by Terri Patrick
We attended an annual summer event this weekend and I chatted with friends I only see at such events, and met new friends. I was amused that everyone wanted to know what I thought about 50 Shades of Gray. I really don’t think about it at all, haven’t read it and probably won’t. But I know about it as it has been discussed extensively on writer/publishing blogs for it is – #1 – rather ordinary as an erotic romance novel and #2 – had some rather awesome marketing.
Instead, if I’m going to chat about a romance novel, I’d rather share one that is a personal favorite from my keeper shelves.
I met Elizabeth Boyle in 2003 at a reader appreciation luncheon. It was my first event upon returning to the world of romancelandia as both a reader and aspiring author. My niece Kathy attended with me and a bond was born during that luncheon so that Ms. Boyle still calls me, “Aunt Mary.”
A week ago, I rushed through the library and chose a few movies quickly and later that evening was surprised that I’d chosen the 2002 movie The Importance of Being Earnest, which is based on Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy of manners play, of the same name. I’ve been dedicated to watching contemporary romantic comedies and had grabbed a historical, but Colin Firth was the star so I gave it a view and was delightfully surprised.
I was very busy this week as we were taking our 9-yr-old grandson for a mini-vacation but Elizabeth Boyle revealed “The Importance of Being Ernest” was the inspiration for her first book in the Bachelor Chronicles. I paused my packing and quickly found Something About Emmiline on my bookshelves and it was included in my supplies for the trip.
My copy was autographed “To Kathy” as we used to swap books and I quickly realized this FIRST book was the only one of the Bachelor Chronicles I hadn’t read yet. How’d that happen? As I read Emmaline’s story I was both entertained and amazed at the initial introductions of so many characters I knew well from having read their stories through the series.
This created a challenge for me while chatting with friends this weekend. I was reading this delightful historical romance novel by one of my most favorite authors while being asked about a much hyped fan-fic where readers were justifying that even without the nasty-bits, was a good story.
My dilemma in these conversations is that my opinion of a good story isn’t the same as my opinion of a good book. I also know many titillating nasty bits included in books like 50 Shades of Grey were the horrific reality in 1801, when the life expectancy of a young girl did not include attending college.
Elizabeth Boyle’s character Emmaline, inspired by Earnest, and who spawned a whole series of what I consider great books for their entertainment value and attention to manners, is a pretty shady character. Emmaline is a con-artist and card shark. There’s actually a whole host of shady characters in Elizabeth Boyle’s Bachelor Chronicles series, with all kinds of nasty bits in their past and present. Ms. Boyle is also a Seattle based author like E.L. James, author of the 50 Shades of Grey series…
The difference between the stories of then and now, in my opinion as having only read one of the two authors, is that in the past women needed to use their wits to avoid bondage and brutality. Now they can choose it for sexual pleasure. I guess that’s evolution or something.
So, from now on, when someone asks me if I’ve read 50 Shades of Grey I can simply respond, “No, have you read The Bachelor Chronicles by Elizabeth Boyle?” It may be a conversation stopper. BUT….
I’d really like to know what readers of the latest buzzed about book would think about a series that I feel has merit.