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Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,613 ratings  ·  363 reviews
The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name...

We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a "special place" where we store them. Let's face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what's with

Paperback, 291 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Touchstone
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell- The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels is a 2009 Touchstone publication.

I don’t know how I missed this book when it was first published, but I did. My sweet and thoughtful, DH, got me a subscription to Scribd for Mother’s Day, and since then I’ve been like a kid in a candy store. As I scrolled through all the books available, I noticed this one, and because I was already in a pretty defensive mood that day, I added it to my TBR pile.

Smart Bitches, Tra
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Heyyyyy romance lovers! This book is $2.99 for Kindle right now (12/2). If your TBR list is looking sparse or you enjoy meta-think pieces about your favorite genre, you should pick up this book right now. #NotBiased

I love romance novels - a lot. I'm creator and moderator of a romance group called Unapologetic Romance Readers, a promotional-free group involving critical discussion of popular and not-so-popular romance titles. In a given y
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-reads, humor
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels is a hilarious and intelligent examination of the romance genre. It includes a brief history of the genre. An overview of commonly used tropes, plots, and cliches'. A comparison of Old Skool vs. New School, complete with flowchart. And predictions for future trends.

It's full of the snarky humor and clever insights that I expected, as well as serious essays and citings to famous works in the field of romantic academia.

It also cont
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The good news is that for lovers of the Smart Bitches blog, it's the same irreverent snarky humor that we all know and love.

The bad news is that these are not blog posts but a book. And the book has a bit of a multiple personality.

There are games.
There are serious essays on the cultural aspects of all things in Romance Reading History with lots of citings to famous essays in the field of academic study of romances.
There are lists.
There are more games.
There is cover snark.
There are intervie
This was one of the funniest, most unexpected books I've read this year. And I can count on one hand the number of people I would actually recommend it to.
The title says it all: this is a guide to romance novels. (Well, romance novels starting roughly in the 1970s. So, really, a guide to bodice rippers, if you'll excuse the term.) It reverentially lists all the reasons romances sells like hotcakes while also gleefully poking fun of the genre. The book is incredibly vulgar and fond of anything t
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Lots of talk about this book being rip-roaringly funny which it is -- some of the time. The “humor” gets a bit too crass and over the top more than once leaving you rolling your eyes saying ‘ok enough already’, but that’s all subjective and I’m sure there are people who love that kind of stuff. For me it was sort of like that 15 year old boy toilet humor that just gets old after you’ve heard it 25 times from the same 15 year old boy. That was one of my biggest “problems” with the book. Apart fro ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fun and insightful read from the creators of the famous SBTB blog/site. Their snarky humor, clever observations on culture in general and romance specifically, and easy-breezy writing style made me do a lot of nodding in agreement and laugh so hard I had tears at a few points.

Their views about why romance genre receives such a poor treatment despite its overwhelming popularity, why educated women read romances, and why romances are here to stay resonated with me specially. The whole chapter was
Sherwood Smith
This book had me cracking up so hard I nearly fell off my chair a couple of times. I did wish it delved more deeply into just what is so satisfying about romance reading for such an enormous variety of women across generations and socio-economic strata, but they are generous with mentions of more scholarly books, and in short, it's a delightful, in-your-face dare to diss romance just because women write it and read it. ...more
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dead-tree
Meh. Maybe I'd have appreciated it a bit more if I was into the current romance trends and all that. I find the SMTB blog of erratic interest at best, anyway (omg, just shut up with the epub techno wankfests). The snark got old, and the same authors and titles mentioned over and over didn't show much breadth of opinions and options. In the end, it all seemed pretty narrow and shallow.

Plus there's the difficulty I have staying interested in ANY humor-based book. Not that I don't love the lulz, bu
4.5/5 stars. This was an inane and silly guide to romances, albeit immensely funny at times. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing so hard I had tears at a few points. On the other hand, the humor in this book is definitely not for everyone, and it can be downright juvenile at certain points.

There was lots of surprises to this book. In addition to literary analysis, there was mad-libs, choose your own adventures, board games, coloring, and
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Back in the eighties and nineties when I was absorbing romance books like a sponge I often had to justify my love of them. My reply to, " you like that crap?" Was usually, "hey I learn something new with each one." Sometimes I just told them to mind their own business and to shut up.
Anyway, this book is about that. These ladies love romance novels, but see the humor in them. So, keep that in mind when you read this and they poke some of your favorite books. They love them, too, and also have t
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
5 stars, if you like that sort of thing. :)

This is an awesome book for romance novel fans or readers The Smart Bitches, which would be a huge overlap.

For critics of the genre and people who just don't get it, I imagine it's educational and might make them come away with a better upstanding, but this is -- first and foremost -- for readers in-the-know.

Why does it make a reader's heart go pitter-patter when a book is mention that she's read? Even more so when the book is praised. Since there are
I have so many highlights in this book it's insane! ...more
Sarah (needs a break from reviewing)
14/8 - There were some interesting chapters and some that I found a bit slow and didn't really drag me back to the book the next day. My favourite parts of the book were all the new additions to my to read list (but that was also a bad thing because have you SEEN my to read list?!) and the last couple of chapters. The Choose Your Own romances were lots of fun and the plots reminded me of some of the romances I've read. The next section was a Write Your Own romance where you just insert a few of ...more
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh my gods, I kept getting weird looks from my family and from strangers on the train and in coffee shops because I kept snorting and giggling and guffawing all the way through this book!

Hats off to the Smart Bitches, these ladies not only made me laugh but also made me think, and more than once they made me shout, "Hells, yeah!" I particularly liked their strong stance against plagiarism and racism in the romance genre, and their sharp observations about the Seriously Screwed Up (but occasional
Apr 13, 2009 rated it liked it
I read it straight through, and some parts dragged, but it was fun overall. So much was on the mark.

Also, I don't really care what parts were boring, because you get the feel that the authors know and love the genre as much as you do (or the person that forced you to read the book does), so it's more like listening to your smart, bitchy, wordy (and often hilarious) friend ramble.

Parts I liked:

1. Old School vs New School flowchart - comprehensive and amusing

2. Summary of Old School was interesti
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the humor of the two authors throughout Beyond... They poked fun at the world of romance books (writing and reading) and justified the same. I found my eyes rolling at their less than stellar critique of the earlier romance books. Man, did they hit that bulls eye dead on.

The authors provide numerous book samples--made me realize how few books I've actually read. Neat interviews by Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Emma Holly and a few others.

This would be an excellent "source" book for someo
Damon Suede
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A sassy, savvy overview of romance as a popular genre. This book is based on the authors wry and much-trafficked website, but stretches beyond its online origins to become a kind of unpretentious, digressive lit-crit. Hilarious, informed, and consistently entertaining, this book is a must-read for anyone who loves the genre but maintains a sense of humnor about its excesses and unintentional in-jokes.

Kathleen Flynn
My favorite thing about this was the writing, which was gleefully salacious, full of campy double-entendres and shamelessly silly sexual puns. I also learned about history of this genre, and was reduced to tears of laughter by the choose-your-own-romance section at the end.

I was most disappointed in something that was not the book's fault: I was hoping it would have more guidance for would-be writers of romance. (As I say, this is my own fault: it is clearly marketed as a readers guide. And I su
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

The website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has taught me so much about the world of romance novels, and Wendell and Tan bring all of that expertise here. I took literal pages of notes on the history of modern romance, examinations of the romance hero and heroine, and the role of rape in Old Skool novels. The literary criticism and knowledge are broken up with jokes and general silliness that make me laugh.

Heaving Bosoms came out in 2009 and some parts haven't aged well - they discuss LGBT
i r e n e
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for those interested in romance discourse, but a bit all over the place. Prioritized comedy and wit above all else.

Written by the creators of the popular romance review blog, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, the authors love their romance and they know their shit when it comes to all things romance.

Every book of essays about the romance genre that I’ve read, all 3 of them, must begin with a defensive manifesto about our right as readers to enjoy the genre.

It's simply de rigueur becaus
Jan 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Do not read this book! I'm very serious! I thought it was awful!

The tone in this is astoundingly grating -- it's conversational and light, obviously trying to make you feel like you're in a discussion with an old friend, who happens to swear and thinks they're quite funny. The problem is we're not friends and they're not funny. Words this book used: ghey, buttsecks, what-what in the butt. I'm sorry but....are we all twelve? Is it time to be twelve again? I don't agree to this! Take it back!

I lov
Sep 07, 2010 rated it liked it
I can handle some of the sub-genres, but as a whole romance doesn't work for me. Not just because of the books, but also because of some of its Special Snowflake fans who like to play victim about how the romance genre is persecuted, or prejudiced against, or whatever. And thus they get so defensive. CHILLAX, PEOPLE!

I like the Smart Bitches, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, because unlike a lot of romance bloggers they don't absolutely fangirl over every romance book they read. They're quite forthco
Eva Müller
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
The problem with this book is that it doesn't quite know what it wants to be. Part of it is a very affectionate poking fun at some romance-related things: the sometimes cringeworthy covers, the tropes that involve secret babies and evil twins, the purple prose in the sex-scenes...those parts are hilarious (without ever suggesting that all romances are like that) and they contain so many penis-jokes. Seriously. If you're into penis-jokes this is the book for you.
Now the other part is much less fu
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My poor roommate. I keep sending her texts and emails saying things like, "I bought four new books today! ...I'm sorry?" I'm supposed to be catching up on my TBR shelf (shelves), but--it's a clever, hysterically funny, profanity-filled book on romance novels! I finally found it at a local bookstore today, grabbed it and a Mother's Day present for my mom (hi, mom) and a random Regency, and read it tonight after finishing The Millionaire's Inexperienced Love-Slave. (It seemed only appropriate.)

Jan 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
I thought this would be a fun tongue in cheek book, but there was just something about it that turned me off. The, almost clinical way they dissected the book and yet were glib at the same time just didn't work for me. After reading 20 pages and skimming another 40 I decided this one just wasn't for me. ...more
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorous, 4-star
A hilarious look at the romance industry.
Anna Erishkigal
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
This book had some truly hilarious insights into romance as a genre which really made me stop and think about some of the tropes we weave into our stories.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book.....

Is utterly fantastic.

It is funny. It's smart and clever. And as someone who hasn't read a ton of romance and has lived in a world that loves to hate on the romance genre, this book gave me some insight as to why romance is so much more than heaving bosoms and mighty wangs (but that those aspects have their place as well!)

If you are curious as to why romance is such a huge genre, this book is worth reading. If you want something funny and insightful, this book is worth reading.

Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, nonfiction
Absolutely fantastic. I laughed, I sympathized. Anyone who’s read a romance novel needs to read this and relish in the Accuracy™, but it also addresses the issues within the community, which I, and the authors, believe we should all be thinking about.
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Sarah Wendell is a transplanted Pittsburgher currently living in New York metropolitan area. By day she's mild mannered and heavily caffeinated. By evening she dons her cranky costume, consumes yet more caffeine, and becomes Smart Bitch Sarah of
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, examining the history and future of the genre, and bemoaning the enormous pr

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