In Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, Jayne Ann Krentz and the contributors to this volume--all best-selling romance writers--explode the myths and biases that haunt both the writers and readers of romances.
In this seamless, ultimately fascinating, and controversial book, the authors dispute some of the notions that plague their profession, including the time-worn theory that the romance genre contains only one single, monolithic story, which is cranked out over and over again. The authors discuss positive life-affirming values inherent in all romances: the celebration of female power, courage, intelligence, and gentleness; the inversion of the power structure of a patriarchal society; and the integration of male and female. Several of the essays also discuss the issue of reader identification with the characters, a relationship that is far more complex than most critics realize.
"Some of the writers collected here have read virtually all of the significant books on romance that have appeared in the last ten years or so, evaluated the claims made by their feminist authors in highly critical fashion and yet insisted on claiming the term 'feminist' for their own literary efforts. This, in itself, is a highly useful piece of information for it demonstrates that romances cannot simply be labeled reactionary anti-feminism, as some critics have claimed, but rather must be evaluated as part of a larger cultural struggle over the proper way to define feminism and to control its impact on the lives of individual women. . . . This book will interest feminist literary and media critics as primary source material for their efforts to understand the impact of the romance genre. . . . It demonstrates eloquently that thinking about the contemporary state of culture goes on beyond the ivory tower and that it is cohesive and compelling."
"Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women is, itself, a kind of reconciliation: it is certainly the first time a university press has published romance writers' thoughts about their craft and their critics. . . . [Linda] Barlow calls academic critics 'foreigners in our emotional landscape,' women who have learned to read as if they were men. Men view Jane Austen, for instance, as a malicious satirist--but women would see her as a serious romance writer about the only life-defining choice a woman of her era could make: the choice of a husband. Similarly, academic critics heap praise on fiction about existential dread, angst, passivity and ennui--while romance readers and writers want their characters and plots passionate, fast-moving, exciting and optimistic. . . . The romance writers in Krentz's book are themselves a cross-section of educated women--geologists, lawyers, historians, librarians--who are now among the few hundred people in the United States who make a living writing books. They also battle for women's voices and values."
--Women's Review of Books
"Krentz and her 18 collaborators, all best-selling romance writers, unleash a veritable arsenal of pro-romance arguments: that romances are a subversive feminist art form. That romances, far from degrading women, actually celebrate and empower women, since they always emerge triumphant over men in the requisite happy ending. That romances are the modern-day inheritor of the heroic tradition in storytelling."