By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I consume romance novels like candy, in bulk, and often without paying much attention. This blog is an effort to be more mindful. The authors took the time to write these books and put them out there, and the least I can do is slow down and give them some serious consideration. I'm not an expert or a scholar of romance, and I have no special qualifications for my observations or opinions, but some background about me will give insight into how and why I reach those opinions.
First and most importantly, there's my day job. Until I find a way to quit without going hungry or bankrupt, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. My cases run the gamut from spousal/date rapes to physical assaults to stalking to restraining order violations to "woman scorned" (aka he-dumped-me-or-cheated-so-I-took-a-sledgehammer-to-his-Harley*) vandalism cases. (*Ladies, please note: Carrie Underwood's 'Before He Cheats' is not good relationship advice.) Needless to say, being up to my ears in these most dysfunctional relationships day in and day out in my professional life has the unwelcome and unintended side effect of leaving me cynical about relationships, and particularly about men. (Of course not all domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women--see sledgehammer-vs-Harley example, above--but the sad reality is that most of my cases involve men doing really, really bad things to the women they profess to love.) I was only a casual and very occasional reader of romance until and during law school, but in the past few years my interest in and craving to read romance novels has exploded, and I think that's mostly due to my need for happy-ever-afters to counteract the cynicism of my work in the DV field. I'm certain my DV work makes me more sensitive to (and very intolerant of) certain tropes and traditions of the romance genre, such as hyper-aggressive alpha male heroes, lack of consent in sexual situations, and power-and-control manipulation in relationships.
Next, and more personally, I'm also a bisexual woman happily married for the last ten-plus years to my best (female) friend. The fact that I'm not in a heterosexual partnership surely contributes to my worldview when approaching the romance genre. I have no tolerance for homophobia or transphobia, and I am an unapologetic feminist. That doesn't make me a man-hater, though. My wife and I are raising two beautiful sons, and we want them to grow up to be healthy, loving, good-hearted partners in their own relationships. I only mention my sexual orientation because sometimes I read books in which the male protagonist strikes me as inauthentic or emotionally constipated, and it may be helpful to you to remember that I haven't dated a man since college, so it's possible that my barometer is a little off when it comes to normal emotional development in fully grown men.
Bottom line: I'm just a reader (and sometime scribbler) of romance, and these are just my opinions on those "silly little books" that keep the struggling publishing industry afloat. Since you're here, poke around: maybe you'll find something you like. If so, leave a comment; I'd love to hear from you!