Monday, November 23, 2009

Why I Stopped Reading M/F

There's been quite a bit of blogging around recently about why readers (more specifically female readers) have started reading m/m.

So over the next couple of days I thought I'd chart my own little journey.

I've been a pretty phased reader. I don't remember what I was reading before my teens possibly whatever was consider YA in the 70's early 80's. But my teens (14-18) was my horror phase - Stephen King, James Herbert, then a particularly nasty book which featured cannibalism put me off horror. Lol. And I ended up doing a literary 180 and started reading historical and contemporary romance.

I glommed. Most of my twenties was spent reading Johanna Lindsey, Jude Deveraux, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard (who remains a favourite), Judith McNaught, every Zebra Heartfire and Harlequin / Silhouette romance going.

At some point I think subconsciously, I began to be aware of a few things, mainly to do with a lot of the heroines of these stories.

I couldn't identify with them.

I was never going to:-

  1. Meet and marry a billionaire

  2. Become a world famous photojournalist/chef/actor

  3. Be President or First Lady of the USA

  4. Be a Supermodel/Pop Star/ Opera Singer

  5. Be a Doctor/Surgeon/Vet

  6. Run a Ranch/Farm/ or smallholding of any description

  7. Join the army/navy/airforce and be a crack sniper/helicopter pilot/jet pilot

  8. Run a cosy out of the way B&B that a passing billionaire/president would just pop into

  9. Discover a hitherto unknown talent for floristry/painting/sculpting/baking that would be nurtured by a billionaire sponsor

Or any of the other amazing talents that the women in these novels possessed. Don't get me wrong. I'm okay. I have skills. I'm happy. But as I got closer to my thirties I no longer wanted to read about these Cinderella's.

Is this where m/m comes in and saves the day?


I discovered firstly through Anita Blake (Hey! The early books were good) the joy of Urban Fantasy. A kick-ass heroine who was just doing her job, a female protagonist who made mistakes and paid for them, a woman who didn't wait for a knight in shining armour if she made a mess she'd do her damndest to clean it up herself. But she wasn't afraid to ask for help if she needed it - reluctant maybe, but not afraid.

It's UF that has earned my loyalty as a genre. And Elena Danvers, Mercedes Thompson, Kitty Norville, Joanne Baldwin, Jaz Parks, Kate Daniels, Nadia Stafford*, Alexandra Keller and Cherijo Torin* who are the heroines I admire.

M/M came a little later and I'll talk about that tomorrow. :)

* - I know Nadia Stafford and Cherijo are not UF, but they are both heroines I wouldn't have discovered if I hadn't read the UF books written by those authors first.


Jenre said...

Ooh, great post, Lesley!

Your reading matches mine in so many ways, except that I took a journey through mysteries in my late twenties before rediscovering romance in my early thirties.

I completely identify with not being able to relate to the heroines in romance books and I turned to UF too for a while with Elena Danvers and Jaz Parks being my favourites.

I can't wait to see whether our journeys continue to align when I read about how you got to m/m books :).

Chris said...

I can tell already that our journeys have been similar! Looking forward to discovering why you started reading m/m and whether it's the same as why I did.

Kris said...

Terrific idea, Lesley! I see from the comments that both Jenre and Chris had similar paths to m/m as you... and would it surprise you that I did too. LOL. I'm looking forward to reading more tomorrow!

LesleyW said...

Jenre, Chris, and Kris - I'll be interested to see if the route diverges tomorrow. Or maybe it's a more common way of discovering m/m than I knew.

Tracy said...

lol - Oh isn't it awful when we realize that we'll never be any of those things? I know it was for me. :)

Great post Lesley. I can't wait to read more of your journey.

beth kery said...

Great post, Lesley.

I know I'm not of your generation, but everything you said made me think...Yeah, I can see that. It also gave me some insight that I'd never had before.

Is M/M the answer because it's not representative of traditional romance? I don't know...but I love the question. I don't know your sexual preference, but for possibly for many a reader, M/M romance might seem as unattainable and fantasy oriented as many of the H/F romances you mentioned? If that was your point, good one.

I write (I hope) realistic M/F erotic romances. Course, you may differ. I'll admit I write attractive heroine/heroes but I don't think that's too different than many M/M's?

I don't write too posts, but this was a good, honest, smart one. Nice job, Lesley. I'm thinking...

Warm Regards,

Renee said...

Loving this topic, Lesley!

These are all UF heroines that I love + Nadia, of course. And, now I'm definitely going to have to look into Cherijo Torin over at Fantastic Fiction, since she's in such great company!

Looking forward to tomorrow's post!

LesleyW said...

Tracy - lol, yes it is. I was quite taken with the idea of becoming a marine biologist and studying seahorses.

LesleyW said...

Beth - thank you for commenting. I hope you'll follow the next couple of days to see how I ended up reading and still reading and enjoying m/m. I think some of the problems I had with m/f may have been to do with the time I was reading it - the 80's - the heroines very much had to either be the top of their field whatever it was or snagging the man at the top of their field.

I admit I haven't read what I'd think of as a contemporary m/f romance for years. Though when I was looking for a book cover to illustrate my post it certainly seemed that billionaires were back in fashion. Part of me is wondering if the genre is now parodying itself.

The last romance I read would probably have been a Susan Elizabeth Phillips and I think I've stuck with her because her heroines have flaws. She's probably the only 'romance' author I still read, I'm not counting Linda Howard here as I think she now writes thrillers rather than romances.

LesleyW said...

Renee - In case you didn't know Cherijo is the heroine of the Stardoc books by S.L.Viehl. More familiar to UF readers as the author of the Darkyn books - Lynn Viehl.

Her hero - Duncan Reever - is one of my picks on the island.

thelastaerie said...

Great post. Totally agree.

I was never into m/f romance... I just can't identify with the female leads in those books. There were a couple of Sydney Shelton books in our library that I've read when I was a teenager, but even so, I am more interested in the thriller/mystery plot in them.

I think the genre that really made me ran away and turned into almost m/m exclusive are the modern chick-fics, a la Bridget Jones etc. Lack of real conflicts and lot of moanings/whinings have sealed that m/f romance coffin for me.

LesleyW said...

thelastaerie - Yeah chicklit is completely not my thing either. :)

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