held my attention for long, and it wasn’t just romance, it was all genres of fiction. I turned to non-fiction, magazine articles, etc and found myself enjoying reading again.

Could be what I chose to read--books like The Outliers, Freakanomics, or things in general that were about finding balance in your life, thinking outside the box etc.

But, just because I’d taken a break from reading fiction, didn’t mean I’d stopped buying them. So it happened that one day on my way home from work I realized I’d left the non-fiction book I’d been reading in another bag. Luckily I’d purchased a romance on my lunch break, based on a recent review.

I immediately got drawn into the story, the author had a fairly engaging voice and I liked both characters. It took about 2-3 days to finish the book but I wasn’t even half-way through the story before I realized I wasn’t buying that the characters were in love.

I really love the Plain Jane wins the Handsome Prince trope, but it was not working for here. She was absolutely not his type and I didn’t not believe the attraction. That is, the author didn’t show me why this woman who was not his type would attract him regardless.

Except for the part where he was constantly lusting over her various body parts.

And it was never anything as poetic as the shape of her mouth, or her lovely eyes (I didn’t find out the color of her eyes till almost the last chapter in the book and that was through the internal pov of a secondary character). The hero’s attraction to the heroine was strictly of the T&A variety.

During the first love-scene for the first time ever I felt that she could have been any *body*, he might be grunting and humping over.

It just happened to be her particular body during that period of time. There was no emotional connection that I could see/feel. No moments of vulnerability that even the most romperlicious moving-body-parts erotic romance would have delivered.

I could see what each character would find admirable in the other, even what the other party brought to the table that they would need in their life (stability to balance out impulsiveness, etc). But, Love? Nope didn’t feel that at all.

I know I’ve seen peeps complain about this before that they didn’t believe in the HEA of a romance because they didn’t see what the H/h saw in the other party. I’ve even read a couple of those books, except I did believe the HEA because the author had rendered the complexity and range of feelings that comprise the emotion of ‘love’ so well, that even though I didn’t see the progression/growth, I still believed that it was real love the characters were feeling for each other.

Now I'm trying to think if I every read a book where the author *showed* the development of the romance, yet I still didn't quite buy into the HEA. A situation like that would probably be a combination of character and circumstance.



Yes, I do drive myself crazy. Why do you ask?
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8 comments:

Lynn Viehl said...

Yes, I do drive myself crazy. Why do you ask?

Being a hardsell isn't crazy. Of all the romances I've read -- and I've read thousands -- I can only think of a handful that convinced me the couple were actually in love by the end of the book. The rest read like variations on RWA Worksheet #9999, The 200 Reasons Unrelated to the Story for Falling in Love or whatever.

The most believable romances for me are usually not written by romance writers, though, so maybe I'm missing the RWA sympatico gene or something.

vanessa jaye said...

But Lynn, that's just it. I'm not a hardsell. If I enjoy the author's voice and like the characters, I'll usually go along for the ride regardless of plotholes, personality inconsistencies, et al.

With this story there was NO EFFORT whatsoever to show me those two characters were falling in love.

I absolutely did not believe she was his type at all, beyond the fact that she had breasts and a couple of holes he could put to good use.

As for the heroine, I could see why she'd have a crush on the hero and/or being in lust with him, but she was pragmatist. So I wasn't buying her falling in love (enough to marry).

Wow, Lynn, I'm pretty analytical, but you really are a hardsell if only a handful of stories made you believe in the HEA. :-P

The 200 Reasons Unrelated to the Story for Falling in Love or whatever.

lol.

I'll count myself lucky to have missed that workshop.

Lynn Viehl said...

With this story there was NO EFFORT whatsoever to show me those two characters were falling in love.

I just finished a historical romance this weekend (why, yes, I am a masochist.) I like this author's style, sort of -- okay, I'm wrestling with it because I think the author might improve with a little more experience. Anyway, it was a disappointing read, almost to the point of I want my money back.

The novel structure was set up to be this huge epic spanning-the-continents romance. Big, sweeping, old-school historical. Like Iris Johansen's oldies. And what I got served was a lot of description (well done), a lot of history (partially inaccurate), a truckload of complicated characterization (stodgy but okay), and a boatload of housekeeping dialogue. And maybe two paragraphs depicting the character's emotions.

Seriously. I could probably clip out the actual romance parts from the book's pages and fit them comfortably inside one of my thimbles.

It was a well-crafted story. I'm sure the author has a PhD in adjective use. But no build. No burn. No conflagration. Not even a little spark sputtering here or there. It was lifeless. It was worse than lifeless. It was the Anarctic. Penguins came to my house and wanted to borrow it, I swear.

P.S., the romantic dialogue between these two cold fish? It was like listening to my mother having a conversation. With her minister.

Wow, Lynn, I'm pretty analytical, but you really are a hardsell if only a handful of stories made you believe in the HEA. :-P

To be honest, I don't believe in HEA anymore, so I'm an impossible sell. Maybe I've lived too long, seen too many bad marriages. I'm also becoming less and less tolerant of my gender and their nonsense. All the books that convinced me of authenticity of the HEA were written long ago, so that's probably an excellent indicator that it's me, not the books.

vanessa jaye said...

I'm sure the author has a PhD in adjective use.

You crack me up. lol.


But this is sad--

"Seriously. I could probably clip out the actual romance parts from the book's pages and fit them comfortably inside one of my thimbles."

--because I don't think I could have filled even a thimble the book I've been grumbling about.


You know, that's interesting. I do believe in the HEA, but not necessarily as sold in romance novels, because those HEAs are idealized, and real life is much more messy and hurtful and random and finicky/irrational and crazy and a whole bunch of other adjectives, that fiction isn't. Fiction distills the quiet moments of joys, the awareness of being so damn lucky, and the giddy passion and condenses them into the short drama(!!) filled time span of a novel while leaving out for the most part the mundane/hum-drum everydayness, and the moments of feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, resigned, not sexual, etc. But all those other not great things are part of relationships too. ::shrug::

Lisa said...

All I can say is you definitely made "Felicity Stripped Bare" into the kind of HEA you enjoy to read. I stumbled on it by accident this morning, downloaded it to my Kindle, and just finished reading it. I couldn't put it down! It was great to read a romance where you could see the relationship develop instead of jumping into bed and "hey, we're in love now!"

Thanks for a great story. I look forward to more! I really hope you are planning one for Rob. . .

vanessa jaye said...

Wow Lisa,

You just made my morning! Thank you so much for dropping by and letting me how much you enjoyed Felicity & Daniel's story. :D

I do want to write Rob's story, I'm just waiting for the right heroine and storyline to come to me. In the meantime, I'm currently working (or re-working) a werewolf story.

Going back to another point you made, I think some authors can definitely pull off the h/H having sex early in the relationship/book. But there has to be character development, conflict, a plot (heh) and strong representation of a range of emotion, otherwise it's just a boinkfest.

VJ

Lisa said...

You are welcome! As soon as I finished reading it I went looking for more. Hopefully Rob will let you know his story sooner rather than later. :)

While I don't mind reading the occasional boinkfest, I most enjoy stories like you wrote. I like to get to know the characters and really feel their emotions and understand where they are coming from. I like to laugh and cry with them. I need to feel the relationship will last and isn't just based on lust. I felt like Daniel and Felicity really got to know one another and formed a lasting commitment. I celebrate my 25th Wedding Anniversary in November so I prefer to read HEA stories like mine that I can believe.

Thanks again for a great story!

vanessa jaye said...

Lisa, you're not the only one who's asked for Rob's story, it's defintiely something that will happen. That rascal deserves to fall in love. (yes, that did sound like a threat. lol. He'll probably see it that way).

"I don't mind reading the occasional boinkfest,"

Me neither! ;) I love a spicey romance, especially the build-up of sexual tension, but if I had to choose I'd pick plot/character/emotion over lotsa lovin' any day of the week.

Congratulatons on 25yrs. I love hearing about peeps who've weathered the storms and stay together just as committed and in love so many years later.

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