Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels.
Enjoyed the analysis of genre romance, which was critical but not written in academic-ese. I think this is a valuable resource both for romance readers and for anyone interested in popular culture and/or lit studies. Content-wise, the contemporary romance got very little attention in comparison to historicals and paranormals, which sort of makes sense given current publishing trends, but makes less so when looking at the broader picture of genre romance. My biggest quibble: the selection of The Flame and the Flower in 1972 as predecessor of the modern romance novel ignores the Mills & Boon/Harlequin romances were published decades before, with tropes and formulae that can still be found in modern romance. Mills&Boon/Hqn got relatively little page space, which was suprising given their influence in the genre, historically speaking.
On a personal level, I loved the Old/New Skool flowchart and other tables, but occasionally found the formatting (flowing over mulitple pages and non-facing pages) a little distracting. And the voice/tone that entertains for a blog post grew wearing after 100 pages or so. Appreciated the Bujold/Miles love when talking about the appeal of paranormal/fantasy romance for cross-over audiences, although I’m not sure that the Vorkosigan series really fits either category. YMMV, though. B/B+.
Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James.
I like James’s voice. This was a funny, well-paced book. Wasn’t sure about the heroine at first, but she grew on me; the hero began to — he seemed like an immature jerk for most of the book, edged toward being likeable, then turned into a total asshat. The Big Gesture at the end? Too late (for me, obviously not for the heroine or a lot of other readers).
It was interesting that Payton supposedly could be quite a bitch, at least according to herself and to JD, but she never actually was — maybe she had been in the past, but not so on these pages. Any bitchery plotted or planned was always forestalled by the needs of a disinterested third party (can’t let an innocent be harmed!) or a lameass apology from JD. Because romance heroines can’t be bitchy? They aren’t allowed to intentionally do truly nasty things? Because heroines aren’t supposed to be anything but nice? Can’t have her do something mean without provocation and with premeditation, even if it is retaliatory? Only heroes can?
Despite the fact that I never warmed to JD, the book was a B until almost the end; the ending gets a solid D, which averages out to a C, I guess.
Unrelated: Does someone on Nole’s team think the smurf shoes are flattering? Blue shoes should be left to Elvis.
Edited — holy SpellCheck, Batman, what a lot of typos I found!