Romance vs. Reality

Alright, Ladies and Gents, I want to know what you think about a topic that was recently brought to my attention.
The other night I asked my husband if he would read the beginning of my book and give me an objective opinion.
*Before I go any further, let me point out that my darling hubby is extremely forthcoming with all of his opinions – whether it’s something as miniscule as my fun-patterned knee socks that I love (and he hates) or something much bigger like his political views – and also has a dislike for anything unrealistic. He’s very alpha male, but his romantic side is only coaxed to the surface with (a lot of) alcohol. Oh, in case you’re a newbie to my blog, I should probably emphasize that I write…
Paranormal Romance!!!
Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either. 😉 j/k*
So he gets through about two pages and can’t bring himself to keep reading, due to the unrealistic nature of the content. WHAT?!?! Unrealistic? I haven’t even gotten to anything paranormal yet. It’s at a college graduation party for cryin’ out loud, I think to myself. What could possibly be unrealistic about it?
If you haven’t read my First Chapter yet (how come?! It’s only posted on here like a bazillion times in a bazillion different versions. What else do you have to do?) the premise is to establish the relationship between my hero, Dominic, and my heroine, Angelica. They’ve known each other since they were five and have been best friends, but Dominic has always had a secret crush on her. He hides it pretty well and Angelica is too naive to ever notice. In the opening scene, Dominic is inebriated and has a hard time controlling his more amorous and lusty thoughts about her. During one of the times that his mind goes off on a sexual tangent of all the things he wants to do to her, it mentions “the part of him that was now pressed against his zipper,” which (for all of you Angelicas out there) is of course referring to the erection in his jeans.
So, my husband says that he has never known any man that has ever gotten hard just from thinking about a girl in such a public setting, much less when he’s plastered, and even less when it’s a girl he’s known for almost two decades because he would’ve learned to control that years ago. AND he says that there’s no way that Angelica wouldn’t know he had the hots for her, therefore she would feel uncomfortable around him as opposed to the oblivious comfort she feels. Now, because I’m not a guy, I can’t argue his points because I truly don’t know what the norm is for men who are in the middle of a bender with lusty thoughts of their life-long best friend. So here’s a snippet of our conversation that followed, and then I’ll get to my point…
Me: Well, that’s why we like the romance books because who doesn’t want a man who’ll get hard just at the thought of her?
Him: Seriously? In real life you’d like to have some guy, or one of your friends, get hard just from being around you?
Me: (my initial knee jerk reaction) Of course! That’s hot.
*Husband giving me that look that causes me to pause and really try to picture what he’s saying*
Me: Actually that might be more creepy and awkward than hot.
Him: Which is exactly my point. It’s super fake.
Now, for those of us that are avid romance readers (holla!) we all know that this is completely normal and we would be extremely remiss if we didn’t mention how the sight of the heroine affected our heros on such a physical level. It gives us the tingles, the shivers, the butterflies, what have you. In our alternative universes it’s not only an acceptable reaction to a man’s lady interest, but it’s a necessary reaction. I mean, what fun would it be to read “Dominic’s eyes traveled over her body and appreciated her beauty, but thanks to years of training himself against his baser reactions, it no longer affected him.” Oh, HELL no! Closing the book and moving on to another one. Thank you and goodnight.
So my questions are these:
  1. Girls: Would you feel totally comfortable – even flattered – if you knew someone (friend, co-worker, acquaintance, random stranger at the grocery store) got an erection just at the mere sight of you?
  2. Guys: Do you think it’s more common than my husband seems to think for a guy to have that kind of reaction to a girl?
  3. Girls: Why, if in real life we wouldn’t like that type of attention, do we crave it in our books? Is is simply because we can suspend our disbelief enough to allow ourselves to be immersed in a world where alpha male attentions run rampant and fierce and the men are so damn desirable that who the fark doesn’t want that kind of flattery? (btw, fark is my new favorite made-up swear word. it’s fun to say. try it. i’m going for a global trend here, people.)
Okay, let’s hear it kids! What are your thoughts on this whole schlameel?

14 Comments on “Romance vs. Reality”

  1. Here's my thoughts:

    In real life, no I wouldn't want men going around with erections at the sight/thought/memory/whatever of me. That creeps me out. Like really makes me uncomfortable.
    BUT if I liked the guy back, I wouldn't mind it as much.

    So basically it all depends on the girl's feelings towards the guy(s) in question.

    Which explains why we women like it in a romance book. We *know* the heroine likes (or will soon like) the hero in return, which makes his unchecked physical reaction perfectly okay.

    That's my take anyway!

  2. PLUS, in a romance novel, you know that the hero getting the stiffies is safe, that he's not going to corner the woman in a dark alley and do something scary to her. If some guy fantasized about me with that kind of reaction, I'd be getting a restraining order.

    However, if it was someone I knew, and I'd gone to extra lengths to make myself look hawt, and I surreptitiously noticed a salute, I wouldn't necessarily be turned off.

    I guess it's just a matter of feeling safe and comfortable, you know?

  3. If we were both really into one another I would say that I wouldn't mind it so much, it might be hot, however if he was just some guy who had the hots for me I would definitely be bothered by it. Very creeped out. I'm with Summer a restraining order would be issued immediately.

  4. MeganRebekah – you make a very valid point when you say that we already know the outcome of the relationsip and no matter what POV we're reading at the time, something is always written to convey that the female – whether she's fighting it or not – is responding in like to the males attentions.

    That sounded like a narration from NatGeo, didn't it?

  5. Summer – you're hilarious. I was drinking a glass of water and it almost came out my nose when I read “stiffies” and “surreptitiously noticed a salute.” LOL Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts. I highly agree with you.

  6. Jen – Yup. You've got kinda-sorta-hot on one side of the spectrum and restraining order on the other. We're fickle creatures, aren't we? It reminds me of one of my all time fave movies, P.S. I Love You when Harry Connick Jr's character asks Hilary Swank “what women want” and she tells him that our big secret is that “we have absolutely no idea.” lol How very true.

  7. Okay, you baited me into this. 🙂 Here's my take. First off, somebody already said it, you're writing paranormal ROMANCE…not a text book. It's not about what would happen in real-life, it's about what your readers want to experience. And in the romance world, if two characters were linked, however tenuously, then YES I believe girls would get a thrill knowing they sparked that kind of reaction in a man.

    Could guys reach periscope depth in public? Definitely, with alcohol involved and the right kind of playful banter. Take my word on this. But its downright uncomfortable knowing you can be manipulated like that so easily.

    Why the double-standard…restraining order versus acceptable behavior? Its escapist entertainment, thats why. It really doesn't sound like your husband is the best person to critique your material…he's not in your target audience and can't relate.

  8. Escapist entertainment. I love that description and you are dead on. Escaping the real world for a few hours at a time is the reason I love books, movies and the theatre. It's also the reason I've always wanted to be a part of creating that magic – to help others escape into worlds that are beyond our reach.

    I happen to love LOVE. Finding it, being in it, losing it…it's all so powerful. So creating unrealistic relationships in an unrealistic world then becomes quite realistic, doesn't it? Thanks DL. 🙂 I wish I could say I was sorry for baiting you, but I'd be lying. 😉

    And yes, my husband and I have since agreed to disagree about the content of my book and leave the marketing to him (what he IS good at) once it's finished.

  9. I admit I would not want some guy getting hard when he looked at me, but your suggestion that we want things in books that we wouldn't want in real life is completely valid. In my own writing, I find my characters responding positively to things I would never react that way to in reality. But that's why we call it fiction…it's our great escape, both as writers and as readers – a place to be the person we can't be in the real world.

  10. Okay, yeah, there's a slight ick factor to the idea of some guy having an immediate physical reaction every time he sees me. BUT, I do agree that as a romance reader, it is kind of expected–a strong physical reaction, no matter how hard it is to control, is paramount. As Wendy said, we look for things in a romance novel that we don't look for in real life. Just think of the bazillion cheesey lines and declarations of love that seem so romantic when we read it, but make us want to gag if we actually hear it out loud. Also, I do think that it's possible for a woman to not know, at least consciously, that some guy has had the hots for her for 15 years. We can remain surprisingly oblivious to that kind of stuff–or at least denying it if the thought ever crosses our minds.

  11. Great post, Gina! You really do crack me up. I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. For me, I have to totally agree. That would wig me out! But for some reason it works in paranormal romance.

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