Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday Talk Time - What are you reading with Michelle Douglas

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas joins us this Thursday to talk about what's on her reading list!

As we speak, I will be attending the inaugural conference of the IASPR (International Association for the Study of Popular Romance) in Brisbane. As I’m an MPhil candidate at my local university... and as this conference is on the Thursday and Friday before the RWAust conference, well... what more can I say? So I thought I’d share with you my three favourite non-fiction books about romance (that aren’t how-to books – I’m addicted to those too, by the way). These are all books I’d read whether I was studying at university or not. Books I think lots of romance readers would find interesting too.

The Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis
As this book inspired the paper I’ll be giving at the conference (did I mention I’m giving a paper?) it is the first book on my list. I LOVE this book. Regis provides a new definition of the romance novel, she provides a defence of romance and then she traces the history of the romance novel from Richardson’s Pamela through to Nora Roberts. (If I have one criticism of this book it’s that I now want to reread Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer, Jayne Ann Krentz, Janet Dailey and Nora Roberts. My TBR pile has morphed into three TBR piles!)

The book is accessible and easy to read – not bogged down by pretentious academic language (btw I hate having to read sentences three times to make sense of them. The writer in me suspects that the writers of such books don’t have the confidence in their arguments to express them in plain English). Reading this book made me feel prouder of my genre. Regis says the romance novel “is about celebrating freedom and joy.” What’s not to love about that?

Oh yeah, and I really loved the quotation on the inside cover:
Beth went out with Eric last night (as you may or may not know). I’m REALLY ANGRY (not at her, but at him) but of course he’s not here and she is. I hate everything. I’m holding my breath.
– handwritten on the flyleaf of a library copy of Pride and Prejudice

I swear I just saw the ears of all the romance writers out there prick up at that titbit!

Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women edited by Jayne Ann Krentz
This is a collection of essays by romance authors on the appeal of romance. There are essays in here that speak to me as a reader of romance, a writer and (dare I say it?) a scholar. It includes essays by authors as diverse as Jayne Ann Krentz, Diana Palmer, Anne Stuart, Robyn Donald, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Daphne Clair and many more. Also, listen to the titles of some of these essays – Sweet Subversions; Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know; Mean, Moody and Magnificent; Judge Me by the Joy I Bring – now doesn’t that just make you want to pick the book up and read on?

The Romance Fiction of Mills & Boon 1909 – 1990s by Jay Dixon
This is an historical account of the development of Mills & Boon romances over the best part of a century. Dixon writes as an insider (she used to work for M&B), as an avid reader of romance, and as a feminist. She blasts many of the myths surrounding M&B novels – for example, did you know that pre-marital and/or extramarital sex have featured in M&Bs in every decade from before the First World War? Or that the macho alpha hero we associate with M&Bs only made his appearance in the 70s? Before then M&B heroes included men who were younger, poorer and/or physically inferior to the heroine. And guess what – M&B heroines have often challenged contemporary ideologies. Now, who’d have thought, huh?

The real reason I want Jay Dixon as my new best friend, though – this book is based on a study of over a thousand Mills & Boon novels. She’s read over a thousand romances. Imagine... I think I’d just die and go to heaven!

I’m sorry I won’t be back to blog until Monday, but for a chance to go into the draw to win a copy of my latest release just leave a comment telling me what you’re reading at the moment.

Michelle’s latest release, Bachelor Dad On Her Doorstep, is out now in the UK and North America, and Australia/New Zealand in September. She’s thrilled that it received a 5 star review from Cataromance. For more information you can visit her website


  1. Great post Michelle - a few books there I want to get my hands on now!

    I'm currently reading Nat Anderson's 'Between The Italian's Sheets' and of course... am loving it!

  2. Hi Michelle. I'm reading a Kate Walker book at the moment - stayed up too late last night finishing it off and I'm reaping the consequences now as I've got to go to work! Take care. Caroline x

  3. Hi Michelle - I'm definitely going to add the books you've mentioned to my TBR pile.

    At the moment, I'm reading a humorous book by South African writer Fiona Snyckers called "Trinity Rising". At last, a local novel that doesn't take our history too seriously and where the love interest is a serious academic.

  4. I'm reading The Pact by Jodi Picoult - actually my first by her!

  5. I'm reading Michelle Styles - 'Taken by the Viking'. I've been trying read it for weeks but that's not Michelle's fault - things keep getting in the way!

  6. Line of Scrimmage by Marie Force; awesome cover.

  7. Ooh lots of new books to add to my reading pile there - thanks for posting, ladies!

    Rachael Johns, you've won a copy of Bachelor Dad On Her Doorstep. If you'd like to pop me an email (michelle @ michelle-douglas . com) with your details, I'll send it out to you asap.