Romance authors, misogyny, and conservative conversations about men.

In light of recent developments in the US (which are being reported in real time across the world), I have a request.

Everyone read the Twitter thread below. Everyone, but especially men and conservative women. Read it, memorise it:

Jeremy C. Young

(Alternate link.)

And then, if you’re still having doubts, read this article, too:

The Anatomy of a Lie: Reflections on the Enduring Myth of Women Who Cry Rape

Yes, of course men are also sexually assaulted, but right now? Conservative politicians have turned this into a men versus women thing, and so that’s what I’m running with.

I’ve written – and deleted – seventy million versions of this post, and now I’ve decided to keep it shortish. I have to say something here, especially when a former favourite author of mine is currently plastering Facebook with far-right memes in support of sex abusers.

I know multiple women who have been raped, and I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been groped and/or harassed in their lifetime.

The only attacker I know of who suffered any consequences for his actions was the man who also murdered his victim – a woman I grew up with, a woman I’d known since I was eight.

Men claiming they’re the real victims these days (and the women who support that lie) disgust me.

Some points:

  • The rise of Donald Trump (and his equivalents in other countries) has, generally, inspired the romance writing (and reading) community to become stronger, more resistant to misogyny, and to create better books. E.g. Sarah MacLean.
  • However, extremist politics are polarising, and certain authors – including one of my all-time favourites – have gone the other way.
  • It has only got worse in the past few weeks, with the narrative from the far-right turning its focus to women who have been sexually assaulted. The new narrative: all women lie about assault to destroy men’s lives. It’s working. I’m sickened by how many men are jumping on that bandwagon and using it as yet another excuse to hate women.
  • This particular author I’m thinking of – a woman who in the past wrote about rape survivors in a positive way – has taken to posting Facebook memes about how girls are looking to destroy boys’ lives with false accusations.
  • It makes me sad. Yes, her politics have leaked into her books for years and years, but never before has she been so publicly open with it. I’ve lost an author I know I’ll never be able to read again.

One final point: if you support an avowed misogynist and self-confessed sex abuser, and if you’ve chosen to hate your own gender because your President told you to, then you have no business being in the romance industry, an industry that not only touts itself as feminist, but as being “by women, for women”.

Sarah MacLean: How Trump killed off my romantic lead

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean US American Cover

What an article! This piece appeared in the Washington Post a few days ago and I enjoyed it even more because I’ve just read the book in question:

How Trump killed off my romantic lead

That hero? The one I’d lovingly crafted in that mold of masculinity that romance readers have loved for centuries? Sure, I had plans for him to see the promise of gender equality, but at that moment, I wanted him gone. This dude wasn’t just aggressively masculine. He was toxic. Indeed, I suspected he would have voted for Donald Trump. And I wanted nothing to do with him.

Suddenly, there was no promise that he would change. That hero — the one whom so many others in the genre have written for centuries, the one who grows into his awareness that everything is better with equality of partnership — he wasn’t enough. I wanted a hero who had that awareness from the start.

The Week: 17th – 23rd July

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature Gum Tree

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

This week marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death.

Three years since MH17 was shot down.

There was another major service at the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Canberra on Saturday, with more ambassadors attending than three years ago (now more countries are worried about the threat from Moscow).

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

Congratulations to Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews for continuing to win stages in the Tour de France. He is not only from this city, but also from my high school, as was Michael Rogers, former Tour star of my generation, as well as a world champion in the sport. Despite almost zero funding for our public high school from the Federal Government, Melrose High kids achieve things! I doubt there’s any other school in the world that has produced TWO Tour stars. Forgive me for my pride. 🙂 🙂

Devastating news about John McCain’s cancer diagnosis this week. US politics has become so polarised that both the far-left and the far-right are losing their minds, and in the midst of it all you had a decent man who stood up for a lot of things I believe in, even though I’m not on his side of politics. He is one of the ONLY Republicans to have ever stood up against Russian aggression and meddling, and for this alone he’d have had my respect. He stood up for Ukraine from the beginning of this horrific, current war the rest of his party no longer cares about, and has even gone to the frontlines to visit the troops. However, even before then he had my respect on most things, and had a decency to his politics that is sorely missing in the 2010s.

My review of The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

Jane Austen around the world.

TV Adaptation for Sylvia Day

Beverly Jenkins Launches GoFundMe to Bring Novel to the Big Screen

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean International Cover

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean US American Cover

You have a choice of two covers: the 1990s-teen-with-messy-hair cover the rest of us get, or the half-naked dislocated-neck cover from the US!

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

This is no Regency romance: it’s set in the – uh – fashionably “interesting” 1830s, the ten years of the nineteenth century with some truly hilarious outfits! I enjoy an author brave enough to tackle that generation.

1830s Fashion

When I first heard about this series I was adamant I’d never read it. A whole historical romance series based on modern-day gossip magazine headlines? The Kardashians do pre-Victorian England? No thanks.

However: since I started hearing about The Day of the Duchess several months ago I thought there might be… something… that really appealed to me. The blurb made the story seem like it was written specifically for me, and so – despite not having read the others in the series, and having ZERO background information to understand the characters – I started The Day of the Duchess with *expectations*!

While I found the sisters in the family obscenely anachronistic (and gave up trying to tell them – and their near-identical names – apart), it’s nice to have a series where the women are portrayed as looking out for each other.

I say it all the time, but I do prefer reunion stories to pretty much any other trope, and so the author started this story a few points ahead. These are two characters who have gone through terrible things, and done (the hero in particular) terrible things, but I think they came out of it more mature, with a complex and fractured relationship, and it made for excellent angst.

I think missing the setup in the previous books worked in my favour in some ways, as it seems other readers went into this one already disliking the hero. I didn’t start with that bias. It made it easier for me to like him and believe his remorse.

The premise of the story is absurd, however. In her author’s notes, MacLean explains that the divorce itself isn’t too much of a stretch, but then there’s also that earldom won in a card game.

And what comes after that certainly is a stretch to believe. Once the couple agrees to divorce, the hero makes the heroine attend a house party to select his new wife. It was The Bachelor, circa 1836.

Only in a romance book…!!

I stayed on board with most of the insanity of the plot because I liked the two lead characters (and some of the side characters) enough to invest in all the insane directions they were going. However, some readers ARE (justifiably) going to be unhappy with the infertility plotline and the overly sweet epilogue.

I AM very confused why an author who surprised me with her beautiful, emotional writing, her use of interesting archaic words, and attempts Brit-speak (‘I’m rubbish at this.’ and ‘He’s proper horrid.’) messes up badly in one big way.

If you’ve ‘landed on your ass you’ve just fallen on your donkey. It is a phrase used numerous times throughout the book. The words ARSE and ASS have different meanings (one’s your derriere, the other is a farm animal) and aren’t even pronounced the same way; it’s just frustrating to see HR authors make this mistake at this point.

There were a few other stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb anachronisms and major Americanisms in the otherwise great writing. (Titled ladies saying ‘damn right’? ‘Sidekick’?) I’d heard this author uses a lot of modern, non-British language, and had been prepared for it, but it still grates.

The term “wallpaper romance” is used to describe books that all but do away with historical manners and historical accuracy, and this – my first Sarah MacLean read – definitely has those elements to it. However, trashy Kardashian themes aside, there was something more here. There was some serious emotion, and there were some serious themes in amongst the insanity. I am glad I gave this book a chance.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 3rd – 9th October


Partially storm-damaged – but still pretty – flowers mid-week.

Wow. Something weird happened this week, and my half-done draft of this post went up days ago!

More or less back to proper spring weather here, apart from a freak storm that came rolling in over the mountains with over 100km an hour winds, lasted about ten minutes, and brought down trees everywhere. This year… record low temperatures for the months we were in Europe, and now record storms in Australia when it should be hot…


Wednesday evening in Canberra

Many have people have died for many terrible reasons this week. Here are a couple of things that haven’t been making many headlines:

Marriage of former nuns saddens Pope, says Vatican Deputy Secretary of State.

The best part was this quote:

‘Federica, 44, comes from Italy and Isabel, 40, comes from South America. They said they could have done what other nuns did and live together in a convent while hiding their relationship, but said this would have been “false”.’

In other words: there’re gay nuns everywhere!

And this little new piece of Putin propaganda:

Giant Putin banner appears on New York’s Manhattan Bridge


Authors MUST Use Social Media?


Ellora’s Cave Closing…?


Coming Up for Joanna Shupe

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club #2) by Joanna Shupe

My review of A Countess for Christmas (Maids Under the Mistletoe #1) by Christy McKellen

A Countess for Christmas (Maids Under the Mistletoe #1) by Christy McKellen

Sarah MacLean: Bashing Romance Novels Is Just Another Form Of Slut-Shaming


RITA Winners

The RITA Awards were announced in Atlanta, USA over the weekend. I haven’t read all of the winning books, but some books I loved were finalists, so I feel a little sad they couldn’t win!

Congratulations to everyone who won. It was a strong year for a number of categories, Romantic Suspense in particular.

Here’s a list of the winners:

Best First Book: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

Contemporary Single Title Romance: The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Historical Romance: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Inspirational Romance: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Long Contemporary Series Romance: A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

Paranormal Romance: Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole

Romance Novella: Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James

Scorched by Laura Griffin

Romantic Suspense: Scorched by Laura Griffin

Short Contemporary Series Romance: A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan

Young Adult Romance: The Farm by Emily McKay

You can also find a list of the Golden Heart winners HERE. The Golden Heart awards go to unpublished writers with outstanding manuscripts. I know for a fact that a lot of these manuscripts go on to be incredible, award-winning books!