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The Wenches


  • Mary Jo Putney

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    Word Wench 2006-2016

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    Word Wench 2006-2009

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Comments

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sleeky

I might agree if the covers weren't mostly so... slimy and purient seeming. Well, maybe that is historically accurate, but it's yuck on my bookshelf. ;-) I have a Lorraine Heath I keep having to *hide* because I just can't bear to look at its hideous spine.

MJ

Did the Regency folks read 'em in 'public'?
Some of us are reading whenever we have 'wait' time and that is often in public....so even if in synch with the spirit of the times, we may have different standards for our covers....

Edith

I didn't mean to vex you, MJ. I too know the fear of mockery and the possibility of preverts paying attention to what women read on public transportation and suchlike.
But as for the Regency females and scandalous reading matter?
The ladies read them in their boudoirs.
The middle classes pretended they never saw them.
The lower classes couldn't read. (Hence their love of caricatures)
And if a lady choose to read a lurid broadsheet in the street, her footman would knock over any male that leered at her.
I contend that my point holds, though! We're not so different, are we? (except for the footman) ;-)

Maggie Robinson

You know, I hate to think about my dad and sex in the same sentence, but he always told me people have been dreadfully vile creatures throughout all the ages, and that there is nothing new under the sun.

I think today is just a bit different though because "naughtiness" seems so normal. The secrecy and shame part has disappeared. Maybe that's a good thing. Now married couples watch porn together to spice up their lives. Whatever works.

I suppose we should actually be grateful that covers are not even worse than they are already. I am not a prude by any means, but I am very visually oriented, and I'd like to see more beauty, not bosoms and bums.

MJ

Chuckle... you didn't vex me, Edith. Not at all. (I'll read anything at home... not unlike my Regency heroines... I consider it all 'research'.) But I am careful what I read in public....not because I'm embarrassed, but because it's personal - none of anyone's business. Covers that scream a stereotype, however much in error it may be, don't help our cause. For instance... I read all the way on a TransAtlantic flight. I'd much rather be reading a romance, but often will pick books with more innocuous covers....

RevMelinda

I hesitate to wade into this again. . .

Like Maggie, I guess I'm grateful that it isn't worse. And I know that there IS a segment of readers who glory in the Trashiness of it all.

But I'm a wife, a mother, a professional woman, a minister. I love well-written and researched historical romances and I hate feeling like I have to hide my reading material like a "dirty little secret." And though I hope I am secure enough to read what I want regardless of what people think, it is tiresome and discouraging to always have to start conversations by saying, "This looks trashy, but. . ."

Nobody likes to be made fun of, and that's what happens when you read a romance with a trashy cover in public: your co-workers tease you, your fellow commuters raise their eyebrows and get That Look, and your family laughs at you over Thanksgiving dinner.

But I guess nobody really cares about trivial stuff like that because "Skin sells!"

LorettaChase

I use Bookmates (tm) no matter what I'm reading.
http://www.bookmatestore.com/
They prop up easily on convenient props (like other books), they protect my book in bad weather or on beaches or while banging around in my overlarge pocketbook or tote, and no one knows what I'm reading unless they ask. I know authors can't control covers and publishers are doing what they think sells. I also know that what I think sleazy someone else might think sexy and vice versa. Bookmates spare me having to decide what I will and will not be seen with in public. I don't really care what other people think. Unfortunately, they feel compelled to tell me what they think, even though I haven't asked for their opinion. I may have to listen to stuff about religion and politics, like it or not, but at least Bookmates spare me having to listen to others' opinions of my reading material.

Michelle

Edith,

Is the picture on the blog from a famous print? It is on the cover of a history book I recently started - Ben Wilson's the making of victorian values: decency and dissent, 1789-1837 - and I thought it was "racy" the first time I saw it.

It seems like the prints we are talking about had a different purpose than book covers - though perhaps the racier elements were added so that they'd sell better.

Kalen Hughes

It's "Fashionable Contrasts - or -the Duchess's little shoe yielding to the magnitude of the Duke's foot" by James Gillray.

It's a naughty comment on the Duke and Duchess of York (supposedly the whole fashion for tiny feet among women during this period comes from her).

Jane George

If clinch covers possessed a tongue-in-cheek, self-mocking attitude, than yeah, I could see the comparison to caricature. (Actually, that kind of cover sounds fun.)

But I shouldn't have said that. The universe has a wicked sense of humor, and now if I should ever sell a manuscript, boy am I in for a doozy of a cover!

But the clinch covers seem pretty sincere in their cheesiness. Not naughty, just tacky.

Is the appeal of clinch covers a kind of traditionalist nostalgia amongst the romance genre?

MJ

RevMelinda....you are a very wise woman. I so often find myself muttering "hear, hear" when I read your posts....

Frankly, I don't mind at all entering the fray and using my not inconsiderable list of degrees, my gray hairs and what authority I can muster, to smash the stereotype to smithereens...
But one doesn't always get a chance to do so...."the Look" cannot always be challenged. I DO make my beliefs about genre fiction and the value to the human race of enjoying all types of fiction to my many MLIS students....in the hopes that they will never patronize or criticize readers for their choices nor allow any such stereotypical prejudices to be aired by their staff. The public library is where alot of us got started, after all....

Loretta - Thanks VERY much for that link. I've been chuntering on about needing a stand or something....my arms hurt a great deal holding books for any length of time these days and this appears to be a great solution to both issues (the privacy and the stand might ease my way a bit).
Plus they have some nice colours...(would be nice if I could get one to match every outfit like Judith Taverner's snuffboxes...wouldn't be hard - I wear a ton of black these days).

MJ

I have a question for all of you.... my rambling mind somehow latched on to the absurdity of 'mass transit' and the Regency, and I am wondering just how many people fit into/onto a stagecoach. No doubt it varied....but still.... I know some were squashed inside and others sat on the roof.....

I can think of several books (including Georgette Heyer's...) in which a stagecoach is featured.... and there seemed to be quite a few passengers on board.....

Help! Inquiring minds need to know....

Kalen Hughes

Most period coaches I've seen can take four on the inside (two on each seat), a large one built specifically for carrying people, such as the stage, might have been able to carry six on the inside. You might be able to get another four to six on the roof (depending on the amount of baggage). Extant cartoons often show many more than this on the roof, though, but I'm not sure if that's an exaggeration, or if they really were willing to overturn and kill everyone just for the sake of carrying more people. I know I’ve seen documentation for how much it cost to take the stage, and time tables, but I’ve run across a statement as to how many tickets they were allowed to sell for each one (doesn’t mean such info isn’t out there, though).

kay

I've always thought that the world we live in was just a little uptight about sex and had more in common with the "Victorian Age" than it does with the "Regency Period". I don't mind naked chest covers, what I do mind is the male presented with a naked chest and the female is clothed or they are outside on a balcony or standing in snow. Silly cover.
Now a trip down memory lane. This conversation made me think of the first time I saw a cover with Fabio on it. It was a Johanna Lindsay and he was supposed to be a viking. I thought it was great...all that hair...all that guy...big guy.

MJ

Wow - thanks, Kalen. The more expensive seats were the inside ones, correct?

Laura Vivanco

>>It's too bad that Time has erased the wit and wisdom of the best jesters and wandering minstrels of the Middle Ages.<<

We still have quite a lot of obscene medieval poems, such as the Galician-Portugese 'cantigas de escarnho e maldizer' and sexually explicit medieval illuminations, carvings and paintings.

On the issue of the romance clinch covers, I think there's quite a difference between satirical, deliberate obscenity of the kind to be found in the work of Rowlandson et al, and the typical clinch cover which seems to lack a sense of humour about its own ludicrousness e.g. the hero trying to kiss the heroine even though they're in extreme peril (e.g. about to plunge off a cliff or be swamped by a tsunami), the heroine whose neck looks as though it's about to snap as she's bent backwards over the hero's arm, the hero who wears a cloak but no shirt for a trip on horseback etc.

Laura Vivanco

>>It's too bad that Time has erased the wit and wisdom of the best jesters and wandering minstrels of the Middle Ages.<<

We still have quite a lot of obscene medieval poems, such as the Galician-Portugese 'cantigas de escarnho e maldizer' and sexually explicit medieval illuminations, carvings and paintings.

On the issue of the romance clinch covers, I think there's quite a difference between satirical, deliberate obscenity of the kind to be found in the work of Rowlandson et al, and the typical clinch cover which seems to lack a sense of humour about its own ludicrousness e.g. the hero trying to kiss the heroine even though they're in extreme peril (e.g. about to plunge off a cliff or be swamped by a tsunami), the heroine whose neck looks as though it's about to snap as she's bent backwards over the hero's arm, the hero who wears a cloak but no shirt for a trip on horseback etc.

Laura Vivanco

Sorry, I don't know why that double-posted.

Kalen Hughes

"The more expensive seats were the inside ones, correct?"

Yep. I don't have access to any of the charts right now, but the inside seats were more expensive than the roof seats (which weren't so much seats, as the privilege of being allowed to cling to the luggage).

Jane  O

The Concord coach in America, starting in 1827, could hold nine inside passengers - three on each of the three seats. This would be particularly uncomfortable if you were on the middle seat with no back. Were earlier English stagecoaches smaller? I sort of assume they had only two seats, but I really don't know. But I think three across was the norm, so there could always be six inside passengers squished together.

Cathie

I love that picture Edith with the shoes, smile! I grew up reading romance, watching my mom read them! So when I went back to reading romances, my kids were older but with them now teens, I don't cover them as much. I do when I go out, never know if I'd see kids in waiting rooms etc. But in the comfort of my home, I love any of the covers. But like I posted in last post, I enjoy those more of the scenery and home, dressing, etc, rather than a chest on a book.

Bill

Sometimes, "Naughty" can be very nice.

~~What's between the dust-jacket, or paperback, really is what matters.
The old standard: You cannot tell a book by it's cover is true.

(I don't mind a little "naughty" on the cover; or, a little "naughty" on the page.)

If we were living in the Victorian Age, decorum, and Social Norms were quite different. Even if a book cover was a bit naughty, Society as a whole, was not as open, or free, for Women.

As the times have changed, so has the Cultural Mean/Standard.

If the subject matter is reflective of the 1800's, the cover is showing a side that was certainly not "seen" in the 1800's.

Our imagination, has brought these images into the light. They are only a reflection of what the writer has brought forth, for his/her characters.

Your post has touched upon an interesting premise...(These were my first thoughts. I'm sure, upon reflection, I could think of more)

Nevertheless, Naughty is sometimes nice.

xx, Bill

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