Oct 22 2011 11:00am

The Gateway Experiment: In Which A Romance Virgin Reads His First Historical

Mr. Impossible by Loretta ChaseI signed up for this whole ordeal not knowing where it would go. Then they handed me my books and things got suddenly real.  An untold amount of preconceptions ran through my head. All ones I’m sure you’ve heard from almost any guy that talks about Romance: “It’ll be nothing but swooning females,” “It’s just porn for women,"  “plot isn’t as important as relationships,” etc. Then I picked up Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible, and my mind was blown.

First and foremost, Rupert is awesome. He isn’t the chest-thumping, jerky, alpha-joke I was expecting from the cover. (More on that later.) You can call me a bad guy or someone who is prejudiced, but I had the image of an “alpha” being THAT guy; the one that always makes me feel like I’m still the quiet kid hiding behind the Dragonlance book in the corner. But Rupert wasn’t that guy. Now, I’m not sure that Rupert is what the ladies call an “alpha,” but he was fun. He was smart, he gave the reader a wink or two, he was pervy in all the great ways.  He is the buddy you want to go drinking with on the weekend. He’s Han Solo/Indiana Jones/Cpt. Jack (Harkness or Sparrow); pick your buddy poison.

Second came Mrs. Pembroke. She wasn’t the  swooning, annoying, helpless girl that irritates the daylights out of me no matter what genre she appears in, which sadly is very often in my typical reading fare. I like a lady that can handle her business, and like Rupert, I cannot abide weeping and/or fainting. And okay, I have a soft spot in my heart for academics and not-too-snooty intellectuals, which Daphne fills quite soundly.

Which leads to the whole plot thing, which was surprisingly in-depth (shut up, I’m new, remember?). In fact, I found myself annoyed by it and wanting to go back to Rupert and Daphne’s budding relationship. So yeah, I got sucked in a bit. In fact, my girlfriend teased me a bit for reading it before going to bed. I’ll admit it. I’m man enough.

The villains were a little too mustache twirling/Dick Dastardly for my tastes, but I didn’t care. Even though I knew about the ever-guaranteed HEA, I still got a little excited during the final showdown between Carsington and The Golden Devil.

Now the sex scenes. Got to say it, ladies, if this is supposedly porn for y’all, I’m underwhelmed. Yeah, there was some sexy time for the hero and heroine, but it never overpowered the relationship and the story never sacrificed itself just to squeeze it in. It always felt like an organic part of the story. Like any love scene in a well-made movie, it was tasteful and shifter-bdsm free (thanks,  Megan). 

My only complaint, and my theory as to why guys freak out so much about this genre, is the cover. The copy I read was hot pink with flowery script and a faceless man on the cover with coat and a partly open shirt. I read it in public, but I’m not too ashamed to admit I was a little embarrassed on the train when I pulled it out of my bag. But once I started reading it, I got into the story and didn’t care one bit if I was getting odd looks from folks. Guess that goes back to the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing.

On the whole I really enjoyed the book. I have been telling people that this book had a very Old Hollywood feel to it, like something out of the silver screen era. I couldn’t help but think of It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert while reading it. I’m curious to see what Rupert’s brothers are like. Though might get the e-book on those, not sure I am that much of a man to go to the bookstore and check out with a stack of these guys. I get to feeling funny when I have to buy wedding magazines; can’t imagine buying a stack of books with man-candy on the cover…

Stay tuned though, just started Demon Moon by Meljean Brook, so the Romance virgin is tackling the bane of all boyfriends: the Vampire.


Christopher Morgan works for and He lives in New York City, and is no longer a romance virgin...

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Mr. Green
1. Mr. Green
Bravo sir....Champion the romance novels for the normal man! Maybe we can get a uprising going where we force them to change the covers or at least provide slipcovers so we don't get odd looks in public. Lol. Glad you lost your romance virginity. I would still argue that I consider certain books, such as LOTR romances as well. Just in a different way.
Mr. Green
2. lady trudy
Mr. Impossible was one of my favorites, too. See, Rupert was full of foibles, not always seeing the big picture, but had a good handle on at least trying to do the right thing. He was very funny. The story itself had depth, too. They say you can travel the universe by reading a book. I cannot tell you how many times I've wanted to float down the Nile on a barge after reading that book. I've gotten to that point in my life where I don't care what people see me reading. And when I throw a book up against the wall they know why as well. Thank you for reaching out to the other side of the story.
Mr. Green
3. jsmom2
I do have to say I'm with you on the cover thing... I've probably missed out on a lot of great stories because I couldn't get past the cover. I appreciate a discreet cover, which is one of the many many reasons I've always loved Amanda Quick. I could bring her anywhere.
Natasha Carty
4. WickedLilPixie
Go Chris! And you have me beat, I have never read more then a chapter of a historical and don't even think about it, it's not happening EVER.
Jennifer O'Brien
5. JenOBrien
I agree that Historical Romance covers suck and Mr. Impossible is no exception but you lucked out on the author. Loretta Chase can write believable male characters. However, I'm not sure you'd get the same fun vibe from Ruperts brothers (they take themselves a little more seriously). Lord of Scoundrels may be more entertaining if you are going for another Loretta Chase book.
Mr. Green
6. etv13
@JenOBrien: I think Not Quite a Lady has the same kind of 30's movie feel that Chris liked in Mr. Impossible, and the other place to find that is not so much in Lord of Scoundrels (it's there, but not as strongly) but in The Last Hellion.
Mr. Green
7. Anette
Why, Mr. Christopher, you are now the topic of the day on my Kindle Romantics-blog!

interesting read this blog post though. I think you're a very brave man... ;-)

PS: the blog is in Dansih, but the Google Translate Tool on it should do the trick - I've tested it and it's actually working quite nice! :P
Myretta Robens
8. Myretta
May I just say, "Yay!" I thought you'd like Rupert and am happy to be proven right. I agree with @etv13 that, if you'd like to try more Loretta Chase, The Last Hellion would be an excellent choice.
Christopher Morgan
9. cmorgan
Like I tried to explain in the article, if it is alpha vs rake, I prefer the rake, he's more my speed. If Rupert's brothers are as JenOBrien said, and take themselves far too seriously, I may wind up passing them by. That's right up there with weeping...

I'll look into this Last Hellion, just to see what the fuss is about, and of course this Lord of Scoundels that keeps geeting tossed around.
K.M. Jackson
10. kwanawrites
Congrats to you Chris for being so open minded. Loved your review.
Mr. Green
11. mochabean
Wonderful review. And yes, check out The Last Hellion. I may like it even more than Lord of Scoundrels. (gasp!)

And it is by now a cliche, but a Kindle can free you from Romance Novel Cover Embarrassment Syndrome, and its companion, Fantasy Novel CES. But it is true that after a while you get over it!
Mr. Green
12. SaraLindsey
Bravo! I must say, you did much better than this guy:
Just wait until the day you're checking out at a drugstore and you've got a romance novel AND a wedding magazine...
Mr. Green
13. CopperPayne
At least if he's checking out with the romance novel and the wedding magazine, they're going to assume it's for his fiance... With any luck, too, a good clerk won't judge. A good clerk will ask you who the romance fan is and be cheerful and encouraging when you say it's you. At least that was me when I worked the registers. *laughs* Also, Dragonlance *heart* Though I'm more of a Forgotten Realms girl, myself.
Mr. Green
14. Angela Quarles
Bravo and you can join the club on hating the covers! I don't think I've met a single woman who likes them so it begs the question, why do they keep doing them? I agree that's one of the reasons I like Quick b/c her covers are tasteful. It's also one of the reasons romance ebooks sell well.
Louise Partain
15. Louise321
Sorry I missed your post about Mr. Impossible when it first came out, Christopher. I am so glad you enjoyed Rupert. Although I love a good road story and Lord Perfect, Rupert's older brother, has it in spades, far and away my most favorite of Loretta's male and female "couplings" is Sebastian Ballister and Jessica Trent of Lord of Scoundrels.

Glad you moved on to paranormal and contemporary. By the way, I hate the covers too! I mean, announcing, here she is the queen of bimbo fiction if I take a book out to read on the plane or at the beauty shop is ridiculous. I guess that's why they create all those ruffley slip covers. Like who doesn't know what they're for! And excuse me, you can probably get them in distress leather, or lizard skin, or camoflauge since that's what they are anyway.
Mr. Green
16. rdsangel127117
Congratulations on reading a romance Chris! I really enjoyed your article. As for the cover thing, I could care less what anyone thinks if they see me reading them. This came from a lot of growth. Don't associate the character in the book with the cover EVER. Interpret who they are from your own POV. Usually the blurb on the back of the book helps. It works for me!
Christopher Morgan
17. cmorgan
Thanks RD! I'm learning to move past the covers, it's admittedly a bit of a process...
Kiersten Hallie Krum
18. Kiersten
How did I miss that you were doing this?! Great idea. Love this book; love Mister Perfect too BTW. Have to rec Lord Perfect along with LoS in the Chase oeuvre, but really, she rarely takes a misstep. Love hearing your perspective - keep it coming!

Always ignore the covers! Cover to content ration rarely equal.
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