Before I rant, let me rave….about my new book cover for A Not So Respectable Gentleman?! It is all over my website, but I can’t resist showing it off one more time.
Isn’t it a great romance cover?
Which makes me even more peeved. I get this great new romance cover and here comes yet another article about the Romance Genre, titled A Million Shades Of Smut.
The title itself is insulting. The photo used to illustrate the article is equally as insulting. The article is about books, people! At least use a book cover to illustrate it.
Especially because the article’s purpose is to try to make sense of the success of a particular erotic romance, Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. I was totally unaware of this debut book, by the way, which, apparently, has been a phenomenon. I’m not even sure it is technically a romance, because apparently the story spans three books, but the article’s writer thought so.
There were a lot of clever parts of the article–the statistical charts (from RWA) and a flow chart that purports to lead you to the romance sub-genre that would interest you (If you follow the historical trail all the way to “Viking” you find Michelle Style‘s Harlequin Historical, The Viking’s Captive Princess). There were some decent quotes from publishing industry people, and some very lazy research. For instance, the example they give for Historical Romance is Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught, a book originally released 21 years ago. Really. Couldn’t they find a more recent historical?
My main complaint, though, was the journalist’s premise that erotic romance novels (and, strongly implied, all romance novels) are smut. Now, I don’t read erotic romance–it just is not my thing–but I object to it being called “smut.” Smut is about obscenity or pornography.
According to Wikipedia:
Erotic romance novels are stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline
Explicit sexual content within the parameters of a romance, is not obscene. Erotic romance certainly is not pornography, which has as its purpose the sexual arousal or erotic satisfaction of its reader.
From what I can tell, Fifty Shades of Grey is about a wounded hero and the (initially) innocent heroine who helps him heal–in addition to or, perhaps, through having lots of BDSM sex. A glimpse at the Amazon reader reviews indicated to me that readers were hooked by the characters and what would happen to them, not the sex.
Calling erotic romance “smut” tips me off that the journalist had preconceived notions about the romance genre in general and the erotic romance subgenre in particular. In this case, it seems to me that the journalist decided that romance novels were all about sex and she didn’t bother to take a serious look at why romance out sells all other genres.
We’re used to this sort of journalism. Rarely does a journalist write an article about romance that doesn’t include the term “bodice ripper.” I wish journalists would take the time and trouble to study and read about romance novels, instead of merely looking for facts that support their biased views.
Do you know of any such articles? If so, include the url for them! What do you think of erotic romance novels?
And how about that new cover of mine. Don’t forget to enter my new contest!