Romance

New Romance-Only Bookstore Aims to Bring Love to Tinley Park

12 August 2019

From Patch:

The second romance-only bookstore in the country opened in Tinley Park in mid-June. Love’s Sweet Arrow is owned and operated by mother-daughter team Roseann and Marissa Backlin, who were inspired to open the business by their love for romance novels.

“Romance is one of the most widely read genres in publishing, and yet there were only two exclusively romance bookstores in the world before we opened. And the only other one in the country is on the west coast,” Marissa Backlin said. “We wanted to do our part to change that and give romance readers a place to find their favorite books in the Midwest judgement-free.”

Developing the store from idea to actual opening took about a year.

“We had to do a lot of research into authors, publishing houses, form a business plan and attempt crowdfunding,” said Roseann Backlin, who also works as a food service manager at a local elementary school. The Backlins did a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $12,000 and are now accepting donations on Patreon. “We reached out to friends who had spare bookshelves, went to a resale shop [for furniture] and were lucky enough to get some of our used stock from a retiring bookstore owner.”

. . . .

In the age of impersonal ordering on Amazon, Love’s Sweet Arrow aims to be more than just an independent bookseller offering new and used novels. Marissa and Roseann hope to make it a community space, with events centered on bringing local residents together.

“In part of our research, we found that independent bookstores that focused on that community space feel and provided events for the community at large were more successful and were embraced by the community,” Marissa said.

Love’s Sweet Arrow hosts its own book club every other month, but encourages other local clubs to host meetings at the store.

Link to the rest at Patch

PG went to school and lived for several years in the Chicago area. While he vaguely remembered the name, Tinley Park, he had no idea where it was located.

A quick search revealed that Tinley Park is a village of 56,000 in South suburban Chicago east of Joliet.

While 56,000 people sounds a bit large for a “village,” if PG recalls correctly, under state law, Illinois has Cities, Towns and Villages. They are each forms of municipal government and PG seems to remember that no more Towns are being created, just Cities and Villages.

The Ripped Bodice Bookstore Owners Are Bringing Their Romance Expertise to Television

1 August 2019
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Shy and retiring creature that he is, PG just learned about The Ripped Bodice.

From The Bustle:

If you’re something of a bookshop connoisseur, you’ll know all about The Ripped Bodice Bookstore in Culver City, CA — a shop entirely dedicated to selling books that fall squarely within the romance genre. Founded by sisters Bea and Leah Koch, the shop opened in 2016 after their super-successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $90,000 and quickly became a go-to destination for romance novel events and readings. Now, just two years later, the Koch sisters are taking their expertise from the shelves to the small screen.

Earlier this week, it was the announced that the duo have inked a deal with Sony Pictures Television to develop romance-based projects for TV, based on their unique position of expertise within the industry. And something tells me I’m about to have a lot more television marathon-watching in my future. According to an article in EW, the Koch’s were first approached by Sony employees at their store (apparently Sony is only blocks away from The Ripped Bodice storefront) and a partnership grew organically from there.

. . . .

After all, the romance genre has pretty much always been primarily created by and for women, but the film versions of these stories haven’t always followed suit. In 2017, most major film producers, directors and writers were still overwhelmingly male, according to statistics collected by Women & Hollywood.

Link to the rest at The Bustle

Male Fatphobia in Romance Novels: Why Does Romance Hate Overweight Men?

29 June 2019

From All About Romance:

In all my years of romance reading, the only hero I recall who was described as overweight was Henry Tewskbury-Hampton of Carla Kelly’s delightful vintage Signet regency Miss Billings Treads the Boards.

Over twenty years.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of books.

Precisely one slightly saggy midsection. Which tightened up by the end of the story.

It’s always difficult to find a cause from looking at end products alone, and I’m sure this state of affairs reflects varying degrees of reader preference, author choice, and editor or publisher requirement, depending on the book. And I’m not saying your Navy SEALs or your shapeshifting werewolf warriors can’t be in peak physical condition, or even that you shouldn’t want your Regency ducal sundae topped with a six pack, however historically implausible that mixed metaphor is. Just because I happen to like bigger men (in fiction and in real life) doesn’t mean everybody has to write it (although I’d be delighted if somebody did, and I welcome recommendations in the comments).

I’m not demanding fat heroes, but I’m done – I’m beyond done – with fat losers.

. . . .

I originally intended to put quotes in this post in which authors used weight to identify their duds and deadbeats, but I realized quite quickly that it wasn’t going to work. There are just too damn many examples. It didn’t seem fair or productive to call out a few authors arbitrarily when the entire industry is taking the same cheap shot.

So as a thought exercise, I wrote some quotes of my own.

Such is the power of male weight in romance novels that I can invent descriptions of male characters and transform them from heroes to zeroes just by changing the words describing their bodies.

Imagine if you read:

Mrs. Gates’s son Robert was moving back into his mother’s house across the street. His sweaty t-shirt clung to his sculpted abs as he carried a television down the steps to the basement.

Your immediate take would likely be that Robert is going to be this novel’s hero. He’s a good guy, probably home because his mom is sick, or he’s between deployments. You probably can’t wait for the other protagonist to meet him.

But what if the author changed that description, just a tiny, tiny bit? Now, instead of the previous quote, you read:

Mrs. Gates’s son Robert was moving back into his mother’s house across the street. His sweaty t-shirt clung to his pudgy belly as he carried a television down the steps to the basement.

Nothing has changed about Robert except his stomach, but that’s enough to tell you he’s going to be a loser. The television, the mom’s basement – it means something totally different when the hero is fat. This Robert isn’t a caretaker or Marine on leave, he’s an unemployed man-child addicted to video games and internet trolling. That sweat is probably yellow, and it definitely stinks.

Link to the rest at All About Romance

Eight Hot Trollopes

17 June 2019

From The Millions:

Does the now rather tame eroticism of Victorian novels restrict their readership mostly to English majors, culture warriors invested in traditional moralities, and Masterpiece fans? Here’s an experiment for more jaded 21st-century readers: let’s take a quick tour of the love scenes of a famous Victorian novelist, Anthony Trollope, who is more celebrated for his lengthy chronicles of Victorian society and politics than romance, to see if his writings still intrigue or even enflame. Such a tour might help readers decide whether they want to read through all of Trollope’s 47 novels or, say, to work through the 800-ish pages of Can You Forgive Her? to find the one embrace, where, exemplifying both her passion and her shame in that passion, Alice Vavasor still shrinks guiltily from her lover as she accepts him.

Erotic encounters in Trollope can now seem both anachronistic and unintentionally funny not only because the author was a rather standard-model Victorian moralist but also because his novels often are more invested in the social or the political than the romantic. As Trollope admitted in An Autobiography, he shrewdly wrote romance into his novels to attract readers to whom he could teach moral lessons: “dealing with love is advantageous” since “the passion is one which interests or has interested all.” Briefly assessing the lurching forms of hugging and kissing in Trollope, however, will show that his works aren’t just period pieces. Instead, our survey will reveal an intriguing clash between the author’s conventional social views and his impish literary impulses—and, more fascinatingly, between those same views and the quiet stirrings of a few proto-modern ideas. For concision, we’ll restrict ourselves to his two major novelistic series, the six Barchester novels and the six Palliser novels, starting with Trollope at his most literary and moving from there.

1. The Embarrassments of Attraction
In Phineas Finn, the eponymous hero, after unsuccessfully romancing three ladies above his station, conforms to garden-variety Victorian values by marrying his hometown sweetheart, Mary Flood Jones, who has pined for him from afar the whole novel. “’Mary,’ he said, ‘will you be my wife,—my own wife?’…When half an hour had passed, they were still together, and now she had found the use of her tongue. ‘Do whatever you like best,’ she said. . . . Then he took her in his arms and kissed her. ‘Oh, Phineas!’ she said, ‘I do love you so entirely!’” Presumably, Mary isn’t using that tongue to kiss him back; she is instead a morally suitable example of Victorian female subservience and restraint. Like many 19th-century writers, Trollope often associates physical attraction with danger and self-control with virtue: his heroines Lily Dale, Glencora Palliser (for a while), and Emily Wharton are all betrayed by their attachments to handsome men who appear to act like gentleman but instead jilt, drink and gamble, and ruinously speculate, respectively. But Trollope knew he was employing a literary cliché here in Phineas Finn. And Mary’s long silent treatment reads like an absurdist expansion of famous scenes like the moment when even 19th-century British literature’s most verbose pixie, Elizabeth Bennett, is briefly silenced and cannot even look at Mr. Darcy right after he proposes. By contrast, Mary is revealed here as a characterological bore, and, presumably admitting defeat, Trollope conveniently killed her off before the sequel Phineas Redux. He often had trouble fully committing to conventional romantic narratives.

Link to the rest at The Millions

Eat First: More Romances That Will Make You Hungry

14 June 2019
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From Book Riot:

I recently went on a romance-related trip to New Orleans, which means basically all my thoughts the whole time there were twofold: romance novels and food. There is a lot of good food in New Orleans, so the only reason I wasn’t drooling over these books was that I was devastatingly full the whole time. But these books are legit appetizing, and you should definitely check them out.

The Ultimate Pi Day Party

Jackie Lau’s Baldwin Village series (Starting with One Bed For Christmas) is all about eating, and this one is no exception. It starts just before Valentine’s Day, when Josh, the CEO of a local app development company, wanders into Happy as Pie, Sarah’s shop. After having some of the most delightful pie of the sweet and savory kind, Josh comes up with a way to lure his estranged father—a math nerd extraordinaire—to visit him in Toronto and speak to him again: the ultimate Pi Day party, complete with a total smorgasbord of pies. He and Sarah have to meet to figure it all out, but there’s also a chemistry between them. Has been since they met. What can they do about that, while also maintaining their professional relationship?

Eat, that’s what they can do.

Or at least it feels like it. There’s so much hungrifying stuff in the pages of this book, and it makes it all the better for it. The pies are scrumptious (yes, scrumptious!) and there’s plenty of other food to drool over while you’re reading. Which isn’t great if you’re trapped on a two hour flight with pretzels and cookies that you can’t eat because flour. And then of course there’s the people, who both have strong but complicated relationships with their families, particularly their parents. The resolution of the story has more than one resolution, which is great, and more food, which is also great. If that’s not enough hunger, you also want to check out Ice Cream Lover, which just came out! (Much more dessert in that one, but you might also want to find the nearest place that has soup dumplings. Not gonna joke.)

Link to the rest at Book Riot





Romance Bestsellers and Hot New Releases

14 February 2019
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Kindle Romance Bestsellers

Here are Amazon’s Hot New Romance Releases Print/Kindle Combined), Updated Hourly:

Romance

Almost 40% of hetero and 60% of same-sex couples now meet online for the first time

12 February 2019

From Fast Company:

That’s according to a new study conducted by sociologists Michael Rosenfeld and Sonia Hausen of Stanford University and Reuben Thomas of Arizona State University. It looked at data from the multiyear How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey and found that, in 2017, meeting online was by far the most frequent way people met their significant others. Some findings from the study:

  • In 2017 39% of heterosexual and 60% of same-sex couples met online. That compares to only 2% of couples meeting online in 1995.
  • Fewer couples are now also meeting through friends or family. In 1995 33% of couples met through mutual friends and 15% met through family. In 2017 only 20% of couples met through mutual friends and 7% met through family.
  • Even relationship-forming hotbeds like your college years saw a decline in couples meeting during this time. In 1995 9% of couples met in college versus only 4% in 2017. That means in 2017 a couple was as likely to meet in college as they were in church.
  • There are also fewer couples meeting through or as coworkers. In 1995 19% of couples met via work, but only 11% of couples met via work in 2017.
  • The only place outside of the internet where couples meeting for the first time grew were in a bar or restaurant. In 1995 19% of couples met in a bar or restaurant. That number shot up to 27% in 2017.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

PG will leave questions about how this impacts contemporary romance novels to those who are expert in the field.

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Shelf Policing: How Books (And Cacti) Make Women Too ‘Spiky’ for Men

11 February 2019

As a preliminary note, PG will remind one and all that he doesn’t necessarily agree with everything he posts on TPV.

From The Guardian:

“How to avoid turning your home into a MANrepeller”, the Daily Mailproclaimed from atop the mountain on Sunday. “Interiors therapist reveals the items that could be making your abode offputting to men.”

It could be forgiven for wanting to jump on the Marie Kondo bandwagon, but the twist obviously had to be that the gaze you must please is not your own, but a man’s.

Femail’s nominated manrepeller was a journalist named Liz Hoggard, and her salvation came in the form of life coach Suzanne Roynon, whose mission is to “clear your past and present clutter to create a new relationship in your life”.

How does it work in practice? Well, there are a number of rules. You should not have too many paintings of “strong, iconic” but single women in your home; cacti are bad because they’re “too spiky”.

. . . .

Speaking of bedrooms – books apparently aren’t allowed in there, as they are a room for “sleep and love”. This raises some questions. Does it mean that if you like reading a book in bed you must then go put it back elsewhere in the house just before falling asleep? Is one book (singular) in the bedroom fine but two or more forbidden? What if you do find a partner thanks to your attractive new flat and he also enjoys reading in bed, does this create a loophole? Should you read this singular book together at the same time? Any word on Kindles?

Roynon doesn’t expand on these particular quandaries, but does offer more advice on books. As it turns out, a single woman in search of companionship should not own novels with “depressing titles” like Little Deaths or The Suspect.

. . . .

Or maybe put Normal People by Sally Rooney in a place where he is sure to spot it. Not only is it a good book, but it will subconsciously tell him that you are, in fact, normal. Just a normal woman, looking for a normal man, so you can be a normal couple together, living in your normal house. Normal, normal, normal. What’s not to love?

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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