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.
A Pennsylvania anti-harassment statute received renewed attention this week after it was used to charge a man who had repeatedly touched a pregnant woman’s belly without her consent.
But contrary to the message being broadcast by recent headlines, it is not illegal to rub a pregnant woman’s belly in the state. But it is, and always has been, illegal to harass a pregnant woman (or a not-pregnant woman) with invasive touching.
“Essentially, someone had touched a pregnant woman’s belly,” attorney Phil DiLucente told a local news station. “That’s very common that pregnant women have to go through that. The only problem is when you harass, annoy, alarm in the act of touching, then it’s a violation, a harassment charge.”
“Simply stated, it’s always been the law. It always will be the law,” he added.
Renewed focus on the law may serve as an important reminder to handsy people everywhere that pregnant women’s bodies are not theirs to touch, and that being visibly pregnant does not suddenly make a woman fair game for invasive questioning or bizarre over-sharing.
It’s an experience this anonymous writer at xoJane knows all too well:
I get it. I really do. There are only two things we all have in common — birth and death — and no one wants to dwell on the latter. And maybe being in a crowded impersonal city, people are looking for interpersonal connections and this gives an excuse [to touch a pregnant woman's belly or ask an invasive question]. After all, how many things remind us of all we have in common instead of all our differences?…On the other hand, as the person being interrogated or touched, it’s off-putting to say the least. The moment it became obvious that I’m pregnant, I went from an individual worthy of privacy and personal space to a vessel available to whoever lays eyes on me. Not to overanalyze it, but I wonder how much of this is tied to how our society views ownership of women’s bodies overall.
"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.