Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Thursday, 12 March 2009


I have a guilty confession to make.

It’s been two months since I read my last romance.

I have no explanation for this, except that I’ve been very busy, and perhaps I needed a break from reading. When I do read, I feel like short things, like short stories, or news articles, or better yet, magazines with lots of pictures… (The US Vogue with Michelle Obama, fyi, was deeply disappointing).

And, reading less, I haven’t been blogging or doing my regular blog checks. So I feel as though I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

I identify myself as a reader, but I’m not reading anymore. What does that make me?

In a panic, I have picked up a couple of books. I’ve got Dreams from my Father, which is very hard to avoid at the moment. I did my best, but it’s my book group’s latest choice, so -. Then there’s 2066 (I can already tell it’s going to be one of those books, the ones that sit, untouched, on my shelf, forever weighing on my conscience). I’m also determined to finish Watchmen before I go and see the movie…

But what about romance?

There are different kinds of romance readers. I fit into the always-read-it category. Not the other kind, the fully grown adult finding a genre they had hitherto overlooked. I read my first romance was I was indecently young. It has had an indelible effect on my tastes.

These days, I find that I’m less interested in following a story from beginning to end; I’m skimming. I look for high concepts, high stakes and lots of gratuitous sex. Naturally, this doesn’t lend itself to quality reading, so I end up feeling more jaded than ever.

I feel like the hero in an old school romance: burned out, tired of empty, meaningless sex with women (books) whose names (title) he can't remember the morning after. He just wants the love of a good woman. I just want to read general fiction.

Do I need a break? Am I done with this genre?

Well, despite all my angsting, I don’t think so. I think I needed this break, but I’ve found my curiousity piquing this past week – Nalini Singh’s latest release sounds intriguing. I agree with Tumperkin’s assessment of her Psy books ("Good author. Excellent writer. Not for me"), and never ventured beyond the first. A new series might bring a fresh dynamic between the heroine and hero, which was my biggest gripe with her last one.

What about Carolyn Jewel? The premise of Scandal sounds interesting.

More promising yet, I picked up a Kleypas today and I’m tentatively looking forward to reading it. (Don't let me down, Kleypas!)

I'm not ready to quit yet, but I wonder if it's possible to reach saturation with a preferred genre. Has it happened to anyone else? Is there a remedy for this, the mother of all reading ruts?


Jessica said...

Yippee! A post! And an explanation (although you don't owe anyone such a thing, curious -- and admiring -- minds do want to know).

You, Tumps, and I are on all fours with regard to Singh. Sigh.

I am not sure which Kleypas you picked up -- I have loved some of hers, while others, meh.

I just discovered Julie James, and especially loved Practice Makes Perfect. I also just enjoyed Julie Anne Long's Like No Other Lover.

I am sure you will get lots of good advice from seasoned romance readers about how to get through slumps. My own two cents would be not to worry yourself over it. For my part, since I insist on taking your blog title not as a rhetorical but rather as a literal question, you could just occasionally answer it "No", and give us your thoughts on the general fiction you are reading!

Jessica said...

Oh my god. I was just making soup when I realized that I mixed up the title of your blog and Tumperkin's.

the sentiment remains the same, even if my words made no freaking sense.


Meriam said...

Ha! I did scratch m head over that last part. Much clearer now.

Your review of Julie James was excellent. The other thing, that I didn't mention in my post, is that reading good reviews recently tickled my dormant interest in romance. Yours of Practice Makes Perfect, Tumperkin's Scandal (despite the flaws) and one of the new Singh over at DA ... all contributed to a certain prickling of my interest. If I can put it like that.

I'm up and down on Kleypas, too. I dare not broach her contemporaries (I'm too fussy about contemps and I worry I'll find her absurd) but her last few historicals have impressed me.

Janine said...

I'm also very happy to see you posting, Meriam.

FWIW, I adored Scandal.

Meriam said...

I'm definitely looking forward to Scandal.

That's next, after Dreams from my Father. I also have Hoyt's The Serpent Prince on the very tip my tbr. I didn't like her first book at all, but I know a lot of people liked this one and I'm curious to see if she's changed.

Tumperkin said...

Ha! I ditched romance for thirteen years before I started reading it again. Now THAT is a slump, my friend!

I still have minor slumps every now and again - slumpettes if you will - but discovery of a good new author will usually enliven me. Oh, and I often turn to non-fiction in such times.

But I'm with Jessica - I'm interested on your thoughts on any book really - doesn't have to be romance!

Heloise said...

Meriam, I love historical romance novels but I love them like I love toast with cinnamon sugar. I eat it every morning, sometimes afternoon and night for days, then none for years.

The way I avoid extended dry spells is moving from sub-genre to sub-genre. Sometimes I even branch out into fantasy novels without sex, gasp!

I loved Julie Ann Long's Like No Other Lover. Not everyone did but that's what makes it interesting. And it's your blog, so review whatever you read.

Meriam said...

Hi Heloise. I like your analogy - that's exactly how I felt. I love it, but I'd had enough.

As for other sub-genres, I'm not sure what I like. I read paranormals, but very selectively, and it's been ages since I've read a romantic suspense, or a contemporary.

Actually, I'd be interested in some good rom-suspense if such a thing exists...

Julie Ann Long is an author I haven't tried yet (guilty). I know a lot of people rate her style and prose very highly.

HIlcia said...

I went through this same angst a few years ago. Like you, I've been reading Romance since I was very, very young... but, I reached a point where other types of books were pulling at me more than Romance. So, for about 2 years I found myself reading lots of suspense, general fiction, literature, women's literature, and other types of books, but very, very little Romance.
Two years ago now, I came back to reading Romance, and OMG! I came back with to reading it with gusto. I'm still reading books I missed during those 2 years -- books that during that time I had absolutely no interest in skimming or reading, but that I'm enjoying ATM. So, now... I mix my genres when I feel like I need a break and I enjoy my Romances that much more. :-)