Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Self Justification

No, I do not make a habit of reading romance novels. I borrowed a few Harlequins from friends during high school. Jump ahead ten years and I think I read a romance that one of my younger sisters had along when she was visiting my house once. It was the sisterly thing to do. I had to make sure she was reading appropriate material, right? So, all totaled, I have probably read fewer than ten in my whole life.

But I accidentally read one this week. Here's how it came about. As I might have mentioned once or twice, I have been reading the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. In them there is some romance involved, and as I have previously mentioned a few of them are more graphic in the "romantic" descriptions than I would prefer. But primarily they are light-hearted adventure books. Great fun to read.

Other Plum fans have recommended Nora Roberts as an author with similar abilities. "If you like Janet Evanovich, you'll love Nora Roberts..." That sort of thing. I am so far removed from pop fiction that I had no clue what kind of writing Nora Roberts did and I had somehow gotten the impression she was a mystery writer.

So I picked up one of her books at a used book store the other day. Actually it was a two-pack. Two stories in one book. Although the books do contain what one might consider suspense, as in the normal "looking forward to seeing how the plot will work out", they most certainly are primarily romance novels. Yeah. I wouldn't have wanted any of my kids to look over my shoulder reading these babies. Had I read the imprint, Silhouette, and the publisher, yes, Harlequin, I would have been privy to that fact sooner; but, alas, I did not.

But I did continue reading them and I'll tell you why. I like to write. I would like to someday write something worthy of publishing. So as I read I am always analyzing the writing to see what works and what does not. And these Nora Roberts books intrigued me. The two I read were called, Affaire Royale and Command Performance. The setting of both was a fictional Mediterranean island, Cordina, in contemporary times. The books involve the royal family and a certain amount of political intrigue.

I wanted to study how a person would realistically develop an entire fantasy type setting. I liked how Roberts developed the setting and the the characters. Very nice for escapist reading. But the writing itself was kind of cheesy.

I know Nora Roberts is quite famous. And I with a little leg work I have discovered that as of 1999 she had published 124 books. Wow! Prolific! I can't even imagine having that many original thoughts! I also found that Time magazine named her one of 2007s most influencial people. Hmm. Interesting.

I also realize that these books I read were written in the mid-80s. So she has had lots of opportunity to perfect her art since then. After all, these were only like her 30th and 40th novels. But I don't think I will go out an find a newer one.

Oh, and I did also learn that she does write mysteries. Under the pen name J. D. Robb.

I will return to this topic in my next post, but I really am just so embarrassed to have been reading what I probably should call a smut book that I first had to post on my reasons for having ended up with it in the first place.

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