Wendy's Reviews > Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels

Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell
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's review
Dec 13, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, non-fiction, romance, e-book
Read in December, 2009

If you read romance, you probably know about Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. And if you weren't aware of the website, you should check it out.

Double ditto if you don't read romance, and/or haven't read 'romance' in a while, and/or have a low opinion of romance as a genre. This book doesn't promise to turn you on to romance, but it'll surely help you make an informed decision about whether to read, and what to read, in the genre.

The Smart Bitches started their website as a way to step outside the "be nice" imperative in Romancelandia, and speak plainly and honestly about the books, the characters, the tropes and motifs, and the genre in general. Because not all books are good, and the same is true for romance books. Some of them are unutterable tripe, with cardboard characters, wafer-thin plots, physically impossible sex, and badly written stories that make a reader resent the time and money wasted on reading. But some of them - many of them! - are fantastic explorations of character and situation that rank among the best of mainstream or literary fiction.

The Smart Bitches tell it like it is, and explain the history of the genre ('Old Skool Romance') and its evolution. They cite example after example, express their own preferences, and dismiss almost nothing because reading tastes are subjective. Fortunately the romance genre (which, let's be clear, outsells every other genre by miles every year) has something for pretty much everyone, from historicals to paranormals, from chaste stories without so much as a kiss in them to explorations of every kind of sex known to man. The genre doesn't confine itself to mere humans, or even the traditional male/female couple.

The last part of this book is a "make your own adventure" read that had me purple with suppressed laughter while reading in on the commuter train. The writing is excellent, if tongue-in-cheek, and ably demonstrates the discussion in all the foregoing chapters.

Highly recommended.


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