Thursday, July 26, 2007

Romance Novel: Now and Then

WARNING: This post is not for serious readers!

Some months back I was gifted 15 romance novels by a very old friend of mine. I had stopped reading those since college 20 years back. My reading habits bordered on more serious reading.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I started those with some misgivings. In no time I was hooked. I finished all 15 within a space of 5 days...averaging three a day. I agree after some time I did not know which was which but it does not really matter.

Now I keep a romance novel for those in between times when one can't read heavy stuff or when one does not want to think.

To summarise a romance novel:

They meet, they fight, and they kiss and make up and live together happily ever after. But that’s not what I want to say. I find some similarities though there have been vast differences in those novels I read in 80s and now.

Similarity is that the hero is as handsome as ever. Tall, dark and very handsome in a rugged sort of way. He always has a scar somewhere on his body. The heroine is very beautiful, with a great figure.

Now for the differences:

In the eighties, those were kind of mild. The hero was either a tycoon, banker, rancher, prince or something like that fully loaded with money or what have you. Hope you get my gist. He was almost above the age of 35. The heroine was a secretary, nurse, governess, and housekeeper or was so young as to be made a ward of the hero. She was never with money. (Exceptions are there!) She was around 17-23 years. The age difference was always around 8-20 years. The girl was always untouched except by the hero. He was the only man in her life. Even if they parted and met after a few years, she remained one man woman. That couldn't be said about the hero. You see, man of the world and all that.... (Well, that's another thing altogether). In those novels, they only held hands, kissed on the last page and/or if there was love making scene it was never worded. Implied is the operative word.

Speaking of now, the hero is a trouble shooter, television journalist, undercover agent, and commander, Professor, artist, whatever. No change in his age. He still is more than 35 years of age. Has to have money! What is a hero without money? The heroine is not the simpering idiot any more. Very much the woman of the world. As powerful as the hero. And with as much clout and finances, sometimes more. Now the heroines are older, 26-35 years. They know what they want. They are not shy to get into bed with the hero if they so desire. Marriage is never the agenda. Infact it starts with sex right in the beginning (page 1) and love follows much later, if you call that love. These so-called romance novels have become pornographic. How times have changed. Romance is no longer the same. We can't blame the new writers when sex stares at you from everywhere. Just look at the book covers!

Last few I read, the heroines were very very rich and the heroes were as poor as the churchmouse. One of the novels had the hero wholly illiterate, that made a refreshing change, heroine teaching him to read..

To tell the truth, I enjoy reading these after a fashion. Mushy or whatever! Reviewing those novels is not easy and neither is writing one. Oh yes, I tried writing one.

Update: Mills & Boon and Harlequin novels are in no way trashy