WHAT MAKES IT A ROMANCE NOVEL?
In my What’s My Genre post, I mentioned the elements of various genres. Here was my example of the generic romance novel:
PENELOPE AND GUY
Penelope Marysue is a dimple-chinned, brainy, and kickass detective who practices in the mean conservative streets of suburban Seattle. Her life is going nowhere until she meets Guy Hero, a delicate, sophisticated man with a passion for growing orchids.
Penelope takes an instant dislike to Guy and his selfish take-the-last-cookie ways he learnt during his years on Great Granny Fanny’s wholesome but hardworking farm.
However, when a conservative banker tries to take calls on his mobile in the theater AND posts spoilers online framing Penelope, Guy springs to the rescue. Penelope begins to notice that Guy is actually rather a liberal at heart.
But the pressures of Guy’s job as a bitter, scarred IRS tax auditor leave him blind to Penelope’s affections and Penelope takes up couch surfing to try and distract herself.
Finally, when puppy-kicking international man of mystery, Cliff Overthetop, threatens to come between them, Guy has to act fast. But will they ever find the passionate love that they deserve?
ROMANCE GENRE NOTES:
- Don’t be ridiculous—of COURSE they will find love and their HEA (Happily Ever After). That’s the single essential element to a romance. If not, the reader is obligated to demand a refund and troll-post one-star reviews all over the web. Duh.
- If Penelope wears a bustle, crinoline, or shift and talks to actual historical figures, it’s a historical novel. If she goes to bed with them and neither of them gets beheaded and/or castrated, it’s a historical romance.
- If Penelope wears goggles and a corset, carries a spyglass, and rides on anything powered by steam, it is steampunk. (Guy might be a sky pirate if he’s lucky, but either way she will probably shoot him at least once.)
- If Penelope is a wacky, sexy professional woman with extremely high stilettos who is fighting for her big break in the City, Guy is a smoking hot iBanker, and one of them has a gay friend with a small dog who gives good advice on clothes and relationships while the other one has a sister who just wants them to find The One and move to Brooklyn and make babies, but there are multiple triangles involving the Heartless Bitch and the Deceptively Perfect Potential Love Interest then it’s Chick Lit. (If one or both have chucked their meaningless City life, gay friend, and stilettos for post-recession life in the country because they’ve discovered What Really Matters, it’s Farm Lit. Brace yourself: there will be overalls.)
Take, for example, Molly’s Misadventures, which I review today for Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
Molly’s Misadventures by D.A. Haggerty
I’m having the suckiest day ever. First, my father, aka Mr. Grumpy Pants, calls to say his nurse just walked out on him. Likely story. I rush home to pack, only to walk in on my husband getting it on with his younger, skanky secretary. Unfortunately, my quick weekend trip home to fix Dad’s problems turns into a stay of a few weeks. Luckily, I’ve got Danny, the neighbor boy I’ve had a crush on since I was a dorky, braces-wearing, nose-buried-in-a-book teenager, and a brand-spanking new blog to keep my mind off things. Before I know it, I’m writing product reviews of vibrators and getting questioned by a store rent-a-cop at the world’s worst date ever. All while trying to figure out how to take things with Danny to the next level. Not to complicate things or anything, but my boss decides to give me an ultimatum—come back in four weeks or don’t come back at all. How in the world did my life get so complicated?
In Molly’s Misadventures, author D. E. Haggerty efficiently nails almost every chick lit trope out there.
- Heroine with high-powered job but crap love-life? Check. Having chucked her dreams of becoming a writer in favor of the high salary and chance to work for great boss and friend Blake, Molly only has two problems. One is her mean, foul-mouthed father she is dutifully caring for, and the other is her very-soon-to-be-ex husband. “Every time I closed my eyes, I saw a vision of Darryl’s naked, flabby ass pumping into his secretary. I didn’t want to see that once, let alone over and over again in my dreams.”
- Tries the Wrong Guy first? Check. See the naked, flabby ass in #1.
- Thinks she’s ugly (but every guy she meets falls madly in love with her)? Check. Molly must have the glittery-est hooha ever (see here) because every guy she’s ever met—from her secret high-school crush to the got-it-all-going-on husband of a close friend—is secretly in love with her.
- Thinks she’s smart, but has the people-judging skills of the disposable blonde teen in a slasher movie? Sadly, Check. We’re told Molly is smart (University of Chicago t-shirt), but her lack of almost any interpersonal judgement has her drifting through the pages in a perpetually confused fog.
- Mommy Issues & Daddy’s Girl? Check. Molly’s parents have been divorced for years. Despite the fact that her father is a self-absorbed, sexist, foul-mouthed tyrant, Molly is still his Little Princess. Plus he’s still preferable to her mother’s brand of hyper-critical communication.
- Not-Actual physical flaw such as Frizzy Hair? Check. “My hair is a rat’s nest at the best of times. Combing through my wet hair without the use of generous portions of conditioner is like trying to perform an exorcism without a priest.“
- Funny? Okay, Check! Molly’s observations on her world are occasionally laugh out loud funny and often painfully amusing. My favorite paragraph in the book is one we’ve all lived.
I hate renting cars. What are they doing all the time behind the counter on the computer? They have my information already, yet they spend an eternity typing away and pressing buttons anyway. It sounds as if the agent is typing about a million words a minute. And I wait and wait some more. How many times will the sales agent ask if I want additional, outrageously expensive insurance before I punch him?Maybe that’s the whole point—to see who will lose their cool first and start throwing punches?
When I’m reviewing a book, I often go down a little list of things to consider. In Molly’s Misadventures, the pacing is sure, a brisk march to an obvious finish. The writing is terrific, often funny and entertaining, and with a great balance between dialog and the snarky comments in Molly’s head. Molly’s character is nicely developed, and shows a respectable growth though the book.
But the plot of Molly’s Misadventures does have some obvious flaws. One that I found particularly annoying is that Molly is kind of…well…mean. When her supposedly good friend’s husband confesses that he’s always been in love with Molly, her immediate reaction is along the lines of Well, I always knew she was a bitch so let’s throw her under the bus… And her continuous dates with all the Mr.Wrongs—while amusing—never show any sympathy or compassion for others on the same search as herself. Not only does this reveal that Molly is both clueless and shallow, but the introduction of a completely gratuitous love triangle seems more like the author almost got to the end of her Chick Lit checklist and said, “Damn, I almost forgot the Deceptively Perfect Potential Love Interest. My bad.” Also, I hope it’s not just blogger-jealousy that makes me feel that the instant financial and social success of Molly’s frankly mean-spirited mess of a blog is also a pretty big pill for the reader to swallow.
But overall, Molly’s Misadventures is exactly what it looks like—a humorous, entertaining, fast-paced, predictable romantic comedy. While I could wish that writer D.E. Haggerty had addressed a few of my issues with her plot, the amusing and entertaining Molly goes a long way to make up for that. I would give it four stars, and happily reach for another book by this author
**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
- Book Title: Molly’s Misadventures
- Author: D. E. Haggerty
- Genre: Paranormal romance
- Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (January 11, 2016)
- Pages: 225
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Author D. E. Heggerty says:
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.