Rather than defend the genre of romance fiction in clickbait pieces addressed outward to a skeptical and frequently trollish audience, I prefer to treat romance novels as deliberate collections of words by talented experts in the craft. Which I can then overanalyze and tease apart and generally have a grand critical time with. This post series will have a strong feminist slant and generally informal language, mixed liberally with swears and the occasional piece of critical jargon, for spice. In chronological order:
Viscounts and Vorkosigans: Heyer's A Civil Contract and Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign. How permeable are class barriers? Is there a true self separate from class?
Filthy Lucre: Money and morality in Sharon Cullars' 1933-set interracial romance with a bank-robbing hero.
Batman and Bootleggers: The paradox of the hero's violence in Jenn Bennett's Prohibition paranormal Bitter Spirits.
Jane Austen's Small-Town Caribbean: Pride and Prejudice in 1911 on a fictional Caribbean island. The hero and heroine are both writers, and have a great deal of textual intercourse.
The Billionaire Bait-and-Switch: A Harlequin Presents hero who fails to satisfy on every possible level.
Space, Science, and the Gender of Perfection: Gender roles and orbital mechanics in this story of Space Age engineers sending men to the moon and having torrid motel sex.
Astronaut Heroes and Heroines: A Romance Sampler: An astronaut's job is to leave Earth -- how compatible is this with romance's happy ending?
Hurt/Comfort: Two Shapeshifting Books Reviewed: one romance, one romance-adjacent sff novel, and showing empathy for your readers.
In April of 2014, I did an alphabetical post series on intersectional feminism in romance. Here is the complete series.