I have read an article, yes, another, on how romance makes women unhappy in their real lives. We poor unfortunate idiots will be confused, and our marriages and relationships will suffer. No man can compare with a gray-eyed count riding through the mist, yada yada.
I should be tired of this subject. No one says mystery fans have trust issues because they are constantly suspicious of others. Horror fans do not become hatchet-wielding maniacs. Neither do fans of Sidney Sheldon type stories believe they are sex-crazed jet setters on the Riviera. I should ignore it, but here goes. From a firmly committed historical romance fan, I present you:
Five Reasons I Know Historical Romance Just Ain’t Real
1) The Horse Race
. All truly gently bred Regency women may have been horse mad, but I think about things like this: the heroines always get into a race with the hero. They fly at breakneck speeds, mostly so the hero can be very impressed with our girl’s skills. And she’s flying at breakneck speeds SIDESADDLE. Hello, one good bounce and she’s off that thing, isn’t she? I’m sure there are dedicated horsewomen who can run with a sidesaddle, but whooshing like the wind? Even if she can, she’s wearing a velvet riding habit. Not pants- let’s make that clear. Not even a split skirt that fools you. It’s a skirt. With petticoats. And gold braided epaulettes on the shoulders. Can you imagine flying like the wind while clinging to a horse without benefit of squeezing your thigh muscles in a slippery, heavy velvet skirt? And when she comes back from the breakneck speed flying race, her matching military-style shako hat with the jaunty feather is still sitting at a rakish angle on her soft, shining curls. Her face is pleasantly pink from the exertion, and if she perspires at all it merely gives her a luminous sheen.
All I have to do is catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror after running up the stairs, wearing raggy shorts and hair in a ponytail, to know The Book’s a FANTASY.
2) Real Women Have Curves
. You know, I’d like to possess the one ability all historical heroines seem to have- the power to change from a reed stick chick who is short enough and flat enough and straight enough to look like a boy in male clothing, to a voluptuous vixen with long, long legs and a Dolly Parton décolletage later that night in a ball gown. Not to mention that their thick mass of soft waving hair of some striking color that generally reaches their waist is very easily tucked under a boy’s cap that miraculously stays put. They must use the same super glue that keeps those shakos on during the horse race.
My hair has trained itself over the years to take exactly as long to fall out of whatever style I’ve wrestled it into as it takes me to drive to wherever I’m going. And no minimizer bra ever made could make a difference; binding myself with cloths would only make me look like my protuberances were more saggy than they already are. The fact that no matter what I wear, or who I’m next to, or what I’m doing, my legs are at all times exactly the same length convinces me The Book’s a FANTASY.
3) Me No Need Sleep
. Have you ever noticed that men, especially in medievals, don’t need to sleep? He can fight all day, wielding a huge heavy sword, to kidnap a bride. He can ride well into the night, wearing the same sweaty chain mail. Once back at the keep, he attends to all the important business and fights a few duels if his men don’t appreciate their new mistress. He’ll eat a huge meal, heavy on protein and starch, drinking vast quantities of ale. Then he’ll be good for what is surely seven hours of energetic, inventive tea and crumpets. By the time our poor heroine comes to…er, wakes up, he’s been gone for hours, outside training the soldiers.
I don’t know a single woman whose husband is past the age of thirty-five who hasn’t had the experience: she works all day, at home or outside the home, cooks, cleans, gets kids caught up on homework and practice and bathed and read stories to and in bed, who puts a load of laundry in and sits on the couch listening to her beloved snoring in the recliner, where he’s been since right after dinner. My dh works very hard, and I appreciate him, but the man falls asleep as soon as his butt touches anything remotely like a chair. The snore serenade is background music to the realization- the Book’s a FANTASY.
4) Why Did We Invent Dentists?
Because, apparently, humans had no need of them until 1900. All heroes and heroines have perfect, white, straight teeth without benefit of toothpaste or Crest Whitestrips. That all these blinding, beautiful smiles belong to the English
pushes the suspension of disbelief to the terrifying limit. They drink red wines and strong tea; they eat food in rich, thick creamy sauces. They refresh themselves at tea time with sugar-laden pastries. No cavities. No rotting. No removal. No dim yellowing. And their smiles are all magically straight.
I have British ancestry. And I have big English beaver teeth. Even with my mother’s brushing admonitions, the little red tablets we had to chew in school to show us where we were missing when we brushed, and high dollar battery toothbrushes that do the work for you, I had cavities. And removal. And root canals. And dim yellowing. Part of the reason for removal was so there would be room for all my teeth in my mouth, so they didn’t have to grow out the sides. I look at pictures of myself in those big silver braces and think- the Book’s A FANTASY.
5) One With The Cosmos, Every Time
. Romance heroines have the great, grasping, gasping, shrieking experience every single time they have crumpets. If the author is to be believed, every single night. Several times, every time, every night. I get tired just reading about it. You might believe it of the Regency and medieval heroines who have a long line of servants, but the Westerns? These women have just carted water from the well, baked bread, washed clothes, planted vegetables, fed the livestock, gathered eggs, taken meat from the smokehouse, sewn new shirts, etc., etc. Just once you want to hear them say what one of the Desperate Housewives said- “Can I just lie here while you finish?”
Let’s face it. Even if the old adage about Chinese food is true and you both get your cookies, sometimes love just is what it is. That’s just fine with me. I am a fairly healthy woman, with all the equipment and the drive, but seven hours of totally organic experiences every night doesn’t sound exciting, it sounds exhausting. I will forever look at my fortune cookie and thank God that the Book’s a FANTASY.