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Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels

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The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name... We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a "special place" where we store them. Let's face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what's with The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name... We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a "special place" where we store them. Let's face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what's with all the shame? Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan -- the creators of the wildly popular blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books -- have no shame! They look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of romance novels and tackle the hard issues and questions: -- The heroine's irresistible Magic Hoo Hoo and the hero's untamable Wang of Mighty Lovin' -- Sexual trends. Simultaneous orgasms. Hymens. And is anal really the new oral? -- Romance novel cover requirements: man titty, camel toe, flowers, long hair, animals, and the O-face -- Are romance novels really candy-coated porn or vehicles by which we understand our sexual and gender politics? With insider advice for writing romances, fun games to discover your inner Viking warrior, and interviews with famous romance authors, Beyond Heaving Bosoms shows that while some romance novels are silly -- maybe even tawdry -- they can also be intelligent, savvy, feminist, and fabulous, just like their readers!


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The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name... We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a "special place" where we store them. Let's face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what's with The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name... We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a "special place" where we store them. Let's face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what's with all the shame? Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan -- the creators of the wildly popular blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books -- have no shame! They look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of romance novels and tackle the hard issues and questions: -- The heroine's irresistible Magic Hoo Hoo and the hero's untamable Wang of Mighty Lovin' -- Sexual trends. Simultaneous orgasms. Hymens. And is anal really the new oral? -- Romance novel cover requirements: man titty, camel toe, flowers, long hair, animals, and the O-face -- Are romance novels really candy-coated porn or vehicles by which we understand our sexual and gender politics? With insider advice for writing romances, fun games to discover your inner Viking warrior, and interviews with famous romance authors, Beyond Heaving Bosoms shows that while some romance novels are silly -- maybe even tawdry -- they can also be intelligent, savvy, feminist, and fabulous, just like their readers!

30 review for Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell- The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels is a 2009 Touchstone publication. I don’t know how I missed this book when it was first published, but I did. My sweet and thoughtful, DH, got me a subscription to Scribd for Mother’s Day, and since then I’ve been like a kid in a candy store. As I scrolled through all the books available, I noticed this one, and because I was already in a pretty defensive mood that day, I added it to my TBR pile. Smart Bitches, Tra Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell- The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels is a 2009 Touchstone publication. I don’t know how I missed this book when it was first published, but I did. My sweet and thoughtful, DH, got me a subscription to Scribd for Mother’s Day, and since then I’ve been like a kid in a candy store. As I scrolled through all the books available, I noticed this one, and because I was already in a pretty defensive mood that day, I added it to my TBR pile. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, in case you are unfamiliar, is a website that is well known in the romance community- (Here is a link to their website- http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/) During my teen years I was more apt to read Stephen King or Dean Koontz than romance. I was a late bloomer to the genre, but once I discovered romance novels, I never really felt like I had to hide my reading material, nor did I experience any feelings of embarrassment, much less shame, for reading romance novels. I was never one to read one genre, and only one genre, having always read a healthy dose of mystery/suspense material, most of my life, and have since discovered many more genres and subgenres I indulge in frequently. In the mid-eighties, I quit work to be a stay at home mom. Six years later, I rejoined the workforce. It was then that I discovered any mention of romance- whether it was movies or books, was severely frowned upon. (Funny, though, with so many songs based on love and angst and heartbreak, no one seemed offended by that, in the least) The basis for such a low opinion of the romance genre was…. wait for it…. Smart women don’t read romance novels. Ha! “First, there’s the fantasy element. Women are not dumb. We know we’re reading fiction, so, the supposition that we’re not able to separate fantasy from reality and that we’d tolerate in reality what we enjoy in fantasy is somewhat insulting.” (Actually, I find it monumentally insulting. Please tell me that you didn’t REALLY expect a billionaire prince to swoop in, marry you, take you away to his mansion, where you will have beautiful babies together, and live Happily Ever After, in the lap of luxury- because if you did, I’m not the one you need to worry about.) I was given the impression that as a mature woman, a full -fledged, card carrying, flag waving, feminist, employed in a managerial position, that it was time to put aside childish fairytales and read something far more suitable. Misogynist fantasy was fine- as was double standards in mystery or thrillers- just so long as it wasn’t labeled as romance- you were good to go) As a result, I succumbed to the pressure. The only romance I read was in the form of romantic suspense, because it was also considered a mystery, which gave me an out- or an excuse. But, after I retired, I once again began to seriously pursue my hobby of collecting vintage paperbacks, which is how I became reacquainted with romance novels. One day I came across stash of Betty Neels and Penny Jordan romance novels, and they reminded me of when I was a frazzled mother of two small children, finding a much -needed reprieve within the pages of a ‘Harlequin Presents’ novel- they were short, easy to read, packed with glamour, and romance- a far cry diaper duty and smashed peas all over the kitchen floor! I loved the conflict, the drama, the sexy times, and let’s not forget the happily ever after. It’s a rule! I remembered those long tomes, too- the sagas that stretched over several books, featuring one heroine in each installment- or her offspring. Some of those books were genuine bodice rippers- I’m mainly thinking of Rosemary Rogers, here- and maybe Bertrice Small. But, not all the books with those torrid covers are bodice rippers- like the Zebra line- which only LOOKED like they might be bodice rippers. (although if you read one of them that were published back in the eighties or nineties- there probably are some politically incorrect passages) Those types of books were WILDLY popular, beginning in the mid-seventies- all the way through the first part of the nineties. They literally changed the romance genre, including explicit sex scenes, never before featured in novels for women, which eventually, like it or not, morphed into the type of romance novels enjoyed by millions of women today. However, those very same groundbreaking novels contributed to the backlash, the misconceptions, and bad reputation romances novels often endure, now more than ever, it seems. Once I started reading current romance again, I found the genre had gone through some pretty big changes- mostly for the better, but not without issues. While this book is dated to some extent, since it predates the explosion of erotic and erotica that was ushered in with Fifty Shades of Grey, it still gives romance readers a bit of history that explains the psychology behind the books, why we love them, why and how they obtained a bad rep, and so forth. It’s a guide for those unfamiliar with the romance genre, and will certainly explain things, is quite enlightening, and could lead to some heated debate, but it will also put you in your place if you have an ‘attitude’. But, mainly it’s a gift for the avid romance reader who will ‘get’ it on so many levels. However, lovers of romance are not let off the hook easily by the authors and will get a talking to on a few occasions, as well. But, mostly, this book is written in a highly entertaining and comedic way that was hysterically funny, and allows romance lovers to laugh at themselves, admit there are some issues that need to be addressed and fixed, and not to take all the criticism to heart. If you haven’t read it, I promise you’ll laugh out loud all the way through it. Although, the genre is ever changing, with trends and tropes coming and going, this ten -year old book, showing a few signs of age, is still one I highly recommend, if for no other reason, than to view the history of romance and get a glimpse into the psychology behind it, which might give you a better understanding of why it is so incredibly popular, despite the bad reputation. I got a real kick out of it, but mostly it validated me again, after suffering through an identity crisis of sorts with romance novels in past couple of years. I felt vindicated and then some- so I’m relieved to have discovered this book, even if I was a little late to the party. In the spirit of every great romance novel ever written- May we all live Happily Ever After" 4 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Heyyyyy romance lovers! This book is $2.99 for Kindle right now (12/2). If your TBR list is looking sparse or you enjoy meta-think pieces about your favorite genre, you should pick up this book right now. #NotBiased I love romance novels - a lot. I'm creator and moderator of a romance group called Unapologetic Romance Readers, a promotional-free group involving critical discussion of popular and not-so-popular romance titles. In a given y Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Heyyyyy romance lovers! This book is $2.99 for Kindle right now (12/2). If your TBR list is looking sparse or you enjoy meta-think pieces about your favorite genre, you should pick up this book right now. #NotBiased I love romance novels - a lot. I'm creator and moderator of a romance group called Unapologetic Romance Readers, a promotional-free group involving critical discussion of popular and not-so-popular romance titles. In a given year, I probably read between 100-200 romance titles alone. I buy them in public and in private, I read them on the bus. I love romance novels, and I don't care who knows. The Smart Bitches obviously feel the same way. I've been following their blog for a while, and they have some of the best reviews of bodice-rippers I've ever seen (some of their Johanna Lindsey and Fern Michaels reviews have moved me to tears... of laughter, that is). When I found out they published a book, I was all over that like white on rice. (As of now, it's a steal at $3.99, so I say grab a copy - at one point, it was $9.99.) Published in 2009, BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS is already dated because it was published before FIFTY SHADES OF GREY made erotica mainstream (for better or for worse) and before new adult titles because The Next Big Thing (again, for better or for worse). In a way, this makes for an interesting retrospective, because many of these ladies' predictions were true: that erotica would become less taboo, and that LGBT+ romances, and the increasing demand for them, would create a drive for more titles, more scenarios, and more representation (which it did, although there is still room for improvement, particularly with F/F, asexual, and transgender representation).  BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS resonated with me on multiple levels because most people - especially women - who read romance have had to deal with people who feel the desperate need to take the piss out of their enjoyment. I've had people come up to me, and tell me that they thought romance novels are stupid. One man saw a vintage bodice-ripper in my hands at a thrift store and bragged about how dumb he thought they were, and their only redeeming value was in reselling autographed first editions for big bucks at swap meets. I have people who continually comment on my book reviews and say, "Why are you reading this? This sounds so stupid. I would never read this." Which... good for you, I guess? I'm not sure what these people's goals are in bragging about their disdain of romance. What do they want? A shiny gold star that says, "I made someone else's day slightly sh*ttier while touting my own intellectual superiority?" There's a lot of jerks on the internet, so this isn't entirely a romance-exclusive thing, but the reason romance readers are so tired of hearing about how dumb romance novels are is because it's the only novel that's written mostly by women, mostly for women, and given the inherent sexism that still plagues many institutions of society (yes, including "Western" society), it seems a little fishy that romance receives criticisms ("the plots are all the same", "there's a lot of rape", "the characters are so bland", "the covers are stupid", "it promotes unhealthy relationship standards") that are supposed to be unique to romance and yet could just as easily be swapped out for criticisms of mystery, science-fiction, action-adventure, and horror novels. The only difference? Those latter genres aren't being exclusively marketed to and written by women. So yeah, it seems just a  little sketch. What makes romance criticism even more aggravating is that many of the critics are people (often men, but not always) who picked up a bodice-ripper once, in the 70s, or flipped through Twilight "once, to see what all the fuss was about" and are using that as their yardstick to judge all romance ever, thereby contributing to the stereotype that all romances are created equal and are therefore interchangeable. Even in historical fiction there's a lot of variance, and bodice-rippers are in no way representative of the genre as a whole: they have branched out considerably from their clothing-shredding roots since the debut of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. I can see the anti-feminists side-eying this book, and no, even though the bulk of this book is written with the feminist, forward-thinking woman in mind, it's not all "waaaah, someone told me the book I was reading was dumb." BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS offers a heavily satirical look at the books we all love to read best, pointing out the flaws, but tenderly; they manage to poke fun at romance novels while at the same time, making this humor a celebration of the wackiness of the books, as well as an appreciation of what they offer for women, be it escape or even empowerment. The last part of the book is written "choose your own adventure" style and really serves to highlight how unhealthy and ridiculous some of the tropes in romance novels would be in real life, and yet somehow makes them hilarious and endearing. It's followed by a "mad libs" style game that does the same thing with purple prose. Again, this never feels mean-spirited. Not like those "why are you reading this?" type comments that seem to suggest that only silly women-folk with their simpering, inferior brains would pick up something to read that was so demeaning. No, this is fine parody, and feels more like a heavy wink than a backhanded slap. I would love to see the Smart Bitches write a follow-up to this book, since romance has changed so much in the eight years since this was published, and I'd love to see their reviews of the POC rep books that are slowly trickling into the market in greater numbers, as well as college romance, mainstream erotica publications, and that mutated black sheep in the romance family... monsterotica, "Tinglers," and dinoporn. I found myself adding so many books to my to-read list while paging through BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS, even some of the more WTF Old Skool titles (I love me some Old Skool titles, the more the covers look like pastel soft-core porn, the better). There was only one glaring mistake that occurred on page 112 of the Kindle edition, and that was when the authors said that Anne Stuart's MOONRISE had a hero who was a cult reader. She's actually confusing MOONRISE (which has a CIA hero) with RITUAL SINS. I double-checked to make sure, but I'm very familiar with RITUAL SIN's premise, because my friend Heather Crews keeps trying to persuade me to read it because it's right up my dark and twisted Old Skool alley. If you love romance novels at all, you should read this book. It's an ode to the genre, as well as a parody, and achieves a nice balance between the two. If you're not a fan of romance, you might not enjoy this quite as much because the book is written for an audience that is familiar with most big-name romance authors and romance cliches and romance tropes. You might still have a laugh or two (or three, or four), but I think some of the jokes and references might go over your head. P.S. These authors really love Laura Kinsale. ;-) 4 to 4.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels is a hilarious and intelligent examination of the romance genre. It includes a brief history of the genre. An overview of commonly used tropes, plots, and cliches'. A comparison of Old Skool vs. New School, complete with flowchart. And predictions for future trends. It's full of the snarky humor and clever insights that I expected, as well as serious essays and citings to famous works in the field of romantic academia. It also cont Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels is a hilarious and intelligent examination of the romance genre. It includes a brief history of the genre. An overview of commonly used tropes, plots, and cliches'. A comparison of Old Skool vs. New School, complete with flowchart. And predictions for future trends. It's full of the snarky humor and clever insights that I expected, as well as serious essays and citings to famous works in the field of romantic academia. It also contains surprising facts. Did you know that approx. $1.4 billion is spent annually on romance novels? More than any other genre? In essence, the romance genre basically pays for the rest of publishing industry. So while the romance genre is often stereotyped and disrespected, there is plenty of supporting evidence that there are a LOT of shameful closet romance readers out there disguised as literary snobs. Some of my favorite sections in this book included: The Hero's Wang of Mighty Lovin' The Magic Hoo Hoo The Rise of the Kick-Ass Sexually Experienced Heroines The Quiet Death of the Rapist Hero Defending the Genre. (No. It's Not Chick Porn. Dammit.) I particularly enjoyed interviews with Emma Holly re: erotica, cover model John DeSalvo (um ... who?), and Lisa Kleypas re: her Wallflower series. Kleypas had some very interesting thoughts as to why she believes the female protoganist is the placeholder in a romance novel. I was pleased to see a section on the Carrie Edward's plagiarism scandal, complete with quotes from Nora Roberts. For entertainment value, there are a plethora of lists, games, cover snark, the SB dictionary, flowcharts and more games. There is even a section at the back of the book where you can write your own romance novel. Wanna have some real fun? Look for "A Hymn to a Hymen" or check out the list of hero's who made it on the SB list of alpholes (alphas who are unredeemable assholes). Do Sarah and Candy from the SB blog tell us what to read and bash us over the head with their opinions? Nope. Their research is thorough. Their analysis sound. (Heck! Their book is endorsed by Kleypas and Nora Roberts. That was enough for me!) Even though the authors sometimes poke fun at the genre, you get the feeling that you are reading the ramblings of very good friends who know and love the romance genre as much as you do.

  4. 4 out of 5

    seton

    The good news is that for lovers of the Smart Bitches blog, it's the same irreverent snarky humor that we all know and love. The bad news is that these are not blog posts but a book. And the book has a bit of a multiple personality. There are games. There are serious essays on the cultural aspects of all things in Romance Reading History with lots of citings to famous essays in the field of academic study of romances. There are lists. There are more games. There is cover snark. There are intervie The good news is that for lovers of the Smart Bitches blog, it's the same irreverent snarky humor that we all know and love. The bad news is that these are not blog posts but a book. And the book has a bit of a multiple personality. There are games. There are serious essays on the cultural aspects of all things in Romance Reading History with lots of citings to famous essays in the field of academic study of romances. There are lists. There are more games. There is cover snark. There are interviews with Emma Holly and cover model John DeSalvo. The SBs officially reflect for the first time on that Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal and their part in it. Then the SBs forecast on the future of romances. Then an abrupt ending. My preference would have been that this be a humor book all the way through. Or an academic study all the way through. I found the throw- everything-onto-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks-approach kinda jarring but overall, an entertaining and informative read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eastofoz

    Lots of talk about this book being rip-roaringly funny which it is -- some of the time. The “humor” gets a bit too crass and over the top more than once leaving you rolling your eyes saying ‘ok enough already’, but that’s all subjective and I’m sure there are people who love that kind of stuff. For me it was sort of like that 15 year old boy toilet humor that just gets old after you’ve heard it 25 times from the same 15 year old boy. That was one of my biggest “problems” with the book. Apart fro Lots of talk about this book being rip-roaringly funny which it is -- some of the time. The “humor” gets a bit too crass and over the top more than once leaving you rolling your eyes saying ‘ok enough already’, but that’s all subjective and I’m sure there are people who love that kind of stuff. For me it was sort of like that 15 year old boy toilet humor that just gets old after you’ve heard it 25 times from the same 15 year old boy. That was one of my biggest “problems” with the book. Apart from that though, it’s informative, interesting and you actually learn a thing or two about romance novels that you may not have known. In a nutshell that’s what this book is about. It’s a non-fiction, relatively well-researched account of what a romance novel is. The authors did a generally good job treating the various subjects of why people read romance novels, why people make fun of them, what kind of romance lines are out there and how they’ve evolved generally from around the ‘70s to the present. They briefly touch on the origins of love stories going way back to Homer, but they also say that that’s not the focus of their book. They also don’t try to come across as academics in the field but more so two people who love romance novels and know a thing or two about them. I thought more time could’ve been spent on discussing “newer” books (from the ‘90s on) and that too much of the book focused on what they called “Old Skool” novels, aka Bodice Rippers. They gave a lot of examples of authors and books which showed that they were well-read and knew what they were talking about, but again it’d have been nice to have more variety. Fewer examples of books by Laura Kinsale would’ve been nice because sometimes it felt like an author plug. There were some laugh out loud ones with JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and the name spelling (all those “h”s here there and everywhere). There was a very interesting part about the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal of 2008 too. What I liked is whether they loved a book or not they highlighted their reasons why they did or didn’t think it was good and didn't just say “it’s no good because we didn’t like it”. A good example was with Anna Campbell’s book Claiming the Courtesan that got some attention for the “is it rape or forced seduction or just a crazy kind of hero”. When her book came out this was all high up there on the discussion boards so it was good that they devoted a few paragraphs to the more controversial aspects of romance novels like why rape is used and they give some thought provoking reasons for it. They also didn’t put down any other genre and said that romance novels, like anything else, is just a reformulation of something that was already done but it’s never (or rarely) the same just like music, just like art etc etc and I thought that was very well put. Some chapters could’ve been cut down and tended to drone on a bit especially about what makes a hero and heroine while the snarky comments about some romance covers made for a fun read. There are also author interviews and commentaries. An interesting tid-bit I thought was from Lisa Kleypas who said that her publisher wasn’t too keen on her Wallflowers series –didn’t think it’d work. Big “HA!” there –that’s one of her best known and reader favourite series. As a bit of a heads-up for some readers: I think it could be difficult for some people to appreciate (ie laugh your head off) at a lot of the humor if you’re not immersed in contemporary American culture. There are a lot of way too funny one-liner references to everything from the kids’ show Sesame Street (those were a riot) to Grey’s Anatomy “Mc” everything. The kiddie song The Hokey Pokey was good for a laugh or two too. There are some cute “activities” at the end of the book from colouring to mazes to choose your own adventure stories (that was a good one!) The chapters are interspersed with charts, drawings and games which give the reader a bit of a “break” when things start getting too wordy. It’s not an academic journal and most of the time they didn’t want it to sound that way. Not much attention was paid to Inspirational romances which was a bit of a hole in their research. According to some big name magazines (like Time) Inspirationals are one of the up and coming types of romances. Some mention was made about African American romance as well as Gay romance and how they are perceived. They pretty much cover all the standards like historicals, paranormals (especially the current vampire craze), romantic suspense, erotica, category romances etc etc. They also try to suggest in what direction romance may go in for the future. So, if you want to know why romance is the number one seller in books, but also the most mocked, and you want to read about it in a generally funny informative way this could be something to pick up whether you're a die hard fan or a mocker par excellence ;-).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lyuda

    Fun and insightful read from the creators of the famous SBTB blog/site. Their snarky humor, clever observations on culture in general and romance specifically, and easy-breezy writing style made me do a lot of nodding in agreement and laugh so hard I had tears at a few points. Their views about why romance genre receives such a poor treatment despite its overwhelming popularity, why educated women read romances, and why romances are here to stay resonated with me specially. The whole chapter was Fun and insightful read from the creators of the famous SBTB blog/site. Their snarky humor, clever observations on culture in general and romance specifically, and easy-breezy writing style made me do a lot of nodding in agreement and laugh so hard I had tears at a few points. Their views about why romance genre receives such a poor treatment despite its overwhelming popularity, why educated women read romances, and why romances are here to stay resonated with me specially. The whole chapter was titled: Defending the Genre (No, It’s not Chick Porn. Dammit.) And I had so much fun going through Cringe-worthy Plot Devices We Know and Love. and the chapters exploring the romance heroes and heroines. I would say that especially gratifying was that the wit and the snark were done in a loving and self-deprecating way. You feel the authors’ love of the genre. Couple of points of caution: Firstly, the book was released in 2009, so you will not see the latest trends and changes in the Romancelandia and they are significant ones, for sure. Secondly, the e-version may not be the best option due to the way the book is written (games, inserts, back-and-forth references, etc.). Get the paperback version if you want to fully enjoy the read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    FlibBityFLooB

    4.5/5 stars. This was an inane and silly guide to romances, albeit immensely funny at times. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing so hard I had tears at a few points. On the other hand, the humor in this book is definitely not for everyone, and it can be downright juvenile at certain points. There was lots of surprises to this book. In addition to literary analysis, there was mad-libs, choose your own adventures, board games, coloring, and 4.5/5 stars. This was an inane and silly guide to romances, albeit immensely funny at times. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing so hard I had tears at a few points. On the other hand, the humor in this book is definitely not for everyone, and it can be downright juvenile at certain points. There was lots of surprises to this book. In addition to literary analysis, there was mad-libs, choose your own adventures, board games, coloring, and more. My curiousity won out when I read the choose your own adventure in the last 50 pages of the book. I had to read all the different storylines. Couldn't help it. Very bizarre! There were probably about 50 books mentioned throughout the book when looking at the evolution of romance since the 1970s. I am such a nerd that I think I would like to try to read all the books mentioned. Maybe that will make a good personal challenge for me in 2010. :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    Meh. Maybe I'd have appreciated it a bit more if I was into the current romance trends and all that. I find the SMTB blog of erratic interest at best, anyway (omg, just shut up with the epub techno wankfests). The snark got old, and the same authors and titles mentioned over and over didn't show much breadth of opinions and options. In the end, it all seemed pretty narrow and shallow. Plus there's the difficulty I have staying interested in ANY humor-based book. Not that I don't love the lulz, bu Meh. Maybe I'd have appreciated it a bit more if I was into the current romance trends and all that. I find the SMTB blog of erratic interest at best, anyway (omg, just shut up with the epub techno wankfests). The snark got old, and the same authors and titles mentioned over and over didn't show much breadth of opinions and options. In the end, it all seemed pretty narrow and shallow. Plus there's the difficulty I have staying interested in ANY humor-based book. Not that I don't love the lulz, but in the written word, I often end up getting bored.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Back in the eighties and nineties when I was absorbing romance books like a sponge I often had to justify my love of them. My reply to, " you like that crap?" Was usually, "hey I learn something new with each one." Sometimes I just told them to mind their own business and to shut up. Anyway, this book is about that. These ladies love romance novels, but see the humor in them. So, keep that in mind when you read this and they poke some of your favorite books. They love them, too, and also have t Back in the eighties and nineties when I was absorbing romance books like a sponge I often had to justify my love of them. My reply to, " you like that crap?" Was usually, "hey I learn something new with each one." Sometimes I just told them to mind their own business and to shut up. Anyway, this book is about that. These ladies love romance novels, but see the humor in them. So, keep that in mind when you read this and they poke some of your favorite books. They love them, too, and also have to justify that love sometimes. Great book! Lots of fun! And I learned something while reading it. Umm, I found lists of new books to read. See? Learned something new. Oh, and I learned the names of the hot guys who pose for the covers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    5 stars, if you like that sort of thing. :) This is an awesome book for romance novel fans or readers The Smart Bitches, which would be a huge overlap. For critics of the genre and people who just don't get it, I imagine it's educational and might make them come away with a better upstanding, but this is -- first and foremost -- for readers in-the-know. Why does it make a reader's heart go pitter-patter when a book is mention that she's read? Even more so when the book is praised. Since there are 5 stars, if you like that sort of thing. :) This is an awesome book for romance novel fans or readers The Smart Bitches, which would be a huge overlap. For critics of the genre and people who just don't get it, I imagine it's educational and might make them come away with a better upstanding, but this is -- first and foremost -- for readers in-the-know. Why does it make a reader's heart go pitter-patter when a book is mention that she's read? Even more so when the book is praised. Since there are a lot of books mentioned and discussed, there are a lot of palpitations. It's terrific to read a book that takes the genre seriously and by people who actually read the stuff. The world does not need another smug person talking about books they only know from covers and blurbs. Our beloved bitches lovingly cover the strengths and weaknesses that fans know by heart. I laughed a lot, nodded in agreement a lot, saw a few things in a new way, contemplated hoo-hoos and wangs and realized that romance readership is a club. We might come from different walks of life, but there are inside jokes, you know? Just like you can walk into a room, work the number 42 into conversation, and count how many Douglas Adams fans are in earshot, there is a lot of shared knowledge and experiences among fans of romance. Allegedly capable heroines who can barely tie their own shoelaces, but we know they're capable 'cause the writer tells us so, anyone? Good times!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    I have so many highlights in this book it's insane! I have so many highlights in this book it's insane!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    14/8 - There were some interesting chapters and some that I found a bit slow and didn't really drag me back to the book the next day. My favourite parts of the book were all the new additions to my to read list (but that was also a bad thing because have you SEEN my to read list?!) and the last couple of chapters. The Choose Your Own romances were lots of fun and the plots reminded me of some of the romances I've read. The next section was a Write Your Own romance where you just insert a few of 14/8 - There were some interesting chapters and some that I found a bit slow and didn't really drag me back to the book the next day. My favourite parts of the book were all the new additions to my to read list (but that was also a bad thing because have you SEEN my to read list?!) and the last couple of chapters. The Choose Your Own romances were lots of fun and the plots reminded me of some of the romances I've read. The next section was a Write Your Own romance where you just insert a few of your own words and Hey Presto you've got a bestseller. I was so impressed by that section that for my review I'm going to write a romance. The book asks you to name specific items without giving any context. Sharp Thing: saw Quiet Thing: mouse Animal: camel Body Part: leg Foreign Term of Endearment: Mon cherie Body Part: hand Animal: elephant Supernatural Being: werewolf Invertebrate Animal: worm Organ: stomach Noun: pie Noun: television Animal: werewolf Verb: hear Country: Australia Adjective: technical Job or avocation: priest Character trait: greedy Noun: table Number: 40 Number: 65 Spice: Cumin Noun: rug Verb: jump Animal: crow Organ: brain Noun: lampshade Their words, what I'm copying from the book, will be in standard or italics font, mine will be bolded. Here we go. Paranormal Romance Killian drew her saw and crept, silent as drifting mice, down the hallway. The Chalice was down here; she could feel it. As she reached the ornate iron door at the end and cautiously turned the knob, she wondered what sort of camel guarded it in the room beyond. Almost definitely a hellbeast of some sort, or, if she were lucky, merely a three-headed demonspawn, each with three rows of needle-like legs. If she weren't lucky, however... "Mon Cheri". The word floated out from the blackness of the room beyond. Damn. Seemed like tonight wasn't her lucky night. She straightened and gently pushed the door open. No use for subterfuge now; Azuriel had beaten her to the Chalice. She walked into the room, trying to keep her body relaxed, hands loose yet ready, like an elephant's. He glowed at the edges like the fallen werewolf he was, and his beauty pained her and terrified her at the same time. She knew how deceptive that beauty could be, how it could turn like a worm and sting her unexpectedly. "I have missed you, dear stomach," he said, his voice musical as pie, soft and soothing as a television - and every bit as implacable. "How nice," she said, trying to keep her voice light, trying not to let her love show, nor her ultimate intention. She should never have fallen in love with a werewolf like him in the first place, and she should certainly not still hear him now, not after what he had done to her in Australia. She approached him, sword held down to her side. "I haven't missed you at all. Haven't given you a second thought, in fact." "You were always a technical liar," he said, amusement showing in his face. "A magnificent priest, but a terrible liar. This, however, is a poor showing, even for you." She was close now. Almost close enough. She shrugged her shoulders. "You know me too well." Closer. Almost. Almost. His greediness always was his biggest table. I may have thought about you every now and then, but let me assure you, the memories of you have inspired me to homicide no more than a dozen times. Well, not more than 40. Okay, fine, 65 on the very outside." She could breathe in his scent, cumin and rug, and his face was right in front of hers. His mouth was quirked in a half-smile. He reached out to jump her. She moved, quicker than the reflexes of a hunting crow, faster than thought itself, aiming for his brain. The jar of her shattering lampshade indicated that he'd moved faster still. Well, shit, she thought, This is going to be more interesting than I'd bargained for. Well, that was even more fun than I thought it would be, so let's try some Regency Romance Name of British food, spaces omitted: bangersandmash Adjective: fancy Noun: fire Adjective: terrible Noun: grass Plant: Elm tree Noun, plural: suitcases Noun: book Verb: fly Body part: eye Emotion: anger Adjective: dirty Adjective: stinky Sexy word: enticing Noun, plural: attics Noun, plural: glasses Noun: painting Body part: foot Organ: colon Adverb: gently Adjective: runny Body part: ear Noun: lip rouge Noun: flour Body part, plural: lips Name of oil or energy company: Chevron Adjective: sweet Verb: dance Verb: dance Regency exclamation: gadzooks Noun, plural: bottles Organ: heart Body part: finger Verb: stir Verb: pull Noun: window Animal: cat Emotion: depression Furry animal: ferret Furry animal: horse Noun: cart Verb: ride Body part: eyelash Emotion: fear Body part: toenail The ball had become a most dreadful crush, and Miss Chastity Merriweather-bangersandmash slipped past the double doors left ajar in the ballroom, seeking respite from the near-fancy heat of candles and press of fire - and a dark, terrible gaze that had not left her all night. As she stood in the dark and took dainty sips of grass, scented by the Elm bushes that grew nearby, she heard slow, deliberate suitcases behind her, and sensed a large imposing presence beside her. The Devil had found her, it seemed, despite her best efforts at escaping him. He'd certainly wasted no books. She tried to turn around and fly past him, but too late. His arm wrapped around her eye, and she gave a brief shriek of anger when she felt herself being hauled unceremoniously against a very dirty body, but the cry was swallowed when a hard, sensual mouth sealed itself against hers. She struggled briefly in his grasp, but the enticing assault soon overcame her delicate senses. Attics raced through her blood, and glasses ran up and down her painting. When his tongue traced the seam of her foot, she gasped; he took advantage of her open mouth and slipped in. His tongue proceeded to flicker and caress her in a most provocative way, and before she quite knew what had come over her, her colon joined in the love play, tangling with his gently. His abrupt withdrawal was runny. His mouth was damp and his ear tousled; Chastity realised with a mixture of lip rouge and flour that she had been responsible. She hadn't even remembered putting her hands on his head. With a sinking feeling, she suddenly realised she could feel exactly where his lips were, and she was quite sure they were in a place no proper lady should allow a gentleman. The problem, of course, was that Devil Chevron wasn't a gentleman. His sweet face looked down at hers with an unreadable expression, making it impossible for her to dance. She attempted to dance herself, and said: "Gadzooks", sir, I'm sure I shouldn't be allowing you to take such bottles. His arms instantly tightened around her. "Chastity, my heart, surely you did not think I could view your furtive attempt to leave as anything other than an invitation," he drawled. His gaze dropped to her finger, and another expression flitted across his face. "And given the way you stir, I hardly think you are a stranger to these sorts of assignations." Chastity gasped. How dare he pull her window? "You...you cat!" she cried out in self-righteous depression. "You insufferable ferret! You, you...horse! I can assure, you, sir, that never has a person been so outrageously free with my cart!" "You can ride me all you like," he said. "Your eyelashes may say something, but your lips and tongue say something else entirely." Chastity's shriek, this time of fear, was once again cut off by the Devil clamping his toenail over hers. Last one! Vampire Romance Hot item: soup Adjective: red Body part: mouth Natural disaster: tsunami Noun: fence Noun: shoes Noun: beard Noun, with an extra "h" added: chhild Body part: teeth Body part: teeth Adjective: soft Adjective: broken Adjective: shiny Noun: coal Noun: door knob Body part: head Word for emotion, but with two extra "h"s added to it: dhhread Body part: hip Adjective: round Flavour: spicy Favourite childhood food: fairy bread Favourite adult food: lasagne Astronomical object: shooting star Organ: uterus Verb: bounce Verb: trip Noun: kettle Verb: sleep The dream was the same as it always was, yet different. He was there in the room with her, like he had been for every night in the past several years. His gaze ran over her body, making her tremble, making her hot, hotter than soup. He touched her shoulder, stroked it, pinned her to the bed. And smiled. His teeth were beautiful and white and very, very red. A hard thrust of his mouth, and he was inside her, like he'd been in so many dreams. She screamed in pleasure and pain as the orgasm swept through her like a tsunami. He laughed, hard and dark and cruel, her dream fence, her shoes, her beard. He bent his head and scraped his teeth against her neck. The dream was the same. But different. This time, he raised himself and looked down at her. "Finally," he said, "You're ready for this, chhild." He smiled, baring his teeth again, and this time, when he lowered his teeth to her neck, the teeth pierced her, soft and broken and shiny at once. Coal slammed through her body. She could feel her blood pulsing into his mouth, and while a part of her was horrified, her door knob wanted nothing more than to push as much of herself into him as she could. Something pressed against her mouth. His head, she realised through the fog of pleasure. Bite, said a voice inside her head. Bite as hard as you can, my d'hh'read. So she did. Her teeth were strangely sharp, almost as sharp as his, and the skin parted easily. A flood of warmth entered her hip. His blood was round, spicy, and utterly delicious; it tasted like fairy bread and lasagne. Then the pain. The pain caught her unawares. It came from nowhere and everywhere; it was agonising, searing, impossible; it felt like a shooting star was burning her uterus from the inside out. The pain woke her up. That was when she realised it wasn't a dream. Her body was racked with convulsions of pain and pleasure while the man of her dreams pinned her to the bed, drawing her blood with great gulps from her even as his filled her mouth so fast she had to bounce or trip. Before the blackness of a kettle claimed her, she felt him sleep himself from her, and the last thing she saw was his face, wreathed in a feral red smile. LOL Some interesting results there, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This book had me cracking up so hard I nearly fell off my chair a couple of times. I did wish it delved more deeply into just what is so satisfying about romance reading for such an enormous variety of women across generations and socio-economic strata, but they are generous with mentions of more scholarly books, and in short, it's a delightful, in-your-face dare to diss romance just because women write it and read it. This book had me cracking up so hard I nearly fell off my chair a couple of times. I did wish it delved more deeply into just what is so satisfying about romance reading for such an enormous variety of women across generations and socio-economic strata, but they are generous with mentions of more scholarly books, and in short, it's a delightful, in-your-face dare to diss romance just because women write it and read it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gaijinmama

    Oh my gods, I kept getting weird looks from my family and from strangers on the train and in coffee shops because I kept snorting and giggling and guffawing all the way through this book! Hats off to the Smart Bitches, these ladies not only made me laugh but also made me think, and more than once they made me shout, "Hells, yeah!" I particularly liked their strong stance against plagiarism and racism in the romance genre, and their sharp observations about the Seriously Screwed Up (but occasional Oh my gods, I kept getting weird looks from my family and from strangers on the train and in coffee shops because I kept snorting and giggling and guffawing all the way through this book! Hats off to the Smart Bitches, these ladies not only made me laugh but also made me think, and more than once they made me shout, "Hells, yeah!" I particularly liked their strong stance against plagiarism and racism in the romance genre, and their sharp observations about the Seriously Screwed Up (but occasionally true and worthy of analysis) reasons people put down romance and romance readers. But the best part , let's be honest, is the delicious potty-mouthed snarkiness. I haven't laughed so hard since I -don't-know-when. really now...how many hilarious names for private parts did they come up with!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I read it straight through, and some parts dragged, but it was fun overall. So much was on the mark. Also, I don't really care what parts were boring, because you get the feel that the authors know and love the genre as much as you do (or the person that forced you to read the book does), so it's more like listening to your smart, bitchy, wordy (and often hilarious) friend ramble. Parts I liked: 1. Old School vs New School flowchart - comprehensive and amusing 2. Summary of Old School was interesti I read it straight through, and some parts dragged, but it was fun overall. So much was on the mark. Also, I don't really care what parts were boring, because you get the feel that the authors know and love the genre as much as you do (or the person that forced you to read the book does), so it's more like listening to your smart, bitchy, wordy (and often hilarious) friend ramble. Parts I liked: 1. Old School vs New School flowchart - comprehensive and amusing 2. Summary of Old School was interesting since I don't read them (or lusted for Rapey McRaperson), but from the discussion, it doesn't seem like I missed much. 3. Bitches Dictionary - Needs to be expanded to include more of the ridiculous things found in all romance novels, and moved to the front or back for convenient referencing. 4. I loved the Summary of the Heroine types - So true, and the examples were great (briefly relive great heroines and shudder at bad ones). 5. "Holy Crap! I Raped a Virgin" cards - Because the unwilling virgin plot device is getting So. Damn. Old. 6. Cliche Hero Job Options - Because I couldn't even think of more than a handful of romance heroes I've read about who weren't on the (embarrassingly short) list. And now I want more...I mean, who wouldn't want to read about a sexy/funny kindergarten teacher, musician, or infomercial salesman? 7. Hero Guidelines, Overused Plot Devices, Romance Trends - Again, so true. 8. Recognizing that alpha heroes often belong only in our books/fantasies...or else they'd be in jail. 9. Defending the Genre - Because I have to defend it so often...to myself...because it's hard to even admit it to other people... But I must confess, I still have a ways to go in convincing myself that it's not embarassing. 10. The entire chapter on Covers - Because they are the my main problem with #9. Plus, they beg to be made fun of. It's almost too easy. 11. Minorities in Romance - I hadn't really thought about some of the points they discussed. And while White/White action is fine, throwing more races in the mix would be super enjoyable methinks. 12. Choose Your Own Man Titty - I hate the title, but this section brings back so many good memories of choosing adventure books. Plus, it's so much fun to read (I'm sure to write, also).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathrynn

    Enjoyed the humor of the two authors throughout Beyond... They poked fun at the world of romance books (writing and reading) and justified the same. I found my eyes rolling at their less than stellar critique of the earlier romance books. Man, did they hit that bulls eye dead on. The authors provide numerous book samples--made me realize how few books I've actually read. Neat interviews by Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Emma Holly and a few others. This would be an excellent "source" book for someo Enjoyed the humor of the two authors throughout Beyond... They poked fun at the world of romance books (writing and reading) and justified the same. I found my eyes rolling at their less than stellar critique of the earlier romance books. Man, did they hit that bulls eye dead on. The authors provide numerous book samples--made me realize how few books I've actually read. Neat interviews by Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Emma Holly and a few others. This would be an excellent "source" book for someone thinking of writing a romance novel....Lots of do's and don'ts. How to write outside the box, but stay inside readers (and publishers) accepted reading criteria. A cute flow chart on the romance book that had me chuckling. Thought some sections/chapters were a bit long-winded and ended up skimming some things to get to the next section. Humor aside, they wrote an excellent book identifying many aspects of reading romance, cover art, hero character likability and how "we" (readers) are more lenient with a hero than a heroine. They believe, "we" tend to relate more to the heroine and if "we" don't see ourselves falling into the heroine roll, we tend to have a problem with the book. Had to laugh at their analogy of romantic suspense--my favorite genre. Didn't read too much of the take on paranormal as, for me, it's been/being overdone. Interesting idea how the old romance ideas have been curved into paranormal--turning woman into vampire in lieu of taking her virginity type thing. Overall, a cute book and I'm glad I read it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Damon Suede

    A sassy, savvy overview of romance as a popular genre. This book is based on the authors wry and much-trafficked website, but stretches beyond its online origins to become a kind of unpretentious, digressive lit-crit. Hilarious, informed, and consistently entertaining, this book is a must-read for anyone who loves the genre but maintains a sense of humnor about its excesses and unintentional in-jokes. Marvelous.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Flynn

    My favorite thing about this was the writing, which was gleefully salacious, full of campy double-entendres and shamelessly silly sexual puns. I also learned about history of this genre, and was reduced to tears of laughter by the choose-your-own-romance section at the end. I was most disappointed in something that was not the book's fault: I was hoping it would have more guidance for would-be writers of romance. (As I say, this is my own fault: it is clearly marketed as a readers guide. And I su My favorite thing about this was the writing, which was gleefully salacious, full of campy double-entendres and shamelessly silly sexual puns. I also learned about history of this genre, and was reduced to tears of laughter by the choose-your-own-romance section at the end. I was most disappointed in something that was not the book's fault: I was hoping it would have more guidance for would-be writers of romance. (As I say, this is my own fault: it is clearly marketed as a readers guide. And I suppose in an indirect way it does offer some useful advice, as in what cliches to avoid.) Even though I've no current plans to write a romance with a capital R, I am always on the lookout for writing tips of every sort. This book started life as a web site, and there are places where it shows: there's some content that simply makes more sense as a blog entry. Ten years on, that is particularly noticeable. Overall the book seemed unable to decide if it wanted to seriously examine its subject or not, but managed to be wonderfully entertaining all the same.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kazen

    3.5 stars The website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has taught me so much about the world of romance novels, and Wendell and Tan bring all of that expertise here. I took literal pages of notes on the history of modern romance, examinations of the romance hero and heroine, and the role of rape in Old Skool novels. The literary criticism and knowledge are broken up with jokes and general silliness that make me laugh. Heaving Bosoms came out in 2009 and some parts haven't aged well - they discuss LGBT 3.5 stars The website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has taught me so much about the world of romance novels, and Wendell and Tan bring all of that expertise here. I took literal pages of notes on the history of modern romance, examinations of the romance hero and heroine, and the role of rape in Old Skool novels. The literary criticism and knowledge are broken up with jokes and general silliness that make me laugh. Heaving Bosoms came out in 2009 and some parts haven't aged well - they discuss LGBTQIA+ romance but are unable to give a single rec - but the current SBTB website more than makes up for that lack. If you want to learn more about romance this is a great place to start.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Do not read this book! I'm very serious! I thought it was awful! The tone in this is astoundingly grating -- it's conversational and light, obviously trying to make you feel like you're in a discussion with an old friend, who happens to swear and thinks they're quite funny. The problem is we're not friends and they're not funny. Words this book used: ghey, buttsecks, what-what in the butt. I'm sorry but....are we all twelve? Is it time to be twelve again? I don't agree to this! Take it back! I lov Do not read this book! I'm very serious! I thought it was awful! The tone in this is astoundingly grating -- it's conversational and light, obviously trying to make you feel like you're in a discussion with an old friend, who happens to swear and thinks they're quite funny. The problem is we're not friends and they're not funny. Words this book used: ghey, buttsecks, what-what in the butt. I'm sorry but....are we all twelve? Is it time to be twelve again? I don't agree to this! Take it back! I love reading romance novels sometimes. I like examinations of them, too, and I think they're culturally and critically important and interesting. There are a lot of interesting points to be made about the dismissal of the biggest selling fictional market and all of its readers, because it is because it's part of a female-driven market. You can tell the authors really do love romance, but I found this unbearable. I straight up skipped multiple parts of it. It might just not be for me, but there's little to no charm here. I don't want to play choose your own adventure. Every now and again, I thought that there was a good point. BUT, it's not a new point I haven't read elsewhere, presented better, and with more warmth and wit than I found here. Frankly, as well, I thought this book insulted my intelligence. I don't need a cookie metaphor that goes on for five paragraphs or whatever. I got it already. Chill the fuck out.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tez

    I can handle some of the sub-genres, but as a whole romance doesn't work for me. Not just because of the books, but also because of some of its Special Snowflake fans who like to play victim about how the romance genre is persecuted, or prejudiced against, or whatever. And thus they get so defensive. CHILLAX, PEOPLE! I like the Smart Bitches, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, because unlike a lot of romance bloggers they don't absolutely fangirl over every romance book they read. They're quite forthco I can handle some of the sub-genres, but as a whole romance doesn't work for me. Not just because of the books, but also because of some of its Special Snowflake fans who like to play victim about how the romance genre is persecuted, or prejudiced against, or whatever. And thus they get so defensive. CHILLAX, PEOPLE! I like the Smart Bitches, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, because unlike a lot of romance bloggers they don't absolutely fangirl over every romance book they read. They're quite forthcoming when they don't like characters or their motives, or the author's purple prose, etc. These ladies are awesome because they don't act so precious. That said, this book is probably strictly for romance fans to celebrate with their fellow kin. But for non-fans, there's plenty of comic fodder. I don't really care for the "why we love it" bits, but the snark is brilliant. And the best of it comes when discussing paranormals. Never encountered "hemipenes" before? There are example books on page 113. Personally, I'm looking for more great novels in the m/m or f/m/m sub-genre (pages 114-115): For a variety of reasons, many romance readers love romances wherein the protagonists are both men. If you can recommend some great ones published by the major print publishers, please do!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    My poor roommate. I keep sending her texts and emails saying things like, "I bought four new books today! ...I'm sorry?" I'm supposed to be catching up on my TBR shelf (shelves), but--it's a clever, hysterically funny, profanity-filled book on romance novels! I finally found it at a local bookstore today, grabbed it and a Mother's Day present for my mom (hi, mom) and a random Regency, and read it tonight after finishing The Millionaire's Inexperienced Love-Slave. (It seemed only appropriate.) Now My poor roommate. I keep sending her texts and emails saying things like, "I bought four new books today! ...I'm sorry?" I'm supposed to be catching up on my TBR shelf (shelves), but--it's a clever, hysterically funny, profanity-filled book on romance novels! I finally found it at a local bookstore today, grabbed it and a Mother's Day present for my mom (hi, mom) and a random Regency, and read it tonight after finishing The Millionaire's Inexperienced Love-Slave. (It seemed only appropriate.) Now, I'm faced with a bigger problem: I have an EVEN BIGGER list of books to read, thanks to their recommendations. And I have to say that, in addition to being clevery, hysterically funny, and profanity-filled, I also found this book to be thoughtful and thought-provoking, especially on topics like the genre's roots in "rape stories" and the recent plagiarism controversy. In short: I totally recommend! And someone please tell me which Suzanne Brockman book I should start with; this is the third time she's been recommended to me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I thought this would be a fun tongue in cheek book, but there was just something about it that turned me off. The, almost clinical way they dissected the book and yet were glib at the same time just didn't work for me. After reading 20 pages and skimming another 40 I decided this one just wasn't for me. I thought this would be a fun tongue in cheek book, but there was just something about it that turned me off. The, almost clinical way they dissected the book and yet were glib at the same time just didn't work for me. After reading 20 pages and skimming another 40 I decided this one just wasn't for me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    A hilarious look at the romance industry.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna Erishkigal

    This book had some truly hilarious insights into romance as a genre which really made me stop and think about some of the tropes we weave into our stories.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book..... Is utterly fantastic. It is funny. It's smart and clever. And as someone who hasn't read a ton of romance and has lived in a world that loves to hate on the romance genre, this book gave me some insight as to why romance is so much more than heaving bosoms and mighty wangs (but that those aspects have their place as well!) If you are curious as to why romance is such a huge genre, this book is worth reading. If you want something funny and insightful, this book is worth reading. Th This book..... Is utterly fantastic. It is funny. It's smart and clever. And as someone who hasn't read a ton of romance and has lived in a world that loves to hate on the romance genre, this book gave me some insight as to why romance is so much more than heaving bosoms and mighty wangs (but that those aspects have their place as well!) If you are curious as to why romance is such a huge genre, this book is worth reading. If you want something funny and insightful, this book is worth reading. This will absolutely be a book that I buy and refer to in the future. Also: there are games in this book that make excellent book group adventures. ♥

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brie

    Absolutely fantastic. I laughed, I sympathized. Anyone who’s read a romance novel needs to read this and relish in the Accuracy™, but it also addresses the issues within the community, which I, and the authors, believe we should all be thinking about.

  28. 4 out of 5

    kate

    Lol. Seriously. Laugh out loud funny. The humor was a little forced at times. A couple of times questionable. But overall a great read. Especially if this is your genre of choice.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ana Mardoll

    Beyond Heaving Bosoms / 1416571221 I don't really read romance, but I love the writing styles of Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan as seen on their website "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books". When one of my online friends mentioned they were reading this book, I couldn't snap up a copy fast enough, and I finished it in a day. It's that good. This isn't just a book for romance fans, although I'm certain that romance fans will enjoy the heck out of it. But even for non-romance readers like me, it was eye-open Beyond Heaving Bosoms / 1416571221 I don't really read romance, but I love the writing styles of Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan as seen on their website "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books". When one of my online friends mentioned they were reading this book, I couldn't snap up a copy fast enough, and I finished it in a day. It's that good. This isn't just a book for romance fans, although I'm certain that romance fans will enjoy the heck out of it. But even for non-romance readers like me, it was eye-opening to see just how much the genre of romance has informed and influenced the non-romance books that I do read. Probably 90% of the fiction books I read have at least some romance and/or sexual tension in there alongside the 'main' plot, and as the romance genre has grown and evolved, their cousins in other genres have grown in similar ways. If you're a fan of genre-deconstruction and trope discussions, I think you will love this book as much as I did. The parsing of Old Skool and New Skool romances was particularly informative for me, and I love the chapters which discuss hero-and-heroine archetypes and motivations. There is an entire chapter devoted to rape in romance, where it came from as a trope, why it is dying out now, and how it is being in some ways sublimated into non-consensual paranormal transformations in some sub-genres, and the whole chapter is extremely well written and handles this delicate topic well -- the authors don't flinch from calling rape "rape" while still acknowledging that the issue is more complicated than it might appear from the outside. And the discussion on romance covers and why they are the way they are was fascinating for me; I hadn't realized that many of the "classic" covers were made to appeal to male book distributors rather than female buyers. I really, highly recommend this book if you're interested in the history of genres and the tropes that inform it. However, while "Beyond Heaving Bosoms" isn't getting out of here without a recommendation, I have a few caveats. One, there's a lot of hilarious salty language in here that may not be hilarious to all readers. Check the website before you buy and see if you like that sort of thing, would be my suggestion. Two, the e-book version of this excellent book makes me very sad and a little ragey at points -- the publisher should be ashamed of themselves for butchering an e-book like this. Issues confined to the e-book include: * None of the images-with-text in this e-book are remotely readable. (This includes the Old Skool / New Skool Flowchart, the Big Misunderstanding Game, the Sweeping Genre Generalizations matching game, and the Spot The Bullshit Regency Term answers.) The issue is not with the e-reader, but with the images included in the e-book -- even if your unit lets you zoom in, the pictures are such a low resolution that you'll just get blurred gibberish. * The columns in this e-book (and there are many, including the mix-and-match Virginity & Neurosis heroine chart and the Shady vs. Legit Publisher columns) are almost unreadable because of formatting issues. Column contents have been set to justified text rather than left-oriented, and with no white space between columns, which means that the whole column looks like a jumble of random words on a page and it's up to the reader to try to determine which words go where. * Similarly, the Write Your Own Romance section at the end has justified text (as opposed to left-oriented text) on the "Foreign term of endearment: _______ " fill-in-the-blanks which wreaks havoc on the final result. * The silly footnotes in this e-book -- and 99% of all the footnotes are a variation on "pun intended!" -- have been retained. This sort of thing is sort of cute in a paper book where the reader just has to glance down, but in an e-book where following the footnote means linking to the end and back, it means a roughly 10 second delay before the reader can get back to what they were reading. It breaks the reading flow, and I wish digital publishers would realize that and transform the "funny" footnotes into in-line parenthetical statements. * There are a number of typos and missing words in this version of the book that may or may not be present in the print edition. I don't usually even notice typos, but in this case there were at least 1-2 flow-breaking ones per chapter, and that was enough for me to notice. Some of these appear to be OCR errors due to a conversion process that wasn't thoroughly checked over afterwards, but I can't be sure. As I said before, "Beyond Heaving Bosoms" isn't getting out of here without a strong recommendation from me. I can really only read e-books, and so I'm glad that this book exists in electronic form even if the publisher couldn't be arsed to treat the book like the lady it is. But if you prefer print books to electronic ones, I recommend going that route so that you can enjoy all the lovely pictures. ~ Ana Mardoll

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl Tribble

    TLDR: Worth it just for the wisecracks and references. If you're not familiar with them, try the website first; if you enjoy the Smart Bitches website, you'll probably enjoy this. I like the Smart Bitches website, but was a bit unnerved at the start of this book when they were piling on anal sex jokes. The occasional joke is fine, but that isn't what I read their site for. They settle down and get serious (or as serious as you can expect) after a few pages, and for the most part I enjoyed the boo TLDR: Worth it just for the wisecracks and references. If you're not familiar with them, try the website first; if you enjoy the Smart Bitches website, you'll probably enjoy this. I like the Smart Bitches website, but was a bit unnerved at the start of this book when they were piling on anal sex jokes. The occasional joke is fine, but that isn't what I read their site for. They settle down and get serious (or as serious as you can expect) after a few pages, and for the most part I enjoyed the book. The majority of the disagreements I had with them were more generational or philosophical, I'd say, but I did think they misunderstood Jayne Anne Krentz's essay "Trying to Tame the Romance: Critics and Correctness." Their argument is that Krentz claims that there's no such thing as rape in romances, but that wasn't my reading of that part of Krentz's essay at all. I thought that Krentz's point was that there's plenty of sex without explicit or implicit consent in other genres is a valid one. That was one of my big problems with the one Dick Francis I read, back in the day -- the main character's essentially raped, and no one (including the main character) seems to care. Wendell and Tan are correct that he doesn't fall in love with the lady at the end, but OTOH the two characters do go on to have sex that he supposedly wants, with no consideration of her initial assault, and men's fiction usually makes a point of keeping the continuing character free of on-going female ties, so I see the situations as comparable. I also felt Krentz was essentially defending her own books, and those she'd personally read, and, having read my share of JAK novels, I'm not sure JAK was really up on the sort of thing Coulter and Rosemary Rogers were prone to. I've told many a Krentz heroine to slap the hero with a sexual harassment suit, but I don't remember ever thinking the guy was an outright rapist. I'm more likely to think Krentz's heroines are complete idiots for having sex with the guy (particularly in her historicals, set in times where unmarried pregnancy was a huge deal), than I am to think her heroes are rapists (although some of them are real jerks). As I said, I think some of it's generational -- Wendell and Tan were apparently not reading romances in the seventies and eighties, and I'd hazard a guess most of what they have read from that era are the more notorious examples. Even at the time, a lot of the books they bring up were notorious and discussed and read precisely because they were not typical. Krentz was defending the average, not the extreme. I do agree with Wendell and Tam that romance readers (and writers, but there I think the financial and career pressures should be considered) are much too prone to blindly defend romances, no matter what. What I disagree with is their claim that Krentz meant to defend the sort of rapes portrayed in Coulter's Devil's Embrace. Krentz defines what she's defending within her essay -- aggressive seduction of the sort that appears in other genres. Krentz does not claim to be defending everything a romance hero does in every romance ever. The other gripe -- admittedly minor -- I have about the book is how much of it was taken up with their Ultimate Romance Cover/"Choose Your Own Adventure" romance novel/color by number/fill-in-the-blank romance. I read all of that, but that's sixty some pages I'll never look at again. But the rest of it I generally enjoyed, either because it was hilarious or because of the astute observations. Much of the ideas I'd read elsewhere, but they still managed to bring up a few things I hadn't considered -- for example, "Whereas outside of the romance genre, women who were knowingly involved in prostitution, or who were raped, were considered "damaged goods," in a romance novel, particularly some stunningly good ones, such women deserve and earn happy endings." And clearly I need to start reading the "Teach me Tonight" website.

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