I promise that this entire post won’t be griping about noveling, like the last two posts have been. It’s not novel writing, it’s noveling: thinking, wheels turning, researching, bouncing ideas off a friend who lets me know when I’ve missed the mark and when I look a hot mess.
But I first want to mention that I had different ideas for my Valentine’s Day post. First of all it would have been better last weekend, before the holiday, and second, I wanted it to feature like three books of YA love that are waiting for me, like any true love will, on my kindle.
That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the romance novel I did read, and that I am not slowly giving romance more and more of a chance as I expand my reading horizons. But it would have been more of the things with the stuff and some ampersands.
I am doing short Read Harder books until the bulk of my noveling is out and down. I have some categories that I really want to read something that demands more time and brain space ( ahem, The Master and Margarita) and they are also on hold like the books I would have ideally liked to do for this post. But I want to be a writer of fiction too, not just a blogger, so both siblings need their time.
A Romance by or About a Person of Color:
The Duchess War, Courtney Milan
Now, this one was recommended by BookRiot staff as a contender for this category. I peeped in Ms Milan’s author bio and she is a well rounded, learned woman of science and law, which explains some of the major plot pieces in this novel, sedition. It has a lot to say about social class and the offenses that the powerful commit against the powerless. It reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South a little bit, and of my own plotting, where my educational background determines the plots I do come up with and the tools at my disposal.
But, to make mention of the plot, a plain woman, Minnie, with a scandalous secret past attracts the attention of a duke looking to change the world and is the first to figure out that he is printing handbills encouraging workers to unite/unionize. She intrigues him with her ability to conceal her talents behind a mousy, biddable exterior to fit in and find someone to marry her so she can be taken care of. They have a store of secrets against each other that become exposed in the cringing way that romance novels have to to move the plot forward. There is an Austen esque moment, and I thought that before Austen was referenced, where his mother shows up and offers her money to betray him and not marry him. The Duke wants to be loved in the way that he never was and Minnie needs to be accepted for who she is, which is far from the checklist of desired wifely qualities, and she doesn’t have the money to do what she wants on her own. As in life a good romance novel involves characters healing one another, and there is healing, and what we in therapy call corrective emotional experiences.
Plus the sex is decent, I think it is more realistic than in some of the romances I have read, and I like that their first time together is a plot point rather than gratuitous sex. It gives detail but its not too much and everyone is consenting which is huge for me. I don’t like romances where the guy persists on a girl who needs to be convinced to like him and I hope that is becoming less common in the genre as consent becomes more of a thing in the popular eye. Like if I don’t like you don’t do things to make me feel like I have to give you a chance. No.
I wanted to read Beverly Jenkins for this one, but I was going to read her book for a Western, but I started a different short book that counts as a Western that I have been meaning to read. I have her novel Tempest on my library wish list. I am intrigued as to how she writes African American characters in the American West. Even though the West had more flexible rules than the East it was still a racist nation as a collective. It’s an arranged marriage trope and it’s the third in her old West series…
So I did it. I did not spend the post complaining about the hell of really committing to getting a novel down in a short period of time. I could have been noveling the whole hour that it usually takes me to turn out a decent post, but the writing projects need variety, right?
If winter could be shorter without making me anxious that the planet would burst into flames I would be okay with that, too.