March 11, 2012

Reality is Overrated

Recently I’ve read a couple of blog posts from women who want more realism in romance. Not in how people meet, or how quickly they fall for each other. Not even in the slim chance of being kidnapped, saved by the stunningly handsome hero and riding off into the sunset. No, the reality that some women want to see more of in romance is in the hero and heroines themselves. What do I mean? A few things they want:

  • Bald/balding heroes
  • Heroes who struggle with their weight as much as their heroines do
  • No more multiple orgasmic women. Instead, give them women who either can’t or find it extremely difficult to orgasm

Now wait just one darn minute… No more multiple orgasmic women? Really?

Most romance readers are women – 91% according to RWA National – and so I’m especially stumped by this. Sure, the female reader wants to be able to put herself in the shoes of the heroine, and sure the heroine has to be real enough that the reader can achieve the transition easily. But so real that she can’t orgasm?

While I like realism in romance and enjoy reading about heroines I can relate to – women struggling to lose weight, find the right man, claim her place in the workplace because she’s just as smart and talented as the men she works with – there are some places I DON’T want to feel too much of a connection with the heroine. I don’t want a hero who farts all the time. I don’t want to think about morning breath or needing to use the restroom before I can get my sexy on. And orgasms? Bring ‘em! Lots of them! This is fiction. This is my ESCAPE! Time to immerse myself in a different world, a different place, a place where flatulence doesn’t intrude on those intimate moments with a lover (unless it’s a romantic comedy, then I’m good with it). A place where women – all women – are multi-orgasmic and no matter what, the hero knows just what she needs to get her there.

*deep breath*

Sorry. I lost myself for a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against realism in fiction. There’s nothing worse than picking up a romance and cracking the spine, only to realize that the heroine is so far-fetched that you just can’t connect with her. And I have nothing against overweight heroes or heroines, balding or bald heroes – in fact, I have an upcoming book where the hero is not only bald, but he’s fifty years old! Fifty year-old heroes are a romance taboo. Guess what, I don’t care! Because fifty year-old heroes are also realistic. Fifty year-old men can be sexy as hell and Thomas Sr. is sexy with a capital ‘S’! But I digress.

Yes, I demand realism in my romances, but I also demand fiction. After all, this is romance fiction we’re talking about. Seriously folks, if I want nothing but realism I’ll read the paper. There’s enough depressing shit in there to last a lifetime. Enough that after a few pages, I’ll need my escape…wait, maybe I will go find a newspaper. Then I’ll sit down and immerse myself in a world where good always wins over evil, happily-ever-after happens all the time, and sex with the hero is both sensual and satisfying. Again and again and again…


Seriously, what could be better than that? Isn’t that the reason so many people chose to ‘lose’ themselves in a book?


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sarah,
Great blog, and you have hit the nail on the head. Romantic fiction is escapism, and I personally wouldn't have it any other way.



Nancy Jardine Author said...

Can't possibly disagree with you on any of your observations, Sarah. No plastic characters are wanted, but not that sort of realism either.

Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Sarah! Yeah, make your h/h believable, but leave the realism for real life. Escape is what I want in a good romance read. And it's also what I write. I hope readers out there can have a great time reading my historical adventure romance and not think too much about things like lice and the lack of toilet paper. lol

Jerrie Alexander said...

Great post, Sarah! Maybe women's ficton would work for those readers. Not my genre and doesn't work for me.

Romantic fiction is all about escape. Now the hero in my current is bald...but he looks like Shemar Moore (Morgan on Criminal Minds) we haven't reached the sex stage yet. When we do, he'll know how to pleasure the heroine!

Jennifer Jakes said...

Great post! I completely agree. Sounds like those women are so sexually frustrated by their lack of orgasm(s) they want to inflict their frustration to us all:(

Andrea Downing said...

I'm with you on this one, pal.

Jill James said...

Wow, I thought multiple orgasms were a given. If there are women having crappy sex I certainly don't want to read about it in my romance novel.

Sarah Grimm said...

Wow, leave for the morning and come back to some great comments! I love it!

Margaret & Nancy, you know I agree with you 100%

Susan - ROFLMBO! Lice is definitely NOT something I want to be thinking about while reading historical romance.

Jerrie - Shemar Moore is YUMMY! I look forward to reading that one.

Sarah Grimm said...

Jennifer- I know, right? You'd think that the frustration would mean they would want books that are HOT and SATISFYING. I know if my life was that frustrating, I would crave escape all the more.

Sarah Grimm said...

Andrea - Thanks for visiting! :-)

Jill - I did learn an interesting fact while trying to put my post together. Surprisingly, 75% of all women have difficulty reaching orgasm through intercourse alone and 15% can't orgasm at all.

With statistics like that, I suppose I can see why some find it frustrating that all women in romance seem to be multi orgasmic. HOWEVER...that still doesn't mean I want to read about heroines who struggle to orgasm.

Ilona Fridl said...

Right on, Sarah! I want a good escape. I'm not as well gifted as the heroines in romance novels, but when I start reading, I want to be.

AJ Nuest said...

Here, here! AJ stands and applauds! I love me the steam! And I'm cracking up about Jill's comment -- crappy sex. Yeah, let's not go there, shall we? I do not get this at all. Weird...just plain weird.

Amy said...

Tell it, sista!:)

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Oh, I can completely relate to your blog. I've had several women want to know why the heroines always have to be beautiful. Uhmm, because ugly doesn't sell.

Sandra Dailey said...

If these women think single, difficult or zero orgasms are realistic, I say they need to read more romance novels. They could learn a thing or two.

Shelleyrae said...

What a fun post (and comments) I appreciate a little mix of both, one orgasm at a time is usually enough for me though

Luanna Stewart said...

Yup, totally agree. While I don't want perfect characters,(they need difficult internal conflicts, right?) leave the belching out of the story.

Meg an Aggie in Frisco said...

Whoop! You are on the money Sara!

I'm an avid reader and I read to escape!

I do not want to read about the h/h being to worn out from work and domestic work to do anything but watch some TV,and finish the laundry after dinner.

I want them to have all the time in the world to take me to my escape!

When I read historical novels, I do not want to think about the lack of dental care & tampons.

I want a heroine that finds her HEA! Finds the man that makes her swoon! And please leave the farting for comedy!

Stepping down... Great post!

Lynne Marshall said...

Very interesting. I'd like to see those blogs and find those women because I wrote a hero over forty, needed to lose a few pounds, and who worried about his hair thinning - guess what - the book's sales stunk!

Jenny Crusie wrote a heroine who was very slow to find release in one of her books - Bet Me.

Fun blog, and sorry for being late. I cannot keep up with all of the wonderful blogs out there!

Shadow said...

Im so with ya! I love a good story, gotta have the hotness! Thank you for sharing and for the giveaway!
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