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Do you dislike Harlequin romances? If so, why?

I used to like romance novels when I was younger, back when bodice rippers and Barbara Cartland’s take on the genre were popular. Barbara Cartland’s romantic writing specialty was dewy-eyed virgin maidens with zero understanding of sexuality and rugged, handsome studs with plenty of sexual prowess under their belts. There was no sex in her novels; she eschewed such things and, in one tv interview, claimed that the inclusion of sex just ruined the romance novel.

Her books suited me fine back when I was young and clueless about what happened between the sheets. But I became an adolescent and felt that something was…missing. I turned to erotic novels with plenty of sex, powerful women, studly men and varied exotic settings.

Then I fell away from them for a long time, getting more involved with science fiction, fantasies and mystery novels. When I finally started reading them again, I was appalled by the inherent nastiness, misogyny and idiocy that evidently permeate much of the genre.

Sometimes I wondered who writes these books and for whom they are intended. A lot of them seem to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women like it or not. Many of them are virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swoop to their rescue.

It confuses me to give a book a one-star rating and then look about and see that other people have raved about it, giving it four or five stars. Is there something wrong with me? Am I too jaundiced, jaded or cold to enjoy romance? No. My tastes have simply grown past the lesser examples of the type and I read a lot of other books in other genres. My outlook has expanded far beyond that of the timid adolescent I once was.

I’ve found a few others who dislike Harlequin romances in general and quite a few in particular. But we seem to be lone voices crying in the wilderness. Are there others out there who feel as I do? Let me know.

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I used to like romance novels when I was younger, back when bodice rippers and Barbara Cartland’s take on the genre were popular. Barbara Cartland’s romantic writing specialty was dewy-eyed virgin maidens with zero understanding of sexuality and rugged, handsome studs with plenty of sexual prowess under their belts. There was no sex in her novels; she eschewed such things and, in one tv interview, claimed that the inclusion of sex just ruined the romance novel.

Her books suited me fine back when I was young and clueless about what happened between the sheets. But I became an adolescent and felt that something was…missing. I turned to erotic novels with plenty of sex, powerful women, studly men and varied exotic settings.

Then I fell away from them for a long time, getting more involved with science fiction, fantasies and mystery novels. When I finally started reading them again, I was appalled by the inherent nastiness, misogyny and idiocy that evidently permeate much of the genre.

Sometimes I wondered who writes these books and for whom they are intended. A lot of them seem to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women like it or not. Many of them are virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swoop to their rescue.

It confuses me to give a book a one-star rating and then look about and see that other people have raved about it, giving it four or five stars. Is there something wrong with me? Am I too jaundiced, jaded or cold to enjoy romance? No. My tastes have simply grown past the lesser examples of the type and I read a lot of other books in other genres. My outlook has expanded far beyond that of the timid adolescent I once was.

I’ve found a few others who dislike Harlequin romances in general and quite a few in particular. But we seem to be lone voices crying in the wilderness. Are there others out there who feel as I do? Let me know.
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I've never cared for romance novels by any publisher. They simply have never appealed to me.

But so what? If others like them, that's fine. Tastes differ, and, as you've noted, tastes change.

Don't worry about it.
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The few I have sampled have bored me in the first few pages and I have never got further.
Sometimes I wondered who wrote these books and for whom they were intended. A lot of them seemed to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not. Many of them were virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swooped to their rescue.

That does sound boring :D
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I read them sometimes. Not very often, and I'm picky about which ones I read. I like my romance with a bit of humour and eroticism - not an easy combination to pull off!

I think of them as 'junk food for the brain', and I'll read them if I'm tired or sick, and don't want anything too taxing.
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I read them sometimes. Not very often, and I'm picky about which ones I read. I like my romance with a bit of humour and eroticism - not an easy combination to pull off!

I think of them as 'junk food for the brain', and I'll read them if I'm tired or sick, and don't want anything too taxing.


Exactly this
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To the best of my knowledge/memory I have never read a book that would be classified as Romance.
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I'm not interested in the kind of things that they're about. *shrug*

On a different note: "Discuss!" sounds like an order to me, which raises my hackles somewhat. Is this a common expression? Is it, I'm guessing, something that's used in schools? To me, as a non-native speaker of English, it sounds unfriendly but I'm sure you don't mean it that way.
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"Discuss!" sounds like an order to me, which raises my hackles somewhat. Is this a common expression? Is it, I'm guessing, something that's used in schools? To me, as a non-native speaker of English, it sounds unfriendly but I'm sure you don't mean it that way.

It doesn't come across at all unfriendly to me. In fact the opposite, as a friendly invitation to join in the conversation.
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Is it, I'm guessing, something that's used in schools?

It's common in exam questions, especially for older pupils/students. There'll be a statement, often a quotation, followed by Discuss. So I'm not keen either as it reminds me of the stress of exam rooms . . . .
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Is it, I'm guessing, something that's used in schools?

It's common in exam questions, especially for older pupils/students. There'll be a statement, often a quotation, followed by Discuss. So I'm not keen either as it reminds me of the stress of exam rooms . . . .


Ah, but I am sure I have never had an exam paper saying discuss with an exclamation mark. So it seems like a fun invitation to me too.
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I am sure I have never had an exam paper saying discuss with an exclamation mark. So it seems like a fun invitation to me too.

It probably looks different to you as a native speaker than it does to me.
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Is it, I'm guessing, something that's used in schools?

It's common in exam questions, especially for older pupils/students. There'll be a statement, often a quotation, followed by Discuss. So I'm not keen either as it reminds me of the stress of exam rooms . . . .


Don't worry. You're not going to be graded on your answer. ;)
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Is it, I'm guessing, something that's used in schools?

It's common in exam questions, especially for older pupils/students. There'll be a statement, often a quotation, followed by Discuss. So I'm not keen either as it reminds me of the stress of exam rooms . . . .

Don't worry. You're not going to be graded on your answer. ;)

That's a relief! I avoid anything and everything where I'm likely to be graded!
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A lot of them seemed to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not. Many of them were virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swooped to their rescue.

They have this view on men and women and don't agree with. As our identity, views and culture are made by all the influences around us, it makes it harder for us to be equals I feel.
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Sometimes I wondered who wrote these books and for whom they were intended. A lot of them seemed to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not. Many of them were virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swooped to their rescue.


Did it ever occur to you that there are women that actually like this every once in a while, in novels and even in real life? Yes, it is completely opposed to the liberated feminist wave and culture of today, which is probably exactly why it appeals to people, because not everyone wants to be strong, independent and in charge all the time ;-)
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Sometimes I wondered who wrote these books and for whom they were intended. A lot of them seemed to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not. Many of them were virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swooped to their rescue.


Did it ever occur to you that there are women that actually like this every once in a while, in novels and even in real life? Yes, it is completely opposed to the liberated feminist wave and culture of today, which is probably exactly why it appeals to people, because not everyone wants to be strong, independent and in charge all the time ;-)

Victims...sad
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Sometimes I wondered who wrote these books and for whom they were intended. A lot of them seemed to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not. Many of them were virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swooped to their rescue.


Did it ever occur to you that there are women that actually like this every once in a while, in novels and even in real life? Yes, it is completely opposed to the liberated feminist wave and culture of today, which is probably exactly why it appeals to people, because not everyone wants to be strong, independent and in charge all the time ;-)

Victims...sad


Don't you think it's rather condescending to call people whose reading tastes don't agree with yours "victims"? I think it's quite anti-feminist to suggest that women who enjoy Harlequin and other romance reading are not capable of making a deliberate choice.

A great many strong, independent, powerful women enjoy escapist reading. And why shouldn't they?
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Sometimes I wondered who wrote these books and for whom they were intended. A lot of them seemed to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not. Many of them were virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swooped to their rescue.


Did it ever occur to you that there are women that actually like this every once in a while, in novels and even in real life? Yes, it is completely opposed to the liberated feminist wave and culture of today, which is probably exactly why it appeals to people, because not everyone wants to be strong, independent and in charge all the time ;-)

Victims...sad


Don't you think it's rather condescending to call people whose reading tastes don't agree with yours "victims"? I think it's quite anti-feminist to suggest that women who enjoy Harlequin and other romance reading are not capable of making a deliberate choice.

A great many strong, independent, powerful women enjoy escapist reading. And why shouldn't they?

Although all women can suffer abuse; I think back to a woman I knew who found herself in an abusive relationship. She was a "strong, independent, powerful woman" (a senior woman in her field), but because of who she was and importantly, her financial position, she had a chance of escape, and did in good time, leaving the creep behind. He had became physically abusive. However the sort of women described in the top quote would have much less of a chance to escape "the stalwart, rugged man" once that rescue dominance turns to something less nice. A dominant type man like that would not like that challenged. The weak women described would likely not have either the mental strength or financial means, and to think this is okay is not feminist. Feminism is about equality and respect. The description above is not about that. It is about a weak child-like being, being needed to be rescued and looked after. What will happen if that child-female attempts to grow up and assert herself? Scary possibilities. The man didn't rescue someone to have an equal.

I don't like writing that treats women as, to quote, "innocent or helpless women...easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women liked it or not." And then to suggest the fantasy to wait for, is for "stalwart, rugged men" to swoop to their rescue, instead of being strong themselves. It is making the suggestion that being submissive (what is said so well above) is what they should be to attract a man. A strong, dominant man! Really sounds like a potential future for abuse.

However, my personal first finding with these books, is they are boring.
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You seem to think that the books a person reads must necessarily track their real lives.

But the opposite is often (probably more likely) true. Many people read books for something *different*.

Feminism is about *choice*. To call someone a "victim" because her choice of reading material differs from yours is the opposite of feminism.
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Victims...sad


I can be classified as a lot, but no one who knows me in real life would classify me as a 'victim' *rofl*
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Many modern Harlequins and other romances (perhaps even most of them) usually DON'T feature "helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, ...etc". Yes, usually the man is stronger and taller than the woman, but quite often by the end of the book the man has fallen for her BECAUSE she is strong, independent, and exciting. And, yes, she is often NOT a virgin.
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by the end of the book the man has fallen for her BECAUSE she is strong, independent, and exciting

That is what I found out after reading the book I took from the shelf.
It was not as bad I thought it would be. There was a real story there so this one was alright.
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So you think it is okay to perpetuate the myth that it is okay to be submissive, dependant and under the control of a dominant male? I fear for anyone living under such conditions in real life. It is seeding ground for abuse. I am not talking about the reader here, but rather that such stories are written as some sort of ideal fantasy. I am not alone with these thoughts:
http://www.unc.edu/---/rom072301.htm
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I've never come across a Harlequin that appealed to me, but I have encountered an occasional "romance" author that I've found readable. Like any other genre, it has to be good for me to enjoy it.
For instance, I like mysteries in particular for leisure reading...but there's a lot of dreck out there that's not worth my time.
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I think it's a dismissive label. A good question, but bettered answered by those who read them.
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A good question, but bettered answered by those who read them.

I took one (Christmas Specials) from an open book shelf this morning just to see what this is all about.
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A good question, but bettered answered by those who read them.

I took one (Christmas Specials) from an open book shelf this morning just to see what this is all about.


I only like the historic ones, preferably with guys in kilts, or the ones with vampires. The ones set in modern times I don't care for at all. And yes, me reading that stuff confuses people that know me in real life completely, as 'it doesn't suit me' *grinz *
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A good question, but bettered answered by those who read them.

I took one (Christmas Specials) from an open book shelf this morning just to see what this is all about.


I only like the historic ones, preferably with guys in kilts, or the ones with vampires. The ones set in modern times I don't care for at all. And yes, me reading that stuff confuses people that know me in real life completely, as 'it doesn't suit me' *grinz *

I do admit to reading one or two vampire romance stories and enjoying them, but I skipped over the superfluous romance sections. Basically I wanted the vampire story and not the excessive romance. Romance is fine, but not as the dominating part of a story. The stories I read had enough other story that the romance sections could be skipped.
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I do admit to reading one or two vampire romance stories and enjoying them, but I skipped over the superfluous romance sections. Basically I wanted the vampire story and not the excessive romance. Romance is fine, but not as the dominating part of a story. The stories I read had enough other story that the romance sections could be skipped.


My favourite vampire kitsch books are the ones by J.R. Ward - the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, romance combined with a lot of blood and fighting
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Romance is decidedly a part of life. I would venture most humans "fall in love" at least once in their lives, and it can be a major experience.

Why shouldn't writers make stories out of that significant experience, as they do out of others?
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That's an excellent question. The more proper term for them would be fantasies with a romantic component. Cold-eyed sheiks, rich actors in disguises, rugged cowboys and billionaire playboys...who would meet men like this in real life? Also, the situations can be rather unusual, what with poor girls getting swept away onto yachts, personal islands, exclusive jets, private mansions or palaces straight out of the Arabian Nights.

Then there are the actual situations, many of which feature a woman in a subordinate position sleeping with the boss. Does that ever turn out well in real life? Hardly. But, in these books it leads to love, marriage, the kid in the baby carriage.

Add in the women who are virgins in their 20s (possible but hardly likely in this day and age), people screwing around without consideration for protection, usually leading to a hasty marriage for the sake of the kid (Venereal diseases? Abortions? What are those?) and you get your happily-ever-after ending. Whatever happened to the phrase "Marry in haste, regret at leisure"?

So, as I stated, fantasies, ones that appeal to many readers. That's why the romance genre is the most popular one in literature. I just don't care for them, particularly the ones sold by Harlequin, and wanted to see if others felt the same.
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Sometimes I wondered who writes these books and for whom they are intended. A lot of them seem to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women like it or not. Many of them are virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swoop to their rescue.


No idea about Harlequin books, but I read some years ago that a surprising number of Mills & Boon novels are written by men using female pen names. Presumably they are writing to their own male fantasies but readers don't question too much because they assume the novels are written by women.
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Sometimes I wondered who writes these books and for whom they are intended. A lot of them seem to pander to masculine fantasies of innocent or helpless women, creatures always much shorter than men, financially inferior, easily manhandled, coerced or manipulated into sexual situations whether the women like it or not. Many of them are virgins, just waiting for their earth-shattering sexual awakening by the stalwart, rugged men who swoop to their rescue.


No idea about Harlequin books, but I read some years ago that a surprising number of Mills & Boon novels are written by men using female pen names. Presumably they are writing to their own male fantasies but readers don't question too much because they assume the novels are written by women.


Well, that would explain some of the misogynistic writings that I've come across in the 200+ books that I've read. I've read books where the men physically manhandle the women, pushing them up against walls, posts, over chairs in order to have their way and the women just lick it up with a spoon. I've read stories about women screaming the men's names in ecstasy while he basically just grunts like a pig. I've read stories about men swooping down and enacting some revenge on another man and/or her female by basically kidnapping or coercing her into his home where he keeps her sequestered or locked up. Oh, he treats her very well indeed, so much so she doesn't want to leave. But there's always an element of coercion involved.

I had wondered who was writing these stories and for whom they were being written. They seemed to pander to male fantasies of seducing and using helpless women or reducing some powerful female to being his love slave. If she gets pregnant, a rich man strong arms a woman into marrying him (for the sake of the baby, of course). Options like abortion or adoption are rarely considered; the woman and the kid have to have his name stamped upon them like brands on cattle.

The only explanation that made sense was that these were written by men. But like most readers I had assumed they were penned by women who were creating guilty pleasures for other females who secretly dreamed of being swept off their feet by billionaires or princes who would take care of their every whim so they wouldn't have to work any longer. Thank you for your explanation.
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...I guess you might like these books. Still, they are very popular, and one positive thing: they get people reading. Oh...and one more positive thing: my cousin just starred in a movie based on a Harlequin Romance. "A Very Country Christmas". It's been a terrific break for her career as an actress. Trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
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Good for her! I wish the male lead would wash the whatever-it-is out of his hair though.
:)
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they just didn't appeal to me.

Then , recently, I had to add in a romance scene into a book of mine and I had absolutely no idea how to go about it; and joined The Romance Bandits (an online group in the States) and they accepted me as a member to help me out with what I needed to do... and I started reading their books.

Some were really great and fun... while others were like Black Lace books... but the sex/love scenes were the parts I needed help with. I have improved as a writer with my romance scenes - but I do need to work on them more with the suspense part in the romance.

Otherwise, I don't read romance.

The last romance-style book I did read was 'Fanny Hill' - if you'd call that romance.
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All fluff mixed with TMI.
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When I see this post of mine now, it seems incredibly rude to me. My apologies, Bookgirrl. I appreciate your having shared the link - my response was merely meant to say that the type of literature described (which, as is mentioned in the article is certainly not new), simply isn't my cup of tea. No aspersions cast on those that might like it though!
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No need to apologize! I feel the same way. I never read Harlequins, and I didn't even read the article fully. But, I posted it, as Harlequin is a business empire and for some in the book industry, or for those who like these books...it might be of interest. I'll stick to Brookner, Robinson, rock and roll bios, etc.

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