Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Was So Wrong (Kindle Report, Part 2)

I was so wrong.

Not about the Kindle.  There I would say I was only a little wrong.

But about erotica and romance being mutually exclusive when done well.  (I've mentioned this opinion a couple times, most recently here.)  I just finished reading a charming (and very explicit) romance called Master of the Mountain by Cherise Sinclair.  (She has a website.  It's not shy about the sort of books she writes and thus NSFW.  As it doesn't have that "Are You Really Sure You Want To Read This Content" page, I thought I'd mention it before providing you with this link.)  MotM had both angsty goodness and . . . well, let's call it "creamy goodness," which at least won't be an obvious allusion for any youngsters stumbling by.

I won't go into detail about the plot, but the characters were fairly plausible, and the emotional tug of the story was right on target: Girl meets Boy, wild attraction ensues but her self-image isn't great, Boy has secret trauma so is reluctant to commit and sends Girl away, and Girl is miserable, convinced she'll never see Boy again.  I misted up at the end, I truly did.  (Other reactions to the book are left to your imagination.)

As you undoubtedly guessed from the title, this is kinky stuff.  I like that.  Lots of people with the Bad Childhoods like that.  Free country and all that.  But here's the part I find hysterically funny.  I contrast Sinclair's books (I've read another of hers, the first in her Shadowlands series, Club Shadowlands.  Not quite as wonderful as MotM, but still very enjoyable) with the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  The heroes in Sinclair's books *are* so much less butch than those 7-foot tall hawt vampires!  Sinclair's heroes are wildly fictional, it's true, but as she presents them, they're specialized in knowing what women want, when they want it, and just how to provide it to them.  And trust me, what Sinclair's heroines want is *not* anything against their will.  The conceit in her books is that some women naturally tend to want to have a certain restriction in their range of motion, shall we say.

Uh, rather like people who read m/m romances without wanting to try that at home, I don't think I want to try any of the things Sinclair's heroes & heroines most enjoy.  Presumably some of her readers are "in the life," hence the preface to Sinclair's books, which remind her readers that her book is not real life, and in real life practitioners need to take longer to get to know a partner.  Really, she's like a den mother reminding her scout troop to be prepared.  It's so maternal & caring.

What I'm trying to say is that these are not relationships -- romantic or sexual -- built on conflict, tension or hostility.  Frankly, the hero and heroine of Julie James's Practice Makes Perfect are nastier to each other than the protagonists of MotM.  (But then they were lawyers.  Sinclair's heroine is an artist and her hero runs a mountain lodge.  You do the math.)  What these relationships are all about is self-discovery.  The heroine doesn't understand why she doesn't much enjoy sex, and the hero recognizes something in her that answers that question.  She is, of course, a proper feminist, so getting her to understand that's it's not unliberated to let a guy give her pleasure takes a while.

Unless the reader simply can't imagine why any woman would want to have her choices taken away from her, Sinclair's romances are actually pretty straightforward.  The heroine doesn't understand something essential about who she is, the hero does, and finds her charming.  There's a period of education (for the heroine and the reader, but Sinclair avoids the dreaded info dump) but at the end of it, the suggestion is pretty strong that only this hero could make that heroine feel what she does.

Which, bizarrely, brings me back to the Kindle.  I, too, did not understand how wonderful it would be to have an e-reader.  I'm still a bit hesitant to assume I will never enjoy paper books again, or not as much, but I like the tardis-aspect of a slender device that has so much stuff packed in it.  And it's all too easy to fall in love with an author (like Sinclair, or my other happy find, Juniper Bell), nip over to Amazon, and buy a lot.  And look, it's immediately in my Kindle.  This feature thumbs its nose at the old joke, "Instant gratification takes too long."  In fact, I am reluctant to play too much with that bit, as it seems to have removed a barrier to shopping that I rather relied on.

Albeit without some kindly, mind-reading man at my side to help me past my inhibitions, I have come to enjoy -- a lot -- my Kindle.  And plain vanilla novel reading may never seem the same again.  (But then I open a package with two early Loretta Chase romances in a single volume, and I am pretty sure I can swing both ways.)

3 comments:

  1. Oh, so glad you changed your mind about erotica and romance being mutually exclusive. There are so many great authors out there that meld the two--Maya Banks, Lauren Dane, Joey W. Hill's Nature of Desire series.

    I also write in the erotic romance genre and I can tell you--although there are hot scenes, the story and my whole purpose for the characters is all about love and romance.

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  2. Yup, this is exactly the way I felt when I got my Kindle. I had an old ebook reader pre-Kindle, and I liked it a lot, but when the Kindle first came out, I saw no reason to buy it. I figured I'd wait until my old one died. Then a friend gave me hers and that was it. Instant love. It was better than my old one by a huge order of magnitude.

    One of the many things I adored about it was the anonymity of buying erotica and the fact that no one could see your book covers. Cherise Sinclair was one of the first authors I discovered - she's one of my favs,

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  3. I am still laughing at "creamy goodness."

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