Yesterday I celebrated three years as a book blogger. It has been a wonderful three years and I love this community and I wanted to celebrate the community this week by asking five of my fellow bloggers to write guest posts to help me celebrate. I purposely asked these bloggers to write posts that reflected them and their blogs so that each post was unique and stood out on it’s own merit, and I think they have each done a fabulous job.
At the end of the post you will find a giveaway, this is my thank you to everybody who has been by my side through the past three years, whether you were there from the beginning or are a newer reader I appreciate your support.
Liz is my blogger soulmate, a fellow metalhead, she also reads fantasy and romance…well as you’ll see below she’s kind of struggling with the romance side of things. What she didn’t know when she wrote this is that I went through this exact same problem right up until I started this blog. I went about a decade not reading any romance, and then I was invited on my first ever blog tour and the excitement of being part of something like that helped me overcome my issues, especially when I read the book and it was everything I had always wanted from a romance and hadn’t been able to find before, that now helps me choose the books I read.
On again, Off again with Romance.
As you all may know by now, BrizzleLass is celebrating her blog birthday by giving centre stage to guest bloggers and it’s a great honour to be included to join the celebration on this important and happy occasion. My congratulations, Claire, and many happy returns! ;)I do hope you will not regret the decision to include me 😀
BrizzleLass, like many other bloggers, is a true advocate of books. Great involvement in blog tours, unfaltering stream of reviews and discussion posts, great engagement with bloggers and authors alike- if ever there was a goal for me to reach towards as a book blogger, this is it. But me? Heh, I have big dreams with poor execution and I am very good at making excuses.
It took me a long time to decide on the content of this guest post for Claire’s blog birthday feature, and I went from one idea to the next, and to the next again. Until I decided to share with you my personal journey through romance genre.
Please do not take this post all too seriously- it’s just one experience- mine- with the genre and mostly a tongue-in-cheek take on it all with no intention at all to discount authors’ hard work of writing a book.(For full disclosure, think romance genre in the most generic sense: erotica, historical romance, YA, NA, etc)
So, why romance? Claire often reviews the juicier books and as I read her reviews, I find myself thinking- oh, this sounds fun/emotional/exciting and yet I am hesitant to follow through on picking up the book… My relationship with the genre is chaotic at best and I do believe there is something quite not right with me because I simply cannot find that romance book to make me go- yes, yes to this! The phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me!” springs to my mind. I wanted to take this opportunity and explore why things have gone wrong for me, especially as my desire to get back on the romance bandwagon seems to be picking up speed again.
Some of you folks may know that I don’t read romance often, erotica even less. There are a few titles that pop in now and again, true. What you may not know is that I used to devour this genre. I’m talking a book a day non-stop! ‘Vanilla’ romance, BDSM, erotica, billionaire boyfriends, first loves finding each other again after decades spent apart, the lot. The reason I stopped reading this genre is probably the same reason I stopped eating raisins- over indulgence!
Let’s take it back to the beginning…
At the fun age of 19, I had the pleasure of sharing a house with 8 total strangers. We became friends… well, most of us. There was this one gentleman who was a bit too much for us all. He called himself a naturist which apparently gave him the rights to walk around the house balls-naked at any given hour. There were plenty of morning coffees being choked on, no lie. He was also an avid advocate for BDSM. The endless invitations I got from him to join the club were, frankly, traumatic for various reasons I won’t go into now.
As my paths with everyone in that house separated, the whole episode with this gentleman stuck to my head. Like, what the what and who even!? How scandalous! And I knew jack-all about BDSM. But what better way to get a glimpse than turn to books? Education extraordinaire without having to have an awkward conversation about it with your friends, or, dear god, parents! So, that’s what I did. I devoured BDSM books like I did to that 1KG bag of loose raisins and that was that. No more, ever again!
There was something about it that, for a while, grabbed me… A totally new concept for me, it was fun and at times even challenging. But the more I read it, the more I started seeing those patterns that tended to put me off- it’s always the guy who dominates, it’s always the woman who from a ‘shy librarian’ turns into a surprise submissive vixen after a shock/horror first session. It started to bore me, I sh*t you not. It was like being married for 20 years and everything about it had become a boring routine. It was the predictability that made me part ways with that specific subgenre.
So, I took a break. A long break. Until I found my way back to romance and it was all about billionaires. Billionaires and alphas in suits were and still probably are the rage! For a while, this whole world so different to mine excited me. I was broke, and single and ready to mingle. Until one book too much, the thing with ‘raisins’ happened again. Unless I was going to move to New York and run into a billionaire, I was ready to pull my head out of the clouds.
A gazillion various romance books later, I could feel I was only half ways interested. I found I was continuously unable to make a connection with the characters in the books that I read. Honestly? I was often irritated by the hasty decision making by the female characters. And frankly, the male MCs were part-time scumbags hidden underneath their confidence and hundred dollar bills. It seemed to be the ‘in fashion’ stereotype back in the day… not sure if this is still the case.
It often happened that the female MCs wallowed in their misery/poverty/helplessness/poor me mindset until a chance encounter with this hotter than hot, richy rich dude came and swept them off their feet (literally) in an office, an elevator, in a bar. And call me old-fashioned, but often in the books I read, I didn’t even have time to gaze into the gentleman’s green/violet/baby blue/chocolate brown eyes to scope out his soul before the magical electric spark zapped that made the clothes disappear from their bodies in Chapter 2.
Then, as per usual something happened to their blossoming young love- she saw him with another woman (shock/horror) and all hell broke loose. She didn’t bother confronting him and escaped thousands of miles across the country to NEVER EVER speak to the bastard who broke her heart, again.
Love is in, common sense is out? That’s OK, has happened to the best of us. And yes, this was mostly the case in the books, too, because as it almost always turned out the woman he was seen with 99.9% of the time ended up being his freaking sister, or well-aged hot aunt, or lesbian friend.
No dramas! Well, yes, dramas. But the whole concept all of a sudden didn’t work out for me. It was all beginning to look very predictable, again. All of a sudden I wanted the communication to happen earlier. I wanted her to ask the alleged cheater who the hell this new saucy minx was?
Anyway, he chases her down across the vast world to beg forgiveness on his knees (how do you like that for a change, heh?!) and a dozen roses in between his teeth, and bam! all was right in the world again with a tumble in the sheets sealing the peace pact!
I decided I had to step away yet again. A little while passed and my next trap emerged. Twilight kicked in the door and readers across the globe were in full swoon mode. I thought, hey- maybe I need me some toned down version of cute, little romance with a paranormal twist?
Edward freaking Cullen.
As Edward with his rather good looks (courtesy of Rob Pattinson) charmed me into that odd fictional world, I kept wondering why I liked him so much. After all, nobody likes blood-breath! And apparently, for a vampire to sparkle is a big massive no-no. Now, funny thing is, I dislike glitter and sparkle, but on Rob Pattinson that glistening looked really nice. Even on those CGI abs! He looked like one of those baubles that your gramma brings down from the attic every December and you look at it as if in trance, as if it has a spirit inside it ready to burst out and grant you your every wish.
Edward seemed broody, emotionally constipated and old-fashioned. Frankly, sounded like a perfect match for me! So, for whatever reason it seemed a good idea to pile on the YA titles with awkward fumbling and uncomfortable silences.
Only to find out that now I was presented with equal measures of hormonal teenage angst in a school yard with popularity contests in full swing. It is dramatic and it is kind of like standing in the sidelines with a bucket of popcorn… but, nope.
By this stage I was questioning my sanity… What the ever loving hell is wrong with me and why can’t I just enjoy a good romance book? Why do I keep feeling disconnected from characters? Seriously! I want to… I want to be all swoony and sighing, thinking- aww, isn’t he lovely in x/y/z book to be going out of his way for the lady! Any ideas? ‘You’re cold and bitter, Liz! Heartless, in fact!’ actually does seem to be an acceptable answer here. *chuckles*
As I have learned to choose my books more wisely over the years, no matter the genre, I am finding my way back to romance. I can imagine some of you shaking your head, thinking – “Hell, no, girl, you need to stay the heck away from romance!” and you might be right.
But until I figure it all out, BrizzleLass is here to keep me informed about what’s on offer and what’s new and exciting in the genre. Her reviews have always given me a firm and clear indication of whether a title is something I personally might enjoy. I can only blame myself for having too many raisins after all, and perhaps the answer for me is to slow down on the intake.
If any of you, dear readers, have recommendations of romance books that you think are exactly what the doctor ordered, do feel free to shout in the comments. I am ready! Also, let me know, what makes you love the romance genre and share your own journey as you’ve discovered it? Genuinely intrigued and interested! I am quite open to seeing things in a different light!
As a thank you to all my followers I’m giving away 3x £10/$10 Amazon Gift Vouchers at the end of this week. To enter just head to Rafflecopter.