A Rant on a Review
I was thrilled to see this weekend that the Houston Chronicle book section chose to run Maureen Corrigan's Washington Post review of Nora Roberts' new romantic suspense novel, Black Hills. I'm a big fan of Roberts' hardcover romantic suspense, especially past winners such as Montana Sky, Angels Fall, and Northern Lights along with the futuristic police procedurals she writes as J.D. Robb. That's not to say I love all of Roberts books; I haven't, so I was eager to read the reviewer's opinion on this outing.
And more than that, I was thrilled to see a romantic suspense novel (the genre I write) seriously reviewed. Though newspapers occasionally deign to offer print space to reviews of mystery/suspense/thrillers, the other genres are treated like publishing's red-headed stepchildren... embarrassments that must be kept locked in the basement so they won't rot readers' brains.
My celebration didn't last long. Corrigan not only didn't like the book -- which is her perfect right -- her disdain for the entire genre came through at every turn. Phrases such as "smooch-and-shoot saga," "tussling in the sack again," and the offensively-outdated "this latest bodice-ripper" tell me this reviewer set out with a bias, with her hypersensitive Bowdler-calibrated radar quivering for the slightest hint of (insert gasp here) S-E-X.
Funny, how love scenes (which are often present) rarely come up in reviews of books by male authors writing thrillers, mystery, or horror. Funny, how in reviews of female-written, female-targeted romance, that's just about the only thing the critics ever notice.
Though Publisher's Weekly and other reviewers have praised Black Hills, I have no problem at all with the fact that Maureen Corrigan didn't. What chapped my hide was the condescending language and the implication that female fantasy is somehow inferior to male.