There was a period in my life when I wanted to be a publishing editor. It was in college and I was testing out the different ways that I can somehow be a part of the publishing world.
I took an internship at a huge publishing house in their Romance/SciFi imprint. I’m not quite sure why those two genres were put together, but I read a lot of manuscripts during my period there.
Romance stories. SciFi stories. Romance/SciFi stories. A lot of vampire loves because it was right around when Twilight was super popular. I read them all.
And with all the manuscripts I’d read, I always thought that the romantic ones were kind of dull and silly. However, there needs to be some mass appeal for them because people are still buying romance novels. People are still writing romance novels.
What is it about these novels that people feel compelled to read? Is it the “lonely housewife” thing? Or is it the “ache down there” that people enjoy?
Fast forward to today. I’m in between books and I need something to take my mind off the crazy high fantasy worlds I’d been reading. After talking to some bookish friends, they all said the same thing. Romance novels are a little bit of a guilty pleasure and they take the book slump/hangover feelings away. But what is it about them that people like?
So, I decided to set off and find out what’s so great about romance novels. I had a certain set of criteria that the book required.
- There has to be some muscly dude on the front cover
- It needs to have a sexy name of some sort
- It needs to be short
That was basically it. I didn’t know many of the other requirements for a good romance novel, so I went with more aesthetic pieces. Also, I didn’t want to spend my time reading an epic tome about some sea wench who falls in love with a ruthless pirate.
Somewhere on the Internet, I stumbled across the novel Bearllionaire by Terry Bolryder. I don’t know how, but it seemed serendipitous that I was going to dive head-first into the seeded underbelly of literature and there’s some muscly dude with far too many abs on his stomach to be considered natural. I picked it up.
One of the great draws of romance novels is that they’re cheap. This book just so happens to be $2.99 on Amazon and I can download it to my Kindle. No having to wrap my romance novel in brown paper! But also, you can find romance novels EVERYWHERE. The mass market throwaways at your local grocery store can fill your shelves with the blissful torsos of burly looking guys. Sometimes, you get lucky with a girl hovering oddly close to their “manhoods,” but usually it’s just torsos. And hair. Let us not forget the elegant hair streaming down from some dude’s scalp as it blows majestically in some breeze. It always just happens to blow in the most attractive way possible.
After downloading the book, I went right into it. And two days later, I was done.
And. It. Was. Bad.
I’m worried that this isn’t the best representation of the romance genre because it was so bad. Without giving any spoilers away, the main characters fall in love and get engaged after only knowing each other for two days. TWO DAYS spent in the woods and they know that they’re meant to be together. And do you know why?
BECAUSE OF THEIR BEAR INSTINCTS.
Yeah, the reason why this book is called Bearllionaire is because it’s about a dude that’s a billionaire and also happens to transform into a bear. Now, with his bear instincts, he keeps talking about finding a mate and making cubs and all these other words used to describe bears. It just felt so contrived and poorly described.
Yes, there was sexy scenes. Yes, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other and there was a ton of heaving and sighing, but sexy scenes doesn’t make a romance novel.
I’ve read a lot of books where the author puts a painstakingly long amount of time to create their universe. They have to be detailed and they have to do a good job of it otherwise the reader would be lost. This book, not so much. She just describes in vague detail that he’s a bear and he needs to get his bear-on. And he finds someone willing to do that and she agrees to it! The whole story is so unbelievable and poorly written.
Is this what romance novels are like? Are they just shots of bad writing about some quivering members and throbbing loins? Even though it is a romance novel, doesn’t it still deserve to be written thoroughly and with some reality? Isn’t that whole universe just a little bit outdated?
Love has changed over the years and people get down and dirty so much more than what they did in the past. They swipe right and you can be in someone’s arms in less than 3 minutes. That’s the world we live in. And when we read contemporary fiction, that’s what we want to see. A story of love with the heat of passion reflected in reality. Otherwise, I’d read Victorian smut or pirate sex books.
Perhaps reading Bearllionaire wasn’t the best first choice for romance novels. Perhaps there’s something a little bit more around what I’m looking for. However, this first impression wasn’t my favorite and I would much rather read Nicholas Sparks and read him kill someone off.
If you have an option that I can read, let me know! Even if it does have a sweaty ab-y torso on the cover.