It may just be me, but I’m incredibly bored of reading BDSM and anal sex in romance fiction. Can’t we have a bit of variety? Old fashioned things like blow jobs, maybe? A bit of kink that doesn’t involve pain or dominance games? Those are all fine and well but people can do other things in bed. And I would like to read more of those other things, because it’s started to feel like almost every sex scene I read in m/m or m/f is exactly the same as the last.
I remember the first book I read about queer people, where the queer characters didn’t die. It was Drawing Blood by Poppy Z Brite – a haunted house horror novel. It was such a relief to read at the time. All the fiction I’d read about gay people (and it really was 99% about gay men) was about dying of AIDS or getting beaten to death. The irony of having to go to the horror section to find books about queer people who lived was not lost on me. I remember once buying an anthology, and literally the only story in that anthology that wasn’t about gay people dying was an excerpt from Maurice.
Now there are so many more books where GLBTQ characters get to live, which is great. There’s still a lot more fiction about white gay men than anything else, but there are those stories about there about lesbians and bisexual people and transgendered people and so forth. It’s so nice to see so many romance novels out there that aren’t just about straight people. It’s nice to see stories about members of the queer community getting their happy ending.
I love rock star romances. Or should I say I love them in theory. I like the idea of reading about the big cool travelling recording artist falling in love – maybe with someone ordinary and unconnected to the music biz, or maybe with a fellow star, or even with a member of their own band. I like the contrast of the glamour of celebrity with the hard work of being a touring artist, and how this might affect a love story. But in practice, I often find myself giving rock star romances I read one or two stars over on goodreads.
Why is that?
I love music and looking at celebrity culture. I enjoy music journalism, even though most of it is not particularly good. So why is it that so many rock star romances just don’t capture me?
Well, for a start, the way we respond to romance fiction is so individual. Every different reader has a different idea of what is romantic to read about, which characters are exciting, and how much drama is too much. One story might capture the excitement of loving a band but the main characters don’t live up to that excitement. Or perhaps it’s the supporting characters that seem interchangeable, while the main characters are left to liven up the story on their own. A story might capture the drama and artificial nature of celebrity culture, while not quite nailing the emotional arc between the two main characters. Or the emotional drama may be over the top and the rest too sedate. Or even still, the story can be just fine but not connect with me anyway.
So why do I keep reading them anyway?
It’s because I know that even the stories I don’t love usually have moments that delight or enthral me. And because I’m always waiting for that one story that just connects with me, because as a genre, when romance is good it’s amazing.