Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You Know She Wanted It

I've heard so many women abashedly admit that THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER is either their favorite romance of all time, or the one that made them fall in love with the genre.

But the novel, as well as Woodiwiss' THE WOLF AND THE DOVE, have been pretty controversial because when viewed with contemporary sensibilities, the sexual power dynamic is offensive to many.

For example, there's a scene in the beginning of F and F in which -- and taken out of context it's not much creepier than within -- our fair heroine is mistaken for a prostitute by the hero and deflowered by him efficiently and without much finesse.

It ain't even close to forced seduction, but I'm not about to jump critical on anybody who digs the book, cause it's all about the fantasy, baybee. I mean, I've got puh-lenty of Old School novel faves with ripped bodices and borderline rape and forced seduction that are on my Don't Loan Out shelf.

So, what's your "Flame and Flower?"
Name the novel/s you're mortified to love.
Jenna Petersen GuestBlogs tomorrow, Dec 20 with a great contest!
It's "Christmas and Clooney," Fri, Dec. 22, as Roxanne St. Claire visits with a faboo contest: One lucky commenting Bella wins a signed copy of KILL ME TWICE (12/06), PLUSSSS a Set of "Oceans Eleven," and "Oceans Twelve!"
Daily Squawk Radio Week + a Day contest winners: Mon/evesilver; Tues/adriana; Wed/pj; Thrs/littlelamblost; Fri/Maggie Robinson; Mon/sally (send your snail mail to romance@ibsys.com)
Grazie mille SQUAWK RADIO CHICKS !!!
for visiting with us the past week + a day! We've laughed, we've cried, we've regifted. Good times. You are, all of you -- even Connie -- welcome any time.
Encore! MK suggested the topic. Grazie, Bella.


RDCICON said...

Congrats to da winners ~you lucky rackals~

oHH I love Woodiwiss novels, but what really got me into the genre was Johanna Lindsey, specifically her Mallory series *hubba hubba*

As I'll be on leave from the 22nd Dec until 8 Jan, let me take this opportunity just in case made rush of wishing you Michelle and everyone else a very Merry Christmas and awesome 2007!!

(((hugs & love))) from South Africa

Kati said...

Ah, one of my favorite topics! I love me some forced seduction. I've talked about it before, but Judith McNaught's "Whitney, My Love" is my all time favorite politically incorrect romance. First, it features forced seduction, the hero subjugates the heroine in a BIG. FAT. WAY., there's a humungous Big Misunderstanding that could have been cleared up by one conversation, he lies to the heroine in the beginning, you know, "for her own good." SIGH. It's perfection!

Clayton Westmoreland is ALPHA in a big old 80s way. He's arrogant (if you look up arrogant in the romance dictionary, Clayton would be waving from a picture next to the word!), and he's ruthless. But man, I love him so, so much! I love that he's got so much responsibility, I love that he adores his mother, I love that he goes about things all wrong, over and over again.

Now, I know, I know, there are lots of people out there who find the forced seduction scene to be rape. But since, FS is one of my favorite romance devices, I don't have one little problem with it. H*ll, McNaught books occupy three spots in my top 10 romances of all time, so I love pretty much anything she writes. I love Whitney, My Love unreservedly and recommend it all the time!

Other politically incorrect books I love, well, let's see, there's another Woodiwiss classic, A Rose In Winter. That one is love predicated on a big, huge lie. I love that one too. It was the first romance that I read that I read over and over again. Or, how 'bout Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey? Or how 'bout Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts?

Good times, good times!

Thanks Michelle, I love this topic!

Kati said...

Oh, BTW, Michelle, I'm reading JACOB now. Phew! I love him. I love me some dark tortured hero with terrible responsibility! Also, I really love Jacquelyn Frank's style of writing. Very smooth and the prose is lovely!

Thanks for the recommendation.

kim h said...

looks nice

Playground Monitor said...

I'm mortified to love category romance cause it's so often considered the red-haired stepchild of romance. And how many times I have I heard writers say "Oh I'll write category until I can write a real book." Uh... it's paper, has a cover and a price tag. That's a real book. Duh!

But I love category -- the quick pacing, the short format, the happily ever after. I've read over 300 Silhouette Desires alone in the past 5 years and love 'em! And for anyone who thinks it's easy to "churn one out," I challenge them to try it. I've been trying for 3 years and haven't succeeded yet. But I ain't giving up!


Kathleen Eagle said...

What a topic, Michelle! You are indeed fearless.
Rosemary Rogers's "Sweet Savage Love" was my introduction to popular romance fiction of the--70's? Gad! I'm not sure when it was published, but I read it in the early 80's when my DH was trying to get me to read "one of those books" because, unbeknownst to me, I seemed to be writing one. (All I knew was that I was writing a story for fun. It was a historical, and the hero was an Indian, but as you can probably guess, he was no savage.) It took me a few tries before I could actually get into SSL. I love a good Western, and that was what kept me reading. The hero was a sexy alpha--liked that. The deflowering scene was a turn-on at the time, but I haven't looked at it in over 20 years. Maybe I should find the book and read it again, see if I feel differently.

I say that because a few years ago somebody sent me an audio of F and F, and I had it playing when I thought I was alone in the house. I was doing some paperwork, not paying much attention, and suddenly there was DH wanting to know what the hell I was listening to. We rewound it, and I listened to the part he had overheard--the deflowering scene. It was like seeing some old TV show that you loved way back when. (Truthfully, when I was educating myself on the genre, I did a lot of skimming.) I said, "Huh?" And DH said, "At least turn it down." Turned out one of our kids--must have been late teens--was home. Not that what was on the tape would shock him. But the violence wasn't...right.

Here's the thing: in those days, that was it; that was the style. Those writers forged a place in the commercial fiction market, and the many who followed built on that foundation, broadened it, made new inroads. The genre has grown tremendously, and it's great to have choices. You can read hot hot hot one day, and go for more--what?--character, plot, pathos, whatever--the next.

traveler said...

Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers warrants mention as one of the major mortifiying historical romances. It is stark, difficult reading which delves into the innermost feelings. This book has remained with me for years.

ellie said...

An Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale has that magic touch for sure. Definitely one of those beautiful stories that lasts long after you have relinquished the book.

alissa said...

I believe that Sleeping Beauty by Judith Ivory is representative of this style of novel. Vivid portrayal of the times and great characterization which makes this a book well worth reading.

Vivi Anna said...

Nope, never been into those non-pc books. Back in the 80's and 90's I was reading horror, that was my mainstay. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul...so were my romantic heros.

joelle said...

When I read Dreaming of you by Lisa Kleypas It was remarkable that this topic and subject matter was written about in such a fabulous manner.This book deserves recognition and is one of my faves.

ev said...

Um... I think I still have my original copy of F and the F along with all of her books. It was my first adult introduction to the genre. I had been reading the Harq. ones for years. Boy, what a difference.

kathleen- I understand exactly what you are saying about making sure you are alone before listening to certain audios. I still can't do LKH that way, not only would I not be sure who was around, but I think it could be dangerous driving down the thruway with some of those scenes!! LOL

Estella said...

Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers.

principessa said...

The Wedding by Julie Garwood has steam, romance and a man to be feared but he is definitely a caring, sexy hero who exudes charisma and is irresistible to Jamie. Could not put this addictive book down.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hiya, Bellas! Back in the game after last night's big to do here (Dave's co-workers), and a day spent recovering and trying to work. Does anyone else find herself immobilized as the holidays draw near? I'm such a procrastinator.

Glad youz like the topic, and I love hearing you proudly name your fave Mortifying Reads. Sweet Savage needs to be read, given your description, traveler. :)

And I've never listened to an audio romance, but I'm looking forward to doing so. It never occurred to me, this idea of hearing the love scenes out loud.

Interesting about Dreaming of You, joelle, cause I remember thinking that she was really brave, writing in that Old School style which was, basically, letting the characters act as if they were actually living in the times she wrote them into, not w/ a modernized morality/sensibility. It always amazes me how LK gets pretty raw stuff past a fairly conservative reading audience.

Hey, Play, right on all counts with the category. I've been trying to highlight it's importance, but it's hard cause of the shelf life. We should have a week here w/ the best cat authors, like Lucy Monroe.

Oh, and I LOVE me some "Virgin Pregnant by the Sultry Italian-Born Sheik" categories.

Early on, when I first started reading romance, I picked up a couple Italian Husbands categories. I remember howling w/laughter, calling my m-i-l and reading the cover description of the series, something like : They're passionate, they're wild, and they're looking to marry. She and I were like: they're short, they're stubborn, and their mothers make their daughters-in-laws' lives living hell

The way folks look at the sexy Italian male thing is intriguing to me...

Anonymous said...

I'm old enough that the first romances that I read were Barbara Cartland. Maybe that is why I still have a rather naive viewpoint on sex in the story to this day. And yes, some of her stories would be considered archaic by today's standards, but they were a good read for a thirteen year old dreamy kid.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I also remembered after I posted how I loved Bertrice Small's Sky O'Malley. It wasn't until I went back quite a few years later that I realized that it had racy parts in it. I must have skipped those parts or maybe I was too young to know what they were about because I'm sure I would have remembered them. :)

Stacy~ said...

Yep, "Whitney, My Love" is an all-time classic. LOVE it. I'm not mortified to call it a favorite, even though many readers hated this book. Tough. I loved it and always will.

I can't remember the author, Patricia something, but in the early 80's I read several of her historical books and the premise was always the same: hero mistakes heroine for a loose woman, de-flowers her in the almost-rape scenario and later (sometimes much, much later) realizes his mistake and falls madly in love. I admit to loving those books...and I was a pre-teen back then.

Oh yes, Skye O'Malley was one progressive chick. She had more men than Madonna, never apologized for any of them, and mostly enjoyed the sensual delights of the bedroom, or the chaise. I learned a lot from dear old Skye.

The only books I might be a litle mortified to admit I love are the Ellora's Cave books with all the wonderfully wicked sex, day and night. Yep, I just love the sex - it's hot and as long as the h/h end up together, even if there is one or three other partners, then the stories work for me. It's like anything though, you need to mix it up: one week it's EC, the next it's a traditional historical, the next paranormal.

And I know it's so non-pc, but I just love the virginal heroine who knows practically nothing about making love and yet catches the attention of the most infamous rake. This works best in historicals. "Beyond Innocence" by Emma Holly is the story I'm thinking of. She's so uninhibited in her responses because she doesn't really understand what's happening to her, she just knows she likes it. I love naughty stories like that.

ev said...

god, how I hate PC crap.

Skye O'Malley- I still have my originals of those and they are well worn. Always loved the scene when she told the sheik off.

Michelle- if you know that the love scenes are hot, I don't recommend listening while you drive. I think it's the only time I blush, although it can be fun with the right partner.

catslady said...

Woodiweiss was my first real romance author and I adore all her books. Before her it was mostly books written by men and I do feel there is a difference. (I'm sure there are exceptions lol)

catslady said...

oh and congrats to the lucky winners!

Kati said...

Didn't Bertrice Small write one called something like "Zenobia"? Strangely I remember two things most about this book. There's a torture scene that had to do with red ants and honey and it was there that I read my first, ahem, "back-door" scene. LOL! I think I was about 15. I was appalled and fascinated all at the same time. I'm pretty sure, like all Small heroines, she got sold into a harem at some point. Anyway, I love Bertrice Small. The prose is so incredibly purple. Throbbing manhood indeed!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

LOL, ev! Maybe it even beats reading them aloud with someone you love? I mean, nobody has to hold the book, right? Or does that suggest TMI? Oh, wait a minute! No such thing as TMI at RBtheBlog. That includes me, right?

Stace writes: And I know it's so non-pc, but I just love the virginal heroine who knows practically nothing about making love and yet catches the attention of the most infamous rake.

I would totally read that scenario every day, every book, and sub-gen and never tire of it. I could analyze it, and I'm sure I have here before, but it really does it for me. And please figure out Patricia's last name, cause her scenario works for me, too.

What a great point, catslady. I never thought about how early on most of my romantic imagery came from male authors. I think they can be romantic writers, but, let's faceit, we've perfected romance. Maybe women should have a motto and that should be it. Women: We Are Romance.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

rdcicon! Happy/Healthy to you, too! Looking forward to seeing you here often, Bella. :)

Kati said...

Oh, the Bertrice Small that I was refering to was called "Beloved". I'm tempted to pick one up somewhere just to re-read it.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah, MK. Bertrice does do the purple. I like one of her shorts in one of th Brava anthologies. About the woman who asks the boy-next-door all grown up to make her his mistress so he can get her ready for the rake she wants to go after.

teagan, that;s so funny, not realizing whata the spicy parts were about. Oh, how I wish I'd read romance as an adolescent. But, I repeat myself yet again. I should just be happy I ever started.

Stacy~ said...

I will try Michelle because sometimes I really miss those books.

MK, I don't remember red ants and honey (euphemism?) and I read a lot of Small's books...well, skimmed til I got the fun parts anyway. She did like putting her heroines into harems against their will, didn't she?

There was another book, and maybe it's a scenario that's been done in several books, but I read it in the early 80's. Young heroine and hero watch as a stallion mounts a mare and the heroine is all excited so the hero takes advantage but the poor girl doesn't make it to the finish line. She later marries hero, then they are separated for awhile and she ends up in a cabin with another sexy guy and they get busy but she never tells her dh. That really bothered me even though it was really hot. My first taste of infidelity on the heroine's part, and it didn't work for me. Guess I'm still a bit old-fashioned.

Kati said...

Stace, no, actual torture. I can't remember why, but Zenobia was the one who did it. Hard core, huh?

Liz said...

I still have both of Woodiweiss' in my keeper case plus the sequel to The Flame and the Flower
And I like Bodice rippers I started reading them years ago and still do
And my first romance book was a Cartland
I love Elloras Cave Loose Id and Harlequin
But I do try to hide some of my menage books from my in laws and 16 yo

Sue A. said...

The Sleeping Beauty trilogy by "Anne Rice" comes to mind for me. The books redefined "acceptable" sexuality for me. I have to admit they were read in secret back then.

santasmbslt said...

I remember reading Whitney, My Love and F and F around the same time and I wasn't crazy about the forced seduction scenes as I was reading them but they seem to belong in those books. They fit how the rest of the book developed.

A book that can illicit a gamet of reactions and emotions are some of the best books I've read. This is especially true of books like 'Dreaming of You' by Lisa Kleypas and 'An Arranged Marriage' by Jo Beverley. Jo Beverley's book is fraught with intense sensuality and sexuality!

Cara Michelle, I have to make sure I return again and again to this site...especially tomorrow with Jenna Petersen visiting! Buona Festa! Santa

Unknown said...

One book I love to re-read at least once a year is Linda Howard's "A Game of Chance" There is a sex scene in there which gets a bit erm rough-but I kind of still like it!

Robin L. Rotham said...

Brenda Joyce's The Conquerer did it for me when I was younger. I loved Rosemary Rogers, too, though The Insiders messed with my head. And I must have read Love's Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde (aka Tom Huff) a hundred times.

ev said...

Marykate- I don't remember Zenobia, but I do recall the "back-foor" scene and the sheik and the ladies all wearing horse tails in one of the Skye books. LOL. Isn't if funny what does stick with you after reading god knows how many books since then?

J Perry Stone said...

Woodiwiss de-flowered me.

And I think it was F and F...actually no. It was Wolf and the Dove and I was hooked.

Strangely, those scenes did not freak me out...I understood the arena in which they belonged: fantasy, as you said, Michelle. But they didn't trigger the tingles, if you know what I mean.

flip said...

Seriously, I am not ashamed of my reading tastes. I may not want to read a racy novel on the airplane next to strangers, but I still read them. Of course, I had to read Mercenaries by Angela Knight very quickly and get it out of the house, I really don't think my 16 year old is ready for it.(Delusional, I know..I was reading Rosemary Rodgers at her age) I still love The Wolf and The Dove and The Flower and the Flame.