Romance novels need a canon
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats. Read the whole essay.
“Bastards!” said Sergei.
“Can they do that?” asked Little Nicky.
They could do anything. In a race like this, for State Rep, 34th District of California, there was no oversight. There was no feeling of outrage, no general sense of the limits of taste. And thank God for that. Sergei and Little Nicky, manager and head of special projects for the Stuart Craspedacusta campaign, wouldn’t want any oversight or general sense of the limits of taste. This was a filthy contest already, and most of the filth was theirs and today would be no different, for today — the Fourth of July — was a day too crucial for cleansing. Today, at the Independence Day Walkabout and Arts Fair, the Craspedacusta campaign had to achieve no less than Total Visual Dominance. If, through the creation and placement of Craspedacusta balloons, posters, buttons, flyers, kites, banners and giant Styrofoam hands, they could achieve Total Visual Domination, they could appear to have won this battle. And if they appeared to have won this battle, they could be seen as having momentum, and if they could be seen as having momentum, they would have juice, and if they had juice, then the staff of Murray Olongapo, their Democratic opponent, might become discouraged, panicky and desperate, and they might try to spend more of Olongapo’s money now, too soon, in an attempt to catch up, and if so, that would leave Craspedacusta with more for the home stretch. Or, better yet, Murray’s people would try something unwise — as when they let Olongapo, a theater enthusiast, guest-star, in drag, in an outdoor and all-male production of The Merchant of Venice — and then Sergei would swoop in for the kill, swift and efficient; he’d know what to do.
The rest of this story is no longer online, but does appear in the book “The Unforbidden Is Compulsory, or Optimism.”
Dave Eggers is the author of "You Shall Know Our Velocity" and "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."More Dave Eggers.
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie
Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower. Read the whole essay.
"A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant
A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex. Read the whole essay.
"Black Silk" by Judith Ivory
A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say. Read the whole essay.
"For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale
A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society. Read the whole essay.
"Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner
A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ... Read the whole essay.
"Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen
Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight. Read the whole essay.
"The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal
A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency. Read the whole essay.
"Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time. Read the whole essay.