Friday, November 13, 2009

Some Musings on My Romance Research*

Through a combination of Amazon used book orders and transactions, I have been treated to a new romance novel in the mail every other day or so for the last couple of weeks.

Checking the mail has quickly become the highlight of my day.  How can you not enjoy opening an envelope and have that cover greet you?

Get Your Sexy On is from Kensington's Aphrodisia line and features on its back cover, like all books in that line, this notice:

This is a REALLY HOT book. (Sexually Explicit)

For me that warning screams "pick me up! pick me up!" but for others, it's a genuine warning.  Angela over at Save Black Romance posted today about her frustration that black sexuality is presented as sweet rather hot in Kimani Press books.  In the comments there is some discussion about whether this is a response to what black female readers want--sweet romance, perhaps, counters the stereotype of black people as oversexed--and whether this is a bad thing.  I do know that this Kensington warning would be enough to keep my mother away from this book.

Interesting also is the fact that this book is an interracial romance--black woman, white man--a very popular subgenre of the subgenre that is African American romance fiction.  But it's really hard to tell from that picture, isn't it?  And the synopsis on the back cover doesn't give anything away either.

The men crowd in and howl for more when Sin's on stage - she knows just how to work it, wrapping her lithe body around the pole to dan*ce down and dirty. But Sin doesn't see them, lost in a world of her own...until sexy private investigator 'Mac' Garret McAllister steps into the club.

In one night of erotic passion, the man turns her world upside down. Mac pays homage to her beautiful body with delicious, carnal ferocity. When the sun comes up, she cuts out. She can't let him get too close to her heart...But two years later, they reunite. Still on fire for her, Mac is ready to do whatever it takes to ensure his woman stays right where she belongs - in his arms and his bed. Forever this time.

Who are they trying to trick into reading this book?  Black women who only want black heroes?  Or white women who only want to read about white heroines?

*Please note:  I am sick.  I have a 101 fever.  I have been unable to sleep all day, so I've been romance novels.  It's research you see.  :)  It's possible the above post is a fever-induced ramble.  If so, I apologize.


Claudia said...

This is interesting. It seems like, more than any other genre, marketing romance novels is key - so it makes sense that they would be over the top. They are so formulaic that unless you have name recognition, they all sorta sound the same. (That is, unless you're Beverly Jenkins, who is awesome.)

Feel better soon!!!

Alison said...

Oh, no--do you have the swine flu?

I like your ramblings.

Angela said...

The funny thing is that fans of I/R (bw/wm) romance go bananas over erotic sex scenes of the sort that are rarely found in bw/bm romances. It seems that--even I admit, in my own vision of romance-genre sex--it's a lot easier to believe in erotic sex acts between a black woman and a non-black man. I chalk this up to: a) black women are used to viewing white men as sex/lust objects

b) black women are so accustomed to reading romances with white protagonists that replacing the white heroine with a black heroine is easier than changing both characters to black

c) societal and/or personal shame placed on black female sexuality by black men, whereas a white man (who is "outside" of the black culture) won't have those hang-ups, thereby allowing the black woman to feel free to express her deepest desires

As for the marketing of the book, since Terry is not published under Kensington's Dafina line, her cover has to blend in with the rest of her non-black peers.