I’ve recently read several novels by a U.S.A. Today best selling author, and the quality of the writing/editing drove me nuts. How can someone who does these things be a bestseller? These are Regency Romance novels, if that helps put my complaints in context.
What’s wrong with these books?
Across novels, the following happens repeatedly.
- The women step so fast that their skirts flutter about their ankles.
- A curl is forever falling over her eye (or sometimes his).
- The male love interest is invariably over six feet tall (in the early 1800s) with a chiseled body to rival Greek statues.
- Someone is often willing to “trade her [littlest] finger for . . .”
- Fingerfuls of brandy are splashed into glasses, which are usually then filled to the brim.
- Oh, so often, something really isn’t well done.
- Someone (usually male) often rubs a lock of hair between thumb and forefinger.
- Stray locks are often tucked behind her ear.
- People turn their heads so fast they wrench the muscles of their necks.
- Tense characters grip the edge of a table or the arm of a chair hard enough to leave crescent marks. (Sometimes those crescent marks are on palms.)
- People have thick dark hooded lashes.
- When angry, characters often grit their teeth or clench their teeth so hard that pain radiates or shoots up their jaws.
And then there are the awkward or erroneous constructions.
- his head reeling to the side
- eldest vs. elder when there are only two
- to not get
- two very entirely different
- where she was far safer to his senses
- there, with but the risk of a patron passing by away from ruin, he kissed her
- most unfavorable of light
- to their respective box (or chair)
- there is nothing unordinary
- little expectations
- still bore the blunt of his fist
- as always, entirely, too cheerful
- I came tonight at the bequest of my sister
So why is this a bestselling author?
- The heroines are NOT universally gorgeous, perfectly proportioned, and virtuous.
- Heroines are smart, active, resourceful, and brave.
- Often minor characters in one book become the principles in subsequent books, offering continuity.
- And there are usually breaches of the class lines of the period.
So maybe this is a case of readers reading for story, not for style. Oh, sigh.