Friday, September 30, 2016

A Romance Novel a Trump Supporter Could Love: Christine Feehan's SHADOW RIDER

I usually do not spend time here on the blog writing about romance novels that strike me as distinctly anti-feminist. But after reading an ARC of popular romance author Christine Feehan's latest contemporary/paranormal romance Shadow Rider, I couldn't help but feel that writing about how Feehan's novel worked could, weirdly enough, help me understand why some women might be supportive of Donald Trump's candidacy for President of the United States.

Let me explain what I mean...

Shadow Rider is the first in a series about a powerful Italian American family who "keep the neighborhood safe" (Kindle Loc 492). Rumors abound about just how the Ferraro family does so. Are they playboys? Assassins? Mafia? No one in their Chicago neighborhood seems to know, exactly; all anyone will admit is that the Ferraros are sexy, predatory, and dangerous—and that they will protect those who respect them.

A damsel in major distress winds up in Ferraro territory, and is almost instantly "claimed" by the eldest sibling in the predominantly male Ferraro clan. Stefano Ferraro feels an immediate "primal reaction" to his first sight of Francesca Capello, a reaction that he quickly discovers is because she, like he and his siblings, is a shadow rider, someone who can move through space via shadows.

J. R. R. Tolkien and other theorists of fantasy literature argue that in order to make a reader willing to suspend his/her disbelief, a fantasy must create a logical, consistent secondary world, and for many fantasy readers, the appeal of the genre lies in the detail of its world-building. Feehan's book, though, is not interested in exploring the hows and whys of the shadow riders' abilities, never mind the efficacy of their business model (the Ferraros hire themselves out as executioners, only killing the bad guys, of course. Am I the only one who found it hard to believe that a family could earn millions of dollars from innocent people who pay them to kill off evildoers?). Feehan only provides a brief description of what it takes to ride the shadows, or to conduct an assassination business. Nor does she give much in the way of backstory or explanation for how their paranormal powers came to be. Readers well-versed in fantasy conventions would likely find the book unsuccessful because of its weak world-building. But Feehan gives readers something else that makes them willing to suspend their disbelief in her very lightly sketched paranormal world: a hero who, through magic, becomes a larger than life protective figure, both for the book's heroine and for the readers (predominantly female, I'd guess) outside of it.

Because Francesca, unlike Stefano and his siblings, does not understand her own power as a shadow rider. Francesca is running from the murderer of her sister, a politician who has gotten away with his crime by making Francesca appear unstable and thus discrediting her eye-witness account of his atrocity. Francesca has no money, no family, and only one friend when she arrives in Chicago, and continually makes decisions that put her even further in physical and sexual danger. This is a woman in need of protection, Feehan's story asserts, in need of a powerful, dominant, domineering man to keep her safe, not only from her sister's murderer, but also from her own poor choices.

Francesca is a resistant romantic heroine, one who protests a lot about Stefano's protective (domineering) behavior. Luckily for Stefano, Francesca's only friend, Joanna, serves to undercut Francesca's early doubts: "It isn't wow. It's creepy," Francesca protests after Stefano thrusts money into her hand and orders to her to buy herself a coat and new shoes during their very first interaction. Joanna disagrees: "It's wow and you know it. He's hot. He's rich. He's interested in you" (606). Not only is Francesca wrong, she's ungrateful, Joanna asserts, which is a big feminine no-no: "You are so stubborn, Francesca. If I had an opportunity like you have, protection from the Ferraro family, and a thousand dollars to spend, believe me, I'd be counting myself lucky, not resenting it" (772). Readers who enjoy Feehan's story want to believe that a domineering, violent man isn't "creepy," want to believe that his attentions are "wow." And that in exchange for their acceptance of his domineering ways, said domineering man will offer them protection from a cruel, violent world.

And so Francesca, though initially verbally feisty, fairly quickly becomes a behaviorally submissive heroine. Though she continues to protest when Stefano tells her what to do and how to act, she always ends up giving in: "There was no use fighting him on it. He was going to get his way. Both of them knew it" (361); "There wasn't any sense in arguing. Stefano was a law unto himself" (2778); "There was no point in protesting. She was being steamrolled, but she'd asked for it. Stefano was a force" (2837).

And of course, at heart, Francesca really likes the way Stefano tells her what to do and hauls her bodily around when she resists: "She secretly liked that he was bossy. It made her feel as if he could really protect her from anything, although she knew better" (2405). Because of course, "Stefano might snarl, he might even manhandle a woman, but he would never hurt her. Never. She knew that instinctively, like that was written somewhere in stone" (2556). Therein lies the heart of this novel's appeal: a violent man, one who will protect me and will never harm me, is what I need to be safe in the world.

Francesca, unsurprisingly, is also lacking in self-confidence in the looks department, a busty, curvy Italian girl who cannot imagine herself being appealing to hot, sexy glamour boy Stefano. But luckily for her, she has what no other woman outside Stefano's family does: the ability to breed future shadow riders. Because Stefano is not attracted to Francesca because he wants to train her as a shadow rider, to bring out her latent talents. Rather, he sees her as the key to his future, to the future of his family: "His first duty was to Francesca. He should have ensured her safety before anything else—even a job. Without her, there would be no future generations" (1800).

Stefano, like his brothers, "had been raised to respect women. To treasure them. To protect them" (1163). They will deal death and violence, thereby keeping their women safe and sound. Ferraro females will, in turn, provide a safe haven for their men, a sense of warmth, of tenderness, of family to which the Ferraro males can retreat to, to take a break from their "world of unrelenting violence" (1017).  It's almost as if we've been transported back to the nineteenth century, when the doctrine of "separate spheres," which dictates that men fight out in the cruel public world while women keep the private home fires burning, first arose. Unsurprisingly, then, Stefano tells Francesca towards the end of the novel, "You don't ever do violence, Francesca, not unless it's self-defense or in the defense of our family. I won't have that on your soul. You're going to be my wife. The mother of my children. You're about love and softness. Not killing. Never that" (6282).

Not surprisingly, Stefano expects Francesca to stay at home with any children that the two will have: "When we have children, I want you to be with them, not working in some fucking deli so you can call yourself independent. You're never going to be independent" (4960). And again, though Francesca initially resists, eventually she caves and gives up her job.

The readerly desire that Feehan's novel appeases is a desire for a world of separate spheres, a world that asserts that women and men are inherently different and that distinctive gender roles are the norm. And in particular, that men will fight, violently at times, to keep their women safe. "Stefano was larger than life. A throwback to an era gone by when men were fiercely protective of women and children. Where having a code meant something. Giving his word and keeping it was a matter of honor" (5558), Francesca thinks. Whether that world ever actually existed is moot; it is the fantasy that it did, and could again, that appeals to Feehan's readers.

"I have so many women that really want to have protection,
and they like me for that reason."

And, I'm guessing, to many of the women who support Donald Trump.

Photo credits
Behind Every Succesful Man...: Buzzfeed
Trump supporters: Conservative Tribune

Friday, September 23, 2016

Romance Diversity Bingo

My thanks to Willaful, of the A Willaful Woman blog, whose recent post alerted me to the latest book reading challenge in Romancelandia: the #DiverseRomanceBingo Reading Challenge. I've never participated in a romance reading bingo challenge before, but the goals of this one are right up my alley. As stated on the challenge's Goodreads page:

The aim of this group  is a reading challenge designed to diversity the romance stories we're reading. A BINGO card with various identities & relationships has been created in order to inspire readers to seek out books they might not normally. Be proactive in looking for books that are representative of the diverse people and relationships in our world.

I'll be playing/reading, and invite RNFF readers to join in, too.

If you're interested in playing along, or in following other players' progress and comments, or even in just grabbing yourself some great recommendations for diverse romance reading, consider joining the Goodreads group, which can be found here. Or follow the challenge at #DiverseRomanceBingo.

And here is the bingo card:

Over the course of my romance reading career, I know I've read at least one book from each box (and have featured reviews of many of them here on RNFF). But it might be a little more difficult to complete the whole card in only four months (the challenge ends at the end of December). I'm also curious to see how difficult (or not) it will be to find books that both fill the squares and have feminist themes or underlying ideologies.

Will be reporting back here in future posts...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Feminism in the Details: Lisa Henry's ADULTING 101

In need of a good chuckle, but tired of being expected to laugh at sexist jokes and male-centered humor? You might want to pick up Lisa Henry's latest male/male romance, Adulting 101. I was in real need of cheering up this past summer, and Henry's book made me laugh so hard my stomach ached for days after I finished it. Even better, it did so while drawing on a decidedly contemporary feminist set of underlying assumptions, far different than the typical two guys fighting over a girl love triangle found in much New Adult romance in the Twilight vein.

Adulting takes place during the summer between Nick Stahlnecker and Devon Staples' high school graduation and their taking off for two different colleges, where, for the first time since they were in elementary school, they will be living in different towns. Nick is gay, while Devon is straight, but the differences in their sexual orientations never get in the way of their best friendship. As the narrator, focalizing through Nick, explains:

Devon Staples and Nick Stahlnecker are now, and forever will be, best bros. Their bromance is epic. Devon even took Nick to prom, which was beyond incredible because he's not even a little bit bi—except for the thing that happened at baseball camp when they were fourteen that they don't talk about. He's just super cool, and gets a kick out of pissing off his stepdad, who is an evangelical Christian and can be kind of a dick. So prom was pretty funny. (117)

As the above quote, and almost every line in her story, demonstrates, Henry's strength as a writer is voice. Though the novel is written in the third person, the language Henry uses makes it clear that we are clearly in the mind of an 18-year-old guy. In particular, a guy who is not really sure he is ready, or even able, to make the jump to independence and this weird thing called "adulthood":

Nick had figured it [adulthood] was something that happened to everyone. That at some point you got tall and grew out of pimples and into the ability to understand what stock options are. So far, none of that has happened for Nick, and he's starting to worry it maybe never will (670).

Readers, then, can be excused for worrying, too. Especially when they read scenes like the one with which the novel opens: Nick's well-meaning dad has scored him an office job working for a construction company, where Nick spends most of his time playing with the stapler and ogling the hot construction workers. Especially a sexy guy named Jai, whose ass Nick commemorates in haiku in his notebook:

That ass is so hot.
 I would totally hit it.
Yes yes yes yes yes. (83)

After less than a week on the job, Nick finds himself asking if Jai owns any leather pants. And then asking if Jai would like Nick to suck his dick.

On the jobsite.

In a porta-potty.

Where of course they get discovered by the boss. . .

As Devon says to Nick after he hears about the porta-potty incident, "You're not a bad person. . . You just have terrible impulse control" (390). Or as later Nick reflects, "His mouth still works. It's never needed his brain to function. Ask anyone" (1547). Both understatements of the year.

When I first started Nick's story, I thought for sure that he and Devon would end up discovering love together, perhaps because of passages such as this one:

Devon is also oddly protective of Nick sometimes. He claims it's because he's three months older than Nick, and therefore the big brother in this bromance. Nick claims it's because he's secretly jealous of any guy who tries to get with Nick, because of complex abandonment issues and uncertainty about his own sexuality. It's probably some weird mix of both, but they've never bothered to analyze it except in a teasing way. (120)

And this one:

There was a time when Nick and Devon had to swear to his parents that they weren't sleeping together—well, they were sleeping, but that was all—because yeah, they are weirdly codependent and they are snuggle buddies. Nick's mom doesn't even blink these days when she finds Devon sleeping in Nick's bed. (723)

Only gradually did I realize that because Henry's writes in such deep point of view, we are getting Nick's take on his and Devon's relationship, rather than the neutrality the third person narration initially suggests. As, for example in this second, slightly different, take on the "the thing that happened at baseball camp when they were fourteen that they don't talk about":

Devon is the first person Nick came out to. Nick was sixteen. And Devon was totally not surprised. Which, after that thing at baseball camp, okay. Yeah, maybe Nick had totally initiated things and Devon had just gone along with it when Nick promised that straight bros jerked off together all the time. Really, he, isn't sure why it took him another two years to come out to Devon. And then, when he did, Devon had only nodded, hugged him, and asked him if he wanted backup when he told his parents. Devon is fucking incredible, and, if he weren't straight, Nick would be planning their wedding already. (378)

I also might have realized that Devon and Nick weren't destined for love because of the dual narrative of the novel From a formal narrative standpoint, if Devon had been Nick's intended love interest, I would expect that the book would give me his point of view, as well as Nick's. But it is not Devon, but twenty five-year-old Jai who serves as the story's second focalizer.

And it is Jai, who is as adrift in many ways as is Nick, who ends up becoming Nick's summer fuck buddy, not Devon.

For his part, Devon is nursing a crush of his own, on a girl who works with him at his summer job at the local pizza parlor. I absolutely loved how Henry depicts how a heterosexual male teen's awareness of women's issues plays out in his thinking about how to interact with a girl:

[Nick] attacks the rest of the pizza while he listens to Devon wax lyrical about how incredible Ebony is, and how she's funny and smart and also really pretty, except what if she still thinks he helped her make signs to protest the protesters at Planned Parenthood that time just because he was trying to get into her pants? Devon's a nice guy, but he's worried that she thinks he's one of those 'nice' guys who's only interested in being friends with her if it goes somewhere. And Devon wants it to go somewhere, even though of course Ebony doesn't owe him anything. It's complicated. Devon's too scared to make a move because he's been crippled by the weight of his male privilege. He only discovered it a few months ago, and it's shaken him up pretty badly. (400)

Or, as Devon explains it, "I don't want to turn into one of those assholes who gets all angry on Reddit about being friend-zoned and hates on every girl for being too good for him" (404). Hilarious and dead-on feminist, here and during a understatedly funny "shovel talk," the details of which I will let you discover yourself.

And I loved it that Henry makes space for a friendship between to men in which they could snuggle but have it not be sexual. And that a male friend can be protective of another male, rather than the usual female (see the aftermath of the aforementioned shovel talk).

And that traditional gender roles between gay male lovers are called into question, too:

     "You think because you fit the description of a twink that you can't top?"
     Nick narrows his eyes, like he suspects a trap. "Maybe?"
     "You need to find more porn," Jai tells him.
     "Lack of porn has never been a problem for me before. Trust me."
     "Better porn, then. Porn where bigger, older guys are getting absolutely plowed by twinks. See if you like it.
     Nick's eyes actually glaze over. "I," he begins, then stops. He draws a deep breath. "I will get right on that. Thanks, dude!" (1183)

Feminism in the details, as a taken-for-granted part of everyday life. And all in the midst of the funniest, sweetest romance I've read all year.

Sign me up for more Lisa Henry.

Photo credits:
male privilege sampler: Rebloggy

Adulting 101
Riptide, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Early Edith Layton and Male-Inflected Romance

Last month, on the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog, Darlene Marshall wrote a column for lovers of Mary Balogh's historical romances, with recommendations of authors to read "after you've read every Mary Balogh." I'd already read all of Joanna Bourne's books, and most of Jo Beverly's, but I'd only read one by the third author Marshall recommended, Edith Layton. Marshall's description of Layton's The Duke's Wager ("a classic modern Regency which strays beyond the conventions, giving us a questionable hero whose true self is only revealed in small glimpses as the story unfolds")—intrigued me. And so began a month of Layton indulgence.

After reading the first six Signet romances Layton published—The Duke's Wager (1983), The Disdainful Marquis (1983), The Mysterious Heir (1984), Red Jack's Daughter (1984), Lord of Dishonor (1984) and The Abandoned Bride (1985)—I've come to admire Layton's prose style, in particular her skillful use of point of view. Especially in openings of her novels, she often uses a distant narrative point of view to convey the sense of aristocrats being looked upon by the wider world, and being judged by that world:

But when the magnificent carriage bearing the insignia of St. John Basil St. Charles, Marquis of Bessacarr drew up to the curb and a large gentleman alighted, sweeping his impassive stare over them, even the hungriest among them did not press any further forward. Here was a knowing one, they thought, and a hard one, who would not need to dazzle his ladybird with careless largess to strangers. (Kindle Loc 64)

But once her story begins she pulls closer, allowing us inside the heads of her characters.

In spite of the fact that she uses multiple points of view, allowing us access to both her heroes and her heroines' minds, though, I must confess I found her heroes far more interesting, and far more psychologically complex, than the heroines with which they are paired. Layton's heroines may "stray beyond the conventions" of Regency society, but they always do so in plot, not in character. And when they stray, they do so by accident, not by design. For example, Regina of The Duke's Wager mistakenly attends the opera on a night meant only for the demimonde, thus drawing the attention of not just one, but two men who wish to "protect" her, while Catherine of The Disdainful Marquis takes a job as a lady's companion only to discover that her employer "expected her hired companions not to please her, but to please the gentlemen she adored having swarm around her." At heart, though, each young woman is conventional in the Signet Regency way: a virtuous, sexually innocent, good young lady.

Layton's men, though—well, to me at least, they were drawn with far more variety. The Duke's Wager features two rakes, rakes who actually are rakes, one quite openly, the other more in secret:

It was well known that St. John was in the petticoat line, that his doings among these graceless females exceeded that which could be called normal in a man of his position.... There were tales of mistresses, and wild parties and license. But his behavior in the drawing room was impeccable, even if his behavior in other rooms was wide open to speculation. (Kindle Loc 471)

But their reasons for their rakish behavior, as well as their methods for accomplishing their rakish goals, are dramatically different. And because Layton allows us inside both of their heads, as well as inside the head of the current object of their mutual pursuit, readers never know for sure which man will end up winning fair Regina's regard. And readers get to make their own judgments, along with Regina, about the behavior of both men. The best part was that readers get to see how and why one man reforms (at least in part), and why the other does not.

Lord of Dishonor's Christian, Viscount North is a also a rake, but for entirely different reasons than are the gentlemen in Wager. But he, as well as the heroes of the three other books I read, who are more in the upstanding rather than the rakish line, each come across as far more experienced, and thus far more skilled in navigating the social and romantic world, than do their female counterparts. Quite often while reading, I felt as if I were being invited to laugh at the heroines and the mistakes they make because of their inexperience, because I, like the heroes, knew far more about life and love than did the young ladies. And thus that I was being asked to identify more with the heroes than with the heroines.

I'm looking forward to reading further into Layton's Signet oeuvre, to see if her heroes continue to outshine her heroines, and in what ways. In the meantime, though, I'm wondering—are there any readers who prefer romances in which one side of the romantic partnership shines brighter than the other? Or is our current trend toward dual point of view romances make such preferences unlikely?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bad Boys Finish First? Cara McKenna's DOWNTOWN DEVIL

After a long and often difficult summer, I'm so happy to have the time and emotional oomph now to get back to writing about and reviewing romance. And it only seems fitting to restart the blog with thoughts on the latest from one of RNFF's favorite authors, Cara McKenna. In her edgy, intense romances, McKenna often interrogates the things we take for granted, not just about the romance genre, but about romantic relationships in general, something that I find deeply satisfying on both an intellectual and an emotional level. McKenna continues this trend in her latest erotic novel, Downtown Devil, the second book in her "Sins in the City" ménage series.

Edging closer and closer to her thirtieth birthday has Clare feeling restless, especially after taking a hiatus from sex after breaking with her overly staid boyfriend of three years. Working in a customer service call center certainly doesn't help, especially since Clare would far rather put her degree in Fine Arts to more creative use. But a girl needs to pay the bills, so Clare pursues her photography after hours, no matter how antsy she's feeling.

Clare's latest artistic project is a collection of portraits based on the question "So, What Are You?", a question Clare herself is often asked due to her biracial heritage (father Scotch-Irish, mom African-American). The project takes her typical people-watching to new levels, especially when she catches sight of the new hip barista manning the espresso machine at her favorite coffee shop:

He was at least half-Asian, Clare imagined, judging by his eyes and cheekbones, though his skin was fairly dark and his hair was a bundle of fat brown dreadlocks corralled into a spiky bun high at the back of his head. Black and Asian, she guessed, or maybe Pacific Islander? (7)

After sharing a bit of banter about the offensiveness (or lack thereof) of the question behind Clare's project, hot younger Mica agrees to pose. Clare tells herself not to get excited:

There was something about this guy. Maybe it was just an LA thing, but she sensed a certain lazy quality in him, a hypercasualness. Somebody this hot probably strolled from bed to bed and job to job, the next opportunity rising up before him just in time for his foot to touch down on it. She bet by Thursday he'd have totally forgotten about this chance meeting and have plans, and no clue what she was talking about or who she was when she called to meet up.
     But no way in hell was she not going to try. (14)

Clare does more than try; later that week, she agrees to take her photos of Mica at a party to which he invites her. And, after a successful shoot, Clare's wishes come true as she winds up in Mica's bed. Clare can see from one glance at Mica's room that while "Clare was a nester. Mica was migratory" but since she is after "some fond X-rated memories, but nothing more" (38), Clare isn't worried. And the sex that ensues proves even better than Clare had dreamed: "This is how I want sex to be. A thrilling exchange of power, one lover ordering, yet the other in control" (45). "Life-altering sex" (126) with the sensual bad boy—that's what romance novels are all about, no?

Why, then, is the male point of view that McKenna balances against Clare's not Mica's, but that of Mica's childhood friend and current roommate, Vaughn? Mica, who loves to entice but who tends to slam the door shut whenever anyone starts to expect anything of him, has disappeared by morning, leaving Clare to do the morning-after breakfast and greet with Vaughn. The night before, Clare had immediately pegged Vaughn as the opposite of Mica as soon as she was introduced: "You could sense steadiness and reliability on a person the same way you could sense sheistiness," and Vaughn, an EMT, is as steady as a rock (29).

Though Vaughn is attracted to Clare, he knows that he's not likely to turn her attentions from the far more compelling Mica:

Vaughn had always gravitated toward those bohemian types. Artists and musicians—creative girls, to bring a little spontaneity into his life, since he was Mr. Predictable, Mr. Routine. Though for as long as Mica was staying with him, Vaughn doubted he'd be having much luck in that department. He wasn't blind. He knew his best friend was basically catnip to women. Good-looking, fearless, flirtatious. Vaughn didn't think he was too shabby himself, but his dad had taught him to be a gentleman, and nice guys did finish last, at least when the competition was as charismatic as Mica. (65)

And Vaughn is nothing if not the quintessentially conventional nice guy.

Except, of course, for that one time when he and Mica got drunk on a camping trip, and Mica— No. Vaughn, brought up with the strict code of his father's gentlemanly African-American masculinity, squelches that memory down as quickly as he can. He's straight, after all. And he made Mica promise that nothing like that would happen again before he would agree to let Mica share his apartment for the summer.

But what if intense, sexually compelling Mica can orchestrate a "life-altering" sexual encounter not just between himself and Vaughn, or between himself and Clare, but between the three of them?

Ménage romances often end with all three participants in a group HEA, all equally committed to the others and to their triangulated relationship. But what happens when one partners likes one point of the triangle better than the other? And when one partner doesn't want to get pulled into any type of committed relationship at all? Does it matter how hot the sex is, when you need someone to help you navigate the small indignities and disappointments of everyday life?

Clare grows increasingly aware of, and upset by, Mica's thoughtlessness, even while she finds herself still wildly attracted to the guy. When she talks to Vaughn about her disappointment, Vaughn can certainly sympathize. Mica's thoughtlessness, his best friend well knows, is a big part of the guy's appeal:

Is the graph different, though, for a long-term partner?
"You watch him climb, and it's like his body knows the rock, knows exactly where every hold is, like he's been there a hundred times, even though you know it's the opposite. Everything he does—the way he moves and the way he talks, it's totally thoughtless. It's like. . . It's kind of amazing... But it can also be incredibly irritating.... If you're trying to coordinate flights with Mica, or any other sort of plans, or getting a rent check out of him...  Yeah, I love the guy, but I want to wring his neck on a daily basis" (131).

What Vaughn wants from a friend, though, is far different than what he wants from a girlfriend: "When I get married, I want my wife to be my partner. The one who picks up the slack and covers for me when I mess up, or when things don't go the way I plan them to. I can deal with a flaky best friend, but a flaky partner? Nobody's perfect, but I plan to find myself a grown-ass woman" (132).

What, though, does Clare want? And how will she go about getting it?

The answer proves both surprising, and surprisingly satisfying, acknowledging as it does the need for both stability and spark in any successful committed romantic relationship—whether it features two, or three, partners.

Photo credits:
"Who Are You?": Skidmore Unofficial
EMT logo: Sukirgent
Flaky chart: Buzzfeed

Downtown Devil
Intermix, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016


In an earlier review post about Love Between the Covers, a documentary about the romance writing community, I don't believe I mentioned that I had been interviewed for the film, although my interview did not end up being featured :-(. But to celebrate the nationwide release of the film, director Laurie Kahn has released a bunch of clips from interviews that were not included in the final cut—including two by yours truly.

The first is a very general discussion of how heroes in heterosexual romance have changed from the 1970's to the present:

LBTC Bonus Clip - Jackie Horne - The construction of masculinity from Laurie Kahn on Vimeo.

The second talks about the pleasures and potential problems in hetersexual women reading male/male romance:

LBTC Bonus Clip - Jackie Horne - Male/male romance written by women from Laurie Kahn on Vimeo.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on either!

And, case you haven't seen it yet, here's a trailer for the film:

Love Between the Covers - Official Trailer from Laurie Kahn on Vimeo.

Love Between the Covers may not have been featured at your local cinema, but that is no longer an impediment to your viewing pleasure. Because the documentary is now available for rental and/or purchase, at Amazon and iTunes. And it's also available on a lot of other platforms, too (Google Play, xbox, satellite TV, Comcast On Demand, and many others). For more information on said other platforms, and for other bonus material not included in the film, check out filmmaker Laurie Kahn's web site.