Three top romance blogs, one big idea! Heroes and Heartbreakers, Romance@Random, and USA Today’s Happy Ever After join together to offer exclusive content and giveaways. Watch for our logo to appear monthly to begin the round robin—you’ll want to visit us all to read and win. Hugs from R@R, HEA, and H&H!
May’s Round Robin Theme: The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy
The June giveaway has ended—congratulations to winners SoxChic and T Fine.
On HeroesandHeartbreakers.com, author Barbara Delinsky examines the Fifty phenomenon and asks, does Fifty Shades of Grey help us understand what women really want? Giveaway: Book #1, Fifty Shades of Grey
On USA Today’s Happy Ever After, your favorite authors (Julie James, Cynthia Eden, Allison Brennnan, Elizabeth Lowell and lots more!) recommend some HOT reads to feed your post-Fifty Shades jones. Giveaway: Book #2, Fifty Shades Darker
On RomanceatRandom.com, Janet Webb goes in depth with the third book in the series and explains why you won’t want to stop after the first two books. Giveaway: Book #3, Fifty Shades Freed
Today Heroes and Heartbreakers is thrilled to have Barbara Delinsky as a featured guest. Barbara began her career writing category romance, and some of those earliest books are being reprinted now, including The Forever Instinct, which H&H has recently covered. Barbara’s latest book is Escape, which has just been released in paperback. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, and today she’s sharing what struck her when reading E.L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy. Thanks for joining us, Barbara!
A Barbara Delinsky take on the Fifty Shades phenomenon …
I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. How can you possibly separate the two? A writer can’t possibly understand what readers want from her, if she doesn’t read what they do—which is why I discovered E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey when it first topped the e-bestseller lists. Since then, I’ve read Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, and when I finished the last, I went back and read all three again, page by page, seeing things the second time around that I didn’t see the first. Twice through each, I found them entertaining, fast-paced, sexy, and fun.
Surely by now you’ve heard friends talk of these books, and if you haven’t yet, you will. Consider me a friend. And here’s my talk.
I love the characters. Ana may be sexually naïve at the start of the trilogy, but she has spunk and wit. She takes on Christian as no other woman has. Her questions, his responses, all that email between them—priceless!
I love the psychological depth of this book. Ana’s naivete has a reason, as does her independence. Likewise, Christian’s deepest, darkest flaws. Discovering their cause is reason enough to read on.
I love that these books are about the empowerment of women. Yeah, you heard right. Despite Christian’s need to be dominant to Ana’s submissive, she has control from the start. He points that out early on, with talk of safe words and hard limits. But her power goes well beyond. Christian falls so hard for her that she actually has the ability to change him. Isn’t this every woman’s fantasy—to take a flawed man and make him better?
I love the sex. It is kinky but consensual, erotic but intriguing, dangerous but gently so, with inherent safeguards and care. I love that it has none of the violence of, say, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I don’t do violence; it upsets me too much. And Christian’s Red Room of Pain, as Ana dubs it? Yes, it was intimidating, but Christian made it clear to her, and hence to me, that he would never hurt her.
I love that these books are getting women reading again—and not in the YA fold, as in Twilight and The Hunger Games.
I love that these books are getting women talking about reading again. What book can you name that last had us so chatty? Maybe it’s because these books are naughty, or because they show sexual acts that we think of as forbidden. Maybe it’s because they validate acts that we love, or because Ana’s sexual pleasure gives women permission to feel the same. I know, I know. The sexual revolution came years ago. But did it? Initially, Ana feels guilt at the pleasure Christian shows her. As she grows more comfortable with it, so do we.
This book is firing up a whole new generation of female readers. My parents had Peyton Place. My generation had The Joy of Sex. My kids haven’t really had anything, what with the explicit nature of today’s movies and TV. Now, though, with e-readers being the ultimate plain brown wrapper? Fifty Shades of Grey may be theirs.
Personally, I’ve had great discussions with friends about these books. Some love them whole-heartedly, as I do. Others love everything but the bondage, others everything but the writing. Some are dismissive, vowing that these books are only for women who have lousy sex lives. Still others refuse to buy them or read them at all, claiming they have too many good books on their nightstands to bother.
And then there’s the media response, most of which has been condescending and largely focused on sex. But these books are about far more than sex. Yes, sex makes headlines, but what makes these books cohesive reads is the fullness of the relationships between the characters. Yes, I cringe when I see women lined up to meet the author wearing that special necktie and those eye masks. And yes, if these books were being edited by my editor, they would have far less internal narrative, far less repetitive thought, far fewer ’Holy crap’s. But if so many intelligent women are taking such pleasure in reading and discussing these books, there has to be something positive in them. Do the “experts” not see that?
As a writer, I should hate these books. They’re taking precious top slots on the bestseller lists at a time when a trade issue of my own is vying for one of those spots. But how to hate books that have ignited women’s interest in reading about women’s issues? Sex is certainly a one of those issues, but so is parenting, friendship, and love, all of which are part of Fifty Shades. Its success is a validation to me of the relevancy of my own books.
Okay. I’m talking my own, very earliest books. They were romances, and my publisher is on the verge of releasing sixteen of them that have long been out of print. I recently reread each, and they do involve the same issues of parenting, friendship, and love as my current books. But then, there’s sex.
Oh boy, do I know sex. The first time I typed the word nipple, I half-feared my typewriter would combust. And nipple was just the start. Those early books contain lengthy (and I mean lengthy) love scenes, the likes of which I wouldn’t have wanted my sons to read. Actually, I take that back. I might not have wanted them to picture their mother knowing such sexual detail. But the love and respect and pleasure in each of those scenes? Every man should read these, if he wants to learn what women want.
An argument can be made that the same is true for Fifty Shades. Men are mighty quick to say that they haven’t read it. Maybe they should.
Leave a comment to enter for a chance to win one of two two-packs of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and A Dark Garden by Eden Bradley. *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out an entry at http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/blogs/2012/05/author-barbara-delinsky-on-fifty-50-shades-of-grey beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) May 25, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 1, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/page/official-rules-the-barbara-delinsky-comment-sweepstakes. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Barbara Delinsky is a New York Times bestselling author with more than thirty million copies of her books in print. She has been published in twenty-five languages worldwide. A lifelong New Englander, Barbara earned a B.A. in Psychology at Tufts University and an M.A. in Sociology at Boston College. Barbara enjoys knitting, photography, and cats. She also loves to interact with her readers through her website at www.barbaradelinsky.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bdelinsky, and on Twitter as @BarbaraDelinsky.
Dying for a little more? Sample these excerpts:
Can’t get enough? Spend some time with Christian and Ana in our Fifty Shades of Grey blog post collection.