Oh goody.

The New York Times Book Review finally has a Romance piece.

Well, I should say, another romance piece. I had one once. You can read it here. It was short and actually reviewed the books on their merits, as opposed to filtering them through my own idea of their merits that hinged on my condescending attitude toward the genre, and a fundamental disrespect, apparently, toward women in general and especially toward women who read romance.

I really don’t want to post the link for you to read, but I will (it’s here) mostly because I think it’s helpful to skim that before you read this wonderful takedown of the “roundup” on Medium by Ron Hogan. (It’s terrific.)

You know what?

I’m tired.

I’m tired of being attacked by friends and strangers for reading romance novels. Sometimes it’s overt. Sometimes it’s sideways, with the same kind of {wink, wink, snicker, snicker} attitude that seems to be the starting point for that New York Times piece. It’s the smile pasted over the sneer, as if the person who is addressing us with condescension either thinks we’re too stupid to realize they’re being condescending, or they think the friendly veneer they’re placing over it will make us feel that they’re just teasing us, they’re really friendly—not mean-spirited at all.

I mean, after all, it’s only Romance. {wink, wink, snicker, snicker}

At least this one is by a man.

It somehow feels almost worse when it’s a woman. From my point of view, it’s another moment to realize just how socialized we are to be misogynistic. To bully. To tear down ourselves and our sisters for what we wear, how we look, how we’re not good enough, smart enough, x enough, y enough, z enough.

You know what? If you don’t like romance novels, it’s okay. Really. You don’t have to read them.

But please stop disparaging them. Please stop writing about them—especially for the New York Times—if you disrespect them. If you don’t LOVE them.

And to the New York Times? Please, please, please let people write about romance novels who LOVE THEM. Preferably women. Because it’s mostly women who read them. And write them. And edit them. And market them.And celebrate them.

They’re the bestselling genre of books in history. The romance industry is arguably the most successful women-focused business ever.

Can we please have someone write about romance novels and the romance genre who CELEBRATES them???

Especially when sexism and a stunning lack of representation across the board is so prevalent in publishing and even reviewing (you can read more about that here). 

It would be nice. So very, very nice. 

I’m off to read a good book. I can guarantee you it has a huge romantic arc at the center of it. Maybe it will make me feel better and help me get over my soul-numbing disappointment with the New York Times Book Review and a man who thinks he has something to teach us about romance novels. {wink, wink, snicker, snicker}

{eye roll}

If you’re looking for a few suggestions, I actually think a bunch of those novels are pretty good picks. You can’t go wrong with Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Tessa Dare, or Joanna Shupe for sure. (If you’re looking for really well-written romance, you can probably skip Fifty Shades of Grey.)

Here are some terrific historical romances I’ve read/listened to recently, and guess what? They all share a few elements, but are different enough to let you know that you’re reading entertaining, moving books by different authors. Most of them don’t even have dukes!

Caught By The Scot by Karen Hawkins 

I love Karen Hawkins and this week she started a “brand-new, sizzling series featuring three unforgettable, untamed brothers who must marry or risk losing their inheritance.”

The three brothers Douglas have just lost their beloved sister who, tired of waiting for them to settle down, has expressed through her will that if they don’t marry in 30 days, she will leave their inheritance to their archrival clan. First up is sea captain Conner, who decides to marry Theodora, the sister of a dear friend. But when he shows up to ask her, he discovers she’s just eloped with someone else. Chasing them down before they wed, he is stunned when Theodora refuses him. At first determined to convince her, soon enough he falls in love with her, but not before she has built up a reserve against him and questions his motives and declarations. Theodora has loved Conner forever, but she’d rather marry the absolute wrong man for her, than the one she wants if he doesn’t love her back.

Karen Hawkins makes my heart sing. I loved this book.

The Scandal of It All by Sophie Jordan

Graciela, the widowed Duchess of Autenberry, has lived celibate for years, feeling like a Spanish outsider in the English ton. After a friend convinces her to attend the scandalous Sodom club, she winds up in the arms of the handsome Lord Strickland, one of her stepson’s best friends. The more time they spend together, the more Lord Strickland—younger, yes, but only by six years—feels ready for forever, but Graciela worries it will damage her relationship with her husband’s two children and cause trouble for her teenage daughter.

Sophie Jordan writes across so many sub-genres it’s hard to keep up with her, but you can depend on her to write a sexy, romantic historical! The chemistry in this one is off the charts, and the devotion the main characters share and build on is heart-warming. 

A Christmas to Remember: An Anthology by Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath, Megan Frampton & Vivienne Lorret

Oh, oh, oh, love, love, love! I picked this up because Lisa Kleypas and Lorraine Heath are two fave historical authors, but it was a bonus because Megan Frampton and Vivienne Lorret are two authors I’ve wanted to read for a while now. Back in the days when books didn’t magically appear on my doorstep (don’t hate me because I’m a reviewer!)—in fact, way back in the days when I had two little tiny boys and very little time to read, these were the books I sought out the most: Christmas anthologies, especially Regency. The stories were completely satisfying (Christmas and romance, how can you go wrong?) and short enough to read quickly. So they became a kind of Pavlovian comfort read when I wanted something new I could depend on to bring joy.

This one is one of the best ever! Every single story is delightful and soul-satisfying. Christmas Regency perfection! (The Kirkus reviewer liked it too, calling it “An enchanting, exquisitely rendered collection of Christmas Regency shorts.” Plus the review includes a mini synopsis of each story. You can find it here.)

Love, joy, romance, Christmas, Regency. This anthology is everything