You know you’re single when…

June 10, 2008 at 12:24 am 3 comments

I am turning into a bitter old woman, and here’s how I know: I couldn’t finish the three cheap romance novels I meant to read for the post today. Sure, I read the first two. But somewhere between starting the third and viewing 27 Dresses, my will to suffer through another overwrought, unrealistic romance disappeared, only to be replaced with a raging cynicism that is singularly unattractive.

The first romance novel I read was The Husband She Never Knew, about a girl named Vicki (as in vixen, in case you didn’t get that) who married an Irish guy who was desperate for a green card. When she later wants to marry a dashing and yet slimy antiques dealer, her previous marriage causes problems. Somewhere in the middle there are a storm and a twisted ankle, incidents that end in Vicki and Irish Man making tender, yet impassioned love on a sailboat.

The second one was called Wife for a While, in which Chelsea, or “Chels” as she is affectionately referred to, offers to marry Ben so he can keep his grandfather’s apple orchard. The only condition is that she wants a baby in return, and then of course he objects to being treated like a sperm bank, so they make tender, yet impassioned love on a couch, I think. Bonus points to Ben for refraining during her period (yuck).

In the third, called The Millionaire and the Glass Slipper, was about a millionaire who has to find someone to marry him or lose his share in his father’s business. The only catch is that she can’t know he’s J.T. Whatever, and she has to marry him for love. This is the one I didn’t finish, but I am sure that J.T. and Amy (the plain younger woman he falls for instead of her sophisticated polished stepsister) make tender, yet impassioned love on a yacht or in his office or something.

And that’s where I stopped. Because I cannot imagine that there are women out there who are so deluded or so lonely that they actually believe these plotlines and these men. First, there are simply not that many men out there who have to get married to save a large sum of money. Second, I refuse to believe that romances like these exist in real life.

There are fictional romances I can get behind, don’t get me wrong. There are higher-end romance novels that are not too shabby, and I’ll admit to reading and enjoying Nora Roberts from time to time. As for romance in other types of novels, there’s a moment in the next book I’m going to review where the protagonist describes the guy she’s after as smelling like coffee and peppermint gum. I can believe that – coffee because it’s morning, the gum because stale coffee breath isn’t attractive. The fact that she noticed this fairly everyday scent (not aftershave or a vague ‘man smell’ that I can only assume is made from sperm and Axe) and found it attractive is even better.

But when every single man in these other novels is so clearly a figment of some uncreative female fantasy, described as rugged, yet somehow polished; dignified, yet somehow wild; and gentle, yet somehow untamable in bed, I can’t believe that. I can barely dignify it with a response, though clearly I managed to rise to the occasion.

The fact remains that I can only suspend my disbelief for so long. Maybe I could have finished the one about the millionaire had I not been forced to watch the travesty that was the character of Kevin Doyle — who, by the way, is about as realistic as Superman. Find me a journalist who isn’t fat, doesn’t live off of cheese doodles, has time to follow women all over the city, dresses that well and can still afford to give away Blackberrys, and then I’ll be happy to recant. Good luck.

Sure, the men in romance novels and romantic comedies are designed to make women fall in love with them, and I’m sure many women do. But not this bitter old crone, who has these novels to thank, not for some satisfactory light reading or even an amused laugh at the poor quality of the writing, but for a bitter taste in her mouth that even a whole pack of Stride isn’t going to get rid of.


Entry filed under: Collections and Lists, Musings and Essays, Romance and Chick Lit.

The Cookie Jar Mysteries Plain and Simple

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  June 10, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Beautifully done, buddy! It does get rather infuriating and, after reading these sorts of books and watching those kind of movies (with a few exceptions), one starts to totally understand the constant griping you hear from the female population about how Hollywood has created unrealistic expectations of love. And how sad is it that there seems to be proof (in the constant production of these books and movies) that women would rather the rugged, yet well-dressed, etc. man rather than the man who smells like coffee and peppermint?

    That cynicism aside, I agree that that is a great description of a guy. It really sounds nice and genuine! What book is next, pray tell?

  • 2. KT  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Ha, I totally get why that guy from the New York Times was all snippy about 27 Dresses — I had to get up and make scones in the middle of it, that’s how bitter I got. UGH.

    Isn’t that a great description, though? And she never goes on about how attractive he is, I don’t think — she mentions him having green eyes a couple of times, but she doesn’t really dwell. It’s just really nice :) I’m posting the review now that I know you’ve read this one!

  • […] confession time: despite previous posts, every once in a while, I deeply enjoy lapsing into escapism with a good romance novel. I do mean a […]


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