I have a mental image of many eyes rolling when my subject is dogs, and here I am — about to do worse and ramble on about aquariums and fish. Trust me, though, it’s going to lead to romance novels.
Some years ago I discovered that even someone who is a lousy gardener — me — can be halfway competent when it comes to planted aquariums. I read an article about how to set one up, followed the advice, and got hooked in a minor way. Right now I have three small planted aquariums in the house. There’s a picture of one of my tanks here (#96). I still have that little bowfront tank, although it’s been redone several times since then.
It’s the fish that stock the tanks that I recently realized relate to romance novels. You see, after I set up my first aquarium there was the question of what to put in it. Small tanks need small fish, and guppies should be candidates, right? Not for me. Do you know that if you get guppies, the advice is to get 3 to 5 females for each male? That’s so the males don’t harass the females to death. If you look at a tank of guppies, swordtails, or other like fish in a store, you likely will see the males chasing the females with their “rod-like gonopodiums” (that’s a quote from one of my fish books) arched forward, ready for action.
So how does all this relate to romance novels? I blew my book budget out of the water in January and turned to library books. The Denver Library is quite forward-thinking about ebooks and not only has a lot in the system, but unlike my local library, has many that are instantly available and don’t require a hold. So that’s where I turned. And of course I’ve been a lot less selective than if I were buying books: read the description, think it sounds sort of okay, download, give it a try, delete if it’s not up to snuff, try another, repeat.
Some of what I tried was pretty decent, but after I hit a few in a row that annoyed me and that I zapped pretty quickly, I started trying to analyze what it was that annoyed me. The fact is that while the rape romance of old may be out of style, there are still a lot of books whose heroes are guppies. Instead of rod-like gonopodiums, they have rock-like throbbing manhoods or sometimes these days hard as rock correctly named organs, but they’re guppies. These heroes walk around and lay around (they have to sleep but they sleep in the same state) doing pretty much nothing but harassing females or if stymied from direct action, thinking about it or talking about it. When all this lust settles on one female, it’s love, and the guy is a hero.
I’ve always avoided romances that have no story to speak of, where the H and h just pant over each other for 300 pages, consumed by passion and kept apart until page 200 by something so minor it’s impossible to believe. Books with guppy guys can have story lines, though. It’s just that in guppy books the hero lives his life with his rod-like manhood throbbing and since he’s a dominant alpha type, nothing else matters. He’s entitled to harass the heroine into giving him what he wants, since minor inconveniences to her, like getting pregnant when unmarried in the Nineteenth Century, fade in comparison to the throbbing.
One of these books got zapped when the hero comforted the heroine with sex when her baby had been kidnapped. Yoohoo, any of you out there think you’d find that comforting under those circumstances? Am I missing out here? No one could make me feel sexy when I’m worried about one of the dogs much less a kid. I’m not sure if the guppy guy is just a more politically correct version of the old romance rapist, but after coming across several of these guys in a row, I think I dislike them just as passionately.
Tidbit: It’s favorite book of the year time at All About Romance, and one of the reviewers there (Lea) mentioned Dancing on Coals as a 2011 favorite. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I saw the thread there about a review of Dancing and got busy and sent AAR what they require in order to review. I must confess since I never sent them anything for Sing and that review just appeared like magic, it never occurred to me to send them anything for Dancing. Oops.