Romance Novelists Uncover What Women Really Want

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"Talk to them like humans and don't be a jerk," conclude the writers, "Just like dudes in romance novels."


USA Today's Department of Dumbing Down The Obvious put together a special Valentine's Day treat for its readers when it suggested that men who want to show that they care really, really, really truly a lot about their special ladies talk to them, listen to them, and generally act more like dudes in romance novels.

"It's the kind of communication that most women yearn for," says best-selling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. "Conversation is very satisfying to many women who love the connection that comes from it."

Wait a second. What? Act more like dudes in romance novels? Aren't dudes in romance novels kind of... rapey?

According to this article, romance novel dudes are a tall shining tower of ideal masculinity. They fight fair and use body language to communicate desire and gaze deeply into the eyes of their beloved like entranced contestants on The Bachelorette group dates.

I'm not a consumer of erotica or romance novels by any stretch of the imagination; truth be told, any hint of eroticism that isn't placed in text for comedic effect makes my formerly Catholic face turn redder than the scarlet A I'd have been forced to wear if I were ever caught reading a book with Fabio on the cover. I am, however, passingly familiar with some of the plots of some of the more ridiculous romance novels floating around in the backpacks of America's embarrassed readers right now, and it seems like what romance novel dudes actually are deviates sharply from how men who are functional members of any society should act.

Here are a few of the plot summaries from Romance Club, a blog of sometimes embarrassed but always funny consumers of erotic literature who write book reviews summarizing their paper conquests, and I hope for my sake and yours, that the men in our lives don't take the advice of the USA Today article to heart and avoid doing things like this-

Larkspur is a fair maiden on the Chrystal Isle in the Avalon Sea whose father is a dolphin shifter (he can take both forms). This is pretty irrelevant to the plot, but they mention it, so I thought I would too. Her father's ship was attacked by pirates, so she's out on a bridge running away from them when the horny dragon Rajah spots her (it quite literally says "horny dragon"). Deciding he wants a hot piece of maiden ass (or a "mate," but let's be real here), he swoops her up into the air and takes her back to his dragon lair (I suppose the flying and capturing is a common thread here).


Please, men. Do not turn into a dragon and kidnap me.

We also learn that in order to break the gargoyle curse, which is 20 years of being in stone except for one night (AND THIS IS THE FATEFUL NIGHT), he must have sex with a woman who can deal with the gargoyle change occurring while they are boning. This is brought up about four times, which wouldn't be much except that this book is really short.


Please, men. Do not turn into a stone gargoyle while we are having sex.

So, like, a DAY later, they decide the best way to deal with her PTSD is with sex. YES! SEX WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING! Except it doesn't! It's a really bad idea- the first time! Then it's all literal bearskin rugs and candles and shit.


Please, men. Do not try to cure my PTSD with more boning.

And please, men. Don't take lifestyle advice from USA Today.

Romance Writers: Novel Ways To A Woman's Heart [USA Today]



I direct your attention to the following websites:



If, by your admission that you are not a consumer of romance novels, you then base your assessment of the entire genre on an extremely limited selection of novels (which are reviewed for comedic purposes), calling the genre "rapey" is shoddy scholarship.

I work very, very hard when I write my romances, and it's extremely frustrating for me to have the genre, and, by extension, my work, dismissed offhand. Romance is an embattled genre, despite its profitability and the actual merit of the books within it. I really hope that Jezebel is a place where we can discuss subjects that are relevant to women without subjecting them to the same ridicule we might find elsewhere.