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Friday, June 26, 2009

witless with wanting

Ah, romance!

Despite my inclination for murder mysteries, I am basically a hopeless romantic. But I have never been very fond of romance novels. I haven't read very many and liked very few.

My favourite has to be something I read back in university, a paperback that one of my friends in the English Society found one day and brought back to the society room for us all to enjoy. I think it was called The Heart of the Flame or perhaps it was The Flame of the Heart? Whatever it was, it was flaming crap.

It was so bad it was good. We scoured it for particularly hilarious turns of phrase, ignoring the sex scenes (were there any?) and underlining all the purple prose.

The best line is seared into my brain, a description of the heroine which summed up the whole enterprise: "Cat was witless with wanting."

We thought that a much more appropriate title, so we relabelled the cover of the book with the words Witless with Wanting and left it in the society's bookcase in the hopes that our successors would enjoy it as much as we did. I like to think it's still there waiting to be discovered by a new generation of English nerds.

As I mentioned before I recently read a romance novel called Hero Worship which was recommended in the comments of a blog I had read. It was about a woman who falls in love with a character in a book and wishes herself into the book. I read it to the end but it didn't have even the satisfaction of a smattering of smut to make up for it's failure to perform.

Then my friend who didn't know.... loaned me a copy of a book she had read whose story sounded intriguing. It was called Fantasy Lover and it was about a man trapped in a book called forth to be the summoner's love slave. Apparently I have a thing for romance with fictional characters.

It started out well and then made up for the previous book's disappointments by jumping straight into the sex by chapter 4.

At that point the plot seemed to call for abstinence until the climax, so to speak, but even though the lovers were supposed to refrain from intercourse for a month, they constantly ignored this fact, maintaining a Clintonesque denial of what actually constitutes sex. With little attempt at foreplay or sexual tension, the sex just kept coming and coming and coming.

I got bored.

Near the end, the heroine, in the throes of yet another passion (now with Actual Thrusting!), declares she had never felt like this before. Except that she had felt exactly like that and made the same comment 20 pages before and 20 pages before that and 20 pages before that.

I finished the book but only by thinking of England.

So it seems that my lust for romance could not be satiated by either of these books. With or without sex.

Neither of them took the time to create a character worth falling in love with, or had the patience to let me get to know them before insisting that I should care about what happens to them or climb into bed with them. (Although I'll always have fond memories of chapter 4)

For now I guess I shall have to return to Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre for some real romance.

Those other books just left me witless with wanting.


  1. Not as bad as bodice-rippers but not "literature", try some Catherine Alliott or Isabel Wolfe, or Sheila O'Flanagan (all UK; therefore, if the romance sucks, the book is still readable).

  2. Lord have mercy the memories...I remember that "witless with wanting" episode...LOL!

    There is a world of difference between tacky purple prose romance and erotica...I've been hitting some websites lately to try and acquire the necessary skills to write erotica (did I just admit that?) It is not as easy as it sounds...but then no writing is...What a lot of romance writers seem to ignore is that it is not all about the sex...sensuality is far more intoxicating...and sometimes what your reader can concoct in their own mind is wilder than anything you can commit to words...Maybe someday I'll brave enough to share my wanderings on the dark side...LOL!