Romance: From My Soapbox | February 2013

The television show The Bachelor on January 14 featured a group date with several women posing with the current bachelor for the best photo in order to win a cover-model contract with Harlequin publishers. I’m sure that fans of the reality series loved it and maybe you did, too. Yet, the focus on cover models for romances made me see red. (OK, it depressed me, too, but fury is far more effective than moping around.) I thought we’d gotten past this years ago—but shades of Fabio!—I guess we haven’t. Don’t get me wrong. I do know how important covers are to book sales; a stunning jacket can make all the difference to a publisher’s bottom line and an author’s visibility, and I respect that. But romance is not about competitive women stabbing each other in the back in the hopes of winning some guy’s favor—or being cute or sexy enough to end up on a cover of a romance novel. Romance is essentially a genre about relationships—about women taking control of their own lives, overcoming obstacles, winning their battles, achieving success, and finding love on their own terms. In short, it’s a genre that empowers women. Sadly, The Bachelor’s message is not the one central to current romances, nor the one we should be sending to today’s young women.

About Kristin Ramsdell

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader's Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (Libraries Unlimited)