I began reading Bethany True's debut romance, "Remember the Alimony" (Dorchester 1/30) and thought: there is no way in America this chick never walked a stage in a swimsuit. I mean, in "Remember the Alimony," she makes the uninitiated understand what it would be like to be a gorgeous blonde, blue-eyed Miss Texas, that most famed and fairy-tale-like of all Miss America contestants, a woman who will forever in her state be revered as having accomplished something akin to winning a Nobel Peace Prize, but while wearing better shoes.
"Remember the Alimony" isn't about pageants, per se. It's about about a woman trying to move forward after her billionaire husband trades her in for a newer model. From there, it's fun, mystery, and hawt romance. I know you'll enjoy Bethany as much as I do, so
please, offer her a warm Bella buongiorno...
I was raised with the media reinforcing the stereotype that guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. Beauty and intelligence were seemingly fairly independent. Why? When discussing the brains-beauty correlation, people overwhelmingly assume that women who are classically beautiful glide through life using their physical assets instead of burying their beautiful noses in a book while women who are not work harder at being smarter to get ahead. Whether that is universally true can be argued until the apocalypse. The bigger issue, for me, is breaking down the stereotype on both sides.
Somewhere along the puberty path, women are divided into two categories – the beauty queen and the brain. We are expected to choose one and then cattily criticize the members of the other. Pretty girls are empowered by their sexuality, smart girls are empowered by their intellect and both are rather weak.
Women, especially our romance heroines, are finally starting to learn what men have known all along – that it’s okay to use a balance of brains and beauty to get the things you need to have a rich and fulfilling life. Making the choice to be a contestant in a pageant to win thousands of dollars in scholarship money isn’t demeaning, it’s smart. Spend two hours in the library reading sonnets about the loveliness of the female form and tell me you don’t feel sexier than after spending two hours in a beauty salon ogling “perfect” women in glamour magazines.
Beyond rejecting the idea that we have to be one or the other, women need to transcend convention’s definition of both. We are willing to accept the spectrum of sexiness in men from the absentminded lab geek to the Hollywood heartthrob. In a world where females are truly equal we are willing to accept the same range for ourselves. Sexy doesn’t only come in a size six and a smart girl isn’t dumb just because she enjoys a trashy novel more than she does a Tolstoy.
She can be the beauty queen…with a brain.
When I tell people I write "Women's Fiction" I inevitably get the "But you're so smart…" response. Nothing makes my blood boil hotter. Romance as a genre doesn't have the best reputation with literary types – most willing to discount the genre as a whole.
Readers, writers and fans of romance – how do you answer the elitists? What, if anything, can be done to break down the stereotype that intelligent people don't enjoy well written romance novels?