Risky Regencies

What Not to Bare: Too Sexy to Read in Public?

What Not To Bare by Megan FramptonThis past week, my book What Not to Bare was included in a Barnes & Noble post titled 4 Romance Novels Too Sexy to Read in Public. Which was awesome, since of course that is bound to pique people’s interest, particularly people who might not normally pick up a historical romance.

And while I would like to proudly read whatever I want to in public, the truth is I am grateful for e-readers, and am happy I can read whatever I like without anyone judging me. Because while the content might be awesome, the truth is that some of our covers are pretty egregious. Just think of the original covers for two of the best (if not the actual best) historical romances out there–Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels and Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm.

Blech! I like them now, because they are so awful and over-the-top, and I seem to have shed some shame as I’ m advancing in years, but imagine how people who first bought them must have felt, and have had to explain that the books inside were brilliant, even if the covers weren’t.

The worst thing about e-readers is when you have the size magnified, because of that age thing, and you can tell someone is glancing over at what you’re reading while on the subway, and you’re at a really salacious part of the book, and you have to turn off the e-reader for a bit. Not that that’s ever happened to me.

Have you ever felt judged for the books you read?


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9 years ago

You should have heard my daughter’s howls of outrage when I started reading romance novels.

Louisa Cornell
9 years ago

Am I often judged for what I read, especially romance novels? Absolutely. Does it bother me? Absolutely not. I went to a liberal arts college and was often derided for reading romance novels. (Remember those Fabio covers? This was in the late 70’s early 80’s.) Someone finally shot me one pompous self-righteous snipe too many. I said :

“Yes, I read romance novels. I’ve also read Madame Bovary in the original French and Anna Karenina in the original Russian. What languages are you capable of reading?”

Shut them up.

These days I read in the lounge at work (Walmart) and when someone says something cute I usually say “Yes, I’m reading a romance novel. You wouldn’t like it. It doesn’t have pictures. Go back to your National Enquirer.”

I learned at an early age that I was a bit different from other children. My father taught me never to apologize for being myself and never to dumb myself down or “class myself up” for anyone.

Her Grace
8 years ago

I’ve been judged in the 1980’s for reading Historical Romance. In my culture, they were considered “trashy” (not overly sensual trashy, but trashy in the literary sense).

Still, I loved them. I loved them more than I loved my outward image, but not more than my reputation.

In high school we had to put covers on all our schoolbooks. The richer of us had sheer plastic sleeves. The poorer of us had brown paper bags.

As I was in the habit of covering all books I took to school, I devised a brown paper cover to slip around all my novels so I could read without the judgement of casual passers-by.

Nobody, especially not public opinion, was going to stand between me and my novels.

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