Christmas Spirit – Amy Garvey (2009)
I haven’t read a romance novel in a coon’s age and they’re certainly not my genre of choice when it comes to browsing for books: at the risk of sounding like an utter snob, I usually prefer writing with style and cleverness, or at the very least, a vaguely creative plotline. Most romance novels have none of the above, but there has got to be something to them, given the incredible amount of them that move in and out of the library where I work. Women – and some men – will borrow up to twenty or thirty of them in a sitting, and return them in a week or less, only to scoop up more. Given how formulaic they are, I can’t think that reading that many would be terribly satisfying, but I guess they’re sort of like a bag of little individually wrapped candies…all the same inside and out, with that little centre of guilty pleasure. The Werther’s of the book world, I suppose. I do think that anyone who puts down romance novels as some second-rate kind of fiction should consider just how lucrative the genre is for writers, and how many readers gobble them up. If you think people are reading SF, for example, or even horror, you’d be wrong. And while literary fiction certainly has a stronghold in the readerly realm, romance novels are absolutely HUGE.
I expect Garvey’s novel would be typical of the genre: it’s a little bit humourous, terribly corny, and more steamy than I actually anticipated. The cliched plot concerns two cliched characters that are literally thrown together to try to solve the mystery of a haunted house during the holiday season. In between hunting ghosts, the protaganists engage in a great deal of hot sex and a lot of really trite dialogue. The book represents two hours I won’t ever get back…but strangely enough, I don’t really mind. Sure beats mopping the floors or doing dishes.