Thursday, January 30, 2014

New types of romance characters or "Haven't I seen that Navy SEAL before?"

Just a few thoughts on the current crop of heroes in romance today. Well actually, erotic/new adult, fill-in-the-blank romance heroes. Please, please tell me why are all the men from the land of Alpha Galore 7? Every freakin' one has the chiseled abs of death, is an insanely handsome, active or retired, Navy SEAL or a gruff cop who's been a Navy SEAL or a billionaire/bartender Navy SEAL or a fireman/Navy SEAL or a Mixed Martial Artist/Navy SEAL or a motorcycle club member/Navy SEAL and they ALL are lonely DOMS who own or frequent BDSM clubs. The only thing missing is for someone to write a book where the hero is a combination of all of them. Now that would be a challenge! My question? Where are the insanely handsome janitors and grocery store clerks and unemployed guys whose abs are just OK? Just askin’.

Curiously the same types rule in Male/Male romance too. Perhaps it’s easier to keep the hero a specific stereotype, then you can switch out the characters as needed. Just like M/F romance, tons of M/M is written by women for women. So it might not be too much of a stretch. Hunky guys are prime story material for all genders. But in the current crop of M/M romance, the plots are reading like M/F romance with the female swapped out for a guy. In some stories there is little in the way of an emotional or psychological shift to distinguish it from its M/F counterpart. Just like “50 Shades of Grey” introduced BDSM (in a very watered down way) to the sleeping masses, the current crop of M/M romances seem to be reflecting a tone that won’t have the shuttered, curious masses clutching their pearls too much but will have them say with squinted eyes, “Ooooh! So that’s how they do it?” One such book comes to mind immediately. It’s written by a woman. She’s tops (excuse the pun) in her field and her book is essentially a male take on “Pretty Woman.” It’s a great, angst-y read. I just felt like it was constructed to appeal to a female audience because one of the guys could have been replaced by a woman easily.

My absolute favorite M/M romance? Bone Rider by J. Fally hands down! This author writes like nobody’s business. Her plot is original and riveting. Her love scenes, yes, love, not sex scenes, are scorching and are written in a way that are believable. The men in this book are mad for each other and show it in a raw, unflinching way. YUMMY! Check the book out. It’s like the movie “The Hidden” crashed into the movies “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Die Hard.” Strange mix, right? But it works! it’s so enjoyable. It’s very different, very unique. And I adored it. It has spoiled me. Her unbelievable, crazy blend of the military, survivalists, an alien, a bartender and a Russian mobster succeeds on all fronts. Bravo! Bravo! Hollywood, this is the cowboys and aliens movie you should have made.

On to the heroines.

Compared to the guys, the girls need therapy. Quick. Ladies, I expected so much more from you, this being the 21st century. As cookie-cutter as the new heroes are in any combination of partners, the onslaught of the traumatized and traumatizing heroine in the New Adult genre has me scratching my head. God, she’s either the weeping, distraught, dazed throwback to the by gone days of romance or she’s the I'll do anything at any time with anyone chick. AND most disturbing to me is many in this new crop of heroines find themselves the victim of rape-be it by a “friend” or by a stranger. Oh my. If this occurs in F/F romance, I don’t know as I haven’t got to them yet.

And the same types people the IR romance landscape too. I’ve skimmed lots of ebooks where the dusky, curvy temptress with natural hair on page one is being swept off her high heels with a flowing weave on page eight by a White Navy SEAL/billionaire/MMA fighter/bartender/cop/werewolf/fireman/lawyer/vampire. Wait! For some, the last two choices may be the same.

Well, that’s my personal report on the ever shifting characters of Romancelandia as the age and circumstance and preferences of readers change. Are they reflecting your tastes?

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