I love category romance

This week, I read Fay Weldon's article in the Telegraph, and it bugged me. I write category romances. The sorts of stories that I hope will someday land me on the shelves amongst some very talented writers. Now, I’ll be the first one to say that we’re not writing Nobel or Pulitzer prize winning fiction. Frankly, I would be so depressed trying to write that sort of literary work that I’d be suicidal most days. I like my happy endings, my spicy sex scenes, and that little jolt I get when the hero finally figures out/admits that he loves the heroine.

“I daresay it is true of Mills & Boon tales that they perpetuate female folly by suggesting that love and marriage is the answer to a woman's problems, and not the beginning of them, but I hardly think it is any worse than that. Are we not entitled to a little wishful thinking?”

While I appreciate her second sentence was supposed to take the sting out of the one before it, I have to ask myself if I’m perpetuating female folly that love and marriage are the answer to a woman’s problems when I write about two people falling in love. 78% of the women reading romance are over 24. Am I then to understand that women over 24 live in hope that just over the next hill is some wealthy alpha hero who will sweep them away with passionate kisses and the promises of love everlasting? Seriously?

And if the answer to a woman’s problems is love and marriage then why are the heroes such a pain in the ass through 90% of the book?

I don’t think readers of category romance believe love and marriage is going to solve all their problems any more than they believe they will stumble across a dead body and solve the crime before the police do, or that there’s a school for wizards in England. We’re writing fantasy stories. Not non-fiction.

Last night I went to see 27 Dresses. It’s a romantic comedy about a woman who spends her freetime planning and attending other people’s weddings. She has issues about taking care of people and doesn’t pay attention to her own needs. Our hero is a cynic who also happens to be stuck writing (beautiful) stories about weddings. He picks on the heroine’s closet full of bridesmaid dresses and rants about the way society has been manipulated by corporations when it comes to spending money on weddings.

As the movie progresses, she deals with her need to nurture. He confronts his cynical nature.

After ¾ of this, we come to a pivotal moment where he whispers to the heroine that he cried at one of the weddings he reported on. BAM! The skeptic is revealed to have a softer side. And isn’t that what romance novels are supposed to do? Bring out our hero’s romantic nature?

Why do I bring this movie up? Because the movie could have a category romance. So why is 27 Dresses acceptable, but category romances are criticised?

“The Mills & Boon novel takes a peculiarly narrow slice of female life, and so tends to get despised.”
Is it just me or is despised a strong word with a lot of energy behind it? Who's doing all this despising?

I know I probably should have let this article pass unremarked. To write about it only perpetuates the negative view of category romance. But every time someone says Harlequin in that scathing tone (both readers of the books who are embarrassed to admit they enjoy them and others), it bugs me.

I know that hoping to see a completely positive story on romance books in a major newspaper is my folly. But see, I believe in communication both in real life and in my books. She got her say. I got mine.

Today's Goal: Finish ch 7 edits
Yesterday's Achievement: Snuck away to see a movie
What I'm Grateful for: I won a book from Kate Walker Harlequin Presents author YEAH!
Affirmation: "True courage is like a kite; a contrary wind raises it higher"
--John Petit-Senn