"This is the guy you’ve been talking about in all those pages."
October 9, 2015 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Jason Baca has been the cover model for over 400 romance novels. What is his life like? "Things get a little weird" he admits.

"They’ve wanted me to get on a horse but I’m scared of them for some reason. Those things are massive! I know that as soon as I go to jump on one, that thing is going to flip me off. So they have to find another model."

Another interview by Marie Clare and one by self-published author Delaney Diamond. [via]
posted by jessamyn (136 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 
awesome. nice to see fabio getting respect in this article.
posted by rude.boy at 10:31 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I’m not saying romance novel readers lack imagination, but some might end up picturing you through the story rather than the vivid character the author has created …

Exactly. And I love that.


This guy is awesome.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:32 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


This guy doesn't look familiar to me at all and I feel like I've failed somehow.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:32 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


There is (or was, I moved some years ago) a used bookstore in Portland, OR, whose entire inventory of books consists of a small section of battered Westerns, a stack of old National Geographics, and the most comprehensive collection of romance novels I've ever seen anywhere.

Also, a lot of porn behind the counter.
posted by echocollate at 10:38 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think that there's a niche for a romance novel about a guy who is a romance novel cover model. For whatever reason he can't find love, various hijinks ensue, chandelier heroism, some larger plot arc, etc. Perhaps he finds himself encountering the same woman cover model every few shoots - he's forced to embrace her but she doesn't like him because of [misunderstanding] and she has troubles of her own. But the hijinks bond them, love ensues, etc.

Or, or....okay, he's a cover model, but they really need him to be able to do cover shoots with horses! And he's afraid of horses! So they send him on a horse-riding course taught by a sexy divorcee with lots of moxie, etc etc.

I actually want to write those now.
posted by Frowner at 10:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [152 favorites]


i thought that horse one was going to go in a very different direction and i thank you most sincerely for choosing otherwise.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2015 [23 favorites]


I was a bookseller for 6 years, and once one of my customers pointed out the people on the covers never actually kiss I was on a quest to prove that wrong. I eventually did, but man, it's a rarity. Every since then though I can't look at a romance section without looking for actual kisses.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:45 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


All you need is a slightly punny title, Frowner, and I think you're good to go. Picture Perfect? Model Behavior? Romance Romance?
posted by kyrademon at 10:46 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have a friend who is both an English major and super into romance novels. I've been hearing a lot about Lord of Scoundrels, which she says is quite good. I was flipping through it while hanging out one time and while the prose was serviceable more than memorable, I thought it was nicely observed and pretty darn engaging.

i thought that horse one was going to go in a very different direction and i thank you most sincerely for choosing otherwise.

I have all kinds of directions for the various AUs and revisions. Some of those will need to be self-published and sold on Amazon, though, like all those Conquered by Clippy ones.

My plan is to write the charming ones first, though, and publish the sordid ones under a nom de plume if I end up needing the money.
posted by Frowner at 10:47 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe I should try writing a romance novel. Genre fiction generally interests me anyway and some of the lighter SF and fantasy that I read definitely has romance novel qualities (Cecelia and the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, those Melissa Scott swashbuckling-magician-detectives ones).

One of the nice things about genre - just like with fanfic, actually - is that the quality range is all over the place. You can feel confident that even if you have a learning curve, you're not going to stand out as uniquely terrible, but there are also perfectly genuine heights to which you can aspire.
posted by Frowner at 10:54 AM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


I was a bookseller for 6 years, and once one of my customers pointed out the people on the covers never actually kiss I was on a quest to prove that wrong. I eventually did, but man, it's a rarity. Every since then though I can't look at a romance section without looking for actual kisses.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:45 PM on October 9 [+] [!]


Thanks for the new side quest in my Life RPG.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:54 AM on October 9, 2015 [39 favorites]


If I was his wife, I would worry less about the cover embraces and more that he might be devoured by the wolves of Shadow Mountain. That's a cranky-looking canine!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:54 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


One of the nice things about genre - just like with fanfic, actually - is that the quality range is all over the place. You can feel confident that even if you have a learning curve, you're not going to stand out as uniquely terrible, but there are also perfectly genuine heights to which you can aspire.

This makes me think about when This American Life went to the annual convention of the Romance Writers of America. Besides being generally delightful, I remember being fascinated by this thing about writing a romance novel: we all know how it's going to end! So the story succeeds or fails purely on the strength of the writing, characterization, and twists. It's a fun listen.
posted by Zephyrial at 11:02 AM on October 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


"These authors put 150% into their work." Um, that's, like, so not even possible.
posted by Bob Regular at 11:02 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


They have a ghost writer who they can only afford half-time
posted by threeants at 11:09 AM on October 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


"These authors put 150% into their work." Um, that's, like, so not even possible.

They are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:10 AM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Does the phrase "delightful lunk" come to mind for anyone else?
posted by clawsoon at 11:12 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


like porn butts in a way
posted by poffin boffin at 11:12 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I want to know if he ever reads one of the novels he is pictured on.
posted by notreally at 11:12 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


All the working out leading up to the shoot is important. But on the day, things get a little weird. You have to dehydrate a bit – don’t drink too much water because then you’ll saturate your stomach and there go your abs. So you have to be thirsty. I also bring a stretch cord – it gets the blood pumping and that tight feeling in your muscles where it feels like they’re blowing up like a balloon. That’s the look they want.

Someone once detailed for me exactly what you need to do to get ready for a Men's Health cover (like, 3 months before the shoot) and the whole thing sounded like something the UN would quickly and forcefully ban.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on October 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


That last interview is really interesting because quite a lot of it is him talking about how he can't eat what he wants, how that's difficult and how if he could do anything he'd retire to Oregon, go fishing and eat chocolate. It's interesting because somehow it has this offstageness to it, like he may play the kind of physically imposing guy who never gives a thought to his appearance and is just, like, all ruggedly sexy and stuff, but we all know that he's just like us, the audience, worried about his appearance and his eating habits. It really points up what a performance masculinity is.
posted by Frowner at 11:16 AM on October 9, 2015 [42 favorites]


I want to know if he ever reads one of the novels he is pictured on.

He said in the MC Interview that he's read "quite a few" of them.
posted by jessamyn at 11:18 AM on October 9, 2015


Frowner, I love that idea!

I also love this guy's enthusiasm, and his belief that weedy/skinny guys should also get their own covers. RELATED: One of my favorite ever side plots in a terrible romance novel was this upbeat vicar's daughter who had no money, and she was over six feet tall, but this kind-hearted miserable widow decided to do her a solid and give her a real London season.

And this girl was totally fine with the fact that she was OBVIOUSLY never getting married (because she was so TALLLLLL, no man would marry a TALL GIRL, also, poor), so she was just excited to see London and wear fancy clothes for a few months.

And then she met a tiny foppish man who always wore absurd shiny clothes and heels and whatnot (in these books, men who care about wearing fashionable clothes are automatically absurd, while the heroes are all effortlessly fashionable obvs), and the two of them fell in love, and all of their adventures (in service of the kind-hearted miserable widow finding her True Love) featured the Amazonian vicar's daughter saying "we have to help! We have to be brave!" and the tiny fop saying "We do?" but going along with it. And every time he found himself riding recklessly in an open carriage at 3 in the morning he would look up at her and marvel with adoration while holding on for dear life. (Also his domineering high-society mother tried to be cruel to her, but the vicar's daughter was sunny and sweet and said "I love your mother! I hope I get to see her again soon!" because she always assumed people meant to be kind but were bad at it.) And in the end they got married.

So anyway, I have a secret desire to write a series of romance novels where tall, brawny women rescue diminutive/willowy men from their dull lives, carry them out of burning buildings, row them across turbulent rivers, haul them out of crevasses, etc.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:28 AM on October 9, 2015 [137 favorites]


* I love the plot idea of the romance novel cover model romance, that is, not that he can't go fishing and eat chocolate until his career is over.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:30 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although generally I am not drawn to dudes, I would totally go out with a tiny foppish anxious man who wore heels, assuming any kind of social compatibility. We could....ride bikes at 3 in the morning! I frequently like people's mothers!
posted by Frowner at 11:44 AM on October 9, 2015 [18 favorites]


This entire thread is turning into some sort of larval-stage Best Of Tumblrfic thing and I am OK with it.
posted by mhoye at 11:46 AM on October 9, 2015 [18 favorites]


The model afraid of horses novel ... will he be holding a hot grilled cheese sandwich on the cover?
posted by zippy at 11:48 AM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


riding recklessly in an open carriage at 3 in the morning

i want to read this right now immediately
posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


riding recklessly in an open carriage at 3 in the morning

i want to read this right now immediately


Yes! a fiendish thingy, you must tell us the title of this!
posted by Mogur at 11:56 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I was his wife, I would worry less about the cover embraces and more that he might be devoured by the wolves of Shadow Mountain. That's a cranky-looking canine!

I don't know, G&P, that wolf looks to me like it's kind of mailing it in -- take a look at this one for comparison purposes.

I've read maybe a hundred romance novels -- basically all the ones my girlfriends and partners left lying around plus more from the wire racks at the library after I developed a taste for them -- and they seem to be so much better written in general than science fiction that gets taken so much more seriously, and it continues to amaze me how much more affection the protagonists feel for their love interests than the cis-het protagonists of male detective and science fiction novelists ever seem to feel for the women they claim to love, and I think that's reflected in the choice of this guy as a cover model.

He comes across as so likable and not at all mean.
posted by jamjam at 11:57 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Here it is!

There is also a serial poisoner? I think?

And an evil wife who dupes her husband into staying married to her by pretending to be pregnant. But later she is dancing at a ball and her fake pregnant belly bounces off in front of everyone, and everyone who was like "marriage is marriage, tough luck, man" instead goes "that dude will get an Act of Parliament to divorce his pregnancy-faking wife FOR SURE". (Maybe not in those words but that is the gist.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:00 PM on October 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


a fiendish thingy, do you think maybe the author actually wanted to write the story of Amazon and Her Tiny Fop, but couldn't sell that in the romance market and so wrote a more sale-able story but squeezed them in as side characters?
posted by emjaybee at 12:08 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Frowner's plan to write a meta-romance about the guy who poses for the covers (there is soooo much potential there) leads me to recommend a fun read (with a terrible cover, it's so embarrassing, thank god for the Kindle): Too Stupid to Live, a gay romance about a guy who loves romance novels, and filters all of his experiences through what he knows about them. Fun fun fun.

Someone asks him at some point why he reads romance novels, when he always knows how they end. He says, "To see how they get there, of course." So true.
posted by not that girl at 12:08 PM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


Now you’re up to 414 covers. How do you keep count?

Good question.


I love this dude's straightforward seriousness when someone asked him how he was able to count to 414
posted by Greg Nog at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2015 [35 favorites]



I've read maybe a hundred romance novels -- basically all the ones my girlfriends and partners left lying around plus more from the wire racks at the library after I developed a taste for them -- and they seem to be so much better written in general than science fiction that gets taken so much more seriously, and it continues to amaze me how much more affection the protagonists feel for their love interests than the cis-het protagonists of male detective and science fiction novelists ever seem to feel for the women they claim to love, and I think that's reflected in the choice of this guy as a cover model.


I cannot help but wonder what science fiction you're reading, because I don't think this is an accurate way to compare the genres unless we want to cherrypick examples from both.

Science fiction - good or bad - does very different things than romance. I think you could probably find a science fiction novel which incorporated a strong, well-developed romantic plot as a major part of the novel (Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand? Ammonite? I think queer SF is far more likely to do this) but that's really not why you read science fiction as a genre. (That's why you read the better variety of science fiction fanfic!)
posted by Frowner at 12:11 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now watch, sales on the tiny-foppish-guy romance novel are spiking even as we type! It has a cute cover.
posted by Frowner at 12:12 PM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Now you’re up to 414 covers. How do you keep count?

Good question.

I love this dude's straightforward seriousness when someone asked him how he was able to count to 414


"Well, usually I do it one at a time, but if I'm really feeling it I'll go by fives. Sometimes I have to cheat and use my fingers, but mostly I just do it the same way anyone would."
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:14 PM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


emjaybee, I sometimes think that was the case! The main couple is very dreary and wrapped up in their misery, so I think she wrote vicar's daughter/fop as comic relief to lighten the mood, but quickly realized they were way more interesting and better.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:14 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


These articles are making me cackle in a way that elicits the grumpiest look from my cat from across the room

mummy is READING, darling, leave me alone with my handsome lunkhead romance novel cover man
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:19 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


All you need is a slightly punny title, Frowner, and I think you're good to go. Picture Perfect? Model Behavior? Romance Romance?

+1 Model Behavior! Do it!!!!!
posted by spinturtle at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


If I was his wife, I would worry less about the cover embraces and more that he might be devoured by the wolves of Shadow Mountain. That's a cranky-looking canine!

How does it feel to be the wolf head that has appeared on hundreds of wolf themed romance novels?

Awooooooooo!
posted by telegraph at 12:21 PM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


If it's a minimum of 1,000US, and sometimes 10,000 or even more, this is a career worth pursuing. There's probably a fair amount of cash in going to conventions, too.
posted by theora55 at 12:32 PM on October 9, 2015


Metafilter: Not every cover is of a buffed out guy with an unshaven look holding a sword.
posted by lalochezia at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]




Romance novels are the pornography for women. Strong, handsome guy dominates young attractive woman and she conquers and tames him through marriage. In Jane Eyre, the poor dude even gets blinded before being blindsided through love and now the woman, in charge, leads her Sampson about like a pup on a leash.
posted by Postroad at 12:36 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love this dude's straightforward seriousness when someone asked him how he was able to count to 414

"Well, each time I shoot a new cover, I basically add 1 to the previous number, and that's the new number."
posted by threeants at 12:37 PM on October 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


In Jane Eyre, the poor dude even gets blinded before being blindsided through love and now the woman, in charge, leads her Sampson about like a pup on a leash.

He gets blinded LOOOOOOOOONG after being blindsided through love. Come on. If you want to say dismissive things about incredibly important literature, you could at least get the details right.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:39 PM on October 9, 2015 [32 favorites]


I think you could probably find a science fiction novel which incorporated a strong, well-developed romantic plot as a major part of the novel...

And there's some help with the searching: Science Fiction Romance Quarterly. (Full disclosure: my wife writes reviews for SFRQ).
posted by metaquarry at 12:41 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Romance novels are the pornography for women. Strong, handsome guy dominates young attractive woman and she conquers and tames him through marriage. In Jane Eyre, the poor dude even gets blinded before being blindsided through love and now the woman, in charge, leads her Sampson about like a pup on a leash.

This suggests an inattentive reading of Bronte, and it also suggests wrongly that all romance novels have the same concerns as Jane Eyre. I think there is a reading of Jane Eyre in which Rochester's blindness is specifically about rendering him subservient to Jane and functions as a punishment for his transgressions against her specifically, but I think that doesn't even begin to exhaust what the book does.

Also, you have only to read the book carefully to realize that Rochester lives to be dominated. All his other relationships with women basically involve seeking to be dominated but having it not work out due to their stupidity/evil/inadequacy. Rochester can basically submit to Jane because she's smart, principled and fierce [and white]. The blindness is both a kind of moral punishment for his evil actions and a plot device to explain why he gets led around.

I think Lord of Scoundrels is actually pretty similar in terms of wanting not to be in charge but not being able to admit that.
posted by Frowner at 12:45 PM on October 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


(I mean, as much as there are a lot of things I love about Jane Eyre, it's very much a book about being the whitest white woman and it gets pretty racist - contrast Jane with Blanche Whosis the evil temptress, for one thing - it's not just about poor Bertha, it's a whole continuum of whiteness.)
posted by Frowner at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think you could probably find a science fiction novel which incorporated a strong, well-developed romantic plot as a major part of the novel...

Oft-recommended in book threads on Ask.Me is Lois McMaster Bujold. A Civil Campaign is a regency romance/comedy of manners, though it's more fun if you've read the other Miles books, or at least Komarr.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:49 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


(Also since that was kind of a tangent the main FPP link is great, and this thread is a hoot.)
posted by Wretch729 at 12:51 PM on October 9, 2015


Romance novels are the pornography for women.

Pornography is also the porn for women, tbh. If you want to say dismissive things about incredibly important literature, you could at least get the details right. ;)
posted by jessamyn at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2015 [85 favorites]


As a tiny man the main thing I'm taking away from this thread is that I need to buy a couple of bespoke suits and wear them every single day
posted by theodolite at 12:53 PM on October 9, 2015 [42 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know of a single adult human lady who doesn't enjoy actual porn in one way or another. Even, despite my pleas for eternal ignorance, my 60something aunt, who always wanted to txt about eric's buns during true blood

why must this happen to me
posted by poffin boffin at 12:54 PM on October 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


who even says buns anymore god
posted by poffin boffin at 12:54 PM on October 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


(A side note to tiny men everywhere: I have met many taller women of all body types (I am not myself tall - just strong-thewed! - but I've had this conversation with others lots of times) who have felt interest in tiny men of all body types but have hesitated to make their intentions plain since they feel sure that they'll be rejected for being too tall and looming. If you are a tiny man who has never attempted to date taller women, I think there may be an untapped market out there, so to speak. I don't think the suits are actually a requirement, although being dapper never hurts, IME.) ETA: mighty-thewed, really. ETA2: Like Thor.
posted by Frowner at 12:56 PM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


One might more usefully speculate about what is the "romance for men", come to that.

Of course, once you start thinking about that you realize that it's either a really stupid framework (because men, like women, enjoy many types of escapist fiction!) or super-interesting and complex - what kinds of things do readers seek out in romance novels? What kinds of things do women specifically seek out? What kinds of fiction other than romance novels do men read which provide similar things?
posted by Frowner at 12:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I, a straight cis rather vanilla male, have read and, erm, enjoyed (IYKWIMAITYD) a romance novel now and then.
posted by signal at 1:01 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was a young girl in the late '80's - early '90's.

Every dark-haired romance novel hero was Pierce Brosnan, every blond hero was Geraint Wyn-Davies, and every auburn-haired hero was Malcolm Stoddard. Look, it was just easier that way. I had hair to mousse and mutually-assured nuclear annihilation to worry about, and I needed to get on with things.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:04 PM on October 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


theodolite, I also know PLENTY of women who are super-duper into tiny men, but don't want to be explicit about it because so many tiny men are also v. v. sensitive about their size. But trust me, they want you. They want you bad.

(Also, to bring another literary genre into the mix-- this is one of my FAVORITE things about The Hunger Games, because Peeta Mellark, while strong, is still short and longs to gaze starry eyed up at Katniss while she performs feats of strength and wrestles 12-point bucks to the forest floor. I once saw a movie review where someone said it was stupid for Peeta to be in love with someone taller than him and I was like "WAY TO COMPLETELY MISS THE POINT OF PEETA MELLARK'S LIFE, TERRIBLE REVIEW-WRITER. GIVE PEETA MELLARK A CHANCE TO TELL YOU HOW WRONG YOU ARE AND HE WILL MAKE A 12 HOUR MINISERIES LECTURING ABOUT YOUR WRONGNESS.")
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:04 PM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Romance novels are the pornography for women. Strong, handsome guy dominates young attractive woman and she conquers and tames him through marriage. In Jane Eyre, the poor dude even gets blinded before being blindsided through love and now the woman, in charge, leads her Sampson about like a pup on a leash.

Jane Eyre aside, this is certainly one kind of romance novel. And it's one reason that, in my recent foray into reading romance, I've ended up moving away from M/F romances to reading mostly M/M romance. But there are a lot of different types of romance, as well as lots of mysteries with strong romance components, that do different, better, and more interesting things with their characters—Julia Spencer-Fleming, for instance, writes mysteries about an Episcopal priest who is a former Army helicopter pilot, and a married small-town police chief. One reason I decided to give straight-up romance a try was realizing that I was reading series like Spencer-Fleming's, nominally mysteries, primarily for the romance storyline. (I also like how in a mystery series, the angsty romance can stretch out over multiple books. I like it angsty.)

This article at The Awl, Romance Novels: The Last Great Bastion of Underground Writing is worth reading if you want to think about what else romance novels do, and how they do it.
For all the scoffing from various quarters at the fairy-tale messages they contain, romances largely deal with practical, everyday matters; they’re more like field guides for resolving the real-life difficulties women face. As those difficulties have changed over time, the romance novel has adjusted accordingly. The problems of balancing a career with running a household, looking after children, negotiating a romantic impasse: these kinds of things are dealt with directly. Rarely do “serious” writers on women’s issues stoop so low as to address such homely questions, agonizing though they remain to women even now.... In any case, whatever her merits, Simone de Beauvoir will be no help to you at all when your boyfriend has been unkind to you, but a romance novel might well help.
Pornography is also the porn for women, tbh. If you want to say dismissive things about incredibly important literature, you could at least get the details right. ;)

I <3 jessamyn.

The article I linked to at The Awl pulls out the old "romance novels do for women what porn does for men" line, too, which is disappointing.
posted by not that girl at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


OMG, a fiendish thingy, I think I read that one many years ago. I vaguely remember the vicar's daughter calling her suitor "her little manikin."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:07 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Underpants Monster, that's the one! She falls for him because he reminds her of a brightly painted soldier doll she had when she was little. :)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:09 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


And there's some help with the searching: Science Fiction Romance Quarterly. (Full disclosure: my wife writes reviews for SFRQ).

Thank you for this!
posted by not that girl at 1:11 PM on October 9, 2015


Postroad: "Romance novels are the pornography for women. Strong, handsome guy dominates young attractive woman and she conquers and tames him through marriage. In Jane Eyre, the poor dude even gets blinded before being blindsided through love and now the woman, in charge, leads her Sampson about like a pup on a leash."

Heh. When I used to read the Anita Blake books (before they got TERRIBLE), my ex-wife referred to them as "my romance novels."
posted by Samizdata at 1:14 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Duchess of Hadshire, was a virtual prisoner of a cruel husband..." (from the Amazon description) so she's like an artificially simulated prisoner of a mean hubbie? Now that is a niche, people! Incidentally, "Letitia" is now my own private slang for any big-legged woman with a foppish manikin riding shottie down life's highways and byways, i.e. "My first wife was a reaaaal Letitia- if you get my drift!"
posted by Bob Regular at 1:19 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


really though any book like a tom clancy novel or whoever wrote jason bourne, that's men's romance novels, the same way that scene from commando where arnold is strapping all the weapons to himself with satisfying SHHHCK noises is men's non-naked banging porn.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:20 PM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


i'm sad that video doesn't include the preceding shot of him in a hilariously miniscule speedo dragging his dinghy to shore*

*not a euphemism
posted by poffin boffin at 1:21 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The problems of balancing a career with running a household, looking after children, negotiating a romantic impasse: these kinds of things are dealt with directly. Rarely do “serious” writers on women’s issues stoop so low as to address such homely questions, agonizing though they remain to women even now....

This is what I want to read. This is stuff I need to read. These are the TV shows and movies I want to watch. I have been missing out, obviously! So much media out there on first loves, but where are the stories for the day-to-day struggles of keeping the love (and the career and the house and the kids and the pets) alive?!?
posted by jillithd at 1:22 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


> And it's one reason that, in my recent foray into reading romance, I've ended up moving away from M/F romances to reading mostly M/M romance.

I really liked this comment! But I wanted to add, I kind of wish that there was an active and flourishing genre of F/F to hang out alongside the M/M one. Sometimes it frustrates me that I can pick between dealing with heteronormativity but getting to read a narrative with women in it... or reading good M/M that lets me sidestep the heteronormativity but at the expense of focus on women. I'm still trying to figure out balancing that stuff too, you know? (Seconding, incidentally, jillithd's desire for more established stuff and less first-time-loves, but that's a bit of a tangent.)

I read a lot of fanfiction right now, but I'd totally switch over to original romance reading (which has a very similar audience and a lot of crossover in tropes) if I could find a reliable source (or sources!) of really good F/F. Is there one that I am missing? There's a self-importance and a, for lack of a better term, capital-L Literary quality to most of the F/F books and fics I've read, and what I really want is funny and warm and characters with a lot of personality and not really requiring a lot of emotional energy to read. I ask those of you who do read lots of romance: is there anything there I'm missing?
posted by sciatrix at 1:25 PM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


really though any book like a tom clancy novel or whoever wrote jason bourne, that's men's romance novels, the same way that scene from commando yt where arnold is strapping all the weapons to himself with satisfying SHHHCK noises is men's non-naked banging porn.

See, I don't know about that. I think you could say "a certain type of woman reads romance in the way that a certain type of man reads novels with guns", but I think people read both romances and thrillers for a lot of different reasons and they don't line up quite as neatly with gender as you'd think. (For instance, I know several men who are addicted to really soppy and often quite trashy romance; I know a woman who went through quite the thrillers-with-guns phase back in our young day.) The question is, what are people getting out of the book, and when can this be mapped in some way to gender?

It's easy to say that straight women all envision themselves as countesses with moxie being romanced by various rakes and straight men all envision themselves as super-sekrit commandos using novelty guns to kill bad guys, but that very ease reveals just what a tremendous overstatement it is.

I personally envision myself as Professor X.
posted by Frowner at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah your Tom Clancy and Lee Childs are the romantic novels for men, a fantasy of being great at everything and long, loving descriptions of technology and weapons (that's what makes it serious. Emotions are serious.)

those airport legal thrillers of long ago, did they cross gender lines cause I think the protagonists where always men, or rather white men roughly the age of the intended reader but handsomer and richer and more famous?
posted by The Whelk at 1:30 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


inspector lynley! the titled earl who hated being aristocracy!
posted by poffin boffin at 1:32 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know a woman who went through quite the thrillers-with-guns phase

Now that we're in a Post-Fury-Road world, I don't have to choose!
posted by jessamyn at 1:34 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


The last time we talked about romance novels I gave regency romances a try because I felt snobby about not liking them and now I can't stop reading them. They're like potato chips.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:37 PM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


I feel that quite a lot of science fiction stands in for thrillers-with-guns, with the advantage of having some women protagonists. I mean, there's guns.

Breq? In Ancillary Justice? I mean technically she isn't actually a woman, but lots of guns. Lots of buckling of swashes. Lots of stiff upper lips.
posted by Frowner at 1:37 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


i have all those terrible stephanie plum novels and i am not even remotely embarrassed to enjoy them. she's this bumbling heroine from the dirty jerz with an overbearing mom and an inappropriate grandma! she strings along two hot guys at once! she has a gun but she's kind of more comfortable just throwing it at some dude's face! she will knock down guys twice her size and end up in the trash!

also she knows where the tastykakes factory is and that is the most important life lesson of all
posted by poffin boffin at 1:40 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


In my next career I plan to be a peer of the realm who is conflicted about my wealth, estates, privilege, etc. I plan to have an angsty romance with a tiny, dapper, working class detective with whom I will have endless conflict over various things and who will grumble but ultimately accept the various lavish gifts, etc, with which I will shower him. We will go to socialist meetings together and there will be lots of good-humored joshing. I will retain a substantial chunk of my wealth - only so that I can maintain the crumbling country house and the aged retainers, of course - but donate a plot-appropriate to Socialism.
posted by Frowner at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think that there's a niche for a romance novel about a guy who is a romance novel cover model.

scribblescribblescribble

One thing you might DON'T want to do is combine the romance novel cover model novel with a mystery.

scribblescribble

Say, the Hero is a loveable sensitive lunkhead who gets continually paired up with the same woman cover model, but she's incredibly annoyed at him because during the first shoot there was an incredibly embarrassing accident.

scribblescribble scribblescribble

And her irritation and his embarrassment gets worse and worse because every time they work together there's accidents. Which get worse and worse. And THEN, he realizes that Someone Duhn duhn DHUUUN! is trying to kill her!

scribblescribblescribblescribble

Anyway, I think it could be a fun AWFUL idea, and you might definitely would NOT want to have a go at it.

scribblescribbles type typetype typetypetype...
posted by happyroach at 1:45 PM on October 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


So, as someone who has read Lord of Scoundrels and really enjoyed it but then stopped because the choices were too overwhelming, what should I read next?
posted by skycrashesdown at 1:46 PM on October 9, 2015


Also, when I am a peer of the realm who is conflicted about my privilege, I plan to have some pecs. Presumably from lifting the Bentley.
posted by Frowner at 1:48 PM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Bentley being your somewhat small valet. You can bench him while he reads you the day's news.
posted by The Whelk at 1:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [23 favorites]


"madam please allow me to turn the page"

"ONE MORE REP"
posted by poffin boffin at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


Buckling of swashes? I always thought it was swashing of buckles?
posted by jonmc at 2:03 PM on October 9, 2015


who always wanted to txt about eric's buns during true blood

They were excellent buns, though.

((restrains self from derailing with MANY OPINIONS about Jane Eyre and what was going on in that book))

I personally have reread Joan Aiken's alternate-takes-on-Austen and other regency romance books many times. If I Were You is my favorite: it's basically Pride and Prejudice with identical cousin-swapping, an impoverished writer heroine, and boarding-school shenanigans. I highly recommend it.

(don't know why the only one on Amazon has a blank cover; the original cover looks like this)
posted by emjaybee at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


skycrashesdown, I similarly liked Chase's Mr. Impossible, and Laura Kinsale's Lessons in French, and Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady, although the presentism in the last is distracting.
posted by clew at 2:13 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is an amazingly delightful thread.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


skycrashesdown - A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare. I have also gone through most of Loretta Chase, Isabella Bradford, Mary Balogh and Elizabeth Hoyt.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am all agog to read the Joan Aiken ones - I love almost all aspects of her Dido Twite books (except the frankly rather dubious racial politics in several of them; I mean, it's clear that she means it innocently enough, but there no indication that she thinks of colonialism as an especially serious concern.)
posted by Frowner at 2:32 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster, that's the one! She falls for him because he reminds her of a brightly painted soldier doll she had when she was little. :)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 4:09 PM on October 9


I AM DOWNLOADING THIS THE INSTANT I GET HOME FROM WORK
posted by magstheaxe at 2:43 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Me, this morning: "Hm, what will happen today? Surely it's improbable that I will start reading romance novels, since after all I've never done more than flip through one or two in my entire life!"

Me, now: "Tiny foppish lovestory plot!!!! When can book arrive?"
posted by Frowner at 2:49 PM on October 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


poffin boffin: that scene from commando yt where arnold is strapping all the weapons to himself with satisfying SHHHCK noises is men's non-naked banging porn.

UNFH it's all about the gearing up scene

(true confession: I sometimes play that quasi-military gearing-up music in my head when I'm putting on my bike gear and smearing sunscreen on myself for a long bike ride)
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Re: sci fi and what women look for in porn, I always thought Henry Jenkins had it right in Textual Poachers when he posited that slash fanfic was women making what they wanted out of science fiction: namely, seeing a rich interior emotional life for the likes of Kirk and Spock which was not provided for them in the original plot. Sounds like romance novels scratch the same kind of itch.

Neal Stephenson's present-day novels are the romance novels of science fiction. There's always something where some dude has thoughts about his penis and his awkwardness with women in a way that is totally not appealing to me as a straight cis female. (Anathem and Diamond Age are an entirely different matter.)
posted by gusandrews at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is the Regency period in England for women kind of like the Old West is for men?...a part of the past that seems appealing because it's a: not too far back in time (so you have literacy and some conveniences) and b: the clothes are pretty boss (for women, anyway; not as punishing as the later 19th century would be, fairly simple hair/hats. Also the men all wore tight pants).
posted by emjaybee at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Regency/Old West time travel romance!!!
posted by The Whelk at 3:16 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


So, as someone who has read Lord of Scoundrels and really enjoyed it but then stopped because the choices were too overwhelming, what should I read next?

Loretta Chase: Mr. Impossible (my favorite), Lord Perfect, Last Night's Scandal
(note: there are two other books in the Carsington series but I wasn't as into or didn't read the other two, Darius is kind of a Vulcan anyway).

Julia Quinn's Bridgerton family series (note: there are "second epilogues" available online and I vaguely recall she was going to write third ones at some point). Read 'em for infamous bee stings, Bridgerton Pall Mall, treasure hunts, and anonymous gossip. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton is my favorite of the bunch.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:17 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love Mr Impossible so much it is the greatest.

Although just an FYI for all: calling Jane Eyre a romance novel makes you look like fundamentally inattentive and unserious reader, so if you're okay with people thinking that well that is all on you.
posted by winna at 3:21 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mr. Impossible and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton are possibly the best nerd heroine romances of all time. And the guys are a hoot. God, I love Rupert.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:23 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


For some reason, I love that "bestselling sports romance author" is a thing.

arnold is strapping all the weapons to himself with satisfying SHHHCK noises is men's non-naked banging porn.
No nononono, that's SOLO non-naked banging porn. You might be thinking of this.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:39 PM on October 9, 2015


where arnold is strapping all the weapons to himself with satisfying SHHHCK noises is men's non-naked banging porn.

This is why there is all the shaving and oiling before you strap on... your equipment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:50 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


The original Bourne book by Ludlum and the two sequels written while he was still alive have a very strong leading lady. She's not perfect, and I've always felt Ludlum didn't quite have a strong-enough grasp of Canadian geography and politics to properly craft her background, but that's another issue. Once she appears on the scene, she is definitely a contributing force to the narrative.

Actually from what I've read of Ludlum (I tended to skip the WWII books), pretty much every one of them had a love interest that could hold her own in some way or other (out-shooting, out thinking or out spycrafting) the male hero. Additionally, it was always a love connection. There wasn't really any bed hopping by the male hero. He typically fell hard and fast for the main female character, usually harder and faster than she falls for him (although she always comes around in the end).
posted by sardonyx at 3:55 PM on October 9, 2015


I basically read romances for the clothing and carriage descriptions. Georgette Heyer is great for this plus some silly dialogue.
posted by hydrobatidae at 3:55 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Are there any Regency romances about working class people? There are a lot with class differences as the romantic difficulty, but at least one of the couple is always upper class. And there are serious novels about working class characters, but they always end in tragedy and smallpox. I would like a light happy novel about a parlour maid who marries a grocer's assistant and they start a catering business for country house parties and live happily ever after.
posted by interplanetjanet at 3:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have two words for you, two horrible, horrible words: Amish Romance.

They all have the same blonde woman looking pensively over her shoulder and/or the same horse drawn buggy. They are very, very popular.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:16 PM on October 9, 2015


I think that there's a niche for a romance novel about a guy who is a romance novel cover model

If he falls in love with his own covers, then it's a Dr. Chuck Tingle book.
posted by benzenedream at 4:24 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


All you need is a slightly punny title, Frowner, and I think you're good to go. Picture Perfect? Model Behavior? Romance Romance?


"A Novel Romance", surely
posted by brism at 4:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Longbourne is a bit closer to catering than to smallpox. And it's suuuuuuch a good novel ( and if you've ever been a bit exasperated with lucky lazy Lizzie Bennet, extra satisfaction for you).

I think Regencies hold sway because of Heyer, mostly; her ton is like the Forest of Arden, or some other polite Arcadia.
posted by clew at 5:04 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I know a woman who went through quite the thrillers-with-guns phase

Now that we're in a Post-Fury-Road world, I don't have to choose!


Outside of Fury Road, a couple of Asia Argento films, and a few others, the supply of smart, feminist thrillers-with-guns films is sadly limited.

The interview was unexpectedly charming. Other than the omnipresent Fabio back in the day, I've never been aware of any romance cover models, but now that I've read this I am sure I will start noticing them.

I'm not sure if there is a solid romance-for-men genre. Most genre books targeted at men seem to leave out the rich interior life and focus on relationships of romance books, or are like the Richard Ford Bascombe novels, where the real focus is on a man's midlife crisis and the relationships fall from that.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:08 PM on October 9, 2015


considering the reaction to Jupiter Ascending, loving it more for what it represents is missing from the media landscape, can we push for a cross over appeal Regency Romance in SPACE with some cool battles and starships?

Like Mass Effect but we stop pretending it's NOT Space Romance and Space Emotions.
posted by The Whelk at 5:20 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


And pretty pretty outfits. They can be Regency inspired, but with neon!

(I keep meaning to read that series I got the first book in from a friend where it's all Austeny Regency romance stuff ...but magic totally exists and is a thing. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell from the POV of Lady Poole, basically)
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


If he falls in love with his own covers, then it's a Dr. Chuck Tingle book.

Pounded In The Ass By My Own Romance Novel Cover
posted by poffin boffin at 5:51 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I personally have reread Joan Aiken's alternate-takes-on-Austen and other regency romance books many times. If I Were You is my favorite: it's basically Pride and Prejudice with identical cousin-swapping, an impoverished writer heroine, and boarding-school shenanigans. I highly recommend it.
How did I miss that this existed? This knowledge has changed my life, or at least my weekend. I loved Wolves of Willoughby Chase and Nightbirds on Nantucket so much as a kid.

I think we may need to have an official Metafilter romance novel read-along.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:12 PM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Got home, and upon flipping through my copy of the book, I can't believe I forgot that the fop (Sir Charles) spends the second half of the book trying to plot ways to get the vicar's daughter (Letitia) near stepstool type objects so that he'll be tall enough to kiss her. He considers carrying a box to stand on during a garden walk, but decides he'll just maneuver her near a statue with a tall enough base.

Also, for those of you planning to actually read the book, SPOILERS:

*
*
*
"Oh, come with me," cried Letitia. "I need your help."

Happy but bewildered, Sir Charles trotted after her, trying to keep up with her long strides.

"Good, the guests are starting to go indoors," said Letitia. "What I have to say to you is private."

"And what is that, my heart of hearts?" said Sir Charles, but Letitia was too worried to notice the endearment.

"We simply must find out who killed the Countess of Torridon."

Sir Charles blinked up at her in the sunlight. "We?"

"I cannot do such a thing myself," said Letitia. "But you are a man of fashion, and intelligent and kind." She smiled at him suddenly, and he blushed with happiness under his rouge. All in that moment, he would have done anything for her.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:00 PM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


It is hard to beat romances by Loretta Chase and MC Beaton. Damn it, I am supposed to be writing a paper to present tomorrow!
posted by jadepearl at 7:17 PM on October 9, 2015


Zen Cho's new fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown is set in Regency England, has an audacious biracial heroine (who wields magic as decisively as Furiosa wields guns), and has romance elements.
posted by brainwane at 8:09 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I keep meaning to read that series I got the first book in from a friend where it's all Austeny Regency romance stuff ...but magic totally exists and is a thing. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell from the POV of Lady Poole, basically)

The Glamourist series by Mary Robinette Kowal? Which I have also strongly liked.
posted by brainwane at 8:10 PM on October 9, 2015


Are there any Regency romances about working class people?

interplanetjanet, Carla Kelly writes some Regency romance with working class heroes and heroines. I suggest starting with a collection of her novellas, In Love and War to see if you like her style.
posted by jessian at 8:21 PM on October 9, 2015


Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm going on vacation next week and I plan on loading up my Kindle with a ton of these.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:44 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


considering the reaction to Jupiter Ascending, loving it more for what it represents is missing from the media landscape, can we push for a cross over appeal Regency Romance in SPACE with some cool battles and starships?

It's called A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, and there are no space battles, but the previous book, Komarr has some space terrorism -- and A Civil Campaign has what is truly essential in a regency romance: a hilarious side plot involving a dinner party gone mad, and ice cream made by bugs.

But yes, both are best read in the context of the series.

Actually, I just realized how A Civil Campaign flips the Regency Genre on it's head: instead of the (annoyingly) brooding hero who has to be shake out of his jaded life by the naive but lively heroine who is spunky but not too independent, you have two, fascinating, full charactered people -- and he is the lively one, and she the reserved on, but he's not naive and she's not pointlessly cynical, and she's just as strong as he is, albeit less flashily.

Also would appeal to tiny guy fans (he's 4'9").
posted by jb at 10:58 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


But I wanted to add, I kind of wish that there was an active and flourishing genre of F/F to hang out alongside the M/M one.

There's Shoujo-Ai (F/F) manga, with a small but dedicated community of translators.

Plots can be very conventional.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:50 AM on October 10, 2015


> "There's a self-importance and a, for lack of a better term, capital-L Literary quality to most of the F/F books and fics I've read, and what I really want is funny and warm and characters with a lot of personality and not really requiring a lot of emotional energy to read. I ask those of you who do read lots of romance: is there anything there I'm missing?"

Particularly excellent:
Landing by Emma Donoghue (romance)
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (YA romance)
Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (fantasy fiction romance)

Good:
Lady Knight by L-J Baker (fantasy fiction romance)
Promises Promises by L-J Baker (comedy fantasy fiction romance)
Dare Truth or Promise by Paula Boock (YA romance)
Good Moon Rising by Nancy Garden (YA romance)
Nightshade by Shea Godfrey (fantasy fiction romance) (also has a decent sequel)
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (YA romance)
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan (YA romance) (also has a good sequel)
Roses and Thorns by Chris Anne Wolfe (fantasy fiction romance)

I've left off the ones which I judged to have a Capital-L Literary air to them. If you want books with an F/F romance element rather than out-and-out romance, I could probably list you a couple of dozen more.
posted by kyrademon at 3:26 AM on October 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Thanks for all the recommendations in this thread. Luckily the public library has at least some of them or I would owe even more of my soul to the Kindle Store.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:18 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are there any Regency romances about working class people?

I came to suggest The Lady's Companion by Carla Kelly, and I see jessia has mentioned her as well.

I was sad because I too loved Joan Aiken's Wolves books, but I recently read a few of her regency romances and found them a little cold.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:45 AM on October 10, 2015


Carly Kelly writes about non-noble people, but most of her characters would be better described as middle class than working class. Libby's London Merchant is a good one, and less predictable than the average Regency.

I have yet to read any Regency Romance in which both characters are actually working class. Mary Balough - grand dame of the Regency - has a couple of books set in Wales where one character is working class and the other not (or maybe were working class, but then made money). Also, Lisa Kleypas has a book with a working class hero (a rat catcher) and a middle class heroine.

But in every historical romance book, one of the two has money, whether aristocratic or not: he's a self-made man, or she's a wealthy widow, or one of them discovers a hitherto unknown aristocratic birth. Very few romance writers are content leaving the couple living happily ever after in a modest cottage.

Once upon a time, I wondered about writing my own middle/working class regency, or maybe anti-regency. I even knew the characters (a curate and a female farm labourer), and the setting (a bit of rural England that was decidedly unquaint, but more open and desolate). Hadn't even decided if it had a happy ending, but if it did, it would have been in a 2-room cottage. But I realized that I didn't know enough about early nineteenth century Anglican theology to accurately write about the curate's part. /historian's disease
posted by jb at 9:36 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also: while we're on the subject of Regency Romances -- I would like to state my contention that, despite inspiring Heyer et al, Jane Austen's novels and what they say about her beliefs about the nature of love and what makes a successful relationship are antithetical to the theories of love/relationships presented in modern Regency Romance novels. Jane Austen was a pre-Romantic, and an anti-romantic.
posted by jb at 9:41 AM on October 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


oh, and The Sergeant's Lady is quite good. She's nobly born, but doesn't have much money; he's working class.

Cinderella stories are traditional, but upper class women being involved with lower class men are becoming more common - and have also the happy accident of upsetting the gender power norms of the traditional Regency romance. (Her class advantage helps to balance out his gender advantage).
posted by jb at 9:49 AM on October 10, 2015


Hadn't even decided if it had a happy ending, but if it did, it would have been in a 2-room cottage.

Makes me think a little of Lark Rise to Candleford. I'm not sure how the lives of English farm laborers changed from 1820 to 1880.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:32 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bob Regular: ""Duchess of Hadshire, was a virtual prisoner of a cruel husband..." (from the Amazon description) so she's like an artificially simulated prisoner of a mean hubbie? Now that is a niche, people! Incidentally, "Letitia" is now my own private slang for any big-legged woman with a foppish manikin riding shottie down life's highways and byways, i.e. "My first wife was a reaaaal Letitia- if you get my drift!""

I used to see a Letitia. Yeah, her legs were big, but I am neither tiny nor foppish.
posted by Samizdata at 10:42 AM on October 10, 2015


My mother, as long as I can remember, has read three kinds of books: murder mysteries (all kinds), thrillers (mostly Clancy, but she did have a bunch of the Bourne books), and romance novels. So I associate both Clancy-esque thrillers and trashy romance with Mom!

That last, when I was growing up we went to the library's book sale, and she'd buy actual bags full of paperbacks. Modern, historical, big-name, no-name; and there'd always be one in her purse to read while waiting at the doctor or whatever. As soon as she was done, they got donated back to the library.

I didn't much go into her collection, except maybe a few of the historical romances? After this thread, I'm kinda curious. I'm going to track down some of the recommendations in this thread for future reading. :)

Susanna Fraser's husband is a good friend of mine! I always enjoy chatting with her at his birthday parties! I should probably get her book!
posted by epersonae at 1:28 PM on October 10, 2015


MetaFilter: But I realized that I didn't know enough about early nineteenth century Anglican theology
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:11 PM on October 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


So anyway, I have a secret desire to write a series of romance novels where tall, brawny women rescue diminutive/willowy men from their dull lives, carry them out of burning buildings, row them across turbulent rivers, haul them out of crevasses, etc.

Epic Action Dream Giantesses, you mean?
posted by acb at 4:23 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you want books with an F/F romance element rather than out-and-out romance, I could probably list you a couple of dozen more.

I'd like that if you could.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:27 PM on October 10, 2015


I came in to recommend Carla Kelly's regency novels too. My favorite is maybe Miss Whittier Makes a List. For more protagonists of non-noble birth, there's Patricia Gaffney's "To Love and To Cherish". The hero is a country vicar.

Loretta Chase has a deep backlist. "Knaves' Wager" stands out in my memory. Connie Brockway at her lightest - which would probably be "The Bridal Season" - has a similar vibe.
posted by of strange foe at 8:41 PM on October 10, 2015


When I first read this OP the thing about having a fear of horses tickled a memory of something I've only just dredged up: Little Hans was a seminal (ha) case study by Sigmund Freud concerning a five-year-old boy who presented with a fear of horses, in which Freud developed and expounded upon his theories about castration anxiety and the Oedipus complex.
posted by XMLicious at 11:30 PM on October 10, 2015


> "I'd like that if you could."

Well, OK, then. I'm keeping it to books where I judge the romance element to be a fairly important part of the plot for a main character, or this list would get REALLY long ...

1) Lesbian Romance elements, but not out-and-out Romance --

Particularly excellent:
Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (science fiction)
The Elemental Logic series by Laurie J. Marks (fantasy)

Good:
Twixt by Sarah Diemer (fantasy)
The Adaptation/Inheritance Duology by Malinda Lo (science fiction with bisexual romance elements)
The Lyremouth Chronicles by Jane Fletcher (fantasy; first book is a little weak, but it improves greatly after that)
My Real Children by Jo Walton (speculative fiction)

2) Romance books with a bit of that Capital-L Literary quality so I left them off the previous list --

Particularly excellent:
The Price of Salt (sometimes published as Carol) by Clare Morgan (Patricia Highsmith) (romance)

Good:
Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg (romance)
Stir Fry by Emma Donoghue (romance)
Curious Wine by Katherine Forrest (romance)
An Emergence of Green by Katherine Forrest (romance)
Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule (romance)

Good, romance elements rather than out-and-out romance:
The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt (literary fiction)
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (speculative fiction)

3) Lesbian Romance elements, but sometimes kind of depressing so I left them out before because of the "funny and warm" request, most of them not out-and-out Romance --

Particularly excellent:
Broken Wings by L-J Baker (fantasy romance)
The Beebo Brinker chronicles by Ann Bannon (classic pulp romance)
Slow River by Nicola Griffith (science fiction)
The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman (science fiction)

Good:
The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter (science fiction)
Rage by Julie Anne Peters (YA)
Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack (fantasy)
The Year Seven by Molleen Zanger (science fiction)

4) Books I forgot about earlier, neither of them astonishingly brilliant or anything but both fun quick reads --

Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram (science fiction, action adventure romance)
Tame by Melissa Snowdon (urban fantasy, romance)

5) Series where the lesbian romance element only starts in one of the later books --

Particularly excellent:
The Seraphina Duology (Seraphina and Shadow Scale) by Rachel Hartman (fantasy, happens in book 2)

Good:
The Fever Crumb Series by Philip Reeve (science fiction, happens in book 3)
The Skyscraper Throne Series by Tom Pollock (urban fantasy, happens in book 2)
posted by kyrademon at 3:12 AM on October 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


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