As I promised in my post, Romance Evangelism, I presented my book club with five choices of romance books to read at our meeting two months from now. The choices were, in order, The Unsung Hero, by Suzanne Brockmann (Troubleshooter Series #1), Bet Me, by Jennifer Cruisie, What Happens in London, by Julia Quinn, Slightly Married, by Mary Balogh, and Blue-Eyed Devil, by Lisa Kleypas.
I gave a short introduction about how big and varied the romance market was. That just succeeded in making them think I was cute. Then I presented the books. There was a lot of eye rolling. I think I may have mentioned that the members of my book club are hard-nosed and left-brained.
They gave all the books nicknames, which isn’t uncommon in the club voting process. The Unsung Hero became “Navy Seal/terrorists,” Bet Me became “woman w/body-image issues eating doughnut,” What Happens in London became “spy-on-spy in London,” Slightly Married became “man marries woman because he promised her brother he’d protect her,” and Blue-Eyed Devil became “domestic abuse and hot kiss in a wine cellar.” I loved all these books, and I feel pretty bad about the reductionist descriptions, but I was willing to tolerate just about anything to get my way.
The ranks rapidly split into two camps, The Unsung Hero supporters and the Bet Me lobbyists. When we voted, four chose The Unsung Hero and three voted for Bet Me. I’d abstained. So I voted for Bet Me and tied it up, because I knew that meant we’d have to discuss both choices more, and I felt like that could only be good for my overall mission.
Paralysis and indecision settled over the group, and then my friend came to my rescue. She said, “Well, since these are relatively quick reads, I think we should read both of them.” What we ultimately decided was that we would all read Bet Me, and that those who finished Bet Me and were intrigued would go on to read The Unsung Hero, and then we would all discuss romance as a genre.
It felt like a coup. I’d gone in hoping to get them to read one book, knowing that that book would appeal to some but not others. Instead, I’d gotten them to read two books, thus doubling the chances of conversion.
In two months, will I will report back on their reactions. My guess is that I will have no converts among the eye-rollers. But I sense that there were two or three in the group who were interested in finding out what they been missing. We’ll see.