A Brief History of Bodice Rippers

blogdimenovelHello all & Happy Saturday! It’s still miserably hot & humid down here in Dixie Land, but I saw my first flock of pretty lemon yellow butterflies this morning, so the end is nigh. The end of Summer, I mean. No Doomsday prophecies here, folks. Just glad tidings about butterflies & a very brief history of the romance genre.

By the way, in case you’re curious about the yellow butterflies, harbingers of Autumn, they’re called Cloudless Sulphurs. These butterflies migrate South every year toward the end of hot weather. They don’t get in a big hurry & you may see a host of them as late as December in the South. My heart is gladdened every year when I see them floating gracefully through the air, because I know our days of miserably high temps are winding down.

Moving right along, let’s touch on the history of the romance genre, also known as bodice rippers. I’m not sure that I’ve actually read a book about a bodice being ripped, although chances are that I have at some point in time. Nowadays rape is basically a taboo subject for romance books. But back in the day when Sweet Savage Love, The Flame and the Flower and others of their ilk were published, it wasn’t uncommon for  a heroine to be taken against her will and thoroughly ravished by the hero before they fell in love and lived Happily Ever After. It seems likely that our sexy but male chauvinist heroes did rip a few bodices.

FYI: The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, was the first single title romance published and sold as an original paperback in the US.

Mills and Boon, sold in the US by Harlequin Enterprises, published “category” romances and sold through direct marketing to readers as well as mass market outlets. These books were considered “escapist fiction” during the 1930s when they first appeared. Despite all of the old sayings about life back in the Good Old Days, if you stop and think about it, women didn’t have it all that good. They didn’t have most of our modern conveniences like dishwashers, microwaves or central heat and air. No wonder they wanted to escape!

But the history of the romance genre goes back further than the 1930s. Way back in 1740, a man named Samuel Richardson wrote and published a novel titled “Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded.”

Pamela is a maidservant whose mistress dies and shortly afterwards, the young master begins trying to seduce or rape her. She manages to escape several of his predatory plots to deflower her and eventually realizes she’s in love with him and as he reciprocates her affections, they marry and live HEA. It sounds like an exciting story although a member of the gentry marrying so far beneath him stretches credibility.

In the 1830s, paperback books named “penny dreadfuls” were all the rage with Victorians. These were usually sensationalized, highly illustrated stories and were much loved by the citizenry of that era. Penny Dreadful romances were often shared and passed from hand to hand by female readers who would anxiously  await the next installment in the serial type novels.

In the 1890s, books called “dime novels” came into being. These covered several genres including cowboys, mystery and suspense, detective stories and romance.

From Samuel Richardson’s Pamela to Brontë’s Jayne Eyre, Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice and of course an old favorite written by E. M. Hull, The Sheik, (if you haven’t read this one you should) on up to famous romance novelists such as Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer, Jayne Ann Krentz and many others….romance books appeal to a broad segment of the population worldwide. It has been said that the romance genre is the most popular and least respected of all. This might well be true.

But we don’t care what anyone thinks about romance books, do we? If you’re like me and adore reading a good love story, not to worry about what some of the more highbrow people in your social circle might think. Romance novels are the most widely read of any, so you’re in good company if these books are your genre of choice.

Happy reading!

 

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Happy Labor Day!

Hope all of you are having a safe and happy holiday. As for me, I remain sequestered in the house until I’m sure I can’t spread hand, foot and mouth disease.

Everyone says “I thought only cows got that.”

No, that’s hoof and mouth disease, thank you.

But anyway here I am, on the brink of cabin fever. I got some writing done today on my new book which will be the first spin-off story. The series will still be Forever Cowboys, but the newest books will also be “A Wolf Pass Diner Romance.”

I’m excited about this book. The hero was introduced in Book 6, Finding Forever. He’s a Native American cowboy named John Two Eagles. John was a champion rodeo rider and won some big prizes before he was injured and dropped out of the rodeo circuit. He worked for Trey Masterson, Marielle’s husband, for a few years and saved enough money between that job and rodeo prize money to buy his own ranch.

John is tall, dark and handsome with a body that won’t quit. He hasn’t built those 8 pack abs working out at a gym, either. His muscles are from working hard every day around his spread. When he was a rodeo star, he had buckle bunnies—rodeo groupies who follow rodeo riders like regular groupies follow rock stars—panting for him. But, while John has a healthy appreciation for a pretty girl, he has made establishing himself as a successful rancher his top priority.

So he’s dated a lot, but no serious relationships. John has a fixed idea in his head about what kind of wife he wants. No social butterflies or party girls, nobody too froufrou to help him around the ranch if need be during calving or branding season. He wants a down-to-earth, wholesome western girl who knows how to cook for a crew during roundup or drive the truck when there’s hay to be loaded and gotten into the barn loft. No pampered princess mincing around in high heels would fit in on ranch life, he’s sure of that.

Our heroine, Layla, is a friend of Lola’s that has come to visit and ends up staying in Wolf Pass for a while. A socialite who attended an exclusive girl’s school followed by an Ivy League college, Layla was born into old money and has never done a day’s work in her life. She does do a little volunteer work back in New York City and is on the board of several charities, as well, because she has been raised to believe that “their kind of people” are supposed to do these things.Slim and petite with silvery blonde hair and blue eyes, Layla is a beauty who doesn’t seem to have a serious thought in her elegantly coiffed head.

Layla knows that she’ll marry within her family’s exalted social circle—some Harvard grad with a prestige job in his family’s firm. Well bred with exquisitely charming manners and carefully groomed so that a career in politics might be ahead, her future mate will be someone suave and sleek. He’ll conform to what’s expected of him and take a wife who will be an asset to him in his rise to the top.

Does this sound anything like the type of female John Two Eagles has in mind for a future wife?

Does John sound anything like the sophisticated man in a designer suit who Layla sees as her future husband?

But from the instant John and Layla see each other at the Wolf Pass Diner, sparks fly and the air around them is almost electrically charged. Each considers the other unsuitable for a romantic partner, but they’re drawn together like magnets.

Any romance between these two is bound to be turbulent and full of excitement. I can’t wait to tell their story!

Well, time to watch a couple of episodes of Teen Wolf. I love this TV show and was hooked from the first episode. Now I’m in the fifth and last season and will be sad when I watch the last episode. Who knew werewolves could so nice….and sexy, too?

Why Cowboys are Sexy

If you love reading about sexy cowboys, have you ever stopped to wonder just what makes cowboys so hot?

What, exactly, is the “It” factor with cowboys? Why do they figure so prominently in contemporary romantic fiction as well as historical romantic fiction?

Well, part of their appeal probably lies in their chivalry and manners toward women. Cowboys in general tend to revere womanhood and treat females as cherished treasures to be protected and nurtured at all costs. I don’t care how modern you are, ladies, within every woman there beats the heart of a female who responds to this reverence for her fair sex like a flower opening up under the sun and rain.

Most of us thrill to a man with courtly manners.

Here’s the thing about cowboys—not only do they have handsome manners but they’re strong and macho to boot. And speaking of boots, the cowboy ensemble is attractive: cowboy hats, boots, well worn jeans hugging a cute little tush, the whole enchilada.

Your average cowboy is a man among men with quick reflexes and nerves of steel. He can fight with his gun or his fists. He rides tall in the saddle with his head held high. He has a six pack and well muscled biceps that weren’t acquired with steroids and working out at the local gym. Instead, the cowboy has built up his remarkably hot bod breaking wild horses, throwing and branding cattle, pitching bales of hay and other ranch type chores.

Cowboys have a tendency to be the strong, silent type. They have a sexy drawl when they do speak. They’re often slow moving with measured, seemingly casual movements, but can move fast and strike like a rattlesnake when the occasion demands it. You just know that a cowboy’s slow, deliberate movements will carry over into the bedroom where he’s a lover who can last for hours, taking his time to make sure his woman gets the ultimate thrills.

Take Sam Elliott, for example. One of his most famous roles was that of a cowboy in The Sacketts, based on the series of western novels by Louis L’Amour. Not that Sam isn’t incredibly sexy in any part he plays. But as a cowboy, you could roll him in cow manure and I’d still be happy for him to hang his hat from my bedpost.

There may be all sorts of deep seated psychological reasons for why women usually find cowboys sexy. But maybe it’s enough just to know that they are and be glad there are authors who choose to write about these hunky heroes so we can read about them and fall a little bit in love with every one.

Check out this one in my upcoming Book Two in the Forever Cowboys series:

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For anybody who might notice that this one is a little bit different than the previous cover, I tweaked it. Same sexy cowboy, just a different background that I think illustrates his locale in Wyoming.

I’m working hard to get this sexy cowboy’s story finished by the first of April and it will be available on Amazon Kindle, so I hope you make time to read it. His name is Ben Connors. Isn’t he absolutely adorable while oozing male sex appeal from his pores?