Stephanie Burgis
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thinking about romance
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Mmmm. Right now I'm listening to Franz Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow, my favorite musical romantic comedy in the universe. Lovely sparky dialogue, twists and turns, fantastic chemistry between the two lead characters, and the funniest last line of any romantic comedy ever...delicious!

Meanwhile, I'm excited because I just found out that Loretta Chase, my favorite living author of Regency-era romantic comedies, is about to come out with a new book, Your Scandalous Ways, which got a starred review in Publisher's Weekly and which - based on the review and the excerpts I've read so far - is chock-full of early 19th-century spies, adventure, romance and Loretta Chase's trademark sly humor. Of course, the same ingredients, minus the humor, made up a much-reviewed first-novel Regency romance that I read earlier this year and wasn't thrilled by...but oh, humor makes such a difference! And of course it helps that I'd buy any novel Loretta Chase wrote regardless of the plot or setting, so getting to have spies and adventure along with the romance and sparky dialogue is just frosting on the cake.

I'd been thinking about this anyway because of Sherwood Smith's blog entry Romance Tropes and Narrative, which raised a lot of interesting points for me. Just to mention one book she brought up, I don't actually love Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, which I read last year - but I think I would have loved it when I was a teenager. Back then, I would have eaten it up like candy, because Meyer's writing straight toward a lot of the yearnings and dreams I had at that age. Nowadays, it just doesn't match what I'm looking for. (And btw, I'm not saying that it's only worthy reading for teenagers - just that my reading tastes have changed a lot in the last ten years.) I am still capable of loving big tortured romances without any leavening threads of humor, only mind-bending passion and drama...but it's increasingly rare for me.

What makes me really, really happy nowadays is sparkling banter, awkward mishaps, and a hero and heroine who are perfect equals, striking sparks off each other with the funniest possible consequences. Some of my favorites that I've read (or re-read) recently are Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me, Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible, Georgette Heyer's Cotillion and The Talisman Ring...oh, and so many more. I HATE the average Hollywood rom-coms, which seem to me to often display a real contempt for their watchers - there's the feeling that they don't have to be smart or sharp, women will buy them anyway...but when romantic comedy really does sizzle with humor and chemistry and genuinely funny dialogue, there's nothing I love more.

And now I'm in the mood for a 1930s screwball comedy movie-fest....

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