Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Author Post: Introducing Historical Erotic Romance Author Juliana Ross

KB: I first "met" Juliana on Twitter, and after a very nice conversation with her, I headed over to her website and saw she had a book out, her first, with Carina Press. Since I love historical romance, especially ones that are sexy and erotic, I decided to buy Improper Relations. I ended up really enjoying the read. (click here for my review) I then invited Juliana to come on my blog and introduce herself.

You can find Juliana on her website or on Twitter: @ross_juliana.

Say hello and welcome to Juliana Ross! 

It’s been a little less than a year since Improper Relations was acquired by Carina Press, and for the most part I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reactions of my friends and family to the news.

I do have to make a gigantic exception for the conversation about romance fiction I had last fall with some relatives. Both were quick to tell me they didn¹t actually read romance fiction (although of course we¹re looking forward to reading your book), which I found irritating and just this side of offensive.

Near the end of the conversation, they decided to tell me about a creepy little game played by one of their local radio stations. Each week the station chooses a romance novel and then asks callers to randomly select a page to be read aloud. “Of course you can imagine how hilarious that is,” my relatives told me. “You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff they read out loud.”

Well, yeah. Pretty much anything is going to sound stupid or silly if only random excerpts are read out loud. How would one of Martin Amis’s books fare if treated that way? Or the latest Irvine Welsh? And that’s setting aside my very real suspicion that the portions read on air are previously selected so as to provide the most bang for the listeners’ proverbial buck.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t object. Didn’t tell my relatives how small-minded it was to criticize an entire genre of books based on outdated and misinformed notions of what that genre is like.

I kept quiet. Changed the subject. Didn’t fight back.

Well, I’m ready to fight back, and I have E.L. James to thank for it.

I want to say straight out that I’m not here to slagor praise the 50 Shades trilogy. I’m not a reviewer, so I honestly don’t consider myself able to offer an honest critique, although I have read all three, and I do have strong opinions about the books.

Instead I want to talk about the discussion surrounding the trilogy and its success. Most of what I’ve read or heard has been, quite frankly, troublesome. Some of it, I feel, has been positively loathsome. Not when discussing the relative merits of the books themselves, but rather in assessing the readership for the books.

I know I’m not alone when I say I will blow a gasket—loudly, messily and embarrassingly—If I hear even one more person refer to the books as “mommy porn”. They’re not porn, They’re erotica. And while I’m sure some of the people reading the 50 Shades trilogy are mothers, many are not. And is that honestly the only interesting descriptor that can be used about its readers?

Just as irritating, I find, are assertions that the success of books like the 50 Shades trilogy is only possible because of e-readers, which allow women to read their smutty fiction “in secret”.

Here’s a news flash: I buy most of my books electronically because my e-reader is light and portable. I took more than a hundred books on vacation with me, which would have been impossible without an e-reader (or a steamer trunk). I read mostly at night, in bed, and my e-reader (with clip-on light) lets me read without waking my husband. It’s also convenient: its wi-fi gives me access to a bookstore or library whenever I want to read something new, no matter what time of day it is or where I am. It’s also the case that my e-reader gives me access to fiction from digital-first publishers, Carina Press included, and to fiction in shorter formats such as short stories, novellas and serial novels.

I’m not ashamed of what I read. I unabashedly love romance fiction. I read in every genre and niche, and I’ve found books I adore in every last one of them. That’s the beauty of romance fiction.

As is the case with most genre fiction, romance fiction is inclusive. It welcomes everyone. It has something to offer everyone—providing, of course, they leave their prejudices and pee-conceived notions at the door.

Is there crap romance fiction out there? Of course there is. But there’s plenty of crap High Art Literature in the bookstores, too. How many times has my book club chosen the latest prize-winning novel, only for everyone to discover it’s dull, depressing and less enjoyable to read than the Berlin telephone directory?

So fight back.The next time someone makes an asinine comment about the book you’re reading, ask them if they’ve ever read any romance fiction. When they admit they haven’t, offer to lend them your favorite romance novel. Tell them to read it with an open mind (and possibly a glass of wine at hand if there are any really smexy bits). And make them promise to discuss it with you once they’re done.

There’s no guarantee they’ll like it. They may walk away just as convinced that romance fiction is ridiculous and inferior to “real” literature. (And, yes, that does make them a Philistine.) But there’s a good chance they will like it.

If they do, tell them about more books you love. Ask them to spread the word. And pat yourself on the back for doing your bit to stifle the naysayers.

They just don’t know what they’re missing.

Synopsis: When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified -- but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored.

The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him.

When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?


Dot S.( said...

Ms Ross is preaching to the choir here. Most of us reading this blog and others similar are romance readers and not embarassed about it. As a blogger and reviewer (or opinion giver)I too have had people disparage the romance genre. However I am mature enough to allow for differences in taste in literature. I feel no compulsion to convert only to inform. There are different levels of sensuality in romance literature and because a level may not be comfortable for some readers does not mean that they don't know what they are talking about. It may mean only that, perhaps, they have not found the niche that is for them.