At the supermarket the other day I came across these romances:

The Sheikh Surgeon's Proposal (Medical)

Italian Boss, Proud Miss Prim (Harlequin Presents)

Mistress to the Merciless Millionaire (Harlequin Presents)

Pregnancy Of Revenge (Harlequin Presents)

The Greek Billionaire's Baby Revenge (Harlequin Presents)

Ruthless Billionaire, Forbidden Baby (Harlequin Presents)

Pirate Tycoon, Forbidden Baby (Harlequin Presents)

And then I started flipping through! I was perplexed by the number of books which seemed to have the plot, "I hate you so I'll get pregnant by you! Ha ha! That'll show you!"

1. I would not have thought this a popular kink.

2. Isn't that a bit tacky and horrifying?

3. We are supposed to identify with the heroine, not want to call Child Protective Services on her... right?

I also noted down some choice quotes (didn't note which books they were from, sorry):

The urge to make new life was an imperative inborn command.

Her bravado halted at the sight of his tight black boxers.

She lay transfixed by her raging hormones as he reached behind him for the soap.

Money, money, money... ran through her mind as Fletcher led her into the awesome foyer and she took in the fabulous furnishings and fantastic floral arrangements.
At the supermarket the other day I came across these romances:

The Sheikh Surgeon's Proposal (Medical)

Italian Boss, Proud Miss Prim (Harlequin Presents)

Mistress to the Merciless Millionaire (Harlequin Presents)

Pregnancy Of Revenge (Harlequin Presents)

The Greek Billionaire's Baby Revenge (Harlequin Presents)

Ruthless Billionaire, Forbidden Baby (Harlequin Presents)

Pirate Tycoon, Forbidden Baby (Harlequin Presents)

And then I started flipping through! I was perplexed by the number of books which seemed to have the plot, "I hate you so I'll get pregnant by you! Ha ha! That'll show you!"

1. I would not have thought this a popular kink.

2. Isn't that a bit tacky and horrifying?

3. We are supposed to identify with the heroine, not want to call Child Protective Services on her... right?

I also noted down some choice quotes (didn't note which books they were from, sorry):

The urge to make new life was an imperative inborn command.

Her bravado halted at the sight of his tight black boxers.

She lay transfixed by her raging hormones as he reached behind him for the soap.

Money, money, money... ran through her mind as Fletcher led her into the awesome foyer and she took in the fabulous furnishings and fantastic floral arrangements.
The bookshop had a Gothic section! Complete with a series with titles like Alice, the Desperate and Ilene, the Superstitious. There was a complete list on the inside cover, but sadly the shop did not have Rachel, the Possessed.

Every single Gothic had a cover with a girl and a house. Some variations included a nurse, a doctor, and a house; a girl, a zombie Abraham Lincoln-esque figure, and a house; and, in the exoticized ethnicity category, a girl and the Taj Mahal, and a girl and a casa (according to the back cover.)

I now own...

The Satan Stone, by Louise Osborne. The great isolated mansion of Penetralia loomed bizarre and forbidding...

(There's no way that isn't deliberate, right? Right?)

Return to Darkness, by Willo David Roberts, author of many charming children's books including the seminal psychic kids novel The Girl With The Silver Eyes. Her Gothic heroine is a private duty nurse.

The Veil of Night by Lydia Joyce. Recced by Oyce as a sweet revisionist Gothic. Some desires flourish only in darkness...

Seimaden # 1 by Higuri You. What becomes of a man who spends his life in the underworld for a love that lasts beyond the grave?? This sounds Gothic, but it's actually manga, and very '80s-looking manga at that.

Two children's books, The Battle for Castle Cockatrice by Gerald Durrell and The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep.

Anyone ever read any of these?
The bookshop had a Gothic section! Complete with a series with titles like Alice, the Desperate and Ilene, the Superstitious. There was a complete list on the inside cover, but sadly the shop did not have Rachel, the Possessed.

Every single Gothic had a cover with a girl and a house. Some variations included a nurse, a doctor, and a house; a girl, a zombie Abraham Lincoln-esque figure, and a house; and, in the exoticized ethnicity category, a girl and the Taj Mahal, and a girl and a casa (according to the back cover.)

I now own...

The Satan Stone, by Louise Osborne. The great isolated mansion of Penetralia loomed bizarre and forbidding...

(There's no way that isn't deliberate, right? Right?)

Return to Darkness, by Willo David Roberts, author of many charming children's books including the seminal psychic kids novel The Girl With The Silver Eyes. Her Gothic heroine is a private duty nurse.

The Veil of Night by Lydia Joyce. Recced by Oyce as a sweet revisionist Gothic. Some desires flourish only in darkness...

Seimaden # 1 by Higuri You. What becomes of a man who spends his life in the underworld for a love that lasts beyond the grave?? This sounds Gothic, but it's actually manga, and very '80s-looking manga at that.

Two children's books, The Battle for Castle Cockatrice by Gerald Durrell and The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep.

Anyone ever read any of these?
Christmas, Texas Style: Four Texas Babies / A Texan Under the Mistletoe / Merry Texmas

Apparently Texan, along with Sheikh, is an ethnicity. Who knew!

I found this gem, along with The Australian's Housekeeper Bride, The Billionaire's Scandalous Marriage, The Blackmail Bargain, The Royal Baby Bargain, Sale or Return Bride, The Sultan's Virgin Bride, The Greek's Bridal Bargain, Bought: The Greek's Bride, The Italian's Blackmailed Mistress, The Italian Prince's Pregnant Bride, The Italian Boss's Secret Child, The Boss's Christmas Baby, One Night Baby, and Pregnancy of Revenge, on someone bookmooch inventory. In case you were wondering. No, I did not mooch.

Perhaps the ultimate romance would be The Billionaire Biracial Boss's Blackmailed Bargain Bride's Brazos Baby: Born on Boxing Day.
Christmas, Texas Style: Four Texas Babies / A Texan Under the Mistletoe / Merry Texmas

Apparently Texan, along with Sheikh, is an ethnicity. Who knew!

I found this gem, along with The Australian's Housekeeper Bride, The Billionaire's Scandalous Marriage, The Blackmail Bargain, The Royal Baby Bargain, Sale or Return Bride, The Sultan's Virgin Bride, The Greek's Bridal Bargain, Bought: The Greek's Bride, The Italian's Blackmailed Mistress, The Italian Prince's Pregnant Bride, The Italian Boss's Secret Child, The Boss's Christmas Baby, One Night Baby, and Pregnancy of Revenge, on someone bookmooch inventory. In case you were wondering. No, I did not mooch.

Perhaps the ultimate romance would be The Billionaire Biracial Boss's Blackmailed Bargain Bride's Brazos Baby: Born on Boxing Day.
A while back I mentioned the Harlequin line which inspired a poll on Equal Opportunities Exoticized Ethnicities Romance. The Rachel & Oyce Presents line featured titles like The Infernal Indian's Insatiable Innamorata, The Vietnamese Vampire's Voluptuous Virgin, and The Nimble Nigerian's Nubile Nubian's Nibbled Nipples. The actual Harlequin line featured Latin Lovers, Brazilian Billionaires, Greek Tycoons, Parisian Playboys, and Sensual Sheikhs.

I finally got around to attempting to read one of them. It is in the "Latin Lover" line, and that phrase is emblazoned on a chili pepper on the spine of the book. This is the inside cover:

VIVA LA VIDA DE AMOR!

LATIN LOVERS
(on a chili pepper)

They speak the language of passion.

I have read lots and lots of bad books, in many genres. You might call me a conoisseur of horrid prose. I have read many books that are more obviously risible, not to mention unpublished manuscripts like "The Eye of Argon" ("a lithe opaque nose") and Madmen Always Win, a play that contained the immortal line, spoken by a coroner, "He died-- of broken capillaries and stuff."

And yet In the Spaniard's Bed, while not falling to such depths, strikes me as something rather special in the annals of horrible books. It was published, for one thing. And while many awful books get published, especially by throw-away series paperback lines, its consistency of dreadfulness is impressive.

The thing about In the Spaniard's Bed isn't that it is full of hilariously bad prose. It's that virtually every single sentence has something wrong with it: incorrect grammar, a word that sounds similar to one which would make sense instead of one that actually makes sense, bathos, anti-climax, expository lumps, over-use of adjectives, non-sequitors, cliche, unintentional innuendo, sentence fragments, inappropriate shifts in tone and style, a general image used when a specific one would be better, and so forth. It seems to have been written in an all-nighter, or perhaps dictated, by someone on poor terms with the muse of language.

For even a potboiler about blackmailing billionaire sexy Spaniards can be a good one of its kind, or a bad one.

I reproduce some random sentences below. Perhaps in studying what is wrong with them, we will gain some insight into how to write a good sentence, or how not to write one quite that bad. I invite you take a crack at them.

The ice-pink gown moulded her slender curves, its spaghetti straps showing silky skin to an advantage, and the diagonal ruffled split to mid-thigh showcased beautifully proportioned legs. A gossamer wrap in matching ice-pink completed the outfit, and her jewelry was understated.

Sassy, he mused, and mad. It made a change from simpering companions who held a diploma in superficial artificiality.

She fired him a look that quelled him into silence.

It was a beautiful night, the air crisp and cool indicative of spring.

He didn't move, but she had the impression he had shifted stance. How did he do that? Go from apparent relaxation mode to menacing alert?

Cassandra registered his words, and felt her stomach contract in tangible pain.

On reflection it was a restful day.

Choosing what to wear didn't pose a problem, for she led a reasonably active social life and possessed the wardrobe to support it.

A long black scarf wound loosely at her neck was a stunning complement, and she wore minimum jewelry, diamond ear-studs and a diamond tennis bracelet.

Bedroom duties. The thought should have filled her with antipathy, but instead there was a sense of anticipation at a raw primitive level to experience again the magical, mesmeric excitement he was able to evoke.

He was the most impossible man she'd ever had the misfortune to meet. Dictatorial, indomitable, omnipotent.

Diego gave a husky laugh, and uttered something incomprehensible to her in Spanish.
A while back I mentioned the Harlequin line which inspired a poll on Equal Opportunities Exoticized Ethnicities Romance. The Rachel & Oyce Presents line featured titles like The Infernal Indian's Insatiable Innamorata, The Vietnamese Vampire's Voluptuous Virgin, and The Nimble Nigerian's Nubile Nubian's Nibbled Nipples. The actual Harlequin line featured Latin Lovers, Brazilian Billionaires, Greek Tycoons, Parisian Playboys, and Sensual Sheikhs.

I finally got around to attempting to read one of them. It is in the "Latin Lover" line, and that phrase is emblazoned on a chili pepper on the spine of the book. This is the inside cover:

VIVA LA VIDA DE AMOR!

LATIN LOVERS
(on a chili pepper)

They speak the language of passion.

I have read lots and lots of bad books, in many genres. You might call me a conoisseur of horrid prose. I have read many books that are more obviously risible, not to mention unpublished manuscripts like "The Eye of Argon" ("a lithe opaque nose") and Madmen Always Win, a play that contained the immortal line, spoken by a coroner, "He died-- of broken capillaries and stuff."

And yet In the Spaniard's Bed, while not falling to such depths, strikes me as something rather special in the annals of horrible books. It was published, for one thing. And while many awful books get published, especially by throw-away series paperback lines, its consistency of dreadfulness is impressive.

The thing about In the Spaniard's Bed isn't that it is full of hilariously bad prose. It's that virtually every single sentence has something wrong with it: incorrect grammar, a word that sounds similar to one which would make sense instead of one that actually makes sense, bathos, anti-climax, expository lumps, over-use of adjectives, non-sequitors, cliche, unintentional innuendo, sentence fragments, inappropriate shifts in tone and style, a general image used when a specific one would be better, and so forth. It seems to have been written in an all-nighter, or perhaps dictated, by someone on poor terms with the muse of language.

For even a potboiler about blackmailing billionaire sexy Spaniards can be a good one of its kind, or a bad one.

I reproduce some random sentences below. Perhaps in studying what is wrong with them, we will gain some insight into how to write a good sentence, or how not to write one quite that bad. I invite you take a crack at them.

The ice-pink gown moulded her slender curves, its spaghetti straps showing silky skin to an advantage, and the diagonal ruffled split to mid-thigh showcased beautifully proportioned legs. A gossamer wrap in matching ice-pink completed the outfit, and her jewelry was understated.

Sassy, he mused, and mad. It made a change from simpering companions who held a diploma in superficial artificiality.

She fired him a look that quelled him into silence.

It was a beautiful night, the air crisp and cool indicative of spring.

He didn't move, but she had the impression he had shifted stance. How did he do that? Go from apparent relaxation mode to menacing alert?

Cassandra registered his words, and felt her stomach contract in tangible pain.

On reflection it was a restful day.

Choosing what to wear didn't pose a problem, for she led a reasonably active social life and possessed the wardrobe to support it.

A long black scarf wound loosely at her neck was a stunning complement, and she wore minimum jewelry, diamond ear-studs and a diamond tennis bracelet.

Bedroom duties. The thought should have filled her with antipathy, but instead there was a sense of anticipation at a raw primitive level to experience again the magical, mesmeric excitement he was able to evoke.

He was the most impossible man she'd ever had the misfortune to meet. Dictatorial, indomitable, omnipotent.

Diego gave a husky laugh, and uttered something incomprehensible to her in Spanish.
Last night Oyce and I were checking out some of the Harlequin Presents' line, which falls into three often overlapping categories: Exoticised Ethnicities, Financial Fantasies, and Babies. For instance, The Greek Tycoon's Secret Baby. However, we noticed that there are only four types of Exoticized Ethnicities in the series: Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, and Sheikhs. This seemed unfair to other ethnicities, who do not get the chance to murmur random endearments in their own languages and be described as "dark-haired, dark eyes, almost black, and with a dark, deep, sensual smile."

To help us in our quest to right this injustice, please choose your favorite title or titles, then write a drabble (a story of 100 words) for it, or write the back cover copy for the book in comments.

Note to people who might wander in randomly: This is a parody of an old-fashioned yet extant romance genre, so some terms are in there because they are outdated, Orientalist, etc. No offense is intended to actual Peruvians, eunuchs. (But if we left out your own ethnicity, feel free to suggest a title.)

[Poll #760758]
Last night Oyce and I were checking out some of the Harlequin Presents' line, which falls into three often overlapping categories: Exoticised Ethnicities, Financial Fantasies, and Babies. For instance, The Greek Tycoon's Secret Baby. However, we noticed that there are only four types of Exoticized Ethnicities in the series: Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, and Sheikhs. This seemed unfair to other ethnicities, who do not get the chance to murmur random endearments in their own languages and be described as "dark-haired, dark eyes, almost black, and with a dark, deep, sensual smile."

To help us in our quest to right this injustice, please choose your favorite title or titles, then write a drabble (a story of 100 words) for it, or write the back cover copy for the book in comments.

Note to people who might wander in randomly: This is a parody of an old-fashioned yet extant romance genre, so some terms are in there because they are outdated, Orientalist, etc. No offense is intended to actual Peruvians, eunuchs. (But if we left out your own ethnicity, feel free to suggest a title.)

[Poll #760758]
.

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