Welcome to a new series in which we swoop into one location’s dollar book bin and take out four paperback romance novels at random. These books run the gamut from innocent schoolgirl crushes to steamy romps behind the horse stable, but they all share the same DNA. How do these books adhere to the genre’s clichés? How do they buck them? We’ll run them through our romance novel survey to see how they measure up. This week we delved into the slightly decrepit bins of GreenPoint Bargains Inc.
No Honourable Compromise by Jessica Steele (1984)
Premise: “Verity’s dream of taking her rightful position in her father’s company was snatched from her when her place on the board was given to someone else – and an outsider at that. Verity had never backed down from a challenger in her life – no matter what the consequences…
Batshit Crazy Names: “Verity Diamond,” “Holt Jepherson,” “Rollo Hodgson”
Heated Insult: “’Bombastic swine!’ she hissed, frustration and fury mingling."
Misogynistic No-No: “Like a wild thing she pummeled at the hard-muscled arms that were inserted between her arms to prevent her from clawing his face. But she was fighting in vain, for Holt Jepherson was still kissing her.”
Kooky Body Part Euphemism: “naked peaks hardened by desire,” “swollen naked globes”
Precarious Copulation Location: Her grandfather’s bed.
Happy Ending: Holt blackmails Verity into marrying him, and they co-own the company happily ever after.
Catch a Falling Star by Anne Schraff (1972)
Premise: “Many things cross Tam Carson’s mind in her sixteenth year – confidences with her best friend Marty – conversations with Mr. Garrick, her favorite teacher –encounters with her own hero, Rob, who gives her life an extra quality.”
Batshit Crazy Names: “Gayle Nightingale”
Heated Insult: “’You’re a nice girl, and I’m sure you have a big heart, but I don’t want to be your good deed for the week. Forgive me for being blunt, but I’d appreciate it if you’d earn your brownie points on somebody else.’”
Misogynistic No-No: There’s more casual racism in this book than misogyny, as the big scandal is that Rob is –gasp!—1/4 Cherokee.
Kooky Body Part Euphemism: They’re only 12 years old, so no.
Precarious Copulation Location: Ditto.
Happy Ending: Rob buys Tam a puppy and wins her love back.
Look Back My Love by Jean Carew (1963)
Premise: “When Hank asks Nicole to marry him, she is hesitant to say yes. Why was she suddenly doubtful of her love for Hank? Was it because she constantly thought of Curt? Could it be that she had fallen in love with him against her will?"
Batshit Crazy Names: “Francesca Blair,” “Bayberry Corners” “Preston Lane”
Heated Insult: “You little hellion – oughta be in an institution for incorrigible brats!”
Misogynistic No-No: “Ah, there, my pretty wench. Willst walk out with me tonight?”
Kooky Body Part Euphemism: The novel is set in a fake colonial village, so no sex.
Precarious Copulation Location: See above.
Happy Ending: Curt builds Nicole a house – but she ends up picking Hank anyway. Curt moves to India to get over her.
Double Play by Natalie Stone (1983)
Premise: “P.J. Decker, Kansas City’s playboy superstar steals Sally Denning’s sportcasting job after an injury, while she’s relegated to a cooking show. Stubborn, spirited, Sally felt she’d been unfairly benched. He might be a crowd-pleaser and a heartthrob, but until she got her job back, she’s show him! He’d never get past first base with her!”
Batshit Crazy Names: “Bruce ‘the Beaver’ Warren”
Heated Insult: “There goes that fragile male pride – up and down like a hard-on.”
Misogynistic No-No: “If I want one in bed, I usually don’t have to go to any lengths at all. It’s keeping them out that’s the problem.”
Kooky Body Part Euphemism: “her wild and joyous vortex”
Precarious Copulation Location: A rickety hammock.
Ending: P.J. returns to baseball, and Sally becomes a successful sports journalist. It's an ideal relationship until P.J. inevitably gets caught for steroids.
Credit: Flickr user PinkMoose. Used with a Creative Commons license.