Romance Evangelism–The First News from the Front

Last night my book club met to discuss Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, but the conversation veered wildly and found its way to the subject of next month’s book club, when we’re supposed to discuss my romance novel picks. (If you missed the original posts on this subject, check out Romance Evangelism and Romance Evangelism–The Book Club Votes.)

Several people had already begun reading the first couple of books on my starter-kit list. The responses were mixed, in the best possible way.

One woman, who had rolled her eyes early and often during the voting hated (her emphasis, which also involved her characteristic hand gestures) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, but liked Suzanne Brockmann’s The Unsung Hero enough to another book in the series, Gone too Far (“I really liked the characters!” she said, almost apologetically). I’m sorry she was unable to savor the donut-lovin’ hotness of Minnie and Cal, but I’m pretty sure I can safely say she won’t roll her eyes at the mention of the word “romance” again.

Another member liked both Bet Me and The Unsung Hero and wanted to know which book she should read next. I hooked her up with Slightly Married by Mary Balogh, because my underlying mission is to celebrate the diversity of the romance shelves.

Gripes ranged from “I couldn’t really get a handle on how much Minnie actually weighed” (an ambiguity I love, because it says a lot about how women see themselves and other women, and how men see them) to “I didn’t think it was as well-written as chick lit I’ve read” (Yeah: I love Bet Me like nobody’s business, but I think it’s one of those books that succeeds (brilliantly) despite a flawed beginning and a slightly repetitive ending (a reminder that while the “perfect novel” should be every writer’s aim, it’s not actually possible or, strictly speaking, necessary).

There are still several readers–including the worst eye roller of them all–who still need to report in, and I’m hoping everyone will take a stab at a few more books. Tune in next month for the full lowdown.

For now, I’m going to claim a preliminary victory: Two converts and not a single reader whose dim opinions were confirmed.