Monday, February 12, 2007

The Unusual Suspects

My name is Maggie and I’m an addict.

Reading is my drug of choice. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t a reader. My dad used to go to the Salvation Army and come home loaded down with ancient musty cast-offs: adventures illustrated by N.C. Wyeth and Arthur Rackham, the Bobbsey Twins out of order, and Judy Bolton books (Judy was a lesser Nancy Drew but I liked her so much better). I was the geeky little girl who always finished first in the library’s summer reading program. And there was a “candy store” around the corner from my house, with an old-fashioned soda fountain, greeting cards, comic books (before they were called graphic novels) and hardcover books for 59 cents. I bought Black Beauty and Little Women there and cried. I discovered Mad Magazine there and laughed, once I got over the shock.

Okay, enough of the Wonder Years.

I read a lot, mostly historical romances, but I’m pretty open. For a while I was an awful snot and wouldn’t read bestsellers. I’m over that. I want to see what captures the cash and interest of the reading public. I am often disappointed.

I’m also a blogaholic. Besides reading the delightful and diverting women to the left, I visit several other sites almost daily. There’s always a new twist on an old truth under discussion that makes me think.

One constant theme: favorite “usual suspects” in a romance novel. You know, the rake and the bluestocking, the billionaire boss and Betty Sue. Every hero is supposed to be rich and handsome, every heroine a virgin. If she’s been married before, she’s a psychological virgin if not a physical one. We all assume there are unwritten rules that must be obeyed. “They” want a certain type of book, be they editors or readers. But I’ve read some compelling fiction that bends these rules, with unconventional heroes and heroines.

It takes all kinds.

There’s a lid for every pot.

Whatever floats your boat.

Whatever gets you through the night, ’salright.

I watched the movie Casanova recently. How delightful it was when Francesca’s mother stopped in her tracks when she saw the porcine pork king of Genoa. Played with fearless insouciance and a disregard for his dignity by Oliver Platt, he made a most unlikely hero, but it was liberating love at first sight for both of them. And Heath Ledger as Casanova was pretty cute, too.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, when everyone deserves their happy ending, what distinctive characters would you like to see/write/recommend? Are you looking for a heavy heroine whose honey happily hugs every inch? A vixen who is not vilified for her lack of virtue? An author who avoids alliteration at all costs?

I’m thinking experienced woman, younger man, like the characters in Jennifer Crusie’s Anyone But You. They don’t call me Mrs. Robinson for nothing.


santasmbslt said...

Maggie, you saucy minx!

I think an in vogue villainous vixen is just the ticket. Something must have made her delicious to discover what because, as my good friend Jennie always says, "Every pot has its covah, San!"

I don't know if I've ever told you but your blog is da bomb!

Tiffany Clare said...

Maggie, your blogs are so much fun! I know I don't like too many virgin. Okay okay in historical settings it's fine and dandy, but in contemporary, I usually want to chuck the book if every heroine is a virgin in her mid to late twenties and the author does it for every book. Blech! Annoying. I won't tell you what age I said bye bye to my hymen, be it sure as hell wasn't 27 :) Seeing as I have two kids and I'll be 28 in April.

What floats my boat...HAWT Reads, HAWT heroes they don't have to be all physcially perfect but have that I'm the king attitude and be smart and rich and okay...anything that exists outside of my reality.

Elyssa Papa said...

Mags, I hear you about the bookaholic thing... I was the same way and still am.

Mismatched couples? Isn't that always the basis for many romance novels - two people who shouldn't be together but love decides otherwise.

One of my most favorite mismatched couples is from Lord of Scoundrels... he instantly falls in lust with her; however, he has all these hang-ups because of his looks. And, of course, what about Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle from Pygmalion (although the play didn't have the HEA that My Fair Lady does).

As for my reading... I'm getting sick of the hero being almost fatally wounded and being nursed back to health by his loved one whom he didn't know that he loved until he can't leave bed... literally. I can't tell you how many books that I've read that have this same type of theme. *grrr*

Marie PF said...

Hey Maggie: I stumbled upon your blog and find your writing to be entierly delightful! In this blog you ask a question that I have asked so many times before... however, I've asked it of myself whenever I finish a romance novel...(Yes! I,too,am addicted!)
that leaves me...shall we say...less than overheated? All I have to say is
Spare me from simpering virgin ingenues! Entirely too boring for my tastes...which are almost but not quite on the border of erotic romance! I also loved that scene in Cassanova!!
That's why there are 2 romance novels which I find most appealing: JUST ONE of THOSE FLINGS by Candice Hern...and WHAT A WOMAN NEEDS by Caroline Linden. Both star widowed heroines who have "been around the block" but not too many times to be jaded!
Thanks for giving me this chance to spew my guts on this subject...I had a conversation not long ago with Candice Hern and Shalen Hughs, both wonderful romance writers on this very subject!
I'll be reading your blogs again with enthusiasm, Maggie! Happy Reading! Marie !RomanceFanReader~

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Welcome, Marie...and my fellow saucy minxes! I've read the books you all mention and they're on my keeper shelves. It's always fun to find something that rises above the usual fare.

So many books, so little time...but I've actually worked my TBR pile down to only 14 books and that makes me nervous! If I ever get out of the house again (2 feet of snow), I've got to go book-shopping.

Jackie Barbosa said...

Maggie, if you like the older, experienced woman/younger man motif, you simply must read Judith Ivory's Sleeping Beauty. The heroine is a former courtesan in her thirties and the hero is a 25-year-old geologist freshly returned from a stint in Africa. It's fabulous, even if Darcy did refuse to take it because the heroine's name is Coco (she said that was the name of a dog, but I swear, once you get into the book, it doesn't matter!).

The heroine of my second book, working title Lady Libertine, is definitely not a blushing virgin. She lives up to the name of the book, completely. And I love her for that!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Jacqueline, YOUR book sounds great--love the title. How far along are you?

I believe I've read most of Judith Ivory, but not Sleeping Beauty. Must put it on my list. She creates such rich, unique characters. In one of her books, she describes the heroine as having soft downy hair on her face, which is an image that has always stuck with me---it's as though her skin was was gilded. I try to remember that every time I pluck a chin hair!

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Jackie Barbosa said...

Ooh, well, if you like Judith Ivory already, you're definitely in for a treat with Sleeping Beauty. Another of hers I'd recommend is Dance, which she published under her real name (Judy Cuevas) and which may be hard to come by at the moment, but will probably be reissued. It's very different (set in France, the heroine is a filmmaker, etc.) but the writing is so gorgeous it makes my teeth hurt.

As far as Lady Libertine goes, well, I'm (runs a word count on the file) a little over 3,000 words into it. It might be 3,500 by the end of the day. So it's literally in its infancy. But hopefully I'll be able to write the first draft of this one in under 10 months (which is how long the first book took!).

Rose Healey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rose Healey said...

Thanks to your post, Maggs, I FINALLY saw Casanova. What a delicious, splendidly edited confection! Loved the use of period music--with the proper, period instrumentation, no less! LOL, I'm a little late for Valentine's Day, but I also FINALLY figured out how to post comments within blogger. My secret? For whatever reason, I've got to log in at my own blog first, instead of trying to log in when it's time to publish at another site. Oh well, at least I breached the wall, so to speak.

Keep on writing! Your blogs are always fun.