by Raelene Gorlinsky
Have I mentioned my mother? I love her dearly. She is extremely proud of and brags about "my daughter, the publisher", but is completely embarrassed by what I publish. She doesn't read romance, thinks Nora Roberts writes smut, doesn't see the need for more than one kiss in a book. There are standing orders in the family--if anyone asks about my job, what it is the company publishes, the allowable response is "women's fiction". Not romance, let alone erotic romance! (I can't recall my mother ever using the word 'sex' in front of her children--all of us in our forties and fifties now.)
So...I'd really like to brag to the family about being quoted in a new book that is getting a lot of buzz. However, then Mom would ask what I was quoted saying, where she could find the book to read it. "Uh, Mom, it's called Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I'm in the chapter about sex in romance novels, and I talk about anal sex, menage a trois, and BDSM."
No, I think I better just take a pass on mentioning this one to the family.
However, I'm mentioning it to all of you.
Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan, (c)2009; Simon and Schuster; trade paperback; US$15.00
If you are a published or aspiring romance author, this book is well worth your time. It is entertaining and informative. The authors describe it as "for readers by readers". They clearly love romance novels but are not blind to some of the foibles and faults of the genre, the cliches and clunkers. Authors could learn a lot about their desired audience, about how to improve their plots and characters. I don't agree with all their statements and conclusions, but there is an incredible amount of advice about the history and current trends in romance writing, about reader expectations and preferences.
Who could fail to find wisdom in "A Hymn to the Hymen", "Top Ten Reasons Behind the Creation of a Virgin Widow", "The Three Most Fucked-Up Things Heroes Have Done and Gotten Away With", or "Everything I know About Biology and Physics, I Learned from Romance-Novel Covers".
And it's utterly charming that the chapters are named rather than numbered: Cleavage, Petticoat, Corset, Codpiece, Secret Cowboy Baby, WTF, Bad Sex, Love Grotto, Phallus, Heaving Bosom.
Be forewarned though, the tone is snarky and the language is salty (and fun).