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.
Life is harder when you’re an overweight woman: heart problems, diabetes, depression, low self-esteem and social prejudice — just to name a few of the challenges. But it turns out those are the least of our problems, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal. In a survey of 10,000 French people, a slew of interesting numbers were revealed about the sexual habits of heavy men and women, and it turns out women get the shaft — or don’t, in this case.
Obese women were 30 percent less likely than “normal” women to have had sex in the last year, but obese men were just as likely to have had one sexual partner in the last 12 months as average guys. Professor Kaye Wellings, one of the authors of the study, summed it up pretty effectively by saying, “Maybe women are more tolerant of tubby husbands than men are of tubby wives.” The study also found that big girls are less likely to take birth control or talk to their doctors about contraception, so they experience four times the number of unplanned pregnancies. It’s possible, according to the researchers, that obese women are skittish about asking for the pill because its health risks to overweight women are greater than for average women, or it might be the fact that oral contraceptives can make women gain weight.
There’s another explanation for the disparity between big boys and big girls and how likely they are to get any tail, of course. In order to even remove a sock in the bedroom, most of us have to feel like we’re attractive, desired and wanted by our partner. This can be nigh-on-impossible if you believe even a tiny fraction of the media hype surrounding the thin and beautiful. So maybe it’s not that men don’t want to sleep with overweight women, but that overweight women have so internalized mainstream beauty standards they can’t bring themselves to fool around.
As a size 16 since I was, uh, about 16, I can tell you that being assaulted by media images like the one of Paris Hilton eating a Carl’s Jr. burger in a size zero bikini or of Urban Outfitters’ lovely “Eat Less” T-shirt is enough to make a girl want to just go to Good Vibrations and sit at home with a copy of “Velvet Goldmine.”
"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.