An unexpected love affair….

…with Stephanie Laurens.

I can see you judging those romance covers; “look at the chiselled abs” you say, “what kind of a name is On A Wicked Dawn you mock. Three weeks ago I would’ve been right there with you, probably daring you to flick through the pages and find a reference to someone’s member. My reading tastes err more towards science fiction, fantasy and horror – the grislier the better. So when started reading my first romance novel I admit my hopes were not high. I expected nothing more than some swooning, a few unrealistic protagonists and predictable plot lines. Oh how very wrong I was.

I took a leap and bought  What Price Love by Stephanie Laurens.  From the first page I realised why Laurens is a best seller. Adventure, spies, murder, passion, action, conspiracy, deception and of course mushy, mushy love are just some of the reasons why you find yourself awake at 3am, not caring that you’ve got to get up in five hours, only that you find out what happens in the end.

The very next day I came into work I ordered the rest of the author’s books. The first one was so amazing that it didn’t even occur to me until later how risky it was ordering and buying in all her other books the next day, just from the impression one of Laurens’ book made. It wasn’t even the first in the series, which amazed me even more. Lauren’s writes her novels in such a way that it’s not imperative to read in chronological order – each book makes a great stand-alone novel.

These are not your typical “Oh I love him, even though he treats me horribly *swoon* I’ll just go over here and pout and wait for him to rescue me”.  No, no and no. These heroines have backbone to spare! Even when contrasted with domineering male protagonists – perhaps even because of that – these characters show an amazing amount of depth and substance. Combine that with murder plots, jealous conniving women and of course romance and you have a winning combination.

My foray into the world of romance novels has definitely been a rewarding one – I thoroughly encourage anyone brave enough to accept the challenge and be seen with a romance novel in their hands. Laurens’ will make it well worth your while.

Neek for TLC Books

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Bludgeoning the Corpse :: a ranty reflection by Neek

Hi,

My name is Neek and I am about to rant about my favourite genre. Just thought I should warn you.

What started with swooning girls and vampires with glitter infections has now spawned the rise of a new kind of young adult book, whose authors story-telling credentials go as far as having a crush when they were 14. Cut to 25 years later, these girls have now grown up and much like a rabid dog wants to share its rabies, these ‘authors’ want to share what their hormone-fueled imagination dreamt up in the back row of Mr. Harrington’s math class so many years ago. So sit back, relax and enjoy a complete lobotomy that you can’t claim on Medicare.

The basic storyline of these books goes a little something like this: nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening, angst. Nothing’s happening, meets brooding-loner-guy. Angst about falling in love with brooding-loner-guy, nothing’s happening, finds out their love can never be, nothing’s happening, something about vampires/fallen angels. Angst, people might die or at least be put in a ‘dangerous’ situation, protagonists go through the ‘I love you, but no, I can’t!’ for a while, and somewhere in amongst all that there is a plot. Finally, there’s likely to be a sentence which implies more books to follow, at which point I start looking for the nearest and bluntest object.

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Time for the checklist:
1. Whiny protagonists? –check
2. Instantaneous love? – check
3. Characters whose shallowness is so thorough it’s almost like depth? –check

Fantastic. Send it off to the publishers clamouring for anything they can jacket in black and red and you’ve got yourself one nifty little pay cheque. I am tired of shoddy imitation rather than true imagination.

This is my favourite genre dammit! Stop fouling the waters with pale imitations of fantastic books.

To any authors who may be reading this, for whom gen Y is a demographic and not a mindset, here’s a free tip for you: adding modern slang doesn’t endear a book to the young’uns…it comes off very condescending and irritating. Like, nothing’s as annoying as when, you’re like, in the middle of a totally huge moment in the story and so anyway, the main character acts like a complete spaz and you’re like, OMG Becky! Don’t go into the manky alley in the middle of the night, there’s totes a vampire with a complexion problem down there!

Sentences like “I couldn’t stop staring at his perfection” should incur immediate relocation to hell: preferably one of the inner-circles.

Authors and publishers: you are now bludgeoning the corpse of a genre that died an honourable death with ‘Buffy.’ Write something worth publishing or stop writing altogether, lest you sentence us all to bookstores full of red and black covers.

Neek for TLC Books