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The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name...

We do it in the dark. Under the sheets. With a penlight. We wear sunglasses and a baseball hat at the bookstore. We have a "special place" where we store them. Let's face it: Not many folks are willing to publicly admit they love romance novels. Meanwhile, romance continues to be the bestselling fiction genre. Ever. So what's with all the shame?

Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan -- the creators of the wildly popular blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books -- have no shame! They look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of romance novels and tackle the hard issues and questions:

-- The heroine's irresistible Magic Hoo Hoo and the hero's untamable Wang of Mighty Lovin'

-- Sexual trends. Simultaneous orgasms. Hymens. And is anal really the new oral?

-- Romance novel cover requirements: man titty, camel toe, flowers, long hair, animals, and the O-face

-- Are romance novels really candy-coated porn or vehicles by which we understand our sexual and gender politics?

With insider advice for writing romances, fun games to discover your inner Viking warrior, and interviews with famous romance authors, Beyond Heaving Bosoms shows that while some romance novels are silly -- maybe even tawdry -- they can also be intelligent, savvy, feminist, and fabulous, just like their readers!

Topics: Sexuality, Writing, Feminism, Literary Studies, Funny, Literary Criticism, and Guides

Published: Touchstone on
ISBN: 9781416571254
List price: $11.99
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If you enjoy the website, you'll enjoy the book. If you love loving criticism of romance novels, you'll enjoy this book.more
Flowcharts, ridiculous illustrations, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, well reasoned takedowns of the patriarchy, and MAD LIBS!more
Talk about women with personality defending their right to read whatever they want!These two ladies analyse the romance genre without any taboos, and without any apologies. They talk about the good, the bad, the nasty, the tasty and the hilarious; all of this with a language not apt for polite company. Everything having to do with sex is called by its name (or by its metaphorical name, which is better), and they manage to give believable explanations of why it is important in the genre. And all of this showered with tons of humor. flagmore
I found this mostly entertaining and actually educational as I learned things about the romance genre and publishing I hadn't known previously. It did get more than a bit repetitive, and the language was more than a bit juvenile at times which made the repetitiveness stand out even more and be more irritating but I went in expecting it so I was able to ignore it for the most part. Overall it was fun, their love, respect and honest critiquing of the romance genre comes through in spades though nothing in this book will convince someone who doesn't already love or at least like the genre.more
I only got 50 pages into this, and it was some time ago (I put it down intending to give it another try sometime...and just never managed.), so a full review isn't really fair here. But for whatever hearing about my experience is worth:I don't read stories quite like the ones this book addresses, but I do read romantic fanfiction and some gay romance, and imagined there'd be some similarities between it all. Plus I had a vague impression (from glancing at their blog I imagine?) these author ladies were intelligent and funny and the non-irritating kind of feminist. Initially I liked the snarky, proud, playful tone, but... so far as I read, that was a large part of what the book was. Information about romance novels in a snarky, proud, playful tone. While I could see the sense of humor working in blog entries consumed in small bits over many days, it wore thin on me reading in the book, even when I read in small doses. A lot of it is simply being exaggeratedly crass and blunt, which I'm not at all offended by but do get tired of.On the information side of things, I very well may not have reached the more interesting information considering how far I got into the book, but what I read so far was a decent history but not overly detailed or interesting outside the authors' snarky tone. In the end, I was still a little at a loss for what sort of understanding of romance novels the book was trying to give me. My feelings on the sense of humor aside, that IS something I should have been able to tell by 50 pages in. In the end these ladies may just be the sort best read in blog form.more
I'm going to take a stand here. This book is the best option out there for anyone who is: a raging fan of romance, romance curious, or a professional who is looking to understand the genre and its appeal. Not only is it funny as hell, but it's packed with useful and relevant information. Plus, and this is a big plus, it's written by FANS of the genre (who are notably unafraid to be critical of the insanity that can show up in the genre from time to time). No more criticism coming from someone who never liked the genre anyway and is out to prove that it's all crap written for undereducated housewives who don't know any better. Turn to the smart bitches instead.more
Hilarious and interesting this is a wide eyed look at the romance genre, the good, the bad, the ugly and absurd. I laughed out loud in recognition, was intrigued by the statistics and ashamed that I didnt even think to add my several shelves of romances to my goodreads shelf.While I haven't picked up a Mills and Boon type book in (quite a few) years, in my late teens/early twenties they were all I could afford being that they were usually only 20c each at the charity shops and with little time between uni studies and working they were a perfect distraction. Since I can't throw away a book I still have shelves full. Since it literally has been years I am actually eager to pick up a few newer books to see how things have changed.My only complaint about BHB was while I enjoyed the Choose Your Own Adventure at the end of the book, it was funny but a little overdone and the book overall had a fairly abrubt ending.If you are hiding your stash of romance behind the philosophy books on your bookshelf, or are tired of the snarky comments from your friends then pick up a copy of BHB and hold your head up because its true - Smart Bitches read romance novels.*oh and yes plagarism is always wrong!more
A great extension of Candy and Sarah's website that analyzes, mocks, criticizes, and sings the praises of romance novels. Not only hilarious, it's full of great info.more
For anyone considering purchasing this book who is unfamiliar with the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog, stop and check it out first.Do you say "awesome, some real criticism of the genre, great recommendations, they don't take themselves too seriously, love the cursing, love the mocking?" great! Buy the book! For once a book from a blog combines old and new material very well so that it is WORTH buying it even though we get the blog for free. (Most of the points made in the book have been made many a time on the blog, such as the Cassie Edwards scandal; but the ladies cover them with new words and new entertaining insight)Do you say "these 'ladies' are shocking and scandalous. I don't appreciate the language, and I'd really rather not hear harsh criticism of my darling genre" or the almost opposite "Romance novels are disgusting and I don't want to read something that may convince me otherwise, I just needed to know the facts" Ok, try another book, perhaps one more geared towards genre outsiders or the ones the ALA produces for reader's advisory purposes.more
This book is, as the title states, a guide to romance novels by the authors of one of my favorite blogs, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The blog is witty, funny, and full of romance novel recommendations. The book... well, I was a little disappointed. It's not that it wasn't funny; it was. It was just extremely disorganized, and it was a lot of fluff and not a lot of substance. It's pretty similar to the blog, and while the style used works really well in that format, for a book it leaves something to be desired. There were some interesting discussions of the history of romance, it's cliches, etc. I would've liked more. There were a few recommendations of books, based on subgenre (pirate romance, time travel, etc.); again, I would've loved more. There were lots of silly, funny little lists; I could've done without the majority of them. Cute, but nothing life-changing. Overall, recommended for hardcore fans of the blog and romance junkies; for anyone else, I think reading the blog will be enough. Three stars.more
I read romances and enjoy intelligent critiques of them. This book gave some interesting background to the history of the genre, but offered no intelligent critiques of it's own. Instead it offered alot of snark about the badly written books out there. But I don't read the badly written books, and wanted more commentary about the well written ones rather than jokes about the idiotic ones out there. Ironically, I was hoping for more depth...more
This book was awesome! Sarcastic, humorous, nerdy, and eyebrow raising! Wendell and Tan provide a brief but insightful history and analysis of romance novels, albeit limited to more of the 70s to the present day than the Ancient Roman bodice rippers. They inform you about the evolution of the hero and heroine with colorful and inventive adjectives (and some that I would never say out loud but nonetheless enjoyed). They poke fun at some of the bad examples of the genre with sarcasm and humor. They make fun of the covers and provide games where you can find the most lurid romance book cover. They also give the reader some recommendations for romance novels to read, although they are not centralized and so you have to leaf through the pages to find them. Loved the book and would highly recommend it who likes to make fun of books, looking for romance novels, or lighthearted reading.P.S. Met Sarah Wendell at a book signing and her personality is definitely reflected in the book. Go and meet her if you have the chance!more
Great, funny look at the genre of romance. As a fan of romance novels, I can appreciate the good and the bad, and this book is a fantastic send up of the very best and the very worst, all without apology.more
I bought this primarily to support the authors' website/blog "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books," which is one of my favorites. (I seem to make a habit of doing that.)The book gives a good overview of the current state of romance (aka Romancelandia). The tone is conversational and irreverent and the language is salty. In other words, it's just like the website!Of course, it isn't just like the website. The authors have realized that the spirited back and forth that makes the site so fun doesn't translate well to the printed page. They do cover the basic tropes of the genre, as well as their pet peeves annd annoyances within those tropes. The book format also gives them space to go into greater detail than the website does, and their writing is solid and informative.I don't know how this would work as a stand-alone book, or as an introduction to the romance genre. I think you would have to be at last partially familiar with it before this would make much sense at all.more
I was a reader of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books before I'd read a single Romance novel, and although I'm more of a fantasy or historical fiction reader, when I do read Romance it's almost always because I liked what Sarah and Candy had to say about a book. In Beyond Heaving Bosoms, they're as entertaining as always, and in ways suggest what it might be like if Dave Barry wrote literary analysis and swore.This book is funny, thoughtful, and practical. I'm having a hard time deciding if I should keep it in my cubicle in the library with my other professional books or at home on my reread shelves.more
An examination of the romance genre by the ladies who run the romance novel blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It's irreverent, funny and sometimes crude - but it's also wide-ranging and well-informed. From an examination of awful romance covers through analysis of the heroes and heroines to the major plot tropes to the history of the genre and current and future trends, the book covers every aspect of the genre. It pokes unapologetic fun at bad plots and worse prose - but also discusses Jungian shadow archetypes and analyses the ways in which romance fiction has reflected trends in feminism and legal and social change.It's fun, it's entertaining, it kept me up reading late at night, and I *so* have to play the board game on pages 118-9.However, it is probably not a book which will be enjoyed by those who are offended by explicit descriptions of sex or by bad language. Or by polysyllabic erudition, for that matter.more
Read all 16 reviews

Reviews

If you enjoy the website, you'll enjoy the book. If you love loving criticism of romance novels, you'll enjoy this book.more
Flowcharts, ridiculous illustrations, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, well reasoned takedowns of the patriarchy, and MAD LIBS!more
Talk about women with personality defending their right to read whatever they want!These two ladies analyse the romance genre without any taboos, and without any apologies. They talk about the good, the bad, the nasty, the tasty and the hilarious; all of this with a language not apt for polite company. Everything having to do with sex is called by its name (or by its metaphorical name, which is better), and they manage to give believable explanations of why it is important in the genre. And all of this showered with tons of humor. flagmore
I found this mostly entertaining and actually educational as I learned things about the romance genre and publishing I hadn't known previously. It did get more than a bit repetitive, and the language was more than a bit juvenile at times which made the repetitiveness stand out even more and be more irritating but I went in expecting it so I was able to ignore it for the most part. Overall it was fun, their love, respect and honest critiquing of the romance genre comes through in spades though nothing in this book will convince someone who doesn't already love or at least like the genre.more
I only got 50 pages into this, and it was some time ago (I put it down intending to give it another try sometime...and just never managed.), so a full review isn't really fair here. But for whatever hearing about my experience is worth:I don't read stories quite like the ones this book addresses, but I do read romantic fanfiction and some gay romance, and imagined there'd be some similarities between it all. Plus I had a vague impression (from glancing at their blog I imagine?) these author ladies were intelligent and funny and the non-irritating kind of feminist. Initially I liked the snarky, proud, playful tone, but... so far as I read, that was a large part of what the book was. Information about romance novels in a snarky, proud, playful tone. While I could see the sense of humor working in blog entries consumed in small bits over many days, it wore thin on me reading in the book, even when I read in small doses. A lot of it is simply being exaggeratedly crass and blunt, which I'm not at all offended by but do get tired of.On the information side of things, I very well may not have reached the more interesting information considering how far I got into the book, but what I read so far was a decent history but not overly detailed or interesting outside the authors' snarky tone. In the end, I was still a little at a loss for what sort of understanding of romance novels the book was trying to give me. My feelings on the sense of humor aside, that IS something I should have been able to tell by 50 pages in. In the end these ladies may just be the sort best read in blog form.more
I'm going to take a stand here. This book is the best option out there for anyone who is: a raging fan of romance, romance curious, or a professional who is looking to understand the genre and its appeal. Not only is it funny as hell, but it's packed with useful and relevant information. Plus, and this is a big plus, it's written by FANS of the genre (who are notably unafraid to be critical of the insanity that can show up in the genre from time to time). No more criticism coming from someone who never liked the genre anyway and is out to prove that it's all crap written for undereducated housewives who don't know any better. Turn to the smart bitches instead.more
Hilarious and interesting this is a wide eyed look at the romance genre, the good, the bad, the ugly and absurd. I laughed out loud in recognition, was intrigued by the statistics and ashamed that I didnt even think to add my several shelves of romances to my goodreads shelf.While I haven't picked up a Mills and Boon type book in (quite a few) years, in my late teens/early twenties they were all I could afford being that they were usually only 20c each at the charity shops and with little time between uni studies and working they were a perfect distraction. Since I can't throw away a book I still have shelves full. Since it literally has been years I am actually eager to pick up a few newer books to see how things have changed.My only complaint about BHB was while I enjoyed the Choose Your Own Adventure at the end of the book, it was funny but a little overdone and the book overall had a fairly abrubt ending.If you are hiding your stash of romance behind the philosophy books on your bookshelf, or are tired of the snarky comments from your friends then pick up a copy of BHB and hold your head up because its true - Smart Bitches read romance novels.*oh and yes plagarism is always wrong!more
A great extension of Candy and Sarah's website that analyzes, mocks, criticizes, and sings the praises of romance novels. Not only hilarious, it's full of great info.more
For anyone considering purchasing this book who is unfamiliar with the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog, stop and check it out first.Do you say "awesome, some real criticism of the genre, great recommendations, they don't take themselves too seriously, love the cursing, love the mocking?" great! Buy the book! For once a book from a blog combines old and new material very well so that it is WORTH buying it even though we get the blog for free. (Most of the points made in the book have been made many a time on the blog, such as the Cassie Edwards scandal; but the ladies cover them with new words and new entertaining insight)Do you say "these 'ladies' are shocking and scandalous. I don't appreciate the language, and I'd really rather not hear harsh criticism of my darling genre" or the almost opposite "Romance novels are disgusting and I don't want to read something that may convince me otherwise, I just needed to know the facts" Ok, try another book, perhaps one more geared towards genre outsiders or the ones the ALA produces for reader's advisory purposes.more
This book is, as the title states, a guide to romance novels by the authors of one of my favorite blogs, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The blog is witty, funny, and full of romance novel recommendations. The book... well, I was a little disappointed. It's not that it wasn't funny; it was. It was just extremely disorganized, and it was a lot of fluff and not a lot of substance. It's pretty similar to the blog, and while the style used works really well in that format, for a book it leaves something to be desired. There were some interesting discussions of the history of romance, it's cliches, etc. I would've liked more. There were a few recommendations of books, based on subgenre (pirate romance, time travel, etc.); again, I would've loved more. There were lots of silly, funny little lists; I could've done without the majority of them. Cute, but nothing life-changing. Overall, recommended for hardcore fans of the blog and romance junkies; for anyone else, I think reading the blog will be enough. Three stars.more
I read romances and enjoy intelligent critiques of them. This book gave some interesting background to the history of the genre, but offered no intelligent critiques of it's own. Instead it offered alot of snark about the badly written books out there. But I don't read the badly written books, and wanted more commentary about the well written ones rather than jokes about the idiotic ones out there. Ironically, I was hoping for more depth...more
This book was awesome! Sarcastic, humorous, nerdy, and eyebrow raising! Wendell and Tan provide a brief but insightful history and analysis of romance novels, albeit limited to more of the 70s to the present day than the Ancient Roman bodice rippers. They inform you about the evolution of the hero and heroine with colorful and inventive adjectives (and some that I would never say out loud but nonetheless enjoyed). They poke fun at some of the bad examples of the genre with sarcasm and humor. They make fun of the covers and provide games where you can find the most lurid romance book cover. They also give the reader some recommendations for romance novels to read, although they are not centralized and so you have to leaf through the pages to find them. Loved the book and would highly recommend it who likes to make fun of books, looking for romance novels, or lighthearted reading.P.S. Met Sarah Wendell at a book signing and her personality is definitely reflected in the book. Go and meet her if you have the chance!more
Great, funny look at the genre of romance. As a fan of romance novels, I can appreciate the good and the bad, and this book is a fantastic send up of the very best and the very worst, all without apology.more
I bought this primarily to support the authors' website/blog "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books," which is one of my favorites. (I seem to make a habit of doing that.)The book gives a good overview of the current state of romance (aka Romancelandia). The tone is conversational and irreverent and the language is salty. In other words, it's just like the website!Of course, it isn't just like the website. The authors have realized that the spirited back and forth that makes the site so fun doesn't translate well to the printed page. They do cover the basic tropes of the genre, as well as their pet peeves annd annoyances within those tropes. The book format also gives them space to go into greater detail than the website does, and their writing is solid and informative.I don't know how this would work as a stand-alone book, or as an introduction to the romance genre. I think you would have to be at last partially familiar with it before this would make much sense at all.more
I was a reader of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books before I'd read a single Romance novel, and although I'm more of a fantasy or historical fiction reader, when I do read Romance it's almost always because I liked what Sarah and Candy had to say about a book. In Beyond Heaving Bosoms, they're as entertaining as always, and in ways suggest what it might be like if Dave Barry wrote literary analysis and swore.This book is funny, thoughtful, and practical. I'm having a hard time deciding if I should keep it in my cubicle in the library with my other professional books or at home on my reread shelves.more
An examination of the romance genre by the ladies who run the romance novel blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It's irreverent, funny and sometimes crude - but it's also wide-ranging and well-informed. From an examination of awful romance covers through analysis of the heroes and heroines to the major plot tropes to the history of the genre and current and future trends, the book covers every aspect of the genre. It pokes unapologetic fun at bad plots and worse prose - but also discusses Jungian shadow archetypes and analyses the ways in which romance fiction has reflected trends in feminism and legal and social change.It's fun, it's entertaining, it kept me up reading late at night, and I *so* have to play the board game on pages 118-9.However, it is probably not a book which will be enjoyed by those who are offended by explicit descriptions of sex or by bad language. Or by polysyllabic erudition, for that matter.more
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