Friday, February 6, 2009

Guest Blogger: SB Sarah Wendell

Romanistas, I have the unprecedented honor of hosting blogger extraordinaire Sarah Wendell of the Smart Bitches as my guest. Here we go...

One of the things we talk about in The Smart Bitch Book (aka Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels) is that romance readers often shop by plot or plot trope, and for that reason we take a lot of crap from people who think we shop for our pornographic stimulation in specific, sugary-ruffled wrappers, and that romance is all the same (and whatever other stupid assumption about romance you can come up with).

Aside from all the pretentious prejudice, I definitely am attracted to specific plots. These are my top two:

1. The Smoldering Silent Hero. He has it BAD, and it shows in tiny, blink-and-you-miss-it ways. And if it's done right, it requires a re-read. And another. And omg, the smoldering.

2. "I don't want to like you, and I can't stop thinking about your hair." I talk about this one a lot — the hero or heroine who can't help being attracted to someone who drives them up a damn wall. If the bickering is funny and tight, the reading is right.

So — what's your favorite plot to revisit?


Keira Soleore said...

Gosh, how many ways can I say, Marriage of Convenience? Put two strangers in an untenable situation where they're required to make-nice. Aha! Instant conflict and delicious resolution.

Sarah, regarding your #2, er, ahem. TMI—can we say real life?

NerdSnark said...

I prefer #2. If done right the pages are set ablaze with the sexual tension.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is a second chance plot, either a character getting a shot at romance later in life, or a couple with the chance to turn a youthful fail into a win. It helps that I like mature, experienced characters.

Not that I object to other plots, if they are done well. I never say never, because really talented writers can make me love just about anything.

Good to see you SB Sarah -- we are pining for Friday videos!!

Candice Hern said...

I'm a sucker for reunion stories, though I've only ever written one. I love couples with a past, a past where they messed up or missed the boat, were mutually stupid or mutualy blind, where they hurt each other or ignored each other, where events were set in motion years before that seem to preclude any sort of a relationship EVER between them. I love watching couples like that come together, finally and inevitably.

Cassondra said...

Candice Hern said:

I love couples with a past, a past where they messed up or missed the boat, were mutually stupid or mutualy blind, where they hurt each other or ignored each other, where events were set in motion years before that seem to preclude any sort of a relationship EVER between them. I love watching couples like that come together, finally and inevitably.

I was about to say just this..then I read through the comments and Candice had already said it, pretty much perfectly. It is the second chance plot, and I not only love reading it, I also write it. I hate that I write it, because it's a pita to write for me, but that's often a theme that runs through my stories.

Sarah, I think you're dead on that some readers do gravitate toward a certain type of plot, and I guess I'm one of them. But I'm also open to anything. I think I've read great ones and not so great ones of almost every type.

Nice blog and hello Keira!

Kelly Krysten said...

Oh, it's SB Sara! I love your blog for reals!!*g*
I love your plot choices!!

I'm really big on the brooding hero- it's kind of strange that I like them so much because in RL I would be completely annoyed by a brooder.

I also, like Ms.Hern, love reunited lovers. IMO, Ms.Hern wrote the best reunion story I've ever read.

Keira Soleore said...

Welcome to NerdSnark and SonomaLass for stopping by. Sarah's setting the intrywebs on fire. She's here, she's there, she's everywhere.

NerdSnark, #2 is the eternal I-hate-you-I-love-you, yes-no tension and that can amount to many laughs as well as heart-pattering action.

Reunion plots are the ultimate promise of romance novels to me. Despite all that has happened in the past to each of them separately or together, the couple once again has the hope for a life of love together. Powerful stuff.

SonomaLass, you might wish to check out Candice Hern's second-chance novella in It Happened One Night as well as Eloisa James's latest series.

Candice, perfectly expressed. I like that inevitable part. Karma.
Cassondra, I completely agree that many readers, including me, have a tendency towards certain plots. Doesn't make me a lazy reader or one looking for quick gratification. It's more that despite the same basic plot there are infinite variations of sitations, characters, and events that make the exploration of those plotlines fascinating.

Keira Soleore said...

Kell, I'm highy amused by the distinction between RL and books.

On Elizabeth Boyle's blog on Monday, I was asking her and Samantha James why we're fascinated with long-haired heroes with stubble? If my husband were to grow his hair and not shave for a few days, I'd be the first in line with the clippers.

We love anti-establishment heroes, but don't want to have the problems of dealing with them on a daily basis.

Kelly Krysten said...

Keira, the long Fabio hair does not appeal to me. But when the author says that the hair brushed the heroes collar, I'm instantly attracted! Also, yes, the five o'clock shadow is sexy in fiction but in RL it was totally left behind in the eighties. Not to mention that it can look like the guy just doesn't take care of himself(not sexy!).

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the recs! The best second-chance historicals I read last year were by Sherry Thomas -- I loved both of her books.

As for the difference between lit and life, it goes both ways for me. IRL, I'm living the second-chance love story, which I'm sure is why they ring my chimes. But when it comes to hunky heroes, I admit that I drool over characters who would annoy the crap out of me IRL.

Keira Soleore said...

SonomaLass, good on you for your second-bite at the apple of life.

Kell, Fabio-style hair annoys me on men as well as women. All I can think of is how many knots there must be at the end of the day and first thing in the morning. Brushing those out would easily eat into the time I like to snooze in. :)

Keira Soleore said...

Oh and SonomaLass, Sherry Thomas's books were top stars of 2008 for me, just as Jo Bourne's and Lisa Kleypas's books were. Sherry's busted old fences and broke new ground. Waiting to see what she'll do next.

Anonymous said...

Hi SB sarah, good to see SBTB back, I missed you! I love SB Sarah's second plot line as well - but the dialogue has got to be smart. No foot stamping from the heroine please.

I also love best friend to lover stories, where two people who care about each other and have lots in common realise, either over time or because of some event, that they are also sexually attracted. A bit like the second chance at love stories, these couples have a history, they know each other, so I can usually better believe their HEA. Would love some recommendations.

Diane Gaston said...

Way too late, but I love "Reformed Rake" stories or Beauty and the Beast, in all its variations.

I too love (and have written) Marriage of Convenience stories.

Keira Soleore said...

Chani wrote, "No foot stamping from the heroine please."

Welcome, Chani. And yes, those TSTL heroines can bow out of my books, too.

I also love best friend to lover stories

May I recommend: Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn and Pleasure for Pleasure by Eloisa James?

Keira Soleore said...

Diane dear, 'tis always good to see your note. Yes, of course, your Marriage of Convenience stories are, as you know from me, absolutely sigh-worthy. Lisa Kleypas does the Beauty and the Beast stories so well: Devil in Winter and Dreaming of You.