I keep wanting to write a post about why I love romance as a genre and it keeps getting less and less easily verbalised and more and more, like, a series of exclamation marks and sort of emphatic hand gestures, which is not that conducive to a coherent written text. So that’s… ongoing!
One of the things this mythical Romance Post would say is that the romance genre is a place I feel secure in being able to open a book and find a world, in some way, I can see myself in. You know all those, like, mainstream Literary books that are like, “romance is for the weak and also this book is about Tragedy because that is the only thing Worth Anything”? Those books and I don’t get on. There are a number of reasons for this and one of them is that so many of them seem to take place in a universe that just, inexplicably, has no queer people in.
I don’t know about you but that is not the world I live in.
Reading romance has let me pick up books where not only the main characters but sometimes a bunch of secondary characters are also queer but – and this is the kicker – their plots are not always about their queerness but that is also a point for another time.
Recently, my girlfriend and I were visiting relatives on the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man, you might be surprised to hear, is not exactly a bastion of queer visibility. It was a lovely trip and the relatives, as always, were also nothing but lovely, but the first thing L and I did when we got back to London was get the tube to Soho and it was like a breath of fresh air.
While we were on the IOM, we wanted something to read that would show us that heteronormativity was not, in fact, the only thing that existed. On a whim, we bought the first book in Kris Ripper’s Scientific Method series. This is the blurb:
Sometimes all it takes is meeting one person to turn your world upside down. Will Derrie likes girls but he isn’t honest with them; he wants kinky sex and lots of it. When Hugh offers to dominate him, no sex required, Will realizes it might not be so easy to separate the two.
Sometimes all it takes is a new angle on an old idea to change everything you thought you wanted. Hugh Reynolds holds the world at arm’s length. He lives alone, works alone, and he thinks he’s as happy as he’ll ever be. But Will gets under his skin and once he’s gone, Hugh realizes he doesn’t want to go it alone forever.
Sometimes all it takes is a random encounter to open your mind (and your heart). Truman Jennings hits on a cute guy at a conference and he’s smitten by the end of their first date. Hugh’s not the kindest or the easiest boyfriend Truman’s ever had, but he brings one thing to their relationship that no one else could: kinky, adventurous, sweetly submissive Will.
Sometimes you can’t find the right man till you find the wrong one. Three men. Three sides to love, and intimacy, and laughter. Three people who didn’t know what they were looking for…until they found it in each other. (x)
This is a series that doesn’t label things. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE labelling stuff – if someone gave me a label-maker, our flat would be covered in stickers that said things like “THIS IS A DOOR” and “THIS IS ANOTHER DOOR” because, despite having the occasional competency level of an octopus trapped in a human body, I love a good organisational system – but that’s not always how life works. The Scientific Method series is a story about people that discover who they are, and how to love that about themselves. Hugh, Will, Truman, and their entire extended family of friends are characters I’m beyond glad to know exist.
The Scientific Method series is about love that doesn’t always look like a Guy and a Lady and a Baby. It’s a story about sex that doesn’t look like every m/f pairing movie you’ve ever seen. It’s a story about people I could recognise living lives that I recognised and it was exactly what I needed, at the time I most needed it.
And that, I think, would be the point of any other post I wrote about why I read romance.