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It's Lit!



Ok, I like bodice rippers. I thought I'd put that out there. I like steamy, sexy, hot, trashy books in which there's a lot of drama and lots of sex between men. Yep, I like romance novels. I think my lifelong affair with bodice rippers started when I was about thirteen or fourteen (I don't remember. It's been awhile) and I was visiting my aunt. My aunt had a house by the beach and we used to visit frequently. When I was little, I had no idea how wonderful it was to have a house that had a backyard that was almost literally ON the beach. All I wanted to do when I visited was get in my swimming trunks and go splash around. But one day all that changed.

After being all day at the beach we would take a shower and pretend we cared about older people's conversations. My aunt's husband was my godfather and his stories were always super cool, though. I rather enjoyed listening to his tales of the olden times and whatnot. We would usually sit in a room off the main entrance, a cool, comfy room with two big windows looking at a garden with some truly epic monstera plants and  and all the books your little heart could desire. My aunt (and my mom) were avid readers and I had always been surrounded by their book collections. One afternoon, my godfather had decided to smoke his cigar (he seemed to favor huge cuban cigars that never seemed to be fully smoked) and I decided to go check the books. There were many, many old books there. Some of the usual suspects, of course: Navokob, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Neruda, Garcia M谩rquez, Foucault, DeBeauvoir. The lot. But as I dug deeper, I found a treasure trove of... romance novels.



The first romance novel I read was The Sheik, by E.M. Hull. It was wedged between some old edition of 1984 and a tattered copy of Jane Eyre. I told you that collection WAS eclectic. The thing is, the book was pretty nondescript: A simple blue cover with some gold border and the title in the middle. I have no idea why it called my attention. Was it the simple title? The author's initials? I have no idea. But I sat down on the floor and started reading. And that was it. I was hooked.

Of course, looking back I can see how problematic the novel was (unbridled Orientalism, kidnapping, coercion, probably Stockholm syndrome, rape, you name it, it had it) but I was enthralled. I asked for the book and took it home. My aunt didn't even blink. My mom had let me read anything I wanted since I was like, twelve, so it was not a big deal. I read the book in one afternoon. And then I re-read it. I was hooked. During our next visit to my aunt, I did not go straight to the beach. I went straight to her library and dug in the books. I found what seemed to be the second part of the novel: Sons of the Sheik. And off I went to a corner of the garden and read most of it that day. 

There was something in the dynamics of the books that kept me hooked. I was totally attracted to the dark, handsome and super dangerous alpha males in the books. There was a side of them that was sensual and powerful that kept me enthralled. Of course, I did not dwell in the redemption arcs that the authors created for their Byronic heroes or the impossibly sexist way the female protagonists were seen. I liked the IDEA of a passion so strong that the guy could not think straight (tee-hee!) and just had to have the object of his affection at any costs. That kept me reading. Talk about a gay teen having unrealistic ideas of what love could be. In any case, I went on to read most of the romance novels I found in my aunt's library. I read paperbacks and hardcovers and some I kept for years and years (I lost track of that copy of The Sheik many years ago, but now I have it in my iPad).

I still read romance novels. I find them relaxing and fun. Sheer escapism. I prefer 'real' books but I have a ton of short and long M/M romance novels in my Kindle. Also, Huntley keeps sending me links to free books and I keep downloading them. They come handy when I'm in super boring meetings or when I travel (or traveled, I have not been on a plane for more than a year now) and also when I want to read in the middle of the night (I have some very weird sleep patterns). I find the flights of fancy they provide refreshing and their inability to be completely tethered to reality truly liberating. Nothing like reading some mindless, fun book to get away -even for an hour or two- from the harsh realities of a racist, sexist, conspiracy-theory prone country in the throes of a pandemic. 

So bring the buff, sexy, sensitive alpha males looking for love in all the wrong places on! And let's get this party started. 

XOXO



P.S. I've watched the Valentino movie based on the book, of course. Three times. And if you're curious, Project Gutemberg has a free copy of The Sheik. I think it became public domain a few years ago. And in case you needed proof of my reading habits, here you go:







Comments

  1. I need to make more time to read. Get off Twitter and my news sites for a bit and enjoy some mindless reading. My kindle and nook app libraries are filled with books I’ve downloaded but have yet to read. And when I’m sitting at the polling place the m/m romance novels are my go to in the slow periods. Nothing like a bit of man on man sex to pass the time.

    XOXO 馃懆‍❤️‍馃拫‍馃懆

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahah same!
      Lately, I have made sure that I read a little every night before going to bed. Reading for pleasure is just so relaxing!

      XOXO

      Delete
  2. I am already on my 20th book for the year, this one is a bio-history of a victorian housekeeper. A friend talked me into reading 50 Shades of Gray, I kept thinking, well when is going to get kinky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay you!
      That's awesome. I think I have only read two books this year. And they were anthologies. 50 Shades is boring as hell. Mommy porn, my friend calls it: badly written and uninspiring.

      XOXO

      Delete
  3. When I was young, Harold Robbins was all the rage. I can remember reading most of his novel The Adventurers but lost interest about 3/4 of the through. I found I was more interested in the story, which was weak, then the tawdry sex, of which there was a lot and why it was a bestseller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, but well written sex absolutely enhances a story.
      People who have bad sex write sex badly.

      XOXO

      Delete
  4. I discovered romance novels in a similar way and at a similar age. I would often stay with my cousin during the school holidays and his mother, my aunt, had a large collection. She also loved the classic romance films of the 1940s and 1950s and we would sometimes watch them together. This gay teen also had dreams of falling in love with a tall, dark and handsome man and riding off into the sunset with him. I still do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG really?
      And yes to the classics from the 40's and 50's. I find them so much more fun than most of the modern romcoms. And riding into the sunset with a tall, dark and handsome man? *sigh*

      XOXOX

      Delete
  5. I love good escapist reading, especially when the escape involves a couple of hot men.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha
      Same! I think that's why I like romance novels. They're light, they're sexy and they're fun.

      XOXO

      Delete
  6. Too busy creating and living the stories you are reading about. No time to read for pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually like reading for pleasure.
      I had to read for school for way too long (and those were BORING, honey) so now when I get the chance to read for fun, I jump to it.

      XOXO

      Delete
    2. Yes, me too. I hated reading at school - the books were so boring. Lockdown and working from home has been great for reading. I have been using the time at the end of the day, when I am not commuting, to read lots of books, and I am loving it!

      Delete
    3. Same!
      Goddess, I had to read such horribly boring papers! With statistics! Ugh.
      During the pandemic I've gotten back to reading just because...

      XOXO

      Delete
  7. 50 Shades...is really, really bad. I tried reading it and couldn't get past 10 or 15 pages. Pure, plain, poor writing. Ugh. But, who doesn't love a trashy novel? One that can balance the story arc with the sex? (As I'm discovering, it's tough to do, I tell ya.) Here's a few by the guy who talked me into trying my hand at this whole writing smut thing: Leo Sparx. (https://www.amazon.com/Leo-Sparx/e/B08DK8RBQ2/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1) XOXO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes.
      50 Shades is badly written, clunky fanfic with no insight into BDSM. Imagine me writing a story about NASCAR, when all I know about it is TV commercials and the occasional documentary. It was atrocious.
      And you nailed: a good story and good sex? Bingo!
      And I'll have to try Leo!

      XOXO

      Delete
  8. you will not believe it but I have written, obviously in Italian, some short homoerotic stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Xersex!
      Now I'm going to have to read what you have written! My Italian is atrocious, but I think I could manage! Are they online? I wanna know!!


      XOXO

      Delete
    2. no, they're not online!

      Delete
    3. I would be interested to read some of your stories.

      Delete
  9. Oh, dear. What a lovely childhood memory. You captured it so well. I wish I'd been exposed to the ocean at such a young age. Sigh. How nice that you found a passion. I'm currently in love with Edith Wharton. Her novels are actually romance novels coached in Victorian social norms. Very interesting stuff and she writes so wittily. Thank you for sharing your memories. Adore. Kizzes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww thanks, Upton.
      It always stayed with me. I guess it was pivotal in the sense that it made me realize I really liked to read. Edith Wharton is so cool. Everybody goes for The Age of Innocence but I really like her short stories better.

      XOXO

      Delete
  10. When I was 16, I read half a Harlequin Romance novel (involving a male doctor and a female nurse, if I recall correctly) and threw it across the room in disgust. I never read another trashy romance novel. But trashy romance novels ultimately got their revenge on me. Now in my dotage, I am hopelessly addicted to Captain America/Winter Soldier fanfiction, as you know. Every trope from old timey Harlequins is found in them, plus a lot of new ones too. Written by women, for women, as most fanfiction is. SEND HELP!!!!! No, really, LOL, I can stop anytime I want to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha I can imagine!
      Trashy romance novels are fantastic! And I love fanfic. The Captain America/Winter soldier stories are soooo addictive! I love the M/M online communities. There are online boards brimming with the stuff. I went on a bender a year or two ago reading about the Winchesters. Wincest was a thing for me for the longest time!
      Yeah, we can stop any time we want. Right? RIGHT? LOL

      XOXO

      Delete
  11. Now I want a colonial-style library filled with books (of course), Monstera and palms. And I want to find that book of The Mother's that I flicked through many, many years ago that included a bit with a naked, dark haired man carrying a silver tray laden with some sort of libations to some strumpet. And the best bit? The description of his erect cock pushed up against the soft, black hair of his flat stomach by the tray!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha
      Yes! Monstera and palms and warm weather go great with a book!
      And sometimes our mothers and aunts surprise us with those unexpected reading habits!
      If you find the book, let us know! I want to read about the naked, dark haired man too.

      XOXO

      Delete

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