Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney, with digressions on the Romance genre

What's to say? She's my favourite romance writer. This book didn't stand out much among her others, but it was perfectly likeable.

The author was quoted on the back saying that "for pure romance, you can't beat Thunder and Roses." I actually found the romance a bit tepid. The heroine muses after realizing she's in love with (and having sex with) the hero "She would miss him when their odd relationship was over..."

I've had stronger reactions to impending separations from my cat.

Still, things to like. One thing I appreciated was that the heroine was the daughter of "respectable yeoman stock." Most of Putney's characters range from mid to high-level nobility - even the actress in One Perfect Rose turned out to be a mislaid heiress of some sort. I also enjoyed the Gypsy scenes - the hero was half Romany.

Mary Jo Putney was the author that showed me that I could actually like romance novels. I'd read them before I discovered her, of course, but mostly just because they were, well, there. I've always been something of a compulsive reader - if I'm not doing something else, and something written is available, I'll probably start reading it. (That doesn't mean I'll keep reading it, mind; I'm not that compulsive.) And my mother had a collection of romance paperbacks.

It would have been back in the early 90s that I came across these, and most of them were at least a few years old. So they would have been from the heyday of the bodice ripper, the days when "heroes raping heroines was part of the courting process," as a reviewer at All About Romance Novels put it.

So when I read Mary Jo Putney's Silk and Secrets, it was a revelation. I wrote this in my book log:

"I think what makes this book likeable while so many romances I've skimmed through seem fairly unpleasant is the fact that the hero was a genuinely nice guy. He was handsome and rich and brave and all that, of course, like most romance heros, but he wasn't overly "commanding", didn't bully his wife into doing what he wanted, never considered raping anyone, and while plausibly non-celibate, he wasn't famed thoughout the land for his sexual prowness or the number of marriages he'd broken up. He was just nice. I liked him."

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