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Monday, August 20, 2007

What's the failure rate of condoms in romance novels?



As a public service, I would like to take a moment to talk to all those romance novel heroines out there who are pondering a wild night out or a wild vacation to break out the monotony of their stifling lives. You know, the plain ones, the dependable ones, the ones who get passed over for more exciting women. I'd also like to address the romance novel heroes, passing time at the local club or watering hole when they notice a mysterious and highly attractive woman at the bar. Oh, I know how it goes: a few drinks, a few laughs, blazing chemistry. That's why I'm going to take a moment to make a suggestion before it goes too far. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE USE A BACK UP BIRTH CONTROL METHOD!!!! According to this site,the reliability rate for the male condom is 87-98% effective. In fiction world, it definitely seems to be on the low end, with condoms failing left and right, and accidental pregnancies resulting in every other book. I have read a number of books lately wherein the lead couple used a condom, but still ended up expecting.

I find it endlessly interesting to see what kinds of romance plots I seem to be drawn to. While I find the secret baby plot to be kind of tired, I find myself drawn over and over to a plot I like to think of as "Help, I had a one night stand, we're pregnant, and I'm falling in love with my baby momma/daddy!" Not exactly pithy, but you get the gist. Recently, I read two books along these lines,with mixed results.

I didn't particularly care for Father Material by Kimberly Van Meter, mostly because the heroine was a pill and the hero was too stupid to live. Natalie Simmons decides to go on a white water rafting trip to show her ex-fiance (who's going with his new girl) that she's not boring. First sign that I wouldn't like her. How desperate is that? The handsome, charming river guide, Evan Murphy, provides a shoulder to cry on, and a bit more. Natalie ends up pregnant, and decides not to tell Evan, because as a river guide/ski instructor he's obviously not father material. Evan can't stop thinking about Natalie, and shows up on her doorstep to return a necklace. After finding out about her pregnancy, he decides to move into the apartment underneath her, to help her and make sure he's not excluded from the baby's life. I tried to be sympathetic, but I just couldn't like either of these characters. Natalie came off as whiny and petulant, constantly insisting that Evan wouldn't be a good pappy, when he seemed pretty involved. Evan was so scarred by relationship trauma, that he became a ski bum, and absolutely refused to talk about anything personal. They were a couple of knuckleheads, who really needed to have a conversation, and by the time Evan pulls a really dick move at the end, I couldn't even care. It was just dumb. Kimberly Van Meter writes ok, and there are some laugh out loud moments in their internal monologues. Too bad they couldn't be more likeable. C-, but I'm keeping an eye out for Van Meter's other releases, because the other two sisters sounded a bit more interesting, and I'm marginally curious about their dickhead father.

Next I moved on to Accidentally Expecting by Michelle Celmer. This was one of those books that I really wanted to read, inexplicably to me. For one thing, it was a traditional guy/independent woman stories, and those often make me groan. But at the same time, I like "opposites attract" stories. For another thing, the cover really annoyed me, in particular, woman. She's got this dumb, drunken, self-satisfied look that bugs me. Regardless, I wanted it. This was my first read by this author, and it won't be my last. I enjoyed it. Accidentally Expecting is the story of Miranda Reed, author of a guide to divorce which extols the virtues of women staying single, and Zack Jameson, a 'relationship guru' who promotes traditional values of commitment. After participating in a radio debate, during which Zack makes Miranda looks like a feminist harpy, Miranda resolves to seduce Zack at the hotel where both are staying. Well, it doesn't take much effort and the two share a most satisfying night, then agree that they shouldn't see each other again, too different from one another. But once again the condom has failed, and after recovering from her surprise, Miranda goes to see Zack with the news. Zack is shocked. Getting a woman knocked up after a one-night stand wouldn't look good for his image. But he's very attracted to Miranda anyway, and determines to be there for her during the pregnancy, and overcome her fear of commitment. He moves into the condo across the street, they begin to dance around each other, communicate (unlike the first book), and fall in love. This was a B read, lively, enjoyable, featuring two intelligent and likeable characters with chemistry who need to get past their fears. What I'm looking for in a Harlequin, pretty much. There was a subplot featuring Zack's younger brother and his wife which wasn't resolved to my liking. The wife was a sympathetic character, and she got screwed over by her husband. Maybe she'll get her own book. I would've liked to see a bit more fallout regarding the public revelations. Michelle Celmer has a nice style and voice, and I'll be looking to see what her backlist holds.

Next: A Erotic Romance that is both super romantic and scorching hot. It can be done!!

9 comments:

ames said...

Safe sex is really important to me in the books I read-so lack of birth control drives me bonkers. LOL

Secret babies are just as bad. :P

QB said...

AAAAHHHH! Devon, where did your blogger template disappear to? You're blog is now so VERY WHITE!!

Devon said...

Ummm, good question, QB. Must investigate. Guess it's time for a fall makeover anyway.

Ames--I find it yucky myself. I think a lot of the reason I'm interested in this type of book is curiosity about how they will handle it. Can they make me overcome my distaste for romanticizing risky sex practices?

Kimberly Van Meter said...

Hi! Just popped by your blog and noticed that you had read FATHER MATERIAL. It's unfortunate it wasn't the right book for you and didn't quite meet your expectations. When I wrote this story I was just coming off my first book, THE TRUTH ABOUT FAMILY, which was a very dark love story. I wanted FATHER MATERIAL to be fun and light; a nice read introducing people to a great bunch of people. So, don't give up entirely. Natasha's story is next. And I promise there are no failed condoms. :-)

Devon said...

Thanks for stopping by Kimberly! And for having a sense of humor about the review:) I liked sister Nora, and am curious about Natasha, so I'll be looking out for the next ones.

Kimberly Van Meter said...

Devon,

No problem. I think you'll enjoy Nora's story. I just finished the line edits and she's such a kick in the ass. Take no prisoners kind of person. Check her out in April. :-)

Kim

Kate Diamond said...

This post was hilarious! And Kim, I'm so impressed with your sense of humor and grace under review! This calls for a trip to the book store...

Devon said...

Kim--I will. And I looked up The Truth About Family (Ms. Van Meter's first novel) and it sounds quite interesting as well.

Kimberly Van Meter said...

LOL..what can I say...I'm the kind of girl who turns lemons into lemon shooters. :-P


Kim