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What is the worse romance you ever read?
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xtacy20



Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:27 am    Post subject: Re: Worst Romances Reply with quote

[quote="Susan/DC"]An Independent Wife by Linda Howard. It was the first Linda Howard I read, and I chose it in part because the title led me to believe it would be about an independent wife (duh). However, the heroine was a spineless doormat and the so-called hero a controlling jerk. Luckily when I posted on AAR and asked if this were a typical LH book, people steered me to Son of the Morning, still one of my favorite books ever. Hard to believe the same person wrote both.

Thank you so much for mentioning this one. I read it when I was a big fan of Linda Howard's but this book, followed by Sarah's Child and Almost Forever made me swear off Linda Howard forever. The Independent Wife especially, I told my sister, was not worth the paper it was printed on.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

to xtacy20: I know Howard's "Sarah's Child" is disliked by many readers, but, in my thinking, Howard did a fine job with a difficult idea, so I always want to ask those who dislike it why they do dislike it.
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Maggie AAR
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Bittersweet" by LaVryle Spencer. I can't even begin to describe how awful this was -- the career woman who took care of herself and sinfully liked big cities was so abused by the end of the novel I couldn't even take it. The heroine, an adulterating selfish little weasel, was sanctified by the fact she loved small towns and baked! AARRRRGGHHHH!

maggie b.
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pinkbubble



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SO So many

I have to agree on the Susan Wiggs Texas Wildfire and anything by Diana
Palmer.

And there is one that I also can not remember the name to. Early 90s release. The setting was during the viking Invasions of England and the hero was awful. Probably historically accurate but horrible never the less. After he kidnapped the heroine he had her on his boat and he had his foot on her neck the entire way back to teach her that she is even lower than a dog to him. I never got past that scene so I do not know how they ended up in love but...
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panthercrawl



Joined: 28 May 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stephanie Laurens Taste of Innocence

I absolutely hated this book and was surprised I finished it (but I have to finish them). Its marriage of conveinence, which I love but it was so bad. She wanted them to 'get to know' one another before hand and spent like two weeks making out and thensome without ever having a conversation. Then, in order to avoid falling in love with her, after they marry, he doesnt speak to her during the day.

OMG, I hated this book. The funny thing is, it was my first SL book and now I refuse to read anything else by her. I'm sure she has better books out there, but I just cant get over this one.
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Kass



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, the worst fantasy ever is The Eye of Argon. But the question was about romance, and most romance fans I see tell me that the Black Jewels books are romances.

Oddly enough, I like Sara's Child and the more I've re-read them, the more I like Shades of Twilight and Loving Evangeline.
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willaful



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. Three books I just love are on Kass' list, which makes me wonder if I should seek out the others. Laughing

Let me add Forbidden Love by Karen Robards, which I thought was horribly written in addition to being offensive on about 14 different levels. And Loving Julia by same was disgusting.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, reading about all of these truly awful, disgusting books, it's remarkable that romances continued in popularity. Oh, by the way, pinkbubble, I DO remember your awful Viking book, and if I remember correctly, it was written by a major author of the '80s who had a series of Viking books.

Seeing that so many of our most popular past writers (Rosemary Rogers and Diana Palmer) and books ("Whitney, My Love" and those by Linda Howard) are now seen as truly awful (and I believe the reassessment is right, by the way), why do you think they were so popular then? I don't think it was so much that women loved the rapists and the TSTL heroines (I know I generally didn't) then as much as there were no other kind of romances being written. Abusive, raping heroines and teenage heroines were about it, probably because the first two or three really big romances (by Woodiwiss and Rogers) set the standard. That's my theory, anyway. What's yours? How COULD such books be so popular, when clearly they were so truly awful with awful characters and values? (Please, please don't talk about how one woman's gem is another's trash. I know that.)
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Worst Romances Reply with quote

Kass wrote:

Just about everything by Judith Ivory, but especially Black Silk and Beast. Unromantic, stupid books.


It's funny because I loved this author in both her Cuevas and Ivory incarnations, but the two books of hers that were DNF for me are the two you mention.

Quote:
The Black Jewels trilogy by Bishop for dwelling on disgusting incest and abuse, cutesy renamings of Christian theological figures, and characters with all the depth of tissue paper.


I definitely don't think of these as romances but as very dark, violent SF/F. They are not perfect books but I found them compelling and her world fascinating. The bad guys do very bad things and, in the end, are punished, unlike in the Real World where bad guys do very bad things but all too often get away with it. In that sense I found the books quite satisfying and have sought out her other stories set in the same universe. Sorry they didn't work for you.
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Kelly B



Joined: 19 Apr 2007
Posts: 136

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
How COULD such books be so popular, when clearly they were so truly awful with awful characters and values?


I wasn't really around when these books were introduced (or at least I wasn't reading since I was born in the late 70s), so I can only offer theories.

One, I imagine they were different than anything else really out there. You had your dramatic, campy novels like Valley of the Dolls or Peyton Place that were sweeping soaps, not not necessarily with a happy ending (such as it is in some of these early romances) or with the relationship as the primary focus. Previous books that were romances/for women seemed to be much more contained--Heyer's Regency, the polite world of Mary Stewart, doctor/nurse romances--not the big, sweeping adventures (again, such as they were).

I also wonder if they were informed by a response to the women's movement, even if just subconsciously. Many of these books came out not too long after Roe, and in the height of the debate over the ERA. Traditional mores and roles for women were being challenged in an almost-unprecedented way. Enter books that show epic scopes and end the claustrophobia of, say, the doctor/nurse genre, but still ultimately reaffirmed traditional gender roles. An alpha male dominating a woman physically, emotionally and sexually, all put in a more attractive package--it's ROMANCE, not subjugation. These "feisty" women or girls are molded by the male protagonist and ultimately end up fulfilled as dutiful wives and mothers whose primary concern is her husband and their domestic life, not burning her bra or trying to break through the glass ceiling or trying to earn more than $.59 to the dollar. Plus, they were racier, so the books took advantage of some of the elements of the sexual revolution--a hint of modern daring--while still holding the line on traditional social structures. Titillation+comfort of tradition=sales.

I'd be really interested to see the demographics of the early sales figures.

Like I said, though, just a theory since I missed the early days of the romance in its "modern" form.
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Vellorine



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 106

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Worst Romances Reply with quote

Kass wrote:

Just about everything by Judith Ivory, but especially Black Silk and Beast. Unromantic, stupid books.


Hmmm, I am curious of the reasons you would call Black Silk "stupid." I could see that some might see the book unromantic, or an unfit book in the romance genre, but personally I view the book with a certain philosophical depth, especially regarding the character of Graham Natham, following the manner of French Realist literature, maybe a touch of Flaubert.
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graceC



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 470

PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
to xtacy20: I know Howard's "Sarah's Child" is disliked by many readers, but, in my thinking, Howard did a fine job with a difficult idea, so I always want to ask those who dislike it why they do dislike it.


Oh.. I remember Sarah's Child and how I really really disliked the hero and the heroine. Here's why (SPOILER EVERYWHERE..!!):

The hero: I could sympathize with his deep grief when he lost his wife and kids. Mentally, he's in no condition to remarry again, yet he makes an extremely one-sided and unfair proposition to the heroine to use her to forget his pain, without offering anything back to her (other than sex). He makes it clear that he doesn't want to have another child, but leaves it to the heroine to handle birth control issue. Talk about cave man attitude! Then when she accidentally gets pregnant, he has the nerve to act like it's all her fault and doesn't want to have anything to do with her pregnancy and the baby. He's so wrapped up in his own little world that he never stops to think about anything or anyone else (namely his wife). Not exactly hero material if you ask me.

The heroine: more than anything, I really wanted to club her in the head for allowing her husband to treat her badly. I guess I'll never understand Linda Howard's kind of love that would make a woman willingly enters a marriage to a man incapable of being a full partner outside of the bedroom.

In the end, I understand what Linda Howard was trying to put across in this book: that there's no time limit for grief, and only unselfish love can pull you out of your deepest pain. But that doesn't mean I have to like the book.


Last edited by graceC on Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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lijakaca



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 341

PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just had to add my personal worsts:

Against the Rules by Linda Howard - I picked this up for 25 cents at the library because I'd loved Open Season. Domineering hero who had sex with heroine when she was 16 and now controls the ranch she owns. Stupid heroine who puts up with everything from the hero, not showing an ounce of independence beyond stupid temper tantrums. BLECH. I threw it out because I didn't want anyone else to read it.

Winter's Edge by Anne Stuart - early early contemporary Harlequin with an amnesiac heroine who apparently has been married for almost a year but hasn't slept with her husband yet, but went around PRETENDING to be the town slut because she was angry at how her husband treated her (or something, I didn't pay much attention). Really she was a virgin, and a stupid one at that - she trusted her murderous aunt/uncle who were poisoning her up until the very end when they're revealed and didn't trust her husband. Plus, in this novel apparently no one has jobs, they just drive around, hang out and gossip about each other.

I'm sure there are lots of bad old Harlequins like this, but I remember this because it's Anne Stuart.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh wait...my most hated books are The Whip by Catherine Cookson and Promises and A Falcon for a Queen by Catherine Gaskin. In my early days of reading romance, I got suckered into reading "clogs and shawls" because the covers looked like the ones on romance novels, but boy oh boy, did I have a reading experience. Gaskin and Cookson have one or two novels apiece that I enjoy (because they aren't sadistic and actually have pretty happy endings), but the ones I named?

The Cookson kind of reminds me of The Thornbirds, in that a vicar is drawn to a young girl when she moves into the village, but from there, it is HORRIBLE. She grows up and the vicar refuses to admit his love for her, so she ends up marrying this idiot farmer whose brother whips her nearly to death with her own whip! And then she just goes through more and more trauma and the vicar doesn't even own up to his love until the end! After she's worn out and abused and he stood by and watched! Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad

In the first Gaskin, it starts off innocent enough: an orphan taken in by a wealthy industrialist. She's fat and in love with her "brother" and when she becomes a nurse in WWI, she loses all her weight and her "brother" falls in love with her and they marry. Her husband's sister, who was raised as her "sister" is reckless and wild and ends up killing her brother in a car accident, leaving the heroine widowed. Then, the heroine's son dies when out in the ocean with her "sister's" son--who gets saved. It was just horrible.

The second Gaskin the heroine inherits this whiskey distillery and she falls for this brooding Scottish guy who's having an affair with a married woman and he ignores the heroine and is horrid to her. Then he and his mistress die and she finds out he's her uncle. :puke:

I remember these novels to this day I was so angry and traumatized while reading them.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1077
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
He makes it clear that he doesn't want to have another child, but leaves it to the heroine to handle birth control issue. Talk about cave man attitude! Then when she accidentally gets pregnant, he has the nerve to act like it's all her fault and doesn't want to have anything to do with her pregnancy and the baby.


This is not entirely accurate. He doesn't leave contraception to her. He offers to have a vasectomy because he is worried about her going on the pill for any length of time. Sarah refuses because she thinks that one day even if he doesn't want a child with her, he may want one with someone else. Yes, he does blame her at first, but then when he remembers about her dose of flu he realises that it's just as much his fault and apologises to her for his initial reaction. Blaming her is pretty short lived. He apologises within the scene. Not wanting to have anything to do with the pregnancy and baby - yes. But we constantly see that he isn't entirely comfortable with himself over this.

Edited to alter "inaccurate" to "accurate".

Elizabeth
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