The Design Dude here at Romance Rehab was a romance novel virgin. But he’s a pretty open-minded dude (and totally susceptible to a double-dog dare, as it turns out), and was willing (if not eager) to help out with this little experimental reading project. The goal? Convince readers in other genres that there’s more to romance than meets the eye and that it’s not just for women.
A couple of side notes:
1) Yes, I realize that men read romance novels, too. But they only make up about 10% of the total romance readers out there. So, please don’t send me hate mail about this or I’ll be forced to leave a flaming bag of dog crap on your doorstep. We’re just having fun here. There’s no need to get technical. And while we’re on the subject of getting technical…
2) I’ll be starting The Design Dude out slow on this project. I didn’t want to throw him into a diabetic coma or anything by foisting a Nicholas Sparks book on him. That’d just be cruel. So, for a few of my selections, it could be argued they aren’t “technically” romance novels. But, the romantic elements are a big enough part of the story to give The Design Dude an idea of what he’s in for in the romance world, and to ease him into it gently, rather than tossing him into the deep end before he’s learned to swim, you know? All I’m saying is, please don’t argue technicalities with me or the above statement about flaming dog crap will apply.
Let’s have some fun, shall we?
When Jennifer first suggested the idea of a guy reviewing romance novels—as she eyed me with a scheming smile—I have to admit I was kinda skeptical. (Which is a nice way of saying I thought she was bat shit crazy) As usual though, she had solid, well thought out reasoning that was hard to argue with, so I eventually gave in and agreed. Plus, she dared me so I didn’t really have much choice. (I’m still not discounting the possibility she used a Jedi mind trick of some kind though.)
Luckily for me, Jennifer is well aware of my decades-long bromance with Stephen King so she wisely chose a paranormal romance for me to lose my romance genre virginity with. I figured having a few supernatural elements would help keep me grounded if things got a little too romance-y for me along the way.
It took me all of about two pages to realize I had nothing to worry about. Turns out exceptional writing can make up for lots of stuff that would normally make me cringe. And make no mistake about it, Darynda Jones is an exceptional writer. (Cue all the Darynda Jones fans rolling their eyes and rightfully shouting “Duh!!”) That said, there wasn’t nearly as much mushy romance-y stuff as I thought there'd be. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few minor annoyances here and there but we’ll get to those later. For now, let’s talk about all the stuff I loved about this book:
As I mentioned earlier, there were a few things I found a bit annoying and one thing in particular that quite frankly, kinda pissed me off. None of them were enough to kill my overall enjoyment but they were enough to deduct a half star—in my dude opinion:
Despite these issues, I am most definitely still basking in the afterglow of having lost my romance virginity to an exceptionally well written, fast paced, snark and sarcasm-filled joy of a read. I have no idea what Jennifer will choose for me next but if Darynda Jones is representative of the writing quality within romance, I might actually enjoy this double-dog dare.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
I'm certainly no expert but this book definitely crushed some of my romance stereotypes and since it was recommended to me by Jennifer (who is most certainly an expert) I'm guessing she'd agree.
Other reading suggestions
I know this is where Jennifer usually recommends other books within the romance genre but since