I mostly gave up on the romance genre already, but I'm still giving it chances, just to be fair.
The Smart Bitches (www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com) talk about romance as a genre that can be "intelligent, savvy, feminist and fabulous", and about how a large contingency of people don't like the genre based on one book they read. I'm trying not to be in that contingency. I would love to love romances. I already read romantic fanfiction, for Chrissakes. Still, I can't help the feeling that if a romance is actually good/actually the sort of novel I would enjoy, it wouldn't be marketed as a romance novel in the first place; sort of like good movies aren't marketed as romantic comedies even if they are comedies focused on a romance unless they're also British.
My current approach is to read only romance novels that have specifically been recommended to me. If even these don't float my boat, I'll at least know I gave it a fair try. For most genres, seven books (I have one still waiting) is a fair try, wouldn't you say?
I can see why Ravished
was recommended. The heroine, Harriet, is rather delightful - a fossil-collector who talks a great deal and is used to having her way, who is not easily spooked and who looks past This Month's Douchebag's imposing exterior to the whatever underneath.
I love Harriet obsessing over her fossil tooth. I love Harriet geeking the hell out in a museum. I love Harriet giving a fellow collector the baleful eye when he questions her about the cave where she's been excavating. I love the Fossils and Antiquities Society. All in all, if you take away everything in this book that isn't about fossil collecting, you have a rather likeable short story, though not much of a plot.
The plot has her virtue compromised by this big ol' viscount dude who marries her to preserve her honour and in the process ends up convincing Society that he probably didn't disgrace that other girl six years ago despite what everybody said, and then Harriet hits a rapist over the head with a fossilized fish. And so on. The usual, with fossils.
As for the few sex scenes - I like how much cunnilingus you get in romance novels, i.e., once per book in four out of six books, in my experience, which is kind of a lot. The non-licky sex scenes in this novel were pretty simple, though, and surprisingly lacking in pain despite the rather fetishistically described difference in size between the hero and the heroine (he, of course, is the bigger one).
There was entirely too much repetition. I don't know how many times Harriet told people not to call Douchebag "the Beast of Blackthorne Hall" - I lost count around five. The villainy of the villain was so neatly nefarious that it absolved the hero of all wrong-doing in one fell swoop. It was all pretty stupid. I'm already forgetting the details. I don't mind stupid, though. Many of my favourite novels are occasionally stupid. I do sort of expect them to be more entertaining and likeable, though.
I may have to go through the book and pick out the fossil collecting parts and collect them together somewhere for people like me.