1. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Romance Watch two Sci-Fi nerds read a Romance Novel

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Commandante Lemming, Jan 12, 2016.

    So, recently, there was a thread on this site about the respectability of Romance novels, and I chimed in with a few words about how I think SFF writers and Romance writers should see each other comrades-in-arms - insomuch as we both write plot driven genre fiction that often gets derided as inferior by the literary establishment.

    One thing led to another, it was about midnight, and somewhere in there I dared the other SciFi writers on the thread to join me in actually READING a genre Romance. We were all commenting on the genre - and we all complain about how we dread writing romantic subplots - so it seemed like a win-win. That, and it was a great opportunity for a hilarious weekly-journal thread.

    @Cave Troll actually took me up on the dare, and @aikoaiko suggested "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie when I asked for an example of a "good Romance" in terms of being respected in the community. It also won a Rita Award, so I guess that makes it objectively "good" at least in terms of awards from within the genre. That and @BayView noted how subjective "good" is in Romance, and the Crusie is a bit light and fluffy for her...this actually sealed the deal because what could be funnier than watching two starships-and-lasers types read a particularly fluffy Romance?

    So, we have our copies and have agreed to read two chapters per week - posting on Wednesdays. So, you all get our thoughts on Chapters 1-2 tomorrow. Hopefully this will be fun for fans of both SFF and Romance to read.

    Also, if any Romance writers are interested in joining us on this escapade (particularly anyone who doesn't usually engage with Science Fiction), I have a dare for you. Pick up a copy of Cixin Liu's "The Three-Body Problem" and start a companion thread titled "Romance Novelists read Hard SciFi".

    Here's to genre fiction, and here goes nothing!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  2. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So...Chapters 1 and 2. This is going to be an interesting ride. I'll admit, about two thirds of the way through Chapter 1, I wanted to gouge out my own ears (I'm doing the audiobook), mostly because I found both of the romantic leads unlikable. However, a bit later on, the supporting cast saved it for me, and I'll be interested to see how some of this stuff resolves.

    Our protagonist, Minerva "Min" Dobbs, has been dumped by her boyfriend for refusing to sleep with him and is now without a date to her sister's wedding. Her friends push her to ask out the most handsome guy in the bar, Cal Morrissey. Meanwhile, Cal's friends spot Min and try to bet him $10,000 that he can't sleep with her (led by her ex who thinks it's a sucker bet). He protests and protests but ends up going along with part of it to get away from his own ex-girlfriend when she enters the conversation. Meanwhile, Min actually overhears part of this (missing the $10,000 detail and thinking it's $10) and decides to string Cal along and then dump him as punishment.

    All of this was rather off-putting because I've seen romantic bet premises before. Cal comes off as self-absorbed and shallow - redeemed only by the fact that he has ethics and his friends don't. Min is likeable enough at first, she's quick witted and I like the decision to cast an insecure, slightly overweight actuary as a romantic lead - but after she meets Cal she spends most of the time insulting him and being mean. So, we've got a shallow man-child and a person who wants to take out her romantic frustrations by being mean to him. Yeah, not fun.

    HOWEVER, the end of Chapter 1 sets up three more romantic duos that actually interest me. Min's friends, Liza and Bonnie, smell a rat and decide to seduce Cal's buddies, Tony and Rodger, to figure out what's going on. This I like. Tony is a sexist lunkhead who brags about his high school football glory days - Liza is a sexy but mean-spirited female fatale. I hate Tony so much that I'm happy to watch Liza eat him alive. Rodger is socially inept, shy and obsessed with petite women...Bonnie is an overly-sweet, very tiny Southern Belle. He's hooked instantly and will probably tell her anything.

    However, I think the best pairing is Min's ex, David, with Cal's ex, Cynthi. David is the instigator of the bet, which he now has to hide from Cynthi. Strangely, he's actually the most relatable male character despite being the villain of sorts - because in his POV we see how tortured he is by his insecurities. Cynthi actually reminds me of some sci-fi world building technique because she's a psychologist and locally-renowned dating guru. So, she's the scientist character who breaks down what we're supposed to be watching for as it unfolds...and the author does indeed start dropping clues based on all of the stuff Cynthi says. Granted, seeing as her own love life is in tatters, partially based on her application of her own advice, I expect some of her "science" to be unreliable in it's application.

    There are some elements that throw me off, especially as a male reader given how deeply unsympathetic all of the male characters are. However, I do think Jennifer Crusie is very good at what she's doing. She's assembled four separate couples and arranged them such that the differing levels of knowledge of the opening bet create a ticking time bomb that could blow up in everyone's face. I can definitely see why this book won a Rita Award. The construction is great.

    Now let's see if it holds me for another week.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  3. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I agree with with Commandante Lemming, that supporting characters are what keeps it equaled out. Sure there are a few good burns, and one-liners to keep it entertaining.

    I am not really sure what to say, but it won't be as elaborate or as eloquent. Well here goes, I guess. :D (I apologize for my raw style, it's my first time doing a review.)

    While I found the three ladies at the bar (Min, Bonnie, and Liza), I found their treatment of the male characters to be less than they are. While it they do say some funny things, it makes me (as a male) feel that this is how their male counterparts are to be seen by the female characters.

    David in a drunken haze makes a bet ($10,000) with Cal, that he won't have sex with Min. Tony tries to make a $10 bet with Cal that Min thinks is about whether, Cal will date her or not. Although Min does not know that it was a bet between Tony and Cal on a different woman entirely, but she only hears the money portion as she is looking to make a move on David. Little bit later Cal goes to pick up Min, after she is back to the bar. She agrees to go on a date with Cal on the basis of 'free food', and not interest.

    Cal comes off as tacky and cocky, trying to play mister slick with his reluctant date Min. In a way it is fun to watch the two go out on a 'date', as Min plays hard to get while Cal lays it on thick. He walks with her to a new restaurant, playing the 'I can guess this and that about you' game, trying to soften her up to his
    'charming' persona. They get to the restaurant which an old buddy of Cal's happens to own. His friend Emilio makes a play for Min, even though later it is revealed that Emilio is a married man. The date goes awkwardly, with Min resisting bread and wine because of her negative self image. Not that Cal's description of her through his eyes is going to help the matter much. He does find some of her facial features pleasing, like her lips.

    After surviving through the first two chapters, I am mixed on how it is going. The male characters are treated like goofy monkeys, that the female characters can do as they please with. David seems to be the most grounded character, and the rest all seem to have an agenda. Cal is the rich playboy, who typically does not go out with women like Min, and comes off like a teenage boy to a degree. Min just doesn't want to feel like a loser for not having a date to her sisters wedding, and dump him as retribution for being picked up on because of a bet. The rest of the characters are kind of back seat players for me at the moment offering comic relief. So far it is a love/hate sort of read, based on the first couple of chapters.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have nothing to add at the moment save for the fact that I am in love with the idea behind this thread and shall be watching with intent. :)
     
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  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks Wrey! Going to be an interesting ride for sure.
     
  6. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    I read heaps of romances and I've never been a fan of Jennifer Cruise. I suppose I find her light and fluffy too if I tried really hard to remember the vibe her novels gave me. A lot of well loved authors out there and I'm always surprised she gets mentioned. The fact that she is the reading material here has me totally disinterested in this thread. Sorry!
     
  7. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    Although I should add, I'd be very interested in a couple of Sci-Fi nerds having a stab at something like Nalini's Singh's Psy Changling series. This falls into the paranormal romance category but I'm interested in thoughts as far as world building compared to the Sci-Fi genre. :)
     
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  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @LinnyV The thread is about two Sci-Fi guys who don't read romance, that are reviewing a romance book that was suggested.

    I have some side projects to my sequel novel that I work on. One takes place in a modern setting with money and guns being from a fictional universe, because they are not important compared to the characters. Like a currency called Ulinars, and a pistol called a Z5-Harrison. Nothing about it has a lick of sci-fi in it, more like a parallel universe that has some slight differences. :D
     
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  9. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    @LinnyV The point was to go as far out of comfort zone as possible, hence a contemporary choice rather than paranormal. Actually paranormal would kind of feel like cheating. Also we don't normally read this stuff so we had to rely on recommendations. Like anything we got a diverse set of suggestions and had to grab something. Honestly I'm satisfied with the choice because I'm picking up on how all of the same tricks I'd deploy in plot building are being used the same way, but on a smaller scale.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
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  10. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    It's just an opinion, as a crazy romance reader (multiple books a week when I have time to read), I've have never enjoyed Jennifer Cruise and she is on my auto-ignore list. When I think of Jennifer Cruise, I do think 'light'. There are authors out there who feature in the best sellers list and have readers panting for the next in their series. I don't think she is it or that she is representative of the kind of romances us romance addicts enjoy. But again, that's just my opinion.

    One of the things I've always wondered is if the world building done in romances would seem tacky or lightweight compared to other genres, especially that of Sci-Fi. Paranormal romance authors invest heavily in building their worlds (some probably go overboard after a few books), with extended story arcs and interleaving time lines and story crossovers. I think Kresley Cole is the one those authors but she manages to tie it all together book after book so it's amazing to me. The world keeps getting bigger and more and more stories keep coming out and we keep buying and buying. If she said she'd stop writing the series tomorrow, a lot of us would cry, we're very invested in these worlds. So it is something I am curious about...are we the romance readers crazy or are these books really as good as they seem to us. That kind of experiment would be of more interest me and I wouldn't consider it cheating to understand if Sci-Fi authors include the same elements but do it differently. And if this is about Sci-Fi and Romance authors joining arms and what not...Maybe both genre is writing the same stuff but only one has more romance in it????

    And Romance authors cover all types of stories, parallel universe, time travel, futuristic, urban fantasy, contemporary suspense. I was just very disappointed that Cruise was chosen, she seemed such a 'vanilla' and boring example. I have to admit, I wasn't even interested in either feedback as soon as I saw her name.

    I don't mean to offend, just being honest. Ah dammit...I don't think I can 'leave' this thread as such so just ignore me.
     
  11. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @LinnyV Well that is great that you have a series you enjoy reading. :)

    It would not have mattered what book was chosen as long as it was a Romance novel (except 50 Shades Of Dull). The exercise is to have non Romance readers give their take on the genre. You seem to have some big thing against the author of the particular book that was chosen. There are bad or 'vanilla' (your word), authors in every genre. We understand that you like bashing Cruise, but what does it accomplish? There are plenty of Sci-Fi books with romance elements in them, they just don't dominate the story line. I think it all comes down to personal preference as to what a person looks for in a plot and story. Some of us like action, pain, and thought provoking adventures that are futuristic and have crazy world-scapes.

    Sure there are books out there where people bang aliens/monsters/hybrids, and that is fine cause that is the focus of the book. Some of us would rather it not be the main focus of the story, but just as an element of the characters. Love/sex is a great activity, but it doesn't provoke or challenge the mind with complex issues or situations. Perhaps you should read Issac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, it tackles all kinds of complex topics while having incredible worlds where they take place. To understand what others enjoy reading, you first have to read books that they enjoy. It is not an easy thing to step out of your comfort zone and read something you normally wouldn't, but you should give it a try before you go spouting off about how great one genre is over another. I don't personally like classic books, but I loved the Count of Monte Cristo. I like to bolster Clive Barker as the master of Horror, but that is just my opinion. I try to read outside of my preferred genre, because I like to read. Sometimes I find something I like, and others not so much. Being a one trick pony is kind of lame anyway. :D
     
  12. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    I shall be watching this thread as well.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is where the issue is arising. Romance readers get pretty used to being shit on and judged, and your stated goal is to "give your take on the genre" after reading only one book - and it's one that @LinnyV doesn't think will give you a good impression.

    If someone said they were going to offer a judgement on SF after reading a single book, and the book they chose was one you thought was stupid, would you be pleased?
     
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  14. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    To begin with I was never saying that one genre is better than another at all. Not sure where you got that impression. If anything that is not what I believe.

    And I am not really bashing Cruise other than to express rather forcefully, she's not what I would have chosen as a stab at a romance novel coming from a person who reads a lot of romance novels. And it is my opinion that I don't feel she is representative of all that romance genre has to offer. But it's just my opinion.

    And it's not about the sex or aliens banging whatever or whoever. I would say that one of my favorite romance of recent times has very little sex...What I loved most about that story was that it showed the hardships and prejudice the couple suffered and how they worked together as a team. Really drilled the idea of team work home and I loved it. I was given a solid romance and I loved the emotions it evoked.

    All I expressed was that here is an experiment I have no interest in and here is something I have always wondered but feel free to ignore me. It's just a burning thing that has been in the back of my mind.

    As far as reading outside your comfort zone and one trick ponies and whatever it is you are going on about. I read for my enjoyment, I write to my enjoyment. That is not relevant to what I was expressing in this thread. I was genuinely interested in what two sci fi nerds had to say about a romance but yes, saw the name cruise and I switched off. Can't be helped, sorry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
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  15. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I understand, we all have those authors that put us off. Primarily with what we are doing is breaking down the book itself and not the genre. It in no way reflects the genre as a whole because we are not deviating from the source material to simply rag on Romance. This is suppose to be somewhat entertaining and informative from a different perspective. I am sorry if I came off as saying all romance is just people falling in love and having intercourse, which is the main plot behind Romance is to have two or more parties fall in love. I apologize for my reaction to your earlier comments, but that is just how your tone sent me in that direction. As an aside, I don't have much of an opinion about the genre because I know little about it.

    The bottom line is this should not be an argument for or against Romance, there is already a thread for that.
     
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  16. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    I agree this was never about an argument for or against romance.

    Anyway, I really don't need to go on any more. Enjoy reading your romance novel, it certainly does nothing for me and I don't think Romance readers are running out to buy stories about 'goofy monkey' men heroes. I applaud you for trying to get through the material because I would certainly struggle. ;-)
     
  17. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    First with regard to paranormal Romance and world building - I've not read any but I would assume the world building in the good ones is top notch. Really those books are dual genre in both Fantasy and Romance, so I'd assume that the Fantasy elements have to be well done in order to work, and might even need to be more visceral given the relatively small scale and high emotional content that comes with the romance part.

    Depending on what you like to read, you might consider the book I listed up top, "The Three Body Problem", if you want to compare straight-up Hard SF to your paranormal romance. There were some wild world building elements in that one and it was entirely devoid of romantic subplotting.

    Also, on Crusie, I can totally see why people see her as fluffy. The book feels very much like a romantic comedy movie and nothing truly horrible is on the table in terms of stakes. Although, now having finished four chapters (report coming Wednesday), the draw of this particular book isn't the stakes or even the Romance for me, it's the complexity of the plot. It's light and funny but it has four romances that all interlock with eachother in weird ways and that's really interesting to me.
     
  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also with regard to the selection, I personally gravitated to this suggestion for the following reasons.

    1) A contemporary Romance was farther out of my comfort zone than either a paranormal or historical.
    2) This specific book won a Rita Award so there was something about it that people liked.
    3) The "light and fluffy" aspect interested me. I wanted to see what light and fluffy looked like if well executed - because I don't normally read light and fluffy.

    @BayView we're definitely not trying to pass judgement on whether or not the genre is good, just dipping a toe in it to see what it's like. And @LinnyV I hope you stick around this thread, not because you like the author but because you know the genre and can help us if we stumble over tropes or make overly broad assumptions.
     
  19. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh and you'll all like this - this project has now had knock on effects in my in-person writing group. We all got together yesterday and got talking about operating outside our comfort zone - at the same time I'm reading a Romance, a friend of mine who writes African-American historical fiction was experimenting by writing from the perspective of a white man, which she'd never done before. So, one thing led to another and three of us left with uncomfortable writing exercises that push us on genre and gender:

    A female friend of mine who writes sci-fi and is scared of Romance has to write a Romance piece from a male perspective.

    The African-American literary/historical writer has to write a Science Fiction piece from the perspective of an upper class white woman.

    And then there's me - I got the one thing that intimidates me more than Romance - Horror. And since I almost always write from a female perspective (despite being male) I have to write a gay male protagonist.

    So now I have TWO genre stretching projects...and I spent last night reading Call of Cthulu for the first time :p.
     
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  20. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    The reason I was strongly put off by this experiment is because:

    a) don't like Cruise, her story lines never appealed and from the couple of times I gave her a shot....*yawn*...never finished them, I wanted a refund!

    b) I get frustrated when people automatically assume the romance is light and fluffy, pages of frothiness that amounts to two people kissing, having sex and falling in love. My husband is an example, I want to put some action in my story or maybe a darker theme, and he will ask, "Isn't that a bit too much for a romance? You might scare the readers..." To which I yell, "What the hell do you think us romance readers read about?!" Response: blank face... *sigh*

    Sure Cruise got an award, I'm not surprised. There are always going to be readers who want a light and fluffy read or who want it absent of strong themes or foul language or god forbid, SEX! Not saying that Cruise doesn't have sex, just that there are going to be a range of readers with different tolerances. As someone who loves her books filled with action, interesting places and story lines and of course, steamy love scenes, Cruise isn't on my radar.

    When I've been asked give recommendation by women who have never read a romance, I generally steer away from the outlandish stuff if they're older (paranormal) and recommend someone safe like "Linda Howard" for a contemporary/suspense. These people, I suspect, will also enjoy Cruise because I feel this author is an easy read.

    And the other thing, based on the many complaints from online reviews which reflects what I feel, I hate a romance that does not focus on the main couple. And when authors dedicate too many pages to secondary characters, us readers get cranky. So you've just put me off Cruise some more...hehe.

    But thanks for the recommendation, I'll get around to looking that up but it's not my opinion that I'm curious about because I can get that any time, it was that of Sci-Fi nerds about romance. However, I am getting you guys really want to read a light and fluffy romance, whatever works for you both. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  21. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is actually a really interesting point to me - as the ONLY thing that makes me interested in this book at all is the number of side characters. I tend to gravitate strongly toward large-cast ensemble dramas - so it's an interesting point to me that you prefer to get really deep down into the main couple rather than adding complexity. It's not my game but that actually makes a lot of sense to me.

    Also I wanted to point out that the reason I gravitated to lighter subject matter isn't because I think that's what Romance is - but rather because it's something I can't do, and don't normally read. I was genuinely curious about how that sort of thing gets executed from a construction standpoint - where the stakes were, how tension was built, etc. When I need tension I ruin someone's life, kill a bunch of helpless extras, or send the world hurtling toward disaster, so subtler ways of doing that interested me.

    That and I think it's funny that we unknowingly opened up a can of worms in the Romance community - seeing as all I did was pick one out of two recommendations out of a lineup - the other one was longer and historical, and I was thinking contemporary.

    Oh and I looked up that Changeling series - and actually your worldbuilding question interests me in the sense of how one might do that if the storyline is so tight and intimate on two people. Looks like interesting stuff -and from the looks of it calibrated toward more high tension. http://nalinisingh.com/books/psychangeling-series.
     
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  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Writing a romance with plenty of focus on side characters is really hard. They tend to be on the short side for novels - about 80k - and to take a relationship from (usually) the point of two people to meeting, falling in love, and then battling through sufficiently difficult obstacles to their happily ever after, is HARD in 80k words. Especially if you want to avoid insta-love, which I did (from what I've seen on romance reader discussions, I'm not the only one who finds it eye-rolly where they meet on Tuesday and would die for each other on Wednesday).

    So it's enough of a challenge to write a convincing, sufficiently developed romance at a commercial length without dedicating page space to other characters. That's why you don't find it often and, if you do, I expect the two MCs won't have the best character development.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
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  23. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well - it's Wednesday, which means reviews are due for chapters Three and Four (for what it's worth the book has a total of 17 chapters so we're going to be at this for 9-10 weeks total).

    Our plot has thickened considerably, and while the overall theme still has a lot of Rom-Com elements, this is no longer a total screwball comedy. The emotional stakes are indeed getting higher for everyone involved, and once again the side characters are the ones carrying the day and putting emotional weight on the protags.

    In Chapter 3 we get to see the ongoing preparations for the older sister's wedding to which our protagonist, Min, needs a date in the first place. First off, we get to see that Min's mother, Nanette, is a witch with a capital B who puts too much pressure on her adult daughters for anyone's good. She's borderline unbelievable, having purposefully ordered Min's bridesmaid attire too small to force her to lose weight - and ragging on her underwear choice as unlikely to attract a husband. Seriously, woman?! I'm a dude and that offend the living hell out of me. But she's certainly an effective instrument to inflict emotional trauma.

    Also, who would be so into Roman mythology that she named her two daughters - get this - Diana and Minerva?

    Speaking of older-sister Diana, that's where things start to actually get interesting. It's clear that, for all the preparations, there seems to be some unspoken, brewing tension Diana and her offscreen fiance (whose name I cannot remember for the life of me). Of course Diana protests that everything is fine and she's just tired, but we all know better. The implication is that the wedding is a bit rushed - and I'm going to take a wild guess that the whole thing is going to come crashing down somewhere around the end of Act 2. That of course will leave Diana crushed and might send the end of our story down a darker path than I expected.

    Oh - and in a random moment of creepiness - my own story also features a lot of emotional drama surrounding my protagonist's older sister, also named Diana. So that weirded me out - especially since mentally I've superimposed the image of my own Diana onto Min's Diana. Shudder.

    Anyway, Chapter four gets us back to the main action by revealing that Min's friend Bonnie and Cal's friend Rodger are smitten with each other - to the point where both of them are hearing wedding bells in their heads after less than 24 hours and planning like 3 meet-ups over the next week. Credit to Crusie here for pulling an "insta-love" plot that's actually believable - both Rodger and Bonnie have been set up as the type of people who actually think in such ways, and the entire rest of the cast thinks they're both nuts. So it works. It also sets up a nice contrivance by which Min and Cal are forced to see each other again in that their friends are now joined at the hip - with Min's friends essentially trying to background-check Rodger and Cal's crowd doing the same to Bonnie. Of course, on thing leads to another and (with the encouragement of a $10 bet from Tony the village idiot) Cal asks Min out to lunch to swap info about Rodger and Bonnie.

    Also, David and Cynthi have been plotting about how to throw up obstacles for Min and Cal - or David has. Cynthi thinks she can scientifically prove that Cal will come back to her based on relationship science, but her sowing up at the bar the next night and interrupting the group shows she's worried. They've been positioned as interesting villains, and Cynthi in particular is fun to watch grapple with her faith in her own "scientific" dating advice (which doesn't look all that sound).

    We end with Min meeting Cal for lunch in a park where he and Tony are coaching youth baseball (okay, even Tony has a soul I guess)...which is a bit contrived. And they have a nice talk on a park bench, while getting interrupted by Cal's annoying nephew. Cal thinks it's funny to tempt foodie Min with donuts that mess up her pre-wedding diet - one thing lead to another and eventually they share a chocolate icing-laced kiss. Honestly, this messed with me. I actually like Min's love of food as a quirk, but if they bring it up again and again, it's also going to get old. Also, I didn't think Crusie did a great job of clarifying when Min's mouth was empty - which actually led to some really gross mental visual with the kissing and the donuts.

    All in all - pretty good. Like the introduction of the Diana subplot - which adds emotional depth. Also liked the revelation that Liza, Min's friend who played sexy femme fatale in Chapter 1, is the least professionally successful of the group, can't hold a job, and is thinking about going back into waitressing when her friends are moving up the professional ladder. She may be the "pretty one", but that doesn't make her the best catch. We also got to see Cal's home life, and the fact that he and his lesbian neighbor, Shanna, get together and complain about the women in their lives (which was a funny reversal of the tire "gay best friend" trope.). Shanna's the bartender at the bar where a lot of the action happens, and I have a feeling she's going to end up with Liza, who is seeking her out for information about Cal and his boys. And there's even a fun little subplot where we figure out that Min is obsessed with Elvis Pressley while Cal is obsessed with Elvis COSTELLO. The worldbuilding, if you can call it that, is fun to watch.

    However, I still think the weakest scenes are the ones between Min and Cal, who are supposed to be our primary romance. I think mostly this boils down to the fact that I'm not a huge fan of Cal as a character, and he actually can get a little boring. Min is more interesting but her and call are both pretty sharp-tongued and don't seen to gel. I like Min with her friend but not with Cal, and Cal actually worked well paired up with Shanna. But Cal and Min alone just aren't working for me.

    Overall, though, the way this plot is constructed is fascinating.
     
  24. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I have to say that things are getting a bit more serious.

    Not much caring for Cynthie seeing as she uses her skills as a psychologist to manipulate men. Some how she believes that Cal will come running back to her fairly quick, at least that is what she tells David. Though the two are out to dinner they are not an item. Although, Cal and Cynthie are not an item, nor has it been said that they really ever were.

    Cal is not the slick smooth talker the author wanted us to believe he is. He comes off more of a gentleman while walking Min back to her apartment. She still has her reservations of him, but likes the way his butt looks when they walk up the steps to her apartment. At the top of the steps Min gets accidentally elbowed in the eye by Cal, and gets somewhat annoyed by it. Cal makes sure she is alright, and tells her to "Have a nice life". Kind of an asinine move on his part, but to his credit Min did treat him like a jerk.

    Min winds up being late to the bridal boutique for her dress fitting as a bridesmaid. She feels she is too fat to fit in the corset that accompanies the dress. Mentioning it to her mother, who pokes fun at Min's taste in plain cotton under garments. Her mother feels that she will be less appealing at her age unless she starts wearing lacy underwear. We also get to meet Min's sisters Diana, Wet, and Worse. They are kind of an odd lot. According to Min, Diana's fiance is kind of a doormat, and rightly so considering he sounds like the kind of guy to be as such.

    Cal makes another bet with Tony at the bar, that Cal cannot get Min to go to lunch with him for $10. Cal takes the bet and wins the ten. Earlier in the day they are talking about the ladies at their office. Cal gets home pours a drink trying to relax, but is bothered by the blaring music coming from his neighbors house. He goes over and comforts his lesbian neighbor, who recently broke up with a woman after about two weeks. Apparently she falls into love to quickly with the women she dates. Cal stays with her for a bit, helps her feel better and tells her she over plays Elvis Costello.

    Min and her friends have a get together at Bonnie's apartment, after stopping by Emilio's for salad and bread. They sit and chat for the evening, and Min tries to keep them from bringing up Cal. She strongly dislikes the him as a guy for dating, and doesn't want to see him again.

    Saturday rolls around and she has a lunch date with call at a park in a rich area of town. Min only agrees to meet with him on the condition he give her ten dollars for the meeting. He does, and she gives him back the twenty he gave her on their first date. Min didn't feel right having it after he agreed to not be a charmer toward her. We meet his nephew who he coaches little league for, during the lunch date. The little boy manages to make Cal feel jealous, as he gets attention from Min. They send the boy to another bench to wait for his mother to come and get him, giving him a dohnut to eat as he waits. Cal and Min have a small childish exchange about her not wanting to have a dohnut after indulging in a brat. After pinching her nose, he manages to pop a piece of the pastry into her mouth which she savors. He manages a to sneak in a second piece into her mouth, and he goes in for the kiss as she licks chocolate frosting from her lip. Another follows and Min kisses him back.

    The comedic side seems to have been toned down, in favor giving the characters a more mature quality. Cynthie in my opinion does a few questionable things as a psychologist. That and I think she is a manipulative B. I kinda figured Min and Cal would get together, seeing as all the arrows pointed that direction. It was also cute in the way they go back and forth during lunch, leading up to the kiss. I feel that the author sort of forced the budding relationship a little too quickly, in my opinion. They have only seen each other twice and now they are hooking up. Cal is starting to look like a decent guy, and Min is coming off a little wish washy. She hates him and likes him all at the same time. What? My thoughts on the peripheral characters are about the same, they are more or less filler between the main plot points.
     
  25. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    We definitely agree on Cynthie. She's really starting to creep me out.
     
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