lesbiassparrow: (Default)
[personal profile] lesbiassparrow
I pose this question: what's the worst book you've ever read that has been packaged as a romance and why? I am getting intrigued by reading blogs on romances (especially the Smart Bitches site which I am too lazy to look up the link for) and some of the truly horrific books they review. I assume that at some point in the publishing process someone thought these offenses against literature were a good idea rather than them just being tossed out there. I just picked romance because it is (to my mind, at least) a very defined genre with definite expectations and parameters: you can mess with them, of course, but then I'd question a bit what genre your book is. In that they're a bit like mystery, a genre I read a lot more of and very definite opinions about what are the worst ones* I've read.


*The most offensive might be P.D. James' Holy Orders which at one point made the staggering claim that clerical child abuse wasn't that bad and that it was something which was basically made up by lower class louts. It was a bit unexpected, to say the least.

ETA: I should probably have thought before I posted this question. Because now I am a bit traumatized. Actually, I'm a lot traumatized.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cleolinda.livejournal.com
When I was thirteen, I read a Johanna Lindsey--my first romance novel!--about a medieval English lord who raped a Viking servant girl until they fell in love. I am not making this up. I'm not even talking about "modern ideas" of rape and maybe the book didn't really mean it that way; there were bits about how hot her fighting back was. Ew.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Your comment has made me realize that it is very possible that I might be traumatized by some of the answers I am going to get.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
Stardard for the era(I know which one you're talking about but don't remember the title.)

Though you haven't read anything of the type until you've read Woodiwiss's The Wolf and the Dove.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cleolinda.livejournal.com
Yeah, I was about to say, I don't even think the one I read was even all that unusual. I wouldn't know, though, because it pretty much turned me off romance novels at that point (early '90s).

Date: 2008-02-06 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
My extremely unpopular opinion(in terms of being marketted as romance) is Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. 500+ pages of historical non-fiction with a few pages of story here and there, featuring a rather shallow romance between people I didn't really care about.

It read like she didn't think she could get her non-fiction book published, so instead she disguised it as fiction.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I can't seriously imagine wanting to read a 500+ page romance novel. It seems like they're cheating a bit, there.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
about 900 pages...and then there were longer sequels...

Most romances do best in the 300-370 page range.

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Date: 2008-02-06 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caerbannog.livejournal.com
I didn't think Outlander was that bad itself, but each sequel got increasingly more dull, so I gave it up.

I always thought Outlander was a pretty bizarre romance novel though, because a)it seemed pretty violent for the genre and b)the surprise buttsecks.

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Date: 2008-02-06 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queenofthorns.livejournal.com
OMG, I HATE THESE BOOKS TOO!!! *hugs kindred spirit* And everyone on LJ seems to adore them, and I feel very alone.

They're so terrible with the Mary-Sues and the explaining 18th century customs between 18th century people who presumably wouldn't find any of it a bit odd, and how everyone loves Jamie and the romanticizing of Scotland. BAH! *hates*

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Date: 2008-02-06 05:05 am (UTC)
morwen_peredhil: (sam how i've suffered - by  _wwsd_)
From: [personal profile] morwen_peredhil
Alyx by Lolah Burford (1977). The hero and heroine are upper-class Brits sold into indentured servitude in Jamaica who are bred to each other so the childless plantation owner can have an heir. The hero is raped by both the master and mistress of the plantation (separately). And the hero rapes the heroine repeatedly because he's ordered to do so.

It was gross on so many different levels that I'm amazed I haven't remained a virgin to this day.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I have no words. I am surprised that everyone who read it didn't swear off sex. Or maybe that was its aim? Perhaps it was really published the 'Stay a Virgin, Kids!' society?

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Date: 2008-02-06 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meyerlemon.livejournal.com
...

(?????????????????????????)

WHAT.

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Date: 2008-02-06 05:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meyerlemon.livejournal.com
Well, wait. Do you mean "Novels that are romance novels and are incredibly awful"? Or "Novels pretending to be romance novels but which are actually something completely different"?

Date: 2008-02-06 05:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Just books that would be in the romance section. They might be terrible because they're just bad romances or because they con you and pretend to be romances and then turn out to something really horrific. (I was conned by something that said it was a 'post-modern detective story' which turned out to be not just a bad book but something that should never have been packaged as one.)

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Date: 2008-02-06 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lage-nom-ai.livejournal.com
Does Clan of the Cave Bear count? I read that cave pr0n in middle school and the whole "raping her = hot!" traumatized me.

Date: 2008-02-06 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I don't know. Was that a romance or fantasy or just some weird category on its own?

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Date: 2008-02-06 09:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] astropoet.livejournal.com
Traumatised me. And I was in my 20s. Never picked it up again.

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Date: 2008-02-06 05:57 am (UTC)
morwen_peredhil: (sam how i've suffered - by  _wwsd_)
From: [personal profile] morwen_peredhil
I'm a lot traumatized.

Sorry! :D

You didn't specify "none of the rapey stuff from the seventies through the mid-eighties" (most of which didn't bother me, actually, except for the sort of dregs I described).

Date: 2008-02-06 06:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I guess I should have known really. And now at least I know to run like mad from Lola Burford should I ever be presented with any of her oeuvre.

Date: 2008-02-06 09:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] astropoet.livejournal.com
Time Travellers Wife. HATED IT.

Date: 2008-02-06 03:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] queenofthorns.livejournal.com
ME TOO! That and Memoirs of a Geisha are, IMO, two of th emost highly-overrated books I have EVER read.

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Date: 2008-02-06 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brainchild129.livejournal.com
I can't remember the title, but I remember reading one about some "fiesty" blonde English lady who is more or less abducted by a shiek, who then marries her and drags her to the desert where she mostly just hangs around in the tent, having lots of standard Romance Novel Rape (Where "no no no" turns into orgasmic "yes yes yes" midway through) and her moping about the tent, conflicted over her orgasmic rape and her Stockholm syndrome feelings for her newfound husband. A Big Misunderstanding ensues, she runs away, only to find that A. she's pregnant and B. She misses him. Fast forward a year or so later, he finds her and his child, and all is forgiven.

I swear I remember it being significant that one of the leads had green eyes, but I can't remember if it was English Lady or Shiek bin Marital Rape who had them.

Date: 2008-02-07 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Fast forward a year or so later, he finds her and his child, and all is forgiven.

Well, of course! Nothing like a year to make you have all warm, fuzzy feelings towards your captor and rapist! (Actually, given some of things people have mentioned, giving her a year to work through her conflicted feelings seems positively decent.)

Date: 2008-02-06 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alexandral.livejournal.com
MY long-standing pet-dislike for "Wuthering Heights" counts?

Date: 2008-02-06 04:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meganbmoore.livejournal.com
It at least coumts for spawning a few hundred "revenge=love" romance novels.

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