In my continuing series on the Plus sized Heroine in Romanceland...
Plump: Great Category Romance Heroines with Curves!
I cut my teeth on Category Romances. They were cheap to buy at thrift stores and my grandmother also had them delivered to her house every month as she was in some amazing book club or the other all the time.
Romance Wiki: Category romance is also known as "Series" romance, depending on who's doing the talking. The term "category romance" derives from the fact that the books are published in clearly delineated categories, with a certain number of books being published in each category every month. Their alternative name, series romances, came from the sequential numbers sometimes printed on the books' spines. Category romances are short (usually no more than 250 pages), and have a low purchase price compared to other fiction books.
We are talking your Mills and Boon, Harlequin, Loveswept, Candlelight Ecstasy (to really date me), and Silhouette titles. They range from sweet to burning hot and cover all the sub genres now but are mainly Contemporary.
Many of Romance's best writers honed their talent writing in this format.
I could on and on...
These romances tend to be a bit of a guilty pleasure even to the most "out" romance reader because of they tend to have awful titles and are not afraid of stereotyping in the least. Sheik ________ is an often used title as is Virgin, Billionaire, Italian and other horrors.
Dear Author has a lovely post called Confess Yourself: Are You a Closest Category Romance Reader? dealing with the shame/pleasure of these books.
I confess: I will cringe at some of the titles I will recommend later in this post but not the contents of the books.
While this sub genre can be the most conservative (and backwards or just plain offensive to evolving understanding of the world) in all of Romanceland and the slowest to change due to the restrictions and it is true that quality varies widely due to the sheer volumes of books published each month so some of these books are just very, very bad, these books are also sometimes the best written, most subversive and groundbreaking due these same factors. Wow. What a long sentence (likely with some run on issues I refused to address)!
Finally, I am getting closer to the topic of this post, BBW in Category Romance.
Category Romance publisher can afford to take risks on new writers because of the volume of what is being published and consumed by loyal readers to the House. Once that new writer has been at it a while, supported by an editor unlike the Indies (who I adore but are shape by different elements), they begin to experiment. These writers need to produce a great deal and like any thing the more you do it the better you tend to be at it.
Trying out a new troupe or unusual character can go unnoticed. There is low risk.
Also, the short format means that these love stories tend to be character driven. A heroine with a bit more omph in the curve department add a layering and complexity to the romance.
Thus, some of the earliest and best drawn Big and Beautiful Heroines of Romance can be found in Category.
The two stand outs for me are:
Ruth Wind's Beautiful Stranger: Raised in a gilded cage, she was the chubby twin sister no one noticed. Now her weight loss made Marissa Pierce the kind of woman every man desired—including Robert Martinez. If only she had the courage to return his seductive gaze…
A proud Native American, Robert resented Marissa's privileged lifestyle. Yet this elegant stranger understood his wounded heart. Now Robert was determined to show her how truly beautiful she was—before the princess could escape to her ivory tower forever.
Justine Davis' A Whole Lot of Love: On the phone, Layla Laraway had always driven men wild with her sexy voice. But in face-to-face encounters, few looked past her full figure to the woman inside. So, long ago, Layla had stopped believing in fairy tales...and Prince Charming
One look at Layla Laraway and CEO Ethan Winslow knew he'd found a princess. Layla was more woman than any he'd ever met, and he desired her far more than all those 34-24-34s he used to date. And suddenly this far-from-marriage-minded man was seeking to sweep Layla off her feet-and convince her that happily-ever-afters could come true....
Some other great BBW Heroines in the sub genre, I would recommend are...
1. Phantom Lover by Susan Napier, Harlequin Presents
2. Taken! by Lori Foster, Harlequin Blaze
3. Indulge Me by Isabel Sharpe, Harlequin Blaze
4. The Sicilian's Virgin Bride by Sarah Morgan, Harlequin Presents
5. Empty Net by Toni Aleo, Loveswept
6. In His Good Hands by Joan Kilby, Harlequin Superromance
7. Coming Home to Texas by Victoria Chancellor, Harlequin American
8. The Sheikh's Kidnapped Bride by Susan Mallery, Silhouette Intimate Moments.
9. Baby at His Convenience by Kathie Denosky, Silhouette Desire
10. Treat Her Right by Lori Foster, Harlequin Temptation
You can read them on your E Reader. No one need ever see. :)
Arguably the best and certainly the most popular BBW Heroine, Minerva Dobbs in Bet Me, was penned by Jennifer Cruise who is a former Category Romance writer (yeah, I already mentioned this but her catagory books are just that good).
Right now, Catagory Romance is enjoying a lovely rebirth through ebooks and the low price love we have going on. Loveswept and the newish Entangled are great publishers with wonderful talent- Tessa Bailey, Ruthie Knox, Mary Ann Rivers, for example.
I hope to see more and more diversity in our heroines all over the genre-- skinny, pale, dark, grumpy, and on and on.
Do you have a favorite BBW Heroine in a Category Romance? Let me know!
If you would like to vote of the best of the best, go to my Goodreads list: Plump: Great Category Romance Heroines with Curves.
If you would like more recommendations for Plus Sized Heroines in all the sub genres of Romance as well as utterly lovely images of curvy beauties, my Pinterst Board awaits you:. Real Curves: Best Romance Novel Heroines Who Have'em.