Bodice Ripper Readers Anonymous discussion

150 views
Discussions and Questions > Defining Bodice Rippers

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Regan (last edited Nov 28, 2013 10:56AM) (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) As some of you know, I have a review blog (Regan's Romance Reviews http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com) that features many "best lists" of historical romance. Well, I have decided to to a Best Bodice Ripper Romances list for 2014 and as I was listing books I've read or want to read, I realized that my definition and that of other "bodice ripper fans" might not be the same. For example, one book that was on someone's list was by Jennifer Blake but I contacted the author to ask about it as I never thought of it as a bodice ripper. Jennifer agreed with me (and she wrote several that were definitely bodice rippers).

Our group defines the subgenre as "epic romance novels set in exotic locations with aggressive and possessive heroes and spitfire heroines," but to me that's the majority of historical romance. To me a bodice ripper has a scene where the heroine's bodice is literally ripped by the hero, or there is a forced seduction/rape. Otherwise, how is the subgenre different? I'd love to have your thoughts, and of course, your recommendations for books I should read for the list. Only those I rate 4 or 5 stars make my best lists. Thanks,

Regan


message 2: by Karla (last edited Nov 30, 2013 01:25PM) (new)

Karla | 1668 comments Mod
Everyone's free to have varying definitions of what makes something a bodice ripper. No one definition will cover it all and it will include some titles that are BRs in Name Only, but exclude others unfairly. IMO it's like pornography: I know a BR when I see it. But it's still purely a subjective thing.

My idea of a bodice ripper is the dirtiest and rawest of the dirty and raw since my shock threshold is high. Everyone has their own BR yardstick.

ETA: There's also the issue of not making the description for the group descend into a picky list of what is and what ain't.

And I personally don't consider Johanna Lindsey, beyond a very very few titles, a BR. So like I said....subjective.


message 3: by Joano (new)

Joano | 7 comments I agree with you Regan. It's just plan historical romance without the kidnapping OR bodice ripping (of some sort) OR force seduction/ rape AND goes on an adventure/travels. Here are some novels I think falls into that category:

By Johanna Lindsey:
A Pirate's Love
Fires of Winter
Captive bride
Secret fire
Silver Angel
Paradise Wild
So speak the heart
Surrender my love
Prisoner of my desire
Once a princess
Hearts Aflame

By Jude Devereux
Velvet Promise
Velvet Song
Lost lady
Counterfeit Lady
River lady

By Miriam Minger
Twin passions
Defiant imposter
Captive Rose
The Pagan's prize

By Judith McNaught
Whitney, my love
A kingdom of dreams
Once and always

By Lisa Kleypas
Only with your love
(And apparently, a few of her older ones, including the first version of When Strangers Married - under a different name which she edited to the current version)

I'm sure you have plenty more. These are just a few I can remember of the top of my head.

Joan


message 4: by Sarah Mac (new)

Sarah Mac (princess_wildflower55) | 47 comments I label books as 'bodice ripper' because of the cover style & the era it was originally written, combined with torrid, fast-and-loose, OTT plotting therein -- whether it's a true romance novel or not. But that's just my opinion, & I know it's not the norm.

I think Karla's right in that the definition is too fluid to cover a definite spectrum. Romance readers can't even agree on what makes a romance novel, let alone a sub-genre like bodice rippers. I've read books that I felt were mild romances -- then opened Goodreads & found angry reviewers clutching pearls & pitchforks because the hero slept with other women before he & the heroine were officially "an item." *shrug*

So, yes. It seems too personal for an exact line between one side & another -- particularly in romance novels.


message 5: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Joano wrote: "I agree with you Regan. It's just plan historical romance without the kidnapping OR bodice ripping (of some sort) OR force seduction/ rape AND goes on an adventure/travels. Here are some novels I..."

Thanks,Joan! I'm going to check out your list!!


message 6: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Everyone's free to have varying definitions of what makes something a bodice ripper. No one definition will cover it all and it will include some titles that are BRs in Name Only, but exclude other..."

Karla,
I wasn't trying to change the group; I was trying to define the subgenre for my best list--the type of books on the list. That's all. I do not see romance books as "clean" or "dirty." To me, love scenes are a normal part of a relationship, albeit preferably in marriage, which all of my own books lead to.


message 7: by Mermarie (last edited Nov 30, 2013 07:39PM) (new)

Mermarie | 956 comments Mod
I'm with Karla and Sarah. Since bodice-ripper is an unofficial genre itself, I believe it's fair game for anyone to discern what constitutes as a bodice ripper. My personal means of pin-pointing the bodice-ripping is that it generally involves multiple partners(no safe bubbles), long periods of separation between the h/H(designating them both within the vicinity of each other forever implies that they've a co-dependency and no adventurous nature); a lack of formula, more storytelling and adventure THAN romance, and most of all -- not written for the reader's PLEASURE.


message 8: by Willow (last edited Nov 30, 2013 11:44PM) (new)

Willow  | 146 comments I think a historical fiction book becomes a BR when it has two things, forced seduction/rape and the hero is also a villain. I know that sounds simple, but for me that’s the main difference. This is why I consider The Demon Lover by Victoria Holt a BR, even though it's pretty tame (at least by Rosemary Rogers standards). lol

Nancy Friday wrote a book back in the seventies discussing woman’s sexual fantasies called My Secret Garden. In her study, she found that many women fantasized about being forced into sex (not necessarily always rape). She hypothesized that this may be due to the ‘good girl’ image that still lingered from the Victorian period that demanded that women did not enjoy sex. A woman who is forced into sex isn’t being wanton. She can’t be held responsible for what is happening to her. In other words, she can’t be blamed for having the big O. Her orgasm is all the man's fault because he is forcing her into it. The heroine is still a good girl, even though she's no longer a virgin.

Of course, things have changed since the seventies and eighties. Women aren’t as concerned about being a good girl. So when Nancy Friday did her study again in the 1990s with Women on Top, she found this fantasy wasn’t quite as popular as it used to be. That’s also when BRs started to lose their popularity. I think a lot of women today are sort of bewildered by BRs because of this. Women don't have the same guilt about sex.

But then again, maybe they do. I think remnants of this guiltless, 'good girl' fantasy still pops up in YA and New Adult books. Maybe it's because young women are uncomfortable about sex Unfortunately, most of the books today are not as well written or plotted out as the classic BRs. Really good authors used to write BRs like Victoria Holt. I think some writers now want to capture the same fantasy, but they're afraid to go too far, or they go the other way, making it very dark and grim like Captive in the Dark.


message 9: by Mermarie (new)

Mermarie | 956 comments Mod
The female body has an amazing capacity of protecting itself during rape attacks as is, I've researched--and during great acts of violence against it, it has the propensity of creating pleasure(orgasm) to alleviate that pain as a protective measure. Neither should be grounds for blaming the victim, however. No man is a stud for raping a woman whose body decided to ease the transition to minimize damages.


message 10: by Willow (last edited Nov 30, 2013 10:45PM) (new)

Willow  | 146 comments No man is a stud for raping a woman whose body decided to ease the transition to minimize damages.

I agree with you, Mermarie, 100%.

I've never looked at BR forced seduction though as being about real rape. I look at them as fantasy books that were popular for women in the seventies, because they felt guilty about having sex. The girl can't be guilty (or slutty) if the guy forces her into it. I think society used to really tear down women for liking sex. In fact, there's still a lot of slut shamming.

Of course, I don't want to sound pompous. Please don't get me wrong. I think a lot of people read BRs for different reasons, whether it be the wtf factor or their love of historical adventure. But I suspect that the original underlining fantasy comes from that desire to have guiltless sex.


message 11: by Sarah Mac (last edited Nov 30, 2013 10:42PM) (new)

Sarah Mac (princess_wildflower55) | 47 comments That's an interesting tidbit, Willow. I didn't realize she re-did that study. Some definite food for thought re: the concept of forced seduction.

In any era there are varieties of 'dark erotica' that fetishize the rape act -- that ghastly Captive in the Dark would probably have received De Sade's seal of approval. (Blech.) But I do agree that it's a defining characteristic of ripperdom, regardless of whether it's a more harmless fantasy variety or brutality that serves a purpose in the plot. A true bodice ripper will always contain that element of sexual peril, at least to some degree.

So if those rippers of the 70s are, in fact, a time capsule of polite womanly porn...well, why not? But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. ;) They're also great fun & full of unpredictable, WTF-laden plots. Such variety of style & story is what keeps me coming back to the genre.


message 12: by Karla (new)

Karla | 1668 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: " They're also great fun & full of unpredictable, WTF-laden plots. Such variety of style & story is what keeps me coming back to the genre."

THIS. More often than not, I have no idea what I'm going to get when I pick one up. Could be actual bodice-ripping, could be cannibalism. It's all part of the surprise. :D


message 13: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Willow wrote: "I think a historical fiction book becomes a BR when it has two things, forced seduction/rape and the hero is also a villain. I know that sounds simple, but for me that’s the main difference. Thi..."

Thanks, Willow, for the insightful comments. I'm going with your thought.


message 14: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Sarah wrote: "That's an interesting tidbit, Willow. I didn't realize she re-did that study. Some definite food for thought re: the concept of forced seduction.

In any era there are varieties of 'dark erotica'..."


Sarah: I like this and with your permission will use it: "A true bodice ripper will always contain that element of sexual peril, at least to some degree."


message 15: by Sarah Mac (new)

Sarah Mac (princess_wildflower55) | 47 comments Regan wrote: "Sarah: I like this and with your permission will use it: "A true bodice ripper will always contain that element of sexual peril, at least to some degree." "

Sure, if you like. :)


message 16: by Sarah Mac (new)

Sarah Mac (princess_wildflower55) | 47 comments Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "THIS. More often than not, I have no idea what I'm going to get when I pick one up. Could be actual bodice-ripping, could be cannibalism. It's all part of the surprise. :D"

Indeed! Sometimes you get This Other Eden & sometimes you get Barbary Bride. *evil grin*


Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* (thepiratewench) | 839 comments Mod
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Sarah wrote: " They're also great fun & full of unpredictable, WTF-laden plots. Such variety of style & story is what keeps me coming back to the genre."

THIS. More often than not, I have no idea ..."


It is true that everyone's idea of a "Bodice-Ripper" is different. Back in the day when these books started my first "Sweet Savage Love" and many others from the authors of "back then" where just called Historical Romance. I'm curious as to when Bodice-Ripper was defined as such? I just go for the cover first,then like Karla...wait for the surprise,that's the best part :D


message 18: by Sara (new)

Sara | 40 comments Of Course their are different levels of Bodice Rippers but to me a True Bodice Ripper is one of those books where the Heroine experiences rape and is mistreated by the Hero. It's usually set during a time when Men ruled over Women. Here are a few I would consider True Bodice Rippers.

Forbidden Magic by Catherine Emm ,
Never Call It Love by Veronica Jason ,
Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee
Love, Remember Me by Jessie Ford Satan's Mistress by Rachel Cosgrove Payes
Sweet Savage Love (Morgan-Challenger, #1) by Rosemary Rogers
Love's Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde
The Wanton by Rosemary Rogers
Bonds of Love by Candace Camp


message 19: by Regan (last edited Dec 05, 2013 04:07PM) (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Sara wrote: "Of Course their are different levels of Bodice Rippers but to me a True Bodice Ripper is one of those books where the Heroine experiences rape and is mistreated by the Hero. It's usually set during..."

Thanks, Sara. Surely the ones you've described would be bodice rippers by anyone's definition. I note some of the books are not rated very high; which do you recommend?


message 20: by Sara (new)

Sara | 40 comments Regan wrote: "Sara wrote: "Of Course their are different levels of Bodice Rippers but to me a True Bodice Ripper is one of those books where the Heroine experiences rape and is mistreated by the Hero. It's usual..."

Lady Vixen and Sweet Savage Love


message 21: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Sara wrote: "Regan wrote: "Sara wrote: "Of Course their are different levels of Bodice Rippers but to me a True Bodice Ripper is one of those books where the Heroine experiences rape and is mistreated by the He..."

Thanks! Both are on my list!


message 22: by Mermarie (new)

Mermarie | 956 comments Mod
The Bodice Ripper Group shelves can also provide some help on your Bodice Ripper search. Also, these lists created by our staff and members.

Real Bodice Ripper List:
https://www.google.com/#q=real+bodice...

Down n' Dirty Bodice Ripper List:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...


message 23: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Mermarie wrote: "The Bodice Ripper Group shelves can also provide some help on your Bodice Ripper search. Also, these lists created by our staff and members.

Real Bodice Ripper List:
https://www.google.com/#q=real..."


Thanks, Mermarie. I think that is where I got the list I started with to add to my own picks, but I'll recheck them.


message 24: by KatieV (new)

KatieV | 112 comments I completely agree that a bodice ripper must include "a scene where the heroine's bodice is literally ripped by the hero, or there is a forced seduction/rape" Otherwise it's just historical romance.

Aside from that, I define two sub-genres:

1)Bodice Rippers Lite (a term I attribute to mbr JennyG): heroine is a virgin and the hero is her one and only lover. No rape or sex with another man.
2)True Bodice Rippers: Everybody rapes the poor heroine. The hero, gangs of pirates, random passersby, etc. She's also often much more roughly handled by the hero than in the lighter versions (beatings, brutal rapes). Examples would be the infamous Stormfire by Christine Monson, Devil's Embrace by Catherine Coulter, and Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers.

I think people should read whatever they want, but personally I tend to only read the 'lite' version as it conforms more to my own personal fantasies.

Some examples of my favorites which are in the 'lite' category.

The Flame and the Flower (Kathleen Woodiwiss)
The Wolf and the Dove (Kathleen Woodiwiss)
Uncommon Vows (Mary Jo Putney)
Several of Jennifer Blake's oldies - Royal Seduction, Embrace and Conquer, Golden Fancy
All the Johanna Lindsey's listed by Joano above
Where Passion Leads (Lisa Kleypas)
Magic Embrace (Jennifer Horsman)
My Lord Conqueror, My Cherished Enemy, and Gabriel's Bride (Samantha James)
Keeper of the Dream (Penelope Williamson)

All of these were written in the 70s, 80s, 90s. Mainstream historical romance just doesn't do bodice rippers anymore, I guess publishers are afraid of the backlash. Erotica seems to be the place to go for that these days. It kinda sucks too, since I'm personally not always into some of the kinks and the stories are usually novellas and lack the depth of a full-length historical. I've heard paranormal romance is also filling that niche as well, but I haven't read any yet (very loooong to-read list). Also, bodice ripper themes are quite popular in fan fiction. Rape/forced seduction is particularly prevalent in slash fan fiction (m/m romance). I don't read it myself, but have heard theories that many see it as a more palatable form of "bodice ripping" since there is no violence toward females involved. Of course, that's just one theory. (Fan fiction readers will tear you apart over this subject, so you must tread carefully.) Suppose I'm just trying to say that it didn't go away, it just moved. If there's a market for it, someone is going to write it.


message 25: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) KatieV wrote: "I completely agree that a bodice ripper must include "a scene where the heroine's bodice is literally ripped by the hero, or there is a forced seduction/rape" Otherwise it's just historical romance..."

Thanks, KatieV. "Bodice Rippers Lite" sound like what I'm looking for and all but Samantha James' books are on my list. I'll have to check her out. Thanks.


message 26: by JennyG (last edited Dec 07, 2013 11:59AM) (new)

JennyG | 171 comments Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: And I personally don't consider Johanna Lindsey, beyond a very very few titles, a BR. So like I said....subjective. "

How very true that is!

Looking at KatieV's list now I wouldn't put Uncommon Vows even on my Bodice Ripper Lite list despite it featuring an attempt of rape. Mostly because it didn't have the drama nor put me through an emotional roller-coaster that is a requisite feature of a bodice-ripper.


message 27: by JennyG (new)

JennyG | 171 comments One and Only Bodice Ripper List or Bodice Ripper Lite

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4...


Unfortunately some readers have not read the qualifications for that list and have added books that don't apply.

Some kind readers, like KatieV, have divulged which books shouldn't be on that list in the comments section of that list.


message 28: by KatieV (new)

KatieV | 112 comments JennyG wrote: Looking at KatieV's list now I wouldn't put Uncommon Vows even on my Bodice Ripper Lite list despite it featuring an attempt of rape. Mostly because it didn't have the drama nor put me through an emotional roller-coaster that is a requisite feature of a bodice-rippers."

That's funny, because I actually hesitated about putting it on this list myself. You're right, there's something that makes it "different" from your typical bodice ripper. I can't quite put my finger on it myself.


message 29: by Sarah Mac (last edited Dec 07, 2013 01:13PM) (new)

Sarah Mac (princess_wildflower55) | 47 comments KatieV wrote: "It kinda sucks too, since I'm personally not always into some of the kinks and the stories are usually novellas and lack the depth of a full-length historical."

Yeah, I tend to avoid erotica for that reason. I've got a couple that are listed as erotica on GR, but they're pretty tame compared to most of the genre.

By the mid-1990s you can definitely see the style shift between the older rippers & their tamer counterparts. There's also a drastic reduction in torrid 'plantation porn' sagas (for obvious reasons). But I've always been interested in the intersection of genres between bodice rippers & gothic romance, or bodice rippers & plantation porn. At what point does a book become only one or the other (or the other)? I love it when genres are blurred within one book. :)

...But I'm no expert re: Plantation Porn & its place in the romance/pulp pantheon. Karla would have better contributions in that department.


message 30: by Regan (new)

Regan Walker (regansromance) Sarah wrote: "KatieV wrote: "It kinda sucks too, since I'm personally not always into some of the kinks and the stories are usually novellas and lack the depth of a full-length historical."

Yeah, I tend to avoi..."

KatieG: If you want a great example of Gothic and Bodice Ripper crossing, it's Demon Lover by Victoria Holt. Take a look at my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 31: by KatieV (new)

KatieV | 112 comments Thanks Regan, definitely sounds like my type of read.


back to top