Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Unromantic Confessions

by Stephanie Black

When Sariah's Secrets in Zarahemla is released next month, I can’t wait to read it. Her historical romance is a departure from the norm for me. I tend to stick closely to the mystery/suspense genre (as my like-minded sister remarked the other day, “I just don’t have the patience for the plot to be about how the hero and heroine are going to get together. I want them to meet over a dead body.”)

Before I get blacklisted by the RWA, let me say I do realize there’s a lot more to romance novels than just the build-up to the kissy-kissy. Sariah’s book looks fascinating, and I’ve heard great things about lots of romance novels (recently, Michele Ashman Bell’s Perfect Timing and Marnie Pehrson’s Angel and the Enemy. And I love Kerry Blair's romantic suspense—oh man, she writes good books. I adore her new release, Ghost of a Chance. I love detective Samantha Shade and her pining for handsome, Shakespeare-quoting cop Thom. That budding romance feels both beautiful and credible, which brings me to my problem with some fictional romance.

I have a practicality problem, probably inherited from my mother. We all loved The Music Man, but my mother couldn’t help observing that the chances of Marian the Librarian and Harold Hill making it work over the long-term were nil. Fast-talking con artist Harold is going to get bored with River City life before you can say seventy-six trombones. I know, I know, I’m missing the point. This is supposed to be a love conquers all changeover miracle and Harold is reformed now, but come on, it’s a one in a million shot.

Sorry. I know that’s so unromantic of me, and I am willing to suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy the movie. I had a bigger problem with a novel that I read recently. It was well-written and fascinating, but the heroine was just dumb. I can’t get swept away in the romance if I know the behavior of the romantic parties is—well, it brings to mind President Hinckley’s quote from the recent New Year’s Eve fireside: “You can be wise and happy, or stupid and miserable.” This heroine was a card-carrying member of the latter category. My sister was discussing this particular romance at a book club and one of her questions for the readers was along the lines of, “Do you think the main characters are really in love?” “Oh yes, oh yes,” was the consensus, and my sister was thinking they don’t even know each other beyond the physical attraction. Okay, so we’re freaks. Between my practical mother (who also pointed out the wrongness of the line in the song from West Side Story where it says, “When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong”) and a bishop father who witnessed way too much misery from people with messed up ideas about romance, I got too thoroughly taught about how real relationships work to swoon over the overwhelming-passion-sweeps-away-all-common-sense theme. I like a romance I can believe in and applaud, like the blossoming of a relationship between Kerry’s Samantha and Thom, or Rob’s Rebecca and Eric.

Boy, I’m going to get in trouble with the RWA after all. But I am totally looking forward to Sariah’s novel. With Nephites and Lamanites and evil conspiracies and intrigue and such, I figure I can count on a few dead bodies along the way.


11 Comments:

At 1/10/2007 2:09 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I did try to link to all the books I mentioned so readers could have a look at them, but I'm having major HTML issues. Help!

 
At 1/10/2007 2:23 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I can't edit your posts, but if you email me your password, I'll go in and fix it.

 
At 1/10/2007 3:20 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

If I e-mail you my password . . . why does that give me such an uneasy feeling . . .

But thanks, Rob. I did actually just manage to create a working link, so maybe the curse is lifted.

 
At 1/10/2007 3:32 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Woohoo! Success. The links work now. I don't know what I was doing wrong before.

 
At 1/10/2007 5:16 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I love your post, Stephanie, and I LOVE your mother! I sense a kindred spirit.

For years I have nurtured an abiding dislike for three of the "Disney Princess" movies. I took my sweet little daughter to "Little Mermaid," "Aladdin" and "Pocohontas" and almost choked on my popcorn each time. The message was clear: "Teenage girls know much more about love than their parents. They should sneak out of their tepees (palaces, oceans) in order to be with a guy they don't know. Therein lies romance." Gag me. Somebody should tell girls the original Little Mermaid story -- how she lost her soul after falling for a big jerk who looked good in tights.

Aladdin was ust as bad. Remember the song Aladdin sings: "Gotta steal to eat"? I kept wondering if he'd ever considered work. (In Les Miserables, Val Jean learns a life lesson. Aladdin just goes blithley on his way.) Love Robin Williams as the genie; hate the movie.

I hope my daughter doesn't read this comment. I can already see her rolling her eyes and sighing, "Oh, Mom!" On the other hand, she never snuck out of the hovel and she fell in love quite wisely, so maybe the anti-mermaid campaign wasn't for naught.

 
At 1/10/2007 5:36 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Kerry, I am so with you on the Disney movies. I've refused to see Pocahontas, but Little Mermaid and Aladin drive me up the wall. And in the end of Little Mermaid when the king is willing to enslave his whole kingdom to "rescue" his totally stupid teenage daughter?!?!?

The stealing in Aladin bugs me as as well. They get chased by a storekeeper who is "bad" for chasing them. Umm, no he's not. They are bad for stealing.

And don't even get me started on the stupidity of Sleeping Beauty's parents.

 
At 1/10/2007 6:02 PM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

Of course they are fairtales and bad guy versus good guy depends on the perspective of the character in question. I remember a sister stand up in Testimony meeting and rail on Seasome Street because they made a comparison of the word love. when it is spelled backward it says nothing. The sister I spoke of noticed that if you pronounce it right it spells evil. Well I'm not entirely sure that everything is all that bad. but I have issues with a purple dinasaur and I have to continually point out the errors in thinking I see displayed in the programs my daughter watches.

As for your post Stephanie, I agree that books should be written with realistic plots and believable scenerios. But there are some who must like it. Either you like Jane austin or you don't right?

 
At 1/10/2007 7:03 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I hear Rob is a big Jane Austen fan . . .

 
At 1/10/2007 8:47 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Stephanie, I couldn't agree with you more. This is exactly why I hedge when people ask if my books are romances. I have to say, "Well, yeah, I guess, BUT . . ."

In my last book, the romance almost didn't work out because in real life, quite frankly, love *doesn't* conquer all, and it's not enough!

 
At 1/11/2007 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephanie: With a post like this the guys out here can finally say there are women in this world who have a clue! Well said!

 
At 1/11/2007 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link to Sariah's book on your post has a different cover than the one posted in the right column of this blog? Which cover is the real one?

 

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