Wrap Up

Mustache Week: Recap

We’ve now each read a category romance from the 80s featuring a cover model with a truly, epically, luxurious mustache.

(Here are our reviews: Holly on The Temptress Touch, Erin on Calling the Shots, and Ingrid on Walking on Air.)

Now it’s time to answer the big questions. The biggest one, of course is: are mustaches sexy?

So, are mustaches sexy?

Holly: Maybe if you’re Tom Selleck.

Erin: They tickle me (hehe), but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say they’re sexy. Definitely not in general. I can think of a couple specific examples that worked though. Like Tom Selleck. 

Holly: Burt Reynolds is also an acceptable answer.

Ingrid: What about Hulk Hogan?

Holly: …I can’t tell if you’re joking.

How was the mustache content in the book you read?

Holly: Well, when the heroine first notices the hero, she notes that his mustache is unkempt and that she wants to trim it for him. Is that sexy? She is not a caretaker type—there’s a running joke about how bad her cooking is—so maybe it’s meant to be a sign that this guy is different? Or maybe this hero is just a slob.

The first time they kiss, she’s like, “This is interesting, I’ve never kissed someone with a mustache before.” And there’s a bit of mustache tickling of the torso. Not the thighs, unfortunately; this hero’s foreplay stays firmly on the nipples.

Erin: Sub-par. I didn’t even get a mustache mention until page 53! Then he played with it on a dinner date. Then it tickled her nips (so that’s a theme maybe?). And then nothing else!

Ingrid: It was good. There was a clear comparison to Tom Selleck, and then a very unrealistic hot tub sex scene that involved a lot of body hair. It was always pretty clear he had a mustache, and that’s really all I wanted.

What are some of the central concerns of these books?

Holly: The book I read is really concerned with gender roles, and who should drive the courtship. A secondary conflict centered on women’s work; not whether women should work (that’s taken as a given), but rather what kind of work and how much of it.

Erin: Well that’s interesting. I didn’t get a ton of gender role concerns, BUT Elaine specifically conducted her flirtation as if it was unseemly for her to make the first move. And she very intentionally considered her actions when engaging in the flirtation with Roland. 

My book dealt with the inequity between Elaine and her male counterparts because she had to behave so much more carefully to gain and keep the respect of the team. There were some indications that this was because the team was almost all rookies and therefore didn’t already know her, but that’s part of the problem, too, right? She had no owed respect as a professional leader in the organization, and the way she could gain earned respect was not equal to her peers. 

Ingrid: I mean, it ended up being a real case study of sexism and relationships in the 1980’s, and I’ll be honest—whole sections really stuck with me. Even when they’re first dating and she compliments him on how romantic things are, he’s like, “look don’t expect this forever”…I beg your pardon, mustache man? Are you such a catch we should all be made aware that you are only offering romance on your terms, irrespective of your partner’s feelings? Do you have a golden ding-dong? No, sir. No.

What does reading these books, all published in 1985, reveal about the mores of the mid-80s?

Holly: I’m pretty sure I need more data to answer this question. Our books were pretty different in how the main relationship was handled. 

But one thing I noticed is that all three heroines face sexual harassment at work, and it’s treated as pretty par for the course—but also something that needs to be dealt with.

Did anyone have a hero who was attractive?

Holly: Negative.

Erin: Well, mine was described as a black panther type guy with beautiful dark hair and eyes, so in terms of his appearance I was on board. (Although…someone on Insta commented “Burt Reynolds fanfic!” earlier this week and…that’s pretty accurate, actually, so…I gotta figure out how I feel about that.) And he was supportive of his love interest’s career. But I also didn’t get a lot of depth from him, which makes it harder to find the attractiveness.

Holly: He’s a black panther type guy who is…white?

Erin: Yeah… Like he’s smooth and sleek like an actual panther on the ice? And he’s got black hair. And his surname is Pantier. So… whitewashing for sure, but I wasn’t expecting much from 1985 Omaha, Nebraska.

I must say, Ingrid’s hero sounds like a legit snack. 

Ingrid: Yes. Mine was described as the guy at the bar who can get any woman he wants, women fall over themselves for him, and he holds the record for the most hookups in one night. And, obviously, the Tom Selleck comparison, and we all know Tom Selleck is dreamy in a very weirdly timeless way.

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