I few weeks ago I read a portion of a WIP to a small group of men and women, many of them writers. The section I read involved my hero in an E/R wearing that horrible hospital gown that leaves a portion of his thigh uncovered. The heroine looks at a scar on his thigh and remembers…
The muscles under the scar sometimes tightened up and produced a stabbing pain. Once it had been her pleasure to massage that pain away. Once he’d welcomed her touch. She placed a hand on his thigh. His skin was warm and the hairs in his flesh tickled her palm.
He froze. “I said my leg was fine.”
She stepped away and clasped her hands behind her back to prevent Kyle from seeing them tremble.
When I finished reading, one of the men in the group informed me that I wrote erotica well. As other men nodded agreement I took a deep breath and tried to explain that I had not written erotica. Another man informed me that I wrote the kind of erotica a man could read, not like that stuff Harlequin prints. A female friend of mine and I left laughing at the differences between men and women.
In the words of Bill Cosby, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.
This weekend I went to the movies and saw a good romance flic. Not the one you’re thinking of, I saw the Adjustment Bureau. I know, that’s not a romance, at least its not being marketed as one. But it is, and its a romance for guys. (I know, Matt Damon, I have to admit I get a little heart palpitaions myself)
Yes the movie is science fiction, about an up-and-coming politician who discovers that there are forces guiding the human race and that free will is largely a myth (although we are allowed to pick the kind of toothpaste we want). This bureau is grooming him to be a future president of the United States, and while he may not like the idea that his life is being controlled by others, he isn’t out to fight too hard, and the movie would be over after about fifteen minutes except – he meets a girl and falls in love. That love is outside The Plan so the adjusters go all out to keep them apart. Matt Damon spends the rest of the movie fighting for free will, a.k.a. the right to love. And if that means giving up the future presidency, and even risking his own sanity when they threaten to wipe his mind clean and leave him in a mental institute, he’s willing to risk it for love. The only think he can’t risk is her safety. (Sigh)
Seriously, in spite of the chase scenes and political rhetoric, this is a romance told from the guy’s point of view. BTW, the chase scene does last a bit too long, but I’m willing to forgive that. Men may never call it a romance, ditto for marketing, but without the Cute Meet (in the Men’s bathroom of all places), the romantic Kink, and the Moment of Despair, not to mention the Happily Ever After, there is no movie.
My take on this is simple, that guys do like to see and read romance – they just don’t want to use that word.