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Posts tagged ‘romance novels’

Waiting on You

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 by: Kristan Higgins

I picked up this romance novel at Rite Aid a week or so ago (along with ice cream and pop chips; it was not a good day) on the recommendation of two of my favorite authors, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn.  With a double whammy, how can you go wrong?

And I didn’t.  While not my favorite romance novel ever, it was probably the best one from a new author I’ve picked up in a long, long time.  The characterizations were really good, with the main characters and most of the supporting characters being extremely well-developed.  There were one or two supporting characters that came across as a little “type-y” rather than depending on Higgins’ characterization to develop, but it certainly wasn’t an egregious overuse.

The plotline was good – it’s one of those “old love comes back to town” kind of deals.  I’m really fond of that plot device – I think it makes for a more believable bond between the two main characters.  And Higgins put a pretty interesting twist on it here, without making it too angst-ridden.  The pacing was really nice; at no point did I feel like it was either dragging or leaving me with my head spinning.

The book itself was light and full of humor.  I don’t think it actually made me laugh or chuckle at any point, but it certainly worked as an escape mechanism.  One of the things I liked best is how Higgins handled secondary relationships between the main characters and their friends and family.  Without overshadowing the main relationship of the book, Higgins manages to make them important to the characters’ development and believable.  It helps to round out the characters, but it also makes the book seem more grounded in reality.  Family and friends generally are an important part of any life decision and it’s always weird to me when authors neglect those relationships in favor of a romantic relationship.  Higgins struck an exceptionally good balance, I feel, especially for a contemporary novel where it’s so easy to create situations where the characters can be removed from their families.

The book draws a lot from Jane Austen’s Emma and at first, I thought it was going to be a little too much “men are like X and to trap them women must Y.”  That is not an attitude I’m fond of at all.  But instead, Higgins used that set-up to create some interesting situations and invert those expectations.  (Much like Austen’s Emma, so perhaps I should have expected that, rather than risking brain damage by rolling my eyes so hard during the first few pages.)

There was lots and lots of sexual tension in this book but very little actual sex.  (I don’t recall reading any, although sometimes I just skim over those scenes.)  I was kinda meh about this aspect of the book – didn’t think a lot or a little of it.

All in all, if you like contemporary romances that are light and fun, you should definitely give Waiting on You a try.  It was a very good bit of escapism.  If you like your romances heavy sexualized or dark, or if you like them completely focused on the relationship between the two main characters, than perhaps this isn’t the book for you.

Feminist Sundays!

feministsundays

Feminist Sundays is a weekly meme created at Books and Reviews. The aim is simply to have a place and a time to talk about feminism and women’s issues. This is a place of tolerance, creativity, discussion, criticism and praise. Remember to keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, although healthy discussion is encouraged.

Hi guys and welcome to my first Feminist Sunday! (I probably won’t participate every week, but I’m participating this week.)

I thought I would tackle a phrase that drives me up the wall.  It’s often seen in, but not limited to, romance novels. And it goes like this, “Any other woman would’ve X, but she Y’ed.”

Why does that phrase make me so annoyed? I’ll grant there are times when it is true: Any other woman would not have been able to relate to my experience as an unmarried European monarch, but Elizabeth I truly got me. Or: Any other woman would have not been able to follow my dissertation on the physical properties of radium, but Madame Curie helpfully critiqued my experimental design.

And there are times when its hyperbolic use seems appropriate, in that there probably are other women who would share the response, but they are few and far between: Any other woman would have called the police and run far away when she realized my psychopathic murderous hobbies, but Lila was completely into it. Or: Any other woman would’ve divorced me after I caused an international scandal with my affairs, but Hillary stayed with me through the entire ordeal. 

But unfortunately, most often the sentence runs like this: Any other woman would have freaked out/cried/become emotional and therefore useless, but Heroine remained calm, assessed the situation and utilized her abilities to best help the situation OR remained calm and did nothing so I could rescue her. And this is quickly followed by romantic navel-gazing ending with the conclusion that this is why the hero loves the heroine.

That’s not super flattering, now, is it?  Most women are apparently incapable of handling any tense or dangerous situation (because EMOTIONS!) and so, boys, when you find one who doesn’t act like a woman in these situations, you should marry her.

I am going to point out here that I know plenty of women who remain calm in tense or dangerous situations and end up being quite helpful.

It’s also weird that a heterosexual man finds himself falling in love with a woman because she doesn’t act like he thinks a woman should act.  Let’s run through that logic, shall we? 

A) I am attracted to women, presumably because they look and act like women. I have very defined views on how women should act; this is part of my attraction to them.  B) But the only woman who is worthy of my love is one who acts like a man.  Which brings us to C) women are inherently inferior to men and therefore not worthy of my manly love unless they D) act like men, which makes them worthy of my manly love.  But E) I am not attracted to men.  Only women.  Just not women who act like women.

Setting aside all inherent problems with how  women are viewed in that particular train of logic, it doesn’t make much sense, does it?

I don’t have a problem with that trope when it’s as such: Most other women would not have shared my interest in restoring classic Chevy trucks.  That is a) probably a fairly true statement and b) does not imply negative things about most other women.  It is not a character judgment to say someone does not share your interests and hobbies. (Assuming you don’t murder people for fun, that is.)

And as an ending point, I do occasionally see this trope used against men, usually in a domestic sense, as in: Any other man would have run screaming from the sight of the baby, but he stayed and played with it. Which has many of the same problems as above.