Saturday, December 13, 2008

Historical Romances

I resisted reading historical romances for a long time. Looked at them with disdain actually. I don't know what I expected - I guess I just figured they were just bodice-rippers (or "do me" books as a friend of mine called them). Would they have any substance or would they just be flimsy plot devices crammed in between raunchy sex scenes? I still can't bring myself to read the ones with Fabio-like cover models and if I read any that dance on the threshold of those dreaded covers then I do it on the sly. :) I recently broke down and read The Duke and I by Julia Quinn and was instantly hooked. I devoured each one as I got my grubby hands on it. Another writer is quoted on the covers of some of her books as saying that (I'm paraphrasing) Julia Quinn is the contemporary Jane Austen. I guess that is supposed to lend some legitimacy to this genre; romances are generally considered fluff (as I already admitted to) and no "serious" reader would never stick their big toe in the lake of romance novels (or something like that). But the aforementioned paraphrased author is right. I read the first seventy or so pages of Pride and Prejudice just prior to reading The Duke and I and I was struck how similar the stories are, though certainly not the prose. The time period, the society scene in London and surrounding english countryside, and attitudes toward the sexes and marriage are all seriously considered. I will also admit that I while I did enjoy (and will finish) Pride and Prejudice, I enjoyed Julia Quinn a great deal more. Jane Austen wrote some wonderful stories (ironically, most of them romances) but Julia Quinn was easier to read; Austen's prose can be difficult to navigate. Having said all this, I can no longer stick my nose up at historical romances. However I still sometimes can't take myself seriously when I read them but I'm not going to let that stop me. Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Johanna Lindsey and others, here I come. :)

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