Tag: Romance

World War II Romance Takes Flight: With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

A confession: I am a fairly new romance reader. I only picked up my first true romance novel about a year ago. However, I grew up hearing a true story that could be straight out of a historical romance. My grandparents met and had a shipboard romance just after World War II as they served… Read more →

“Stories in Plain View”: Cat Sebastian’s Revolutionary Queer Historical Romances

It’s no secret that I love romance novels. At its best, the genre challenges traditional narratives by offering emotional and sexual agency to characters who are so frequently denied both; not only women, but gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and queer characters. In a world that continues to wrestle with equity, bodily autonomy, and consent, romances are… Read more →

The Gender Politics of the “Sexy Chef” in Romance Literature

After finishing my master’s degree in Gastronomy in July 2013, I gave myself an academic reading palate cleanser.1 I devoured dozens of romance novels that summer before I began my PhD. Some were good: saucy and satisfying. Others were less good: dull and uninspired, though still relatively enjoyable, like the breadsticks at Olive Garden. One… Read more →

A Curious New Woman: Veronica Speedwell

It is June 1887, and London is preparing to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, marking the 50th year of her reign. The once young and luminous Queen is now, however, a plump German widow, viewed increasingly by many as little more than a symbolic figurehead. In 1887, the British Empire is vast, covering nearly 25%… Read more →

A Very Lost Cause Love Affair; or, Is It Possible to Write a Good Civil War Romance?

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you: I love romance novels. Seriously — after signing up sort of as a joke, I fell hard for Audible’s Escape Package and binged books about everything from Vermont apple farmers to Regency wallflowers. And while some people might want their escape reading to be as far… Read more →

Teaching Abélard and Héloïse

One of the wearying inevitabilities of 2018 was that even the most cursory glance at the news was likely to bring you a fresh tale of sexual assault — in politics, the entertainment industry and, closer to home for me, academia. Much of the resulting commentary was almost as jarring as the news articles themselves…. Read more →

Hallmark Christmas Movies: Guilty Pleasure or Feminist Rallying Cry?

A woman arrives in a small American town at Christmas time. Possibly her car has broken down, or she’s there on business, or to take a job she (initially) does not want, or she’s deliberately seeking the traditional festive comforts of a small town during the holidays. (It might be that she grew up there,… Read more →

“Hateful, Un-American Ideas!” Gender, Race, and Politics in Cold War Romance Comic Books

In the October 1949 issue of the romance comic Hollywood Confessions, the protagonist of the story “Too Ugly to Love” describes himself as so ugly that he resembles a “menace from a horror picture.”1 Jon Koslo has “accepted … [his] ugliness philosophically!” when a film producer spots him and “exploits [his] ugliness” by giving him… Read more →

The Dangers of the Damaged Hero: Gender and Suffering in Romance Novels

I unabashedly love romance novels. As a reader, I find that a well-crafted happy ending is a wonderful antidote to a world that seems at times utterly devoid of them. As a scholar of gender, I am fascinated by the ways in which sexuality, power, and desire are constructed, discussed, and challenged. Moreover, I heartily… Read more →

Andrew Jackson’s Love Letters

In our era of political “bromances” between leaders who value aggression and belittle sensitivity, it’s easy to forget that expectations as to how men should interact with other men are always changing. In the 1820s, President Andrew Jackson, whose legacy Donald Trump has embraced, fashioned himself as one of the most virile men of his… Read more →