Smut Reporting

Reading Realism in Romance: The Question of Genre

This post has been percolating in my mind for months now, ever since this year’s RITAs were announced, and there was tremendous backlash about the lack of recognition for authors of color (for a good overview about the controversy, see Jessica Pryde’s write up for Book Riot). In response to list of winners (and the fact that many romances by authors of color were docked points for being “unrealistic”), author Courtney Milan tweeted the following:

If you’ve been following The Duke Project, then you’re probably aware that we’re trying to figure out that whole Duke obsession that Romancelandia has. Why ARE there 20,000 dukes in romance novels? But to the broader point of what is “realistic” in fiction, I figured I’d dust off my academic hat and talk about defining “realism” more specifically. What does it actually mean to say that something is realistic?

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Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

Dukes and Their Moms; Or, What the Romantic Heroine Will Become in Forty Years

A few weeks ago, we talked a little bit about Dukes’ Dads, and how a duke’s relationship with his father could potentially be a source of angst, as the young duke assumes the mantle of responsibility that comes with the title.

However, while the Senior Duke may cast a long shadow, he rarely appears as a walking, talking character. The Dowager Duchess, on the other hand, frequently appears in Duke stories, ready to meddle in his love life, for good or, more commonly, for ill.

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Smut Reporting

Why we read old books

In Internet World – especially the weird section that we inhabit called The Blogosphere – it’s all about the new. New things are **shiny** and **exciting.** And we definitely feel that! We were super excited when we got approved for our first book on NetGalley, because it meant that we got to read the new, shiny, exciting stuff too. We had made it!

Even as we jump into this world, however, we also want to keep reading and reviewing and promoting older books. And not just the truly Old School romances (so we can see how far we’ve come), even though they’re fun, but also books that were written five or ten years ago. Books that we are just now discovering at the library or at book sales, or old favorites that we just want to share with all of our delightful readers. Or even oldies that stuck with us that we want to try on again now that we’re older and wiser to see if they really were that special.

Because here’s the thing – the publishing world right now is a weird place, and some troubling trends are at work making it harder to make a living as an author. (Not that it was ever easy, let’s be real here.)

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Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

The Devil Duke: Regency Romance’s Perfect Bad Boy

Tell me if this sounds familiar: there’s this Duke. He is dark and handsome. But he has a bad reputation. He might be called the Devil Duke (I’m thinking here of The Duke by Katherine Ashe, or Stephanie Laurens’ Devil Cynster, 6th Duke of St. Ives, who appears in every single book of hers that I’ve ever read) or the Dangerous Duke (like the titular hero of The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter).

This Devil Duke probably leans into his nickname, and may even actively cultivate it. (Perhaps by reading a book on witchcraft at a party, in one particularly ridiculous example of this phenomenon.) The reasons for embracing the nickname may be a cover for other plans, or due to angst, or maybe just because it’s fun and decadent to have a really bad reputation.

Think Mr. Rochester, but classically handsome and with a title and also without a wife locked in the attic. We hope.

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Smut Reporting, The Duke Project

The Duke Project: What’s Angst got to do with it?

Holly’s most recent review for the Duke Project was Christy Carlyle’s A Duke Changes Everything, which features the quintessential Angsty Duke. The hero hates his inheritance, hates his home, hates the memory of his family (except for his sainted and sadly departed mother – the fraught relationship between Dukes and Their Mothers is a whole separate thing, which I definitely want to talk about in the future).

But let’s drill down on the angst bit. According to Merriam-Webster, angst comes from the German for “fear” and refers to “a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity.” “Angst” was first used this way in English in 1942, so it’s not like these angsty Georgian and Regency and Victorian Dukes would have used the word to describe themselves.

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