Hello Kate and thanks for inviting me to participate in the 2013 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation event. I am here to talk a little bit about Lesbian fiction in the romance genre. I will preface this with the note that I have only read a handful of lesbian romances, half of which were written by our hostess, KT Grant.
One thing I've noticed during my three years of blogging is that lesbian romances are not very popular. It's not just among those reading and/or reviewing; there just don't seem to be many lesbian romances out there (especially PNR). Now women hooking up to have sex for the carnal pleasure of sex - especially in a menage story - is more common, but two women falling in love... those books just aren’t out there. And I bet it’s the same for you... If I were to say to you, “I read and review GLBT romance books,” I'd guess that over 80% of you would assume I meant a gay (aka m/m) romance. Why is that? I will admit I love me some great m/m romance stories. I also enjoy reading m/f, menage, shifters, vampires, BDSM, etc. And yes, I do enjoy reading f/f - lesbian romances.
One of the things that I enjoy about romance stories in general, is the escapism and happy endings. I am not ashamed to say that I often put myself in the mindset of the primary heroine while enjoying a romance book. By tying myself to the main character, I experience a stronger emotional link with the story, making the reading experience more satisfying for me. As the heroine of the story, I reap the benefits of a happy ending and a good looking male to take home.
However, this way of reading started to shift once I began reading other types of romance novels - ones "outside of the norm." I was introduced to the m/m romance genre via some friends on twitter. I'll admit, I was hooked pretty quickly. Of course as with any romance book, the story and bond between the characters must be strong, but when it comes to the sex... well, the images and thoughts of two hot men getting it on was appealing. Once I started reading m/m romances, I no longer imaged myself as the lead character. However, what did happen is I began to connect with the story: the characters' emotions and their surroundings, in a different, yet more satisfying manner. I no longer "saw" myself as a character, but "felt" myself in the story.
This approach to reading is now my preferred way to read a book. A good book is one where I can make an emotional connection. A great story is one where I feel the emotions written into the pages. So, when I was first approached about reading a lesbian romance, I was able to go in to the story “feeling” my way through.
I am thankful that I started reading lesbian romance. Just like I'd done with the m/m stories, I was able to connect on an emotional level with the characters. It didn't matter their gender, their sexual orientation, or anything else. What did matter was the hearts of the characters, the emotional intensity of the book, and the quality of the storytelling. And just like I had found with "straight" and m/m romances, lesbian romance fiction has depth and quality while offering some unique stories.
So, why aren't there more lesbian romances? Why does GLBT tend to mean m/m in the romance world? Why aren't there more authors, publishers and bloggers, writing, publicizing, and reviewing these stories? I think partially, it's an uncertain and untested market. I'm hoping that with the popularity of m/m romances, lesbian fiction will find a stronger, more accepting market share. I know that I will continue to look for lesbian romances, hopefully with a paranormal flavor!
Thanks, KT, for allowing me to share a few of my thoughts regarding Lesbian Fiction today.