Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Lisa Kleypas insists, "DON’T MAKE MY RAKE FAKE."
Is there any romance fantasy more powerful, more satisfying, than a cynical rake falling helplessly in love? Now, I enjoy reading about beta heroes, and I have nothing against nice guys. Lots of great romances have featured nice guy heroes.
But if the hero of a romance novel is described as a rake, referred to as a rake, and proclaims himself a rake . . . he'd better not be a nice guy who pretends he’s one bad dude but secretly rushes to help little old ladies across the street. I want him bad to the bone.
A hero is not a rake just because he’s had mistresses. He’s not a rake merely by virtue of gambling or holding his liquor. A rake has to be truly, deliciously wicked, crossing just over the edge into villainous territory. Give me a dark, intelligent, manipulative sinner who never whines and has arrogant disdain for the rules. I’ll even take him a little bit mean, as long as he grovels proportionately near the end.
It’s no challenge to tame a nice guy. There’s no danger in sleeping with a faux rake. I want a brand name rake, not a cheap knock-off. I want RAKE, not the low-calorie imitation “I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Rake.” And you know why? Because the more wicked they are, the harder they fall. You can’t achieve the delicious melodrama, the juiciness, the bigness of a full-blooded romance without a truly powerful hero being brought to his knees by the end of the book.
While we’re on this topic … a rake can’t be tamed by mere innocence or virginity. He can only be brought to heel by a heroine who refuses to be cowed or fearful. A heroine who is smart enough to figure him out, and strong enough to manage him. A lesser woman would be demolished or completely ignored by a true rake, but our heroine’s got his number. And he punishes her for it, in ways that make our toes curl. (Hers too.)
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems I’ve been reading about a lot of watered-down rakes lately. And although there are definitely times and places for political correctness, I would rather keep it out of my romance novels.
Unless, of course, the story is about a politically correct heroine who’s just been kidnapped by a rake.
Christina Dodd Pleads, “BRING BACK THE CLICHÉS!”
Clichés. I love romantic clichés. The reason they become clichés is because they work. So here are my demands! You Runners (Quillers?), pay attention!
I want over-the-top stories filled with non-stop adventure, hot sex, and a man who has slept with dozens of women but only wants the heroine— and he can’t have her! I want books with plot holes big enough to drive a sixteen-wheeler through, but are written so well I don’t care! I want sheiks — men who ride across the hot desert with their white robes flying, who snatch a woman from her bed and steal her virginity with no notice of what is politically correct! And pirates! Let’s hear it for swashbuckling pirates who ravish women without guilt. I want guys who can do it all night long without chemical aid. And I want them to be rich! I want men who inspire adjectives like hotly, sardonically, wetly, savagely! I want to see women masquerading as boys while they work for the hero! Sure, I like heroines who are engineers and doctors and CIA operatives — but what happened to the rest of us? I want to read about women who are teachers and secretaries and librarians! Especially librarians! Especially a librarian who starts out timid and by the end of the book wins the life she wants, the wealth she wants, the man she wants, and the best sex in the history of the world!
I don’t care what people who don’t read romance think of romance! I have my primal sexual fantasies, and I demand the right to indulge them in my reading without bowing to some stupid false values set up by the politically correct police!
Connie Brockway Demands THAT HER HEROES "SHUT UP AND KISS ME!"
That's right! Get rid of the heroes' Point of View! Give me back the enigmatic hero with the mysterious and tragic past. The guy whose cold, unfathomable gaze send ripples of fear down my, I mean my heroine's, spine because I, she, know it's as much lust I'm/she's feeling as fear. Give me a hero who never says, and better yet never thinks, a word in his own defense despite mounting evidence of his perfidy, lasciviousness, and general over-all moral decay.
Give me someone with a sneer and icy glare, a man I (Okay, I completely buy into the place-holder thing regarding readers and heroines, so why pretend otherwise?) am unable, against all good sense, to resist. Yes, I always suspect his motives; Yes, I realize he's dangerous; Yes, I can never get a clear reading of his emotions. He talks roughly, in riddles, and with repressed passion. He pulls me it his arms only to thrust me away (sometimes savagely! Yeah me!) He scares me, fascinates me, confuses me and I LOVE IT!
So, for the love of GOD, stop infiltrating his thoughts! I don't want to know what he's thinking! I don't want to be privy to some endless harangue against a disloyal friend or a failed military battle. I don't want to cycle through a relentless, pathetic litany of all the "weely, weely good weasons he's thuch a bad man - like mommy was a whore, and daddy liked his older brudder better!" Bleach!
I don't care why he's a sonofabitch! I just want him to look at me, with inscrutable and desperate longing and to somehow know that, do to my incredible sensitivity where this one man is concerned, there is something in him worth redeeming, something he is constantly fighting against but which my funny/vulnerable/courageous nature inspires. I want to be the tipping point that saves his ravaged soul, and I don't want to learn the reasons his soul was ravaged from him. I want to find it out myself, through conversations with his butler and best friends, from his murdered wife's diary, from the dour housekeeper and the notes in the back of the family bible. I want the layers peeled back slowly. I want to discover his true stellar worth, without the author using my hero’s Point of View.
I demand you give me back Rochester and Max de Winter, Roc Pendorric. Comte de la Talle, or Leon de Valmy! That's right. Give me back my GOTHICS!
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