Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Trashy (?) Romance Novels

I was reminded recently (actually by the title of Catherine Avril Morris' blog) that many people consider romance novels trashy--or at least some of them. I have been told, by more than one person, that they liked my book (a Regency historical romance), but that they don't like trashy romance.

What does that mean exactly? (And I confess I'm too stunned, stumped, stymied to ask them. And really, I don't want to get into an argument with someone about it, particularly someone who liked my book).

Does it mean that they don't like the sex scenes? My own book was a little sexy.
Besides, why not just read sweet romances? Not ALL romances have sex in them. But plenty of other genres--even literature--have sex in them.

Does it mean the characters are not well-developed, the plot line is vague, the ending was terrible? How is this any different from any other book that was not well-conceived, well-developed, or well-written? Why single out romances?

Does it mean they're short novels, published in a throw-away form? So trade with friends, turn them in to the used bookstores, donate them to libraries or assisted living facilities.

Does it mean that the storylines are light, fun, and simple. Easy to read and understand. I personally call those books gems.

I just don't get it. I guess I'll have to work up the gumption to ask the next person who says that to me. And it'll take some doing. Unless they're already criticizing my book...


Lucy said...

I remember, as a kid, sitting at the dinner table telling my mother I didn't like something (some vegetable, no doubt) and my mother asking me, "Have you ever eaten it before?" Me having to say no I hadn't and her saying that if I had never eaten it, I couldn't know I didn't like it and I had to try it before I said I didn't like it. If I still didn't like, well, okay then.

I think people who say romance novels are trashy are kind of like that. They haven't tried it but they have an idea in their head about what romances are like (because all vegetables are bad, right?) and they haven't tried them to discover they're wrong. They don't give them a chance.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I suppose you're right, Lucy, and that's very sad.

Maybe they see the racy covers and imagine the books are more than they can handle. ;) Oddly, in most other aspects of life, sex sells, and very few are self-conscious about it. (NOT that all romance novels contain sex...but that seems to be the general opinion).

Really, what's the difference between a sexy movie and a sexy book? Just don't get it...