I'm here to tell you that romance is easily summed up in one word: Fabio. Oh, yes, the long, blond hair, the gleaming hunks of waxed man-cleavage shown off by a shirt that's undone but still tucked in: these are the hallmarks of romance. I'm kidding, of course. That may be the stereotypical image of romance, and most certainly of romance novels, but that's not romance itself—not by a long shot. Here's what is.
We remember being young, hanging at our grandmother's house, and seeing this brown cardboard box being passed around. The mystery box was teeming with paperback romance novels, the pages of which made thick from page turning and dog earing. She'd read her way to the bottom of the box and, then trade with friends and, with relish, begin on a new stack of inky steaminess. When we recently spotted a day-in-the-life profile about none other than Nora Roberts, one of the most successful romance novelists of all time, in The New Yorker, we were thrilled to have a glimpse into a day in the life of a real-life romance novelist.
MSNBC recently explored the idea of how boredom affects divorce and while the potential may seem scary, the solution is surprisingly easy. "Shared challenges and exciting diversions are what make relationships hot long after the wedding gown has been packed up and stored away" the article states. "Boredom and a dull, daily routine, can kill a marriage, squashing intimacy and romance."
What surprised me, a feminist, about vampire young adult novels? It was hot how both young men in the books I read were so chivalrous to their ladies. I don't just mean the "life or death" protection. The boys opened car doors, pulled out chairs and even defended their ladies' honor in front of schoolyard bullies. Both of these vampires were teenagers in different centuries and practice centuries-old gender roles. Real teenage boys? Chivalry is dead, my friends, and it can't decide who should pay for dinner.
I hear "romance novel" and a few things spring immediately to mind: Fabio, bad prose and women sitting in La-Z-Boys, smoking Virginia Slims in their housecoats. I'm not talking about soapy chick lit or emotional love tales, like those that Nicholas Sparks writes. I'm talking about the kind that use verbs like throbbing and aching and feature topless hunks on the cover. While the book business continues to falter, romance novels continue to sell. In fact, a 2004 market analysis showed that the romance genre accounted for 40 percent of all books sold that year. With this in mind, I decided it's time to stop judging these books by their covers and take a peek inside.
Vacations, in my world, are a time when rules do not apply, when you can have two scoops of ice cream for dessert every night – heck, when you can have dessert with breakfast. So in my world, I treat my brain to a vacation, too. I want ice cream for my brain. I want happy endings, laughter, sparkling plots, memorable characters, and blissfully good writing. Behold my "Guaranteed Brain Vacation Reading List" and give your brain a vacation summer with these can't miss, classic selections– books in various categories that have stood the test of time in their perfection for beachside, mountainside, poolside, or even commuting-and-wishing-for-vacation-side reading. Looking for a summer read in the category of: queen-of-good-vacation reading, eccentric-and-hilarious-family dramas, hot-blooded-men-and-warrior-women-seek-adventure-and-action novels, past-perfect-historical-romantic fiction, or better-ab-workouts-through-laughing books? Read on...!
Tango canvases the bookshelves to pull the five books that get us most steamy. Here are our selections from classic literature worth reading aloud again and again. Included inside are erotic excerpts from Little Birds by Anais Nin, A Month of Sundays by John Updike, Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence, A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.