Posts tagged ‘TSTL’

Not Your Ordinary Proper Miss

As much as I love the genre, I do have to admit that romance novels sometimes lack diversity. Every heroine is some proper English miss, or some feisty Scottish maiden, or a bold spirited American girl with blond hair and blue eyes. After a while, they can all blend together into one super pale, beautiful pile of womanhood.

Which is why I was super excited to see a refreshing new heroine in One Perfect Flower by Roberta C.M. DeCaprio, my latest review for RT BOOKREVIEWS. Get this: the heroine is an Apache princess whose mother is a former member of the British nobility and whose father is the tribe’s chief.

Fun right? I mean it’s a twofer. You get the “society” of the Regencies with the originality of an Apache heroine. Needless to say, when I read the cover copy for this book, I was quite pumped and ready to roll. Finally, I thought, a heroine to spice things up and bring us a new plot–because obviously this book was not going to be your typical Proper Young Miss Regency.

Well, I was right about that. It was not the typical romance. But I think I set my standards to high.

Such a disappointment. Really it was. Remember my super depressing rant/post on sexual assault in romance novels? Yeah? Well, that was this book. Really a shame. It had such potential to go somewhere and instead I ended up hating the heroine, hating myself, and just feeling sad. All at once. Rule of thumb: when your audience hates themselves after reading your book? Bad sign. Moreover, it is obvious that the author is talented. Her writing was quite nice. Her heroine on the other hand was . . . off-putting.

You can read my review for One Perfect Flower here or by clicking on the image below. But despite the whole misadventure, I really do hope to see more diversity in the romance field. What about Southerners? That could be fun. Or an Indian romance–I mean Imperialism did happen surely someone fell in love during the British occupation of India? Let’s break the Proper Miss mold…

Romantic Question: What heroine/heroes would you like to see more of in romance?


October 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

Cruel to be Kind…or Just Kinda Cruel

Everyone’s a critic. Especially on the internet. Or so I hear. But see, here’s the thing I’ve learned during my past year as a semi-legit book reviewer: bad reviews are not easy to write. At all. In fact, they are infinitely more difficult to write than good reviews.

Not a "semi-legit" critic, more like a "totes legit" one

It seems so counterintuitive. You would think that it would be relatively easy to write a scathing review of some book by some author who you probably will never meet and who wont know you from Tabitha, Denise, or Harriet much less from Tom, Dick, or Harry.  Online you can hide your gender with initials, your name under pseudonyms, you can be anyone… so surely it must be easier to just rip into a book, to really get in there and give it a terrible review.

But it’s not. Bad reviews make you just feel bad.

Last night I was finishing up my latest book for RT BOOKREVIEWS. It was a new Carina Press romantic suspense, and I was just loving the beginning. It was smart. It was funny. The car chases seemed so real and quirky. And the hero and heroine seemed to have some pretty hot stuff between them.

And then the author lost me. Our quirky, spunky, stubborn heroine transformed into the clinched TSTL female–you know the kind, rushing into danger, refusing to listen to logic, spurring good advice all under the guise of standing up for herself and being empowered. Oh sure, I am all for empowered femininity and not bowing to the demands of an Alpha male, but when your empowered stance lands you in deep shit forcing the hero to save your worthless ass, then I don’t really see that as “empowered” per say. I see it as a demeaning example of a stereotypical feminine inability to reason. Not cool. At all.

Oh, I was so angry at this book.  They lured me in with happy, awesome-ness and then smacked me up the head with stupidity. I literally threw it across the room I was so frustrated. And then I ranted to Roaming through Romance diva, Spencer, who sadly seems to end up on the “arg” side of quite a few of my romantic rants.

However, as much I was angry with this book, as much as I felt betrayed and let down by it, it took me hours upon hours to write the review. Hours of sitting there at my computer watching the cursor blink, thinking of how I could emphasize the good, relate the bad, and still not crush the hopes and dreams of a talented debut author who just needed a little more work and a better heroine.

It took me all night when most reviews take me less than an hour. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say–my midnight emails to Spencer suggest otherwise–it’s trying to balance that line of professional and informative with just plain opinionated and bitchy. Who knows whether the review worked or not–we’ll just have to wait and see. But until then take a look at one of my 2 star, “official” reviews. The first book I ever had to be cruel and kind, Freedom’s Treasure by Janet Quinn. Oh Jubilee!

Romantic Question: Do you think you need to be cruel to be kind in bookreviews? Or should people just keep their opinions to themselves?

September 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm 1 comment

Yeah, this isn’t working out anymore.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I really just don’t like it when my romance novels feature rape–as in current, just happened, in your face and in real time rape.  It’s not cool.  It’s not okay.  And the happy ending does not negate the real problem that sexual assault creates for me.

I know it’s a heavy subject and pretty much a drag, and I know that this blog is pretty light typically, but I was reading a book for review for RT, and literally, the first page was the heroine cleaning up after she was attacked.  And I was like, “Woah,” and the author was like, “NBD,” which made me go, “Hold Up!” And then it killed the rest of the book for me.  Well, that and the fact that the first part of the book seemed to suggest she “deserved it” and a new pattern emerged where the heroine would rashly run off into a dangerous situation, be accosted, and then be saved in the nick of time so a repeat rape did not occur.  And again, I was like, “Woah.”

Something a little lighter to break the mood

I mean sure. Sometimes I do want my heroines to fall off a cliff and die because of their stupid behavior. But this book took TSTL to a whole new and dark level.  After all this heroine knew not to go walking alone and night.  Then she did, so she was raped.  She knew not to go into a saloon alone half-dressed in the middle of the night. And she did, so she was attacked.  Then again, she knew not to go into a saloon alone and BAM, she was surprised when she was accosted again.  I mean really, author? Really? NOT ALL DANGER NEEDS TO BE OF A SEXUAL NATURE. Plus, now I am in the difficult position of disliking this stupid heroine and feeling guilty for hating her.

Lose. Lose.

But maybe this is all just me.  Maybe other people can be a little more objective and enjoy the romance.  I just know that I really did not enjoy this book and I needed to tell the world about it. And by “world” I mean the few people who actually care about my romance ramblings a.k.a you and my momma.

August 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm 3 comments

Would You Be TSTL?

My biggest–and I mean BIGGEST–pet peeve in a romance is when my heroine is TSTL.  Meaning? Too Stupid To Live.  You know what I’m talking about here.  The heroine who you just hope will fall off a cliff and die, thus leaving you alone with that fine specimen of man-flesh, who is Too Hott and Cool To Die.

Oh the TSTL characters.  They drive me crazy.  But see sometimes I wonder….if my life were a romance…would readers think I am TSTL? Would I be voted off the island? Made to walk the plank into shark filled waters? Tied to the train tracks while my hero was off being way smarter than me? Oh. My. God. What if I am???

Great, Just Great! I am a TSTL Heroine!

Better yet, in the romance novel that is your life…what if you are TSTL?  Would you know?  My friend Ria was like, “I wish I could poll the audience about my life. That way I would know whether I should be with someone or be doing something else!”  Life would be easier if you could read the Goodreads account of your story, but alas, unless you write your own autobiography, you really can’t skip ahead to the spoilers.  However, to help you find your way, I decided to make a handy quiz.  So dearest reader, are you TSTL? Take my quiz to find out!

1. Opps. You’ve been caught in the middle of a shootout, and your hunky hero whips out his Big Gun. You…

A. Run after him, this putting both of your lives in danger.

B. Stay right where he left you, thank you very much.

C.  Get caught because you just had to try to “help!  Thus forcing him to come to your rescue.

2. Someone is stalking you. Bummer. Thank God your beau is a cop. He tells you to not go ANYWHERE alone. So you…

A. Stay inside your house, only leaving to get your mail and paper.

B. Find some saucy ways to keep boredom at bay with your man. After all you can’t be alone…

C. Ignore him. Duh! What does this super sexy cop know anyway. I am a kindergarten teacher. I know how to care for myself. Thus forcing him to once more save your worthless hide.

3. You’ve been framed for murder.  It’s just not your week.  Luckily, sexy cop believes you and the two of you run away to clear your name. You…

A. Call your mom to tell her your safe before going into hiding.

B. Follow your cop’s lead, dye your hair, and try to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

C. Use your credit card at the local diner, go on a shopping spree, and stay at your home.  After all, you didn’t do it.

Okey doke.  Done with the quiz? Collected your answers?  Good.

If you answered all A’s, then you are ATSTL–Almost Too Stupid To Live.  Sure you do some pretty dumb things, but I’m sure you have (what you think are) valid reasons for being a little silly.  Thankfully, your story wouldn’t be instantly shelved.  Sigh of relief.  No, we will give you another chance to redeem yourself.  Just try to think before you act–meaning never call your mother while on the run as calls can be traced in romance novels. Duh.  But we will forgive you, because you and the sex-on-a-stick hero have sizzling chemistry and you mean well.

If you answered all B’s, then CONGRATULATIONS. You are one smart cookie.  Following your man’s lead is not anti-feminist.  When you’re over your head in dangerous situations, it’s just plain smart.  Plus, you get some great sexy time while not endangering anyone’s lives.  You’re the heroine everyone wants to be! An instant classic and good read. Way to stay alive in both the book and our hearts!

If you answered all C’s, then I am sorry but you are TSTL. And I am sorry again, but I just threw your book against the wall, while issuing a fierce war cry at your behavior.  Don’t worry.  Identifying the problem is the first step to recovery, and we can get through this! Just stop ignoring smart advice, running off and getting in trouble, and basically acting like a silly damsel in distress.

So there you go, dear friends.  TSTL characters simply drive me crazy, but what about you?  Do they drive you bonkers? What makes a character TSTL for you?  For me they are simply women who ignore all logic–the women in the action movies who run after the hero after he tells them to stay put, screaming his name, and overall being idiots.  (Example: Lora Harding in Karen Robards’ Wild Orchid. My Goodreads review can be found here!). But that’s just me!  I hope that I’m not TSTL.  What about you?

April 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm 12 comments

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