Monday, May 16, 2011

Zits, Bristly Legs and PMS

Just recently, I've been reading comments on loops about the lack of 'reality' in romance. Our heroines, some say, never have zits, unshaved legs or PMS. None of them ever seem to have periods. And morning breath? No damned way, not even after spending the night slugging back booze and peanuts at the local bar.

Of course, the guys are in the same category. When was the last time an Alpha hero belched at an inappropriate moment, passed wind, scratched himself in public or acted like an ordinary human male would do?

Yep, we do make these people seem better than what we know our species to be. But is that so wrong?

I don't think so. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't want to read about balding guys with beer guts who drop food on their clothes while they're glued to a football game. And women who are hairer than guys doesn't cut it for me either. I don't want to see that in real life, so why in the hell would I want to read about it in a romance?

That's not to say that the people that populate our stories are completely perfect. Many of my heroines have been interesting looking, but not really pretty - yet the heroes think they're awesome. Same holds true for the guys. They're not all 8x10 glossies. Most, in fact, are ruggedly good-looking, not carbon copies of Brad Pitt. They're masculine, not gorgeous.

Rather than going for zits, morning breath and unshaved legs, I go for a different reality...beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. For example, in my latest erotic romance Take Me Away, Lexi is a film/TV star. I didn't make her perfect. In fact, at one point she confesses to Kyle, the hero, that she's had a nose job, veneers on her teeth and had her hairline raised - all so she could get more jobs in the biz. That's about as real as it gets.

In one scene, Lexi has made dinner for Kyle who's been avoiding her because she represents the fame he's escaped. Although she's a Hollywood star, when he shows up at his cabin for the meal, she doesn't look as he expected. Here's the excerpt:

Candles in a variety of sizes—fat, short, tall, slender—sat on the counter and the table, their flames flickering merrily, perfuming the room, along with what she’d cooked. Bowls of the cheesy potatoes and asparagus were next to a platter of sizzling chops.

Even from where Kyle stood, he could hear the inviting sound. He stared at the banquet and how she’d used one of his white bed sheets as a makeshift tablecloth.

“Welcome to Sands Diner,” she murmured.

Kyle’s swallow stalled, caught in his tightened throat. His gaze jumped from the food to her. Holding a long cooking spoon that she’d no doubt gotten from Pete, Lexi gestured for Kyle to take his chair.

He did not. His gaze swept over her hair, worn in a ponytail, her freshly scrubbed face, oversized tee, baggy shorts and cowgirl boots.

For a little kink, she’d said days ago.

Kyle’s cock reacted now, stiffening with interest, as though she was wearing skimpy lingerie or skin rather than an outfit he could only describe as sloppy. The kind a woman would choose to clean house or to discourage a guy from any carnal intentions.

Unfazed and still growing hard, his cock pressed against his jeans’ fly. She looked adorable. Hell, she looked better than the food.

That scene, to me, is reality. The best kind. Lexi isn't dolled up. She's not being overtly sexy. And yet, she touches Kyle's soul, because he likes her just as she is. Imperfect, human and adorable. :)
Buy link: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9333-take-me-away.aspx
Tina Donahue

“Heat with Heart”

TAKE ME AWAY (Available NOW)



IN HIS ARMS (SIX - 5 Star Reviews)

ADORED (award winning - 4 Stars RT)

Website: http://www.tinadonahue.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tinadonahue

YouTubeVideo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQm3OI8AZEE


Marie Rose Dufour said...

Love the excerpt! I agree with what you are saying. As readers, we want our characters to be like us. We want to be able to relate to their flaws. We want to say to ourselves, "See, I'm not the only one." Zits, pms, and prickly legs are common. We know everyone has this stuff. It's the other stuff that was want validation on!

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Marie - it's always nice when the hero sees past the flaws and loves the lady for what's inside. :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Shoot, if I wanted all that reality, I'd read a newspaper and skip novels. We all need to escape into a place where life turns out a bit better than what we experience in our daily lives. Now I do like the reality presented in the sights, sounds and smells of a well layered scene and that's exactly what I get whenever I read your work. You had me at cheesy potatoes. I already know that Take Me Away is going to be a huge success.
I have a question for you, Tina. Isn't Take Me Away a paranormal? If so, what is the paranormal element? Of course, don't answer if that's a spoiler.

Tina Donahue said...

No kidding, Sarah. I surely don't want to read about guys who belch, scratch themselves, etc. etc. I also want my heroines to be adorable or sexy...not perfect, but not frumpy either.

Nope, Take Me Away is NOT a paranormal. Where'd you get that idea? It's a contemporary erotic romance just like Sensual Stranger, Adored, etc.

Delaney Diamond said...

Funny you should bring up this topic, Tina. I had an idea rattling around in my brain for a blog post that touched on all the things we don't usually see in our romance novels: women who shave their underarms, burping, etc. LOL.

Personally, I don't want to see all that, but the type of scene in your excerpt is more to my liking.

Alfred Hitchcock said, "Drama is life with the dull parts taken out." As far as I'm concerned, so are romance novels.

Sandy said...

Tina, I love your excerpt.

We read books to take us away from reality, so why would we want a hero who belches, farts and scratches his privates. In real life, women don't want their men acting this way in public, so why would they want to read about it. I agree with you.

The reality for women is that they do PMS, shave their legs and have zits, but they don't tell or show everyone. To make it realistic, you could show a woman shaving her legs because she's expecting more from her date than just food. No woman wants a man to see her hairy legs. Show her worrying about a zit on her face. Who knows? I'm sure it could be done if you wanted to, but make it brief.

Lynn LaFleur said...

I agree too much reality isn't fun in a romance. A little bit is good. I've mentioned shaving and periods in my novels. However, my heroes are always heroic. No breaking wind allowed, at least not on scene! ;-)

Great excerpt, Tina.


Harlie Reader said...

Morning! I like a dose of realism, too. Do I need to know about the bleching, farting, periods, other such things. No, I don't but I do like to read about how they can wake up next to each other and know (in their minds) that they don't wake up pretty. Messing hair, morning breath, etc. In fact, I read one book where the heroine spilled out of bed and went to the bathroom to take care of business and brushed her teeth. Of course, the hero knew this and just smiled.

Tina Donahue said...

Good quote, Delaney - and I totally agree with Hitchcock. I'm not even all that fond of high-def TV - shows too many flaws. I like my fantasties. :)

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Sandy - glad you liked the excerpt. In my novel Close to Perfect I had my heroine in a bad mood because her high heels were pinching her feet and she was getting a zit on her chin. Made her seem real...but not too real. You know. You still want the fantasy.

Tina Donahue said...

LOL, Lynn - I know what you mean. Everyone in romance novels uses Beano and Mallox. :)

Glad you liked my excerpt.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Harlie Reader. In Take Me Away, Kyle wakes up while Lexi's still asleep. He makes a face at his morning breath and brushes his teeth - while she's still asleep. That's as far into reality as I was willing to go. :)

Harlie Reader said...

I agree. We all know what goes on. Great excerpt and I can't wait to read it.......

Tess MacKall said...

I like reality in my reading. However, not the kind that's a turn off. Hells bells, I don't want to see, hear, or smell a man "break wind" in real life. I sure as hell don't want to see it at all in a book I just paid to give me pleasure!

I say keep the reality to setting and accuracy in locales and details. Keep the reality in how a character will feel in certain situations. And let's leave the farts and burps for real life. I don't have to pay for them there if I decide I need one in order to ground me. lol

Tina Donahue said...

Totally agree, Tess - I can only take so much reality - even in 'real' life. :)

Ari Thatcher said...

I often toss in just a bit of reality in my books, like in Demon of Desire, the heroine has a flash of thought about how becoming a vampire meant no more shaving her legs. Like you, I want a hint that makes it real, but definitely want to gloss over the gross stuff.

Tina Donahue said...

Know what you mean, Ari. In my book Take My Breath Away (not to be confused with my recent release Take Me Away), the hero/heroine are on a tropical island going through the forest. Now we all know it gets hot and they sweat, but I had lots of dips into pools of water and standing beneath waterfalls to refresh them and to get them to shed their clothes. :)

Adele Dubois said...

Tina--Good post!

I like a little dose of reality now and then. The heroine in my WIP runs her fingers through her hair, rinses her face and pees during a bathroom break at the beginning of the story, but my critique partner convinced me to take out the toilet reference. I balked, but she felt sure readers wouldn't like it. So much for reality. ")

Best of luck with your terrific new release!


Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Adele! Yeah, I'm always cautious about too much reality - don't want to ruin the fantasy. :)

Renee Vincent said...

I'm with you Tina. If I wanted total reality, I wouldn't need to read. I could just turn on the TV and bore myself to death.

When I read, I want to be take away from reality, to a different place and time. Now that's not to say that I want my hero/heroine to be absolutely perfect. In truth, I want them flawed, but not so real that they fail to take me on an adventure.

Great post, darlin.

Tina Donahue said...

I'm with you about reality TV, Renee - boring and at times embarrassing. I want fantasy with my romance. And let's face it - when you're in love, you just don't see the flaws. Which is as it should be; otherwise our species would have died out a lonnnnnng time ago. :)

Brenda Hyde said...

I'm so there with you gals. I have 2 teen boys, my husband and an 11 year old daughter- I DO NOT need more bathroom functions, gas from either end or morning breath. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA I don't think there is anything wrong with leaving out those things. Geesh, for those of us with kids--we've seen just about everything from snot to vomit, and there's no reason to relive it:)

Fiona McGier said...

Maybe the lack of bodily functions is part of the thrill of vampires? They don't eat, so don't need a bathroom, ever. But I think their breath would be kind of gross! Talk about needing a Tic Tac before kissing!
Good luck with sales, Tina.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hmm. I take this post as a challenge! Can I write a scene about shaving one's legs or underarms and make it sexy? Bet I could...

I feel ambivalent about the blatant lack of reality in some romance. Obviously, there's no point in being disgusting - a belching beer belly would definitely break the mood. But I'd like my characters to feel real, even if that means mentioning significant imperfections.

But heck, I make a career out of being contrary!

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Brenda - I hear you and I soooo agree! :)

Tina Donahue said...

LOL - I never thought of that, Fiona. Drinking all that blood would tend to give one bad breath. :)

Tina Donahue said...

You're so right, Lisabet. There should be SOME reality in the story. But it should be brought in in such a way that it's not intrusive and certainly not gross.