An age of “wimpish heroes and wan heroines”

Romance writing has taken a turn for the worse

Danuta Keane, a judge for Britain’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, found the male protagonists in the books she considered “so wet you could wring them out, and about as heart-thumpingly sexy as socks.” As much as the anti-Rhett Butlers annoyed her, though, Keane kept her real scorn for the women: “invariably so exhausted by disease, divorce or family dysfunction that their hearts can’t skip a beat, let alone thud with passion.” The winner of this year’s award was Lucy Dillon’s Lost Dogs And Lonely Hearts. Given that it was judged the ‘best romantic novel of the year’, you might expect a bit of surging passion, seethes Keane: “well, you’d be wrong.” Set in a kennel, it features three couples dealing with unplanned pregnancy, divorce and infertility. Heroine and reluctant kennel owner Rachel is not a happy woman. She has had her heart broken by cads, and her relationship with her mother is difficult. She is at a dead end, with only canine companions to offer solace. “What happened to heroines who faced trials with determination, deep feeling and admirable stoicism,” laments Keane, who says she can hear stories like Rachel’s any time “in the queue for the meat counter at Sainsbury’s.”

Daily Mail

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