Cait's Basement

Romance Novel Reviews by Lorelei


When I was younger, I thought I was strange and unusual for having forceful sexual fantasies. I didn't mention them to anyone else; I was sure my friends or partners would think I was weird if they knew.

In college I took a course from the renowned feminist Marilyn Frye. For one assignment, she had each of us read a different romance novel. I'd never read one before. I borrowed one off my sister's bookshelf and was pleasantly surprised to find several passages describing narrow escapes from sex-hungry men.  The scenes were sugar-coated, to be sure, but the conflict was there.

I was happy to realize that there must be many readers who liked this sort of fantasy. Most importantly, I knew most readers of these romance novels were women, which meant I wasn't the only female with force fantasies.

In class we compared the storylines. Though the settings vary widely, the stories of romance novels share common themes, certain conventions. Here are several that have struck me:

* There are usually at least two forceful sexual confrontations in a book:  one near the beginning, one near the end.

* Typical clinches are between the hero and heroine, as they fight their lusts and each other OR, between the heroine and a villain (the meddling hero shows up in the nick of time to rescue his fair damsel).

* Almost all attempts at forced sex are thwarted. But there are certain exceptions:
        - It might happen to a woman if she's an unknown character.
        - It might happen to bad or evil female characters.
        - It might even happen to the heroine if she is intellectually/indignantly/verbally objecting to the hero's advances while she's ardently/secretly/viscerally responding.

In the following overview of some typical contemporary romance novels, note that the expression "bodice ripper" (used to describe such tomes) is no exaggeration. Bodice-ripping is featured prominently in many of them!

Each review is linked to shopping sites so that if desired, you can buy and read the book.

Copyright Connie MasonA Love to Cherish
by Connie Mason

Review: A lot of clichés, but fun clichés at that. The hero/heroine relationship is somewhat stupid, but the villain figures prominently and well in the later stages of the book.  Excerpts

Copyright Jane FeatherThe Hostage Bride
by Jane Feather

Review: Not enough bodice-ripping, as far as I'm concerned. Average kind of book; doesn't live up to the potential of the title.  Excerpts

Copyright Amanda QuickRavished
by Amanda Quick

Interestingly, there are absolutely no ravishing scenes in "Ravished." Rather poorly titled, don't you think?


Copyright Shannon DrakeNo Other Woman
by Shannon Drake

Review: Totally forgettable book. But at least the writing style is livable. (Many romance novel authors are horrendous writers.)  Excerpt


Copyright Karen RobardsTo Love a Man
by Karen Robards

Review: Notable for its two-man attempted-sex scene.  Thumbs-up for allowing a hero/heroine nonconsensual clinch to go all the way. Demerits for casting a killer as the hero.  Excerpts

Copyright Catherine HartFallen Angel
by Catherine Hart

Review: Sitcom-level stupidity.  Much of the conflict is driven by the hero not telling the heroine what the heck's going on.  Excerpts

Copyright Dorothy GarlockAnnie Lash
by Dorothy Garlock

Review: Really irritating plot. Heroine and hero might as well go their separate ways. The interesting scenes are mostly between secondary characters. Demerits for too much dialect dialogue.  Excerpts

Copyright Elaine BarbieriDance of the Flame
by Elaine Barbieri

Review: You'd think that a sheik/harem type set-up would provide for many sexy scenes. Not so. The author squanders the opportunities... except for one good page.  Excerpt

Copyright Johanna LindseySurrender My Love
by Johanna Lindsey

Review: Appealing set-up, what with the heroine kept captive for much of the book.  Possibly a winner for fans of BDSM fantasies.  Excerpts

Surrender My Love's back cover blurb:
     A LADY'S SCORN ~ Wrongly branded a spy, the dark and handsome Viking lord Selig Haardrad suffered greatly in the dungeons of Lady Erika of Gronwood. And as he hung in chains, his magnificent body wracked with pain and fever, one thought sustained him: revenge!
     A VIKING'S REVENGE ~ Now Destiny's great wheel has turned -- and Selig's exquisite, honey-haired tormentor has been delivered into the Norseman's hands. Now it is Selig who is the master, bound and determined to break the proud spirit of his captive "ice queen" and to conquer her with passion's sword...


Special thanks to the Pink Kink Pages, for providing other romance-novel synopses that I enjoyed perusing!


Cait's Basement