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.
Lady Gaga may have made amends with Weird Al, but she still has to answer for her politically incorrect remarks during a recent NME interview. When asked (for probably the umpteenth time) if she ripped off “Born This Way” from Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” the little monster got hot under the collar, claiming the only similarities were the chord progressions. Also this:
“I’m a songwriter. I’ve written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I’m getting one over on everybody? That’s retarded.”
Whoops. For someone whose message is all about how it’s OK to be different, this was definitely a quotable misstep, especially after NME decided to put her r-word comment in the headline of their piece. Gaga has since issued an apology via CNN:
“I consider it part of my life’s work and music to push the boundaries of love and acceptance,” Gaga told CNN in a statement. “My apologies for not speaking thoughtfully. To anyone that was hurt, please know that it was furiously unintentional.”
She continues, “An honest mistake, requires honesty to make. Whether life’s disabilities, left you outcast bullied or teased, rejoice and love yourself today.”
It’s tough, because I don’t think Lady Gaga actually meant to make a demeaning slur. She was angry and cursing up a storm, and that was one of the words that popped out. But just like using “gay” in a negative context, a lot of times the problem is exactly that people aren’t thinking; they’re just using the first words that come to mind from the cultural lexicon.
I doubt anyone thinks Lady Gaga is hating on the mentally handicapped, but as a public figure — especially one who claims to speak for all the “freaks” and “outsiders” — she needs to be even more judicious about what she says. She should talk to Dan Savage, who faced a similar problem back in 2009, when a reader wrote in asking him to stop using the slang word.
That being said, Gaga’s apology was immediate and sincere. Do you forgive her?
"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.