A classic post from my old blog, updated a bit. For new folks, enjoy.
Let it be known: we men must rethink our natural manly instinct that romance novelists are something to avoid, like SEX AND THE CITY 2, which is indeed worthy of scorn, and woe unto any man whose girlfriend or wife coerced them into wasting two hours of their life to see that stupid thing. No bribe is sufficient.
Published romance novelists are not only talented and funny, but many can write circles around the 6.57 gazillion reporters, writers and novelists I know.
These women are more talented than most folks writing about elves and spaceships, or elves riding spaceships, because there is so much freaking competition with romance novels.
Are there bad romance novels out there? Sure, just like any genre. But with so many books and writers, it’s like throwing 10,000 authors into the Thunderdome, tossing in a single chainsaw and refusing to unlock the door until there’s only one woman left. That woman is going to kick tail. She will be a writing goddess.
And the message is good. Romance novels don’t want men to be to be office drones, worried about TPS reports, or moody, over-educated basket cases you read about in literary novels.
Romance novels want men of action and charm, packing swords if not guns, and sometimes guns and swords. Any man can learn this from googling “romance novel covers.” IT IS AN EDUCATION.
Fabio and a sword is all you need. Shirts are optional.I hadn’t read romance novels, or even checked covers until now. Yet now that my eyes are open, we men should band together to pool our resources to give romance novels serious tax subsidies, because romance authors and readers are a secret army doing a $16.5 billion public relations campaign for men everywhere. And, yes, the genre is bigger than that. It’s a big push for love of all stripes, which is a good thing. Life isn’t about having the biggest pile of dead presidents. It’s about family and who you love. As a husband and father, I get that.
So, romance novelists and readers, I am holding a mug of Belgium beer which I raise your direction. Keep up the good work.
76 thoughts on “Romance novelists are a secret, epic army”
Great post , I hope more men read romance books and learn from them. There would be a lot more happy women if that happened. Only trouble is the type of men we like to read about wouldn’t be seen (even the dead ones) reading any girly books. Unless we can persuade them its research.
Great post Guy! You’ll be happy to know that there are other professions accepted now besides Viking, Pirate and Native American Warrior. There’s lord of a castle, Scottish highland warrior (reference point, Scottie McMullet), illegitimate relative of the king, cowboy/rancher, doctor, policeman/private investigator, wall street wizard, firefighter. Some of them don’t even have swords anymore but they can all kick butt. That’s the main thing, must be able to battle on behalf of the lovely heroine. There is really quite a bit of variety involved these days. You might try reading a few sometime. As you have pointed out there are some terribly gifted authors behind them.
We’re not all women…and good men love heroic women.
Hmn, I do believe Guy has figured out the secret to how to get women flocking to him.
Scottie McMullet. Brilliant.
You are brilliant!
I started writing romance BECAUSE I love men so much (And I love reading about fantasies INVOLVING men who love their women). 😀 Shirts are optional, definitely…and swords can be replaced with sharp wit, awesomely sexual super power, whip, fangs, or manly weapon of choice. 😉
New follower to your blog! Love it!
You, Sir, are clearly a smart man.
There are a few other acceptable occupations for romance novel heroes, BTW – billionaires are also okay as are English Dukes, Scottish Lairds and the heirs to most any throne.
Maybe we should include unusually pithy bloggers on our list of acceptable romance novel hero occupations?
I love this article like a swashbuckler loves his sabre. 🙂
I do often duck my head when I read a book with a Fabio-inspired cover on it in public, but I do enjoy how romance as a genre is a love song to men, for their physicality as well as their emotionality. I try my hand at it from time to time, and, even though I adore heroines who are strong and willful, it’s also wonderful to see her tumble into the arms of the man she loves.
Great (and funny) insight into the allure of this genre, especially from a man’s perspective. Plus, Belgian beer makes everything better.
I love this post, but still I cannot suppress a *sigh*. My husband is one of those men who does not appreciate my love of romance novels, and while he has never read one straight through, he may have a point. In that while real men (by which I mean men as they occur naturally in the wilds of the suburbs) may want to be like romance novel heroes, he claims that they in fact AREN’T.
And worse! He says that male friendships are nothing like they are in romance novels. I know, it’s horrible. I hope he’s wrong. The J.R. Ward BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD series survives horrific writing and characters named Rehvenge and Wrath and Tohrture (I am not making that up) by portraying all this male bonding that just makes all the guys seem that much sexier… and yet. Perhaps it isn’t so.
My man-source claims there’s significantly less talking among the natives than either the extraneous-H-not-quite-vampires in a Ward book or the hot brothers on Supernatural. (Okay, it’s TV and not particularly romantic, but women eat that up for the same reason.)
So, Epic Viking Hero, do romance novels celebrate what men actually are, what men should be, or what women want to imagine men can be?
Think about it for a second: are the women in romance novels realistic? Not a shock that the men in such books are fantasies, too.
HOWEVER: Men these days are better than ever. We still do manly man things, but have also learned new skills. Same with women. I believe people are improving, and stats prove me out. Less drunk driving, more college degrees, lower crime. Don’t give up hope.
Men are awesome! I’m just not sure how much my undying imaginary love for Jamie Fraser actually contributes to my real feelings for my real-life husband, who, by the way, was up all night working on those TPS reports so we can continue to have funds to pay our mortgage.
That’s right. Jamie. Best romantic hero EVER, even if he did beat his wife. Something the real-life, modern-day model would not have gotten away with, which is as it should be.
Yay! I love this post- finally, finally, FINALLY one of you has GOT it! Now spread the word… 😀
Sweet. let us know how you like it. 🙂
(Hit Post Comment too soon) …
All the Queen’s Men is about a great CIA operative and mission, and starts out with war and bombs. Crazy Hot is about a group of ex-car thieves who still blur the lines of lawful and not, and drive super-badass cars that’ll make you drool. Have fun!
Great post, Epic. I’m a voracious reader of all literature, but contemporary romance is my favorite. With the troubling media that bombards us everyday in real life, it’s nice to have an escape … romance is great because no matter how gnarly the terrorist, how mighty the sword, how galactic the space alien, there’s happiness and hope at the end of the tale. Today’s romance heroes are worthy of the badass moniker because they reflect soldiers and police officers and fire fighters and real life men and women struggling with real life issues. They take a chance in life, and they take a chance in love … and really, is there anything more challenging than that? I write contemporary romance as Becky Moore, and I can guarantee that my husband LOVES for me to work through plot lines with him and read selections aloud. 🙂
On a side note, may I suggest two of my favorite romances with sexy, badass dudes, for your experimental reading: All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard, and Crazy Hot by Tara Janzen. You may find that it’s your new genre … and find a couple of new tricks to enhance your own manly wiles.
Thank you kindly, Dolly the Sickles, and welcome to my silly blog.
I’ll check out ALL THE QUEEN’S MEN and I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog.
Epic, my giant swede (aren’t we all going to put that in a book now?), the problem is that although enlightened far beyond what we usually encounter, you are still under the misconception that all romance books are alike. That’s like saying the butler did it in every whodunit, or the evil identical twin is the killer in every psychotic thriller.
What do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Do you prefer your reads to be gritty, or sweet? Hero/Heroine alpha, or, er, low-key? Contemporary? Paranormal? Historical? Sci-Fi? Inspirational? Western? Military? These are just to name a few, and only one layer to peel back. How graphic should the sex be? Closed door? Sweet? Erotic? Gay? Multi-partner? They all exist, and then some.
Do you see what I’m saying? Not everyone who likes mysteries likes Patterson. What you consider to be a good book completely depends on your personal taste.
I am well aware of the infinite varieties of romance novels.
My requirements for the next novel to read and blog about are as such:
1) Fabio must be on the cover.
2) Fabio must be on the cover.
3) Fabio must be holding a sword.
This is not a whim. It is an evil plan to avoid OUTLANDER torture porn. I figure a novel with Fabio on the cover will be mainstream and normal and fun. You can’t spell fun without Fabio.
I feel responsible to jump right on in here and say, don’t badmouth torture porn. There are plenty of respectable politicians in this world who have a secret obsession with humiliation and pain. And if my senator can do it, by god, so can I. Yes. We. Can.
Oh, and Fabio is so completely overrated as a mock stereotype trope. But. If you happened to catch him on the Valentine’s edition of Cupcake Wars last week, you would realize that he is an alien and never ages. He and Vanna White are part of a secret alien army who plan to take over the world.
Also, I still stand by my recommendation of Outlander. Despite what all the bandwagoners say, I loved it. And yes, I’m into some occasional BDSM, so maybe that explains a lot. But I still think it was the most epic romance novel of all time. AND, I’d still rather read torture porn than sparkly vampires and the Spork. That is all.
Sparkly vampires and the Spork are torture.
Dalton the Diaz,
I agree. All men should read ONE romance novel, as long as it is not OUTLANDER.
Yes!!! This is what I have been saying for years. To men everywhere who can read and/or listen to books on tape, the answer to the age old question, “How can I be the best lover?” is right there in front of you. If you are lucky enough that your woman reads romance books, the answer is right there in your home, dwelling on her keeper shelf. Ask her what her favorite books are, then read them! Is it pirates, vampires, werewolves? Doesn’t matter. It’s all in the attitude. For the truly adventurous, there is role-playing. If she’s into Erotic romance, you’ve just hit the royal jackpot.
OMG, this is one of the most brilliant posts about romance authors I’ve read by a guy, period!
I don’t write Viking or Native American warriors, but I can give you all kinds of dreamy women who love their lawyers, futuristic soldiers and vampire heroes (no, not the sparkly Ralph Lauren wearing teenage kind whose biggest threat is that he might break up with you via e-mail). My specialty – edgy, sexy and kick ass. *happy sigh* I do enjoy writing about ‘my’ men and the shameless women who love them.
Lawyers are hawt.
Doctors…not so much.
What a great topic. I have some author friends in Wisconsin who showed their hubbys what they were writing …
Men really should read romance novels. It would help them to understand women.
You misspelled Thunderdome.
That said… Finally a guy figured it out!
I’ve always wondered why guys say “What do women want?” We’ve been telling you for DECADES. There’s an entire section of the bookstore telling you what we want.
6’3″, viking, epic black car, whoooo shiver me timbers~thanks for noticing. You just got my book mark, babe.
My favorite romance novel of all time is Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn. As for the trashiest. I won’t say which one *I* think it is, but I will say that I think Dear Author may have roasted a few of them.
I concur with Rebecca. This is a FABULOUS post. I’ll be back. For the best romance novel of all time…try Pride and Prejudice.
“Romance Writers Unite with Man-ly Men for World Revolution in Thought” – that’s the headline I’m seeing. I celebrate all my sister and even a few brother authors of romance. In fiction, our heroes and heroines may typically be more beautiful on the outside than the average person, but what makes them, and all our average people, exceptional and worth loving is what is on the inside – strength, humor, intelligence, kindness, and the ability to overcome obstacles on the path to happily ever after or even just happy for now. Thank you Epic, for being a man and seeing how much we do love men and that romance writing is not a dirty word (although we may write plenty of dirty words *wink*). Come on guys – you want to know how to catch and keep your woman – we’ll tell you. Oh – and you forgot our Highland Warriors – We loves us a Highland Hottie.
As a suggestion for a good read – “The Tutor” by Hope Tarr. That’ll get your motor racing.
Hilarious! I’m so glad my writing peeps sent me to read this. Thank you, Epic, for being brave enough to acknowledge romance novels for what they are. 🙂 I admit, most of my heroes don’t have swords, but they do pack another kind of heat and it’s just as effective. They also drink beer a lot–beer’s a good thing. (We might go drink some beer now to celebrate this blog!)
Bravo to you for recognizing this fact and celebrating that romance isn’t a negative thing. I happen to write gay romance, but it’s still all about loving men. In fact, when people ask me why I choose to write gay romance, I laugh and reply, “I like men. More men is better!” It’s a bit of a stock answer and intended to make people laugh, but it’s also very much the truth.
How cool is this? A man writing about how other men should read romances (duh!) to find out what women want …
I have told my cover artist not to put females on my covers, I just want a hot, muscular man to get the reader’s attention. My story will do the rest.
So please, do both the men AND women of the world a favor, and spread the word about men needing to read romance novels!
What an amazing post! I’m thrilled I was sent here by a fellow author to see it – and yes, you guessed it, she’s a romance author.
I read your responses, EpicBlackCar, and I think you reading a romance novel as an experiment would be a great idea. You should hold a contest here, meaning have everyone suggest a favorite one or two to you and you read the back covers and decide what appeals to you. (great traffic for your blog!!)
The category tag of “romance” has changed so much in the last twenty years — it includes the traditional harlequin type ones, short and sweet as well as longer, meatier tombs in historical, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, suspense, mystery and even sci-fi and steampunk (the list goes on and on). You’ll find some where the sole focus is the relationship, others where it is a subplot, and still more where the heroine shags her favorite guy and it’s called “romantic elements”.
Above all we love men – all jobs, all races, all body types. We love alphas, betas, nerds, bad-boys, and occasionally we fall in love with the fixer-upper types. We know our mens’ foibles and often write them in our characters — and love them nonetheless!
I’ll be book-marking your site and coming back. A male writer without a chip on his shoulder and worthy of attention. Bravo!
I’m posting it on my FB page today – hopefully you’ll get some readers who stop by and tell you their favorites as well.
I’m still trying to think of a favorite… so many good ones make it hard to choose!
Whoa! You’re a 6’3 Swede?? Seriously??
*minx running off to write a romance about a Tall Swedish Viking with an epic black car*
-Minx (sooo not my real name. My parent’s weren’t that cool!)
Great post. I wish I could afford to offer something for the car. All I have to offer is my friendship and my thanks for being such an EPIC man.
I’m new at writing, but trying. The Diva’s have been a huge help. There are men who write some of the books. My new husband writes Vampire Erotic stories. And some others.
I’ll be thinking of the best and the trashiest book and will post when I think of it.
Thanks again Epic.
Thank you for this post! I am glad that one of your sex finally understands why we write romance. You are very funny too, which is another characteristic women love about men. :o)
I forwarded your post to my DH. Last week, after years of pouting about me reading and writing romance, he offered to dress like a firemen, highlander, or pirate to entice me away from my WIP. I told him to forget the shirt and don a kilt, and I would be right there. Now there are two of you who get it. ;o)
Not only do romances give you an insight to what the female brain and libido are desiring, but you can understand the happily ever after that we all crave no matter what sub genre we enjoy reading.
Keep reading the romances, and you will be King of the ladies in your life! :o)
A summit of manly men and romance novelists? I’m there.
What a refreshing post by someone who appreciates all the life we bring to the pages, and all the fun we have. We could listen to the news all day or write/read love stories. Hmmmm. It’s all fantasy. I choose love stories.
You are darned funny. Keep it up.
Fantastic post, love it. Finally, a guy who gets us. And yes, we adore manly men…with long flowing blond hair and broad shoulders. We love our alphas, guns, swords or fangs, it’s all good.
Thank you for posting this! It really made my day. It looks like your message has made its way around the world via the romance writing community.
I have to agree with what you’ve said, and what all the other writers/readers have said in response – guys could learn A LOT from reading our genre. I adore men (well, most men!) and that’s why I want to write and read about them. A great hero gets my attention every time, and I like to celebrate the wonderful qualities that men can possess.
Hopefully you’ll start to receive suggestions about the best novels to read, but I’d try looking at the Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Novelists Association (UK) etc. to read up about some of the authors of the genre. It might be the way to start your search for reading material. The genre is quite broad, but I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.
Good luck, and thanks again for bringing a smile to my face :-).
It’s lovely to be appreciated. I just got very excited and told my husband who works in the very manly railroad field and has broad shoulders anyone can be proud of, that he must leave his job and take on one of three jobs…he’s deciding, but I think he’s leaning toward Viking. Thanks for the giggles and for the love directed toward my writing sisters and I!
This is my favorite blog post of all time. That is all.
Well, when you capitalize it like that, I get all serious and stuff. There will be much putting on of spectacles and thumbing through bookshelves.
Will this be for a future post, or did I stumble upon an immediate literary throw-down of epic and manly proportions?
Great post! Loved it. A guy who gets it. I am a romance writer, paranormal romantic suspense, and yes, my heroes are warriors from a secret clan, and yes, they do carry swords, daggers and even guns, and yes, they are tough, have some super X-Men like moves. But they’re also kind and fair and saving the world from demons. What’s not to love about that? There’s so much more to a romance than just romance, especially romantic suspense, and if men would give it a chance, they might not just find a darned good story, but see what a lot of women want in a guy. Granted this is like the wish list and we don’t expect a real man to be exactly like the hero anymore than we’re like the heroine, but women would love to have a toned down version of the written thing. And finally, yes, romance writing has LOTS of benefits for the male population. Open your eyes, guys! Just ask a romance writer’s husband 🙂
ahh, a man with a brain and who understands the disposable nature of a Gremlin (did you count how many bought the big one in Terminator?)
Yes, we romance novelists love men, and if men were even wiser, they’d read some of our books to learn some bedroom tricks that would put a smile on your lady’s lips.
Thanks for the support!
You are the bomb! Just think of the harmony and understanding that would occur if more men read romance novels. They are cheat sheets into a woman’s fantasies and desires.
What an awesomely epic idea!
You rock. Pure and simple. 😉 I told an editor a few weeks ago that I write “girl books” that boys like to read. As another commenter stated, romance holds fantasy, scifi, action/adventure, mystery, suspense, and a whole lot of genres in between. The one unifying thread is that two people fall in love, work through the obstacles to that love, and get their Happy Ever After. Every man I ever met wants his HEA, too, even if it’s just a six-pack, and the game on the big screen.
Here’s to you, Epic Black Car, and all the men we romance writers love to love!
Thank you for a truly entertaining post! I may have to print it out and post it in an obvious place for the males in the house to notice. Would that be the bathroom mirror or the blank wall behind the toilet? Must go research.
You’ve been in my house, haven’t you? 😉
Ha, ha! Loved the post. But not all romance heroes are warriors. 🙂 And they often do share feelings. (This is women’s fantasy after all.)
Reading romance is a great way for men to learn more about women. I tend to recommend books that are in the genre I like to read. For example, if he’s a science fiction reader, I’ll recommend science fiction Romance.
*big happy sigh* 🙂
Ha! It’s about time you guys realized this. 🙂
And I’ll let you in on another secret you men can get your heads around: Romance novels are showing you way more about how a woman thinks and what we fantasize about than you’d ever want to know.
Think of them as a manual, minus the pictures with the handy numbers pointing to parts. 🙂 (I have a feeling you guys already know where all the parts are and what they are called, so really, you shouldn’t need them.)
It always amuses me when a man reads something I’ve written and gets back to me to say “It was a bit mushy in places but it was a cool read.”
Granted, I don’t usually tell them it’s a romance novel. At least not beforehand. (Sorry for tricking you, guys.) I do tell them afterward, and the general reaction is “I had no idea women are so bloodthirsty!” (Just in case you’re squeamish – I apologize for killing off half the cast. Don’t hand me that chainsaw. I know how to use it.)
But yes, you hit the nail on the head. It’s PR for men. Because we like men. A lot. I bet secretly you guys like women, too. (Even the annoying motormouth in accounts, who can be quite cute sometimes, in a weird, oddly fascinating way.) So we’re even. Sort of.
Honestly, I loved tripping over your blog (which was posted by – surprise, surprise – a romance novel author) and your take on this.
Yes, we like men to be manly. Sure. But what most of us want is to find a bad boy (even if you just pretend!) and redeeming the blighter — and keeping him forever. (Just make sure you’re still a little bit bad, but only with the woman who’s got her hands on you… or you’ll know what it feels like when the claws come out.)
What we most like is being able to lean on a shoulder and knowing that shoulder won’t be yanked out from under us, or that we’re seen as weak.
Thank you. 🙂
We love men. We really do. And we love all kinds of men and write about them, Nerds, Geeks, Cowboys, Firefighters, CEO’s, Vampires, Werewolves. You google it, we’ve probably written about it.
This has to be the most eloquent post in favor of Romance novelists I’ve ever read. And from a man! All I can say is, “Take that, literary snobs!” We romance novelists have received such a bad rap because people just assume our books are just about the romance. But we are much more than that. There’s suspence, intrigue and action to rival any regular fiction book.
We love when men read our books, especially when they give us a nice review on Amazon. So I hope your post sends more men to the Romance aisles and they can sneer at any Borders or Barnes & Noble clerk and say: “Yeah, I’m here, so what?”
Oh, this is hilarious — but so true in so many ways. There are two reactions I’ve experienced as a single woman writing romance: The waggled eyebrows with, “Need some ideas?” or the lifted eyebrows and the whites of their eyes showing as they try to discretley edge out of their chair.
Yes we want our heros strong. Sword-bearing, heat-packing, agressive in their corporate takeovers or the way they tackle a broken lawnmower. But often we ‘break’ these alpha males by digging in and finding a vulnerability. A desire or need they’d never mention to buddies while slugging down a beer, but one all buddies can relate to for the same purpose.
Whatever that TRUE meaning is behind the shoulder-slap, “Yeah.” that bonds men together.
Which is, in fact, a very proper response to, “Isn’t that a beautiful sunset?”
So yes. Be men. We love you that way. Even if we try to drag you to chick flicks.
I am not an author but a reader and I am so glad there are authors who make the man look great.. I am still one of few women who likes to look at a man for support..not because I am weak..just because I enjoy being spoiled and very much pampered. The male on the cover of the romance books are not too hard on the eyes either which is another plus. So men..thank all these women authors who put you up there on the top of the hill and say WOW LOOK AT THAT HUNK!!!!!!!!. susan L.
And there’s the secret we’ve been screaming to the world. We are PRO men! CEOs, FBI, Rogues, Pirates, we want our heroines to love them all. These days you can throw in a zombie, demon or wolf shifter and our heroines are going to make them prove their worth as well.
And romance writers are very supportive of each other and happy to help one another believe it or not. Though I do love your Thunderdome visual … if I throw in a couple of men saving them from the evil publishers … yeah, I’m thinking there’s a story in there somewhere. Just saying …
Now, wait, though. I’m drawing the hawt hero line at ZOMBIE. In fact, just above zombit, please. No. I don’t want to do anything where parts that are in my body are in danger of coming OFF at any point in the interlude. That is decidedly not hot.
Uh…. should be *zombie* with an e. Not a t. Although, I don’t want a zombit hero any more than I want a zombie hero.
I’ll write about an alpha hero any day…and make my heroine want him. No swords for my heroes (so far), but sometimes guns have been used. CEO’s showing a softer side, Men in Uniform (I’ve got an Army officer in one book and a Fireman in another)…all make for great heroes.
We want our heroes strong, yet with a vulnerable side. Sexy, but not vain. Love/hate the heroine at first sight…and/but find her irresistible. He can have some flaws, and so can heroines (but he’s got to love her anyway). Heroines, however, can either ignore his flaws or help him change (hey…this is fantasy!).
Emotional, physical, and sexual gratification is a must for our passionate lovers.
If men would read more romance books, they’d understand women better!
This post is all types of awesome.
Romance novels have definitely evolved a lot since the covers that show up on google but you’ve got the “loves men” part right for sure!
Amen to that !:)
Yes, we definitely want our men to be sword or gun carrying alpha males that punch things when it needs to be done, though if those aren’t available a good set of fangs will do. I won’t even tell you the naughty things us women write about on how to use those suckers.
Fantastic post! Gotta adore a man who knows the worth of us romance novelists.
I wish I was writing about men with long hair and swords who lived in castles and rescued heiresses. Alas, my characters do have mundane jobs like run corporations, cemeteries, landscape companies, and BDSM clubs. My heroes are more likely to vanquish the bad guys with judicious use of the Almighty Dollar rather than a nine-mill. (But don’t tell my old man that. He loves his Glock. And his long hair. LOL)
On the other hand, my het heroes truly love women in all shapes and sizes as long as they are kick ass in some fashion. No wussy heroines for me. Even the heroine with a pain fetish and a death wish isn’t a wuss. She’s a financial genius in Jimmy Choo’s who rules the budget of a billion dollar mortuary conglomerate.
But yeah. In general, romance writers LOVE men. So much so, that when we’re done writing, some of us will even let you tie us up and flog us. All in the name of love, of course.
Thanks for a great post! I love a man who can make me laugh. 🙂