Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Noted with Pleasure (Beta Males; JPRS citations)

--Eric Selinger

As a companion to Michelle Sagara's recent post on Alpha Males at Dear Author, Elizabeth Vail has written a delightful tribute to "The Appeal of the Beta Male."  There are interesting reflections on the means of seduction that seem to be preferred by Beta heroes, and also about the types of heroines that Beta heroes seem to get paired up with, at least in contemporary fiction.

Some of the heroes she mentions are familiar to, and much loved by, me:  Phin Tucker from Jennifer Crusie's Welcome to Temptation; S. T. Maitland from Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale.  Others, though, are from authors and novels I've never read.  She discusses "Rose Lerner’s magnificent A Lily Among Thorns" (did she just say "magnificent"?), Mary Balogh’s Lord Carew’s Bride, and Marjorie M. Liu’s The Wild Road (a paranormal, with a gargoyle hero).

The comments have offered a number of additional suggestions, including
  • Rupert, in Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible (from Cleo)
  • Henry Tilney in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Alex Moore in Jennifer Cruise’s Anyone But You, Theo Mirkwood in Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened, Mark Turner in Courtney Milan’s Unclaimed, and Peeta Mellark in Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games trilogy (from Emma Barry)
  • Murphy from [Nora Roberts's] Born in Shame (and Grey from Ice too?) And Ethan from Rising Tides (Imani)
  • Robert Carroway from Suzanne Enoch’s England’s Perfect Hero (Amanda)
Many more have come in overnight, so forgive me if I'm a little behind!

Phin makes an interesting case, because structurally, he's an Alpha:  he's mayor of the town of Temptation, born to power--men from his paternal line have run the town for generations--and possessed of wealth and agency and looks beyond the local norm.  He is, however, bored with and generally uninterested in the position and power he's inherited, and mostly he's there as a catalyst for Sophie's transformation.  There's a fair amount about Phin, Sophie, and the novel here, in the Journal of Popular Romance piece that Kate Moore was kind enough to let me co-author.

I can't help but wonder, though, whether Alpha and Beta in these discussions are as useful for us, as analytical terms, as High Mimetic and Low Mimetic, the terms that Laura Vivanco borrows from Frye in For Love and Money.  That is, "Alpha" and "Beta" are useful as terms to describe the discourse that circulates in the romance community, but HM and LM might be more precise when talking about particular characters, especially since authors so often deploy modal counterpoint (also from Frye and from Laura's book) to vary their characterization from passage to passage or scene to scene.

***

In unrelated but still welcome news, Jonathan A. Allan reports that a recent MA thesis filed at Eastern Washington University cites several pieces from the Journal of Popular Romance Studies.

The thesis is "Eros and Psyche from Apuleius to paranormal romance: a communication analysis of the archetype's message," by Arielle Nicole Reed (2013); you can find it in the EWU Masters Thesis Collection, as Paper 85.  Reed says she's using four JPRS articles, but I could only find three in her bibliography:
  • Allan, J.A. (2011). Theorising male virginity in popular romance novels. Journal of Popular Romance Studies, 2 (1); 
  • Pearce, L. (2011). Romance and repetition: Testing the limits of love. Journal of Popular Romance Studies, 2 (1); and
  • Toscano, A. (2012). A parody of love: The narrative uses of rape in popular romance. Journal of Popular Romance Studies, 2 (2).
Good to know that we have a Very Useful Journal on our hands.  Thanks for the heads-up, Jonathan!



Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Extended Deadline: Queering the Romance

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies has extended the deadline for its special issue on "Queering the Romance," guest edited by Jonathan A. Allan and Andrea Wood.

Sometimes known as "Queer/ing Romance," this issue is now looking for work on an even broader set of topics and media.  For example, the CFP now includes the uses of romantic love in judicial opinions and advertising campaigns, like those related to marriage equality; I suspect that the editors would also be interested in scholarship on advice columns and other places where real life love and media representations of love are intertwined.

I've pasted the revised Call for Papers below; please feel free to circulate it!

Queering Popular Romance (February 1, 2015 Deadline)
In 1997, Kay Mussell called upon scholars of popular romance “to incorporate analysis of lesbian and gay romances into our mostly heterosexual models.” Today, closing in on two decades later, that challenge has yet to be met.  Although print and digital venues for LGBTQ romance have proliferated, meeting a growing demand for such work among readers (especially for male / male romances), and although there is a burgeoning interest in writing LGBTQ romance on the part of both LGBTQ and straight authors, queer romance fiction remains peripheral to most academic accounts of the genre.  Likewise, with a handful of exceptions, scholarship on popular romance fiction has scarcely begun to engage the theoretical paradigms that have become central to gay and lesbian studies, to queer theory, and to the study of queer love in other media (film, TV, pop music, marriage equality campaigns, etc.)
The Journal of Popular Romance Studies therefore calls for papers on “Queering the Romance,” in the broadest possible sense of the phrase, for a special issue to be guest edited by Andrea Wood and Jonathan A. Allan. 
Recognizing that there are both similarities and tensions between “queer theory” and “lesbian and gay criticism,” we call not only for papers that consider the importance of identity politics to popular romance fiction—that is, papers on romance novels with LGBTQ protagonists—but also for papers which give “queer” readings of ostensibly heterosexual romances, as well as for those which are theoretically engaged with the fluid concept of “queerness,” no matter the bodies and / or sexualities of the protagonists involved.  We think here of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s famous assertion that “one of the things that ’queer’ can refer to” is “the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically.”
Topics to be addressed might include:
  • Queer love stories and queer readings of love across all media and genres (film, television, graphic novels, video games, judicial opinions, advertising campaigns, as well as fiction)
  • Queering subgenres and romance conventions / tropes (virginity, sexuality, attraction, betrothal, the Happily Ever After ending)
  • Questions of Authorship / Authority / Appropriation: who writes, reads, and gets to judge LGBTQ romance, and why?
  • Intersectional texts and readings:  queerness and disability, race, ethnicity, illness, religion, etc.
  • Beyond m/m and f/f:  bringing bisexual, transgender, asexual, and other genderqueer romance into the discourse
  • Continuity and Change in LGBT romance (including publishing, circulation, and readership), from gay and lesbian pulps to digital platforms
  • Rereading the Romance, Queerly: queer re-readings of older romance novels, of romance scholarship, and of the text / reader relationship


Please submit scholarly papers no more than 10,000 words, including notes and bibliography, by February 1, 2015, to the journal’s Managing Editor, at managing.editor@jprstudies.org. Submissions should be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format; please remove all identifying material (i.e. running heads with the author’s name) so that submissions can easily be sent out for anonymous peer review.  For more information on how to submit a paper, please visit http://jprstudies.org/submissions/

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Noted With Interest (Alpha Males)

--Eric Selinger

Almost exactly four years ago, Laura wrote a long and useful post here about the "Evolution of the Alpha Male," with links to then-recent scholarship by Heather Schell and a blog post on the topic by Jessica of Read, React, Review, as well as some very helpful background information from Joseph McAleer:  namely, that Alan Boon, of Mills & Boon, espoused as a "law of nature" the notion that "the female of any species will be most intensely attracted to the strongest male of the species, or the Alpha" (Joseph McAleer, Passion’s Fortune: The Story of Mills & Boon [Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999], 149-150).  

If you're interested in the idea of the "alpha male" in romance, and in the critical debates that surround him--both in academic scholarship and in the online critical world, where authors and readers and scholars are interacting--you might want to take a look at fantasy author Michelle Sagara's "Letter of Opinion" over at Dear Author ("Michelle Sagara Contemplates the Alpha Male"), at the debate that plays out in the comments, and at the essay in response by romance author and critic Olivia Waite, "Ecology and Uses of the Alpha Male in Romance."  Waite, too, embeds some helpful links, including one to a study that debunks the science about wolves on which some ideas of the "alpha male" seem depend.  


Sagara's description of the Alpha Male's appeal sometimes recalls ideas from Janice Radway's Reading the Romance, as in this set of paragraphs:
In real life, women are responsible for so much, emotionally. On hard days, on days when they just want to give up and crawl back into bed, one of the things they daydream of, outside of romance novels, is for someone else to pick up the slack for a day or a week or a month. It’s for someone else to get a grip, to take responsibility for their own lives, so that the woman herself can be responsible, for a tiny while, for just herself and her own needs. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say: on some days, when things are overwhelming, I want someone to take care of me. 
And that kind of care happens when we’re three. Or five. Or sick as a dog. If it happens at all. It’s not realistic. It’s not a desire upon which to build a real life. And we don’t. But we can dream. 
I don’t think it’s social conditioning about alpha males that causes the reading pleasure. I don’t think it’s the conditioning that makes romance alpha males work for readers. I think it’s the rest of real life. It’s having to raise children and be aware of their needs and their emotions constantly. It’s having to deal with failed relationships or walking away from those that are just draining because of incompatibility, etc. It’s having to be responsible, always, for other people. It’s having to make nice and to be someone else or be something other than we actually are for so much of day-to-day life.
I don't mean to suggest that Sagara is taking ideas from Radway without attribution; after all, Radway's analysis was based on reading romance novels and talking to readers, and anyone who's read romance novels and talked to (or been) a reader might independently arrive at similar conclusions. But I do wonder whether there might be an interesting story to tell about how ideas within the novels got talked about in the 1980s and then made their way back into the discourse of authors and readers alike in a more self-conscious or deliberate or heightened way.

And I wonder whether Waite's response to Sagara--which points out that "Social conditioning is what makes us feel like women have a greater responsibility than men do to raise children, to be the responsible nurturer in defiance of our own needs and wants" and that "what Sagara is describing here is patriarchy, in a very fundamental way"--doesn't also suggest that, at least where alpha males are concerned, the discussion hasn't entirely left behind the dynamics that Radway described thirty years ago.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Calls for Papers: Illness, Medievalism and Girls' Series


Edited Collection: “Psychosomatic” Illness in Popular Culture (Abstracts due September 1) 

The proposed collection invites interdisciplinary analysis of the phenomenon of “psychosomatic” illness as it is (mis)understood in expert and popular culture. Possible themes or topics include:

•the persistence of mind-body dualism in both expert and lay concepts of illness and wellness
•the connection between stress and illness in popular culture

More details here. And on a similar theme:

Medical Humanities: Health and Illness in Popular Culture, April 1-4 2015 (Abstracts due 1 November)

The "Medical Humanities: Health and Disease in Culture" area for the 2015 Popular and American Culture Association meeting in New Orleans invites proposals related to the portrayal of health, illness, and health care in the discourses of popular and American culture. [...]
Subject areas might include but are not limited to:
• Narratives of physical and mental illness or disability told from the perspective of patient and/or provider in contemporary pop culture media: fiction, poetry, graphic fiction, memoir, television, film etc. [...]
• The problematic representation of illness narrative in popular culture (quests, battles, wins, losses, survivors, victims—and the construction of the patient-as-subject)

More details here.

Call for Blog Contributors - Genre and Medievalism

The Tales After Tolkien Society promotes scholarship exploring any and all ways in which popular culture genres engage with the Middle Ages. What does ‘medieval’ mean in different genres – including but limited to Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Westerns, Historical, Horror, Young Adult and Children’s?

The Society aims to connect scholars and build a community of those working on medievalisms in genre literature, and to promote their work. We organize conference panels, and have two edited collections forthcoming.

We are currently seeking new contributors to our blog talesaftertolkien.blogspot.com
More details here.

Collection: Girl Talk: The Influence of Girls’ Series Fiction on American Popular Culture (Abstracts due 5 October)

Since the mid nineteenth century, American girls have had books written especially for them, often featuring the same characters who begin to feel like their friends, enemies, and overall substitute social cliques. [...]

The editor seeks submissions that interrogate the cultural work that is performed through the series genre, contemplating the messages these books relay about subjects including race, class, gender, education, family, romance, and friendship, and examine the trajectory of girl fiction within such contexts as material culture, geopolitics, socioeconomics, and feminism.

Note that for the purposes of this collection, series books will include any books featuring the same female protagonist/s for at least three volumes.

More details here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Journal of Popular Romance Studies Seeks New Managing Editor

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies, an international peer-reviewed academic journal publishing scholarship on representations of love in popular culture, is seeking a new Managing Editor. Duties include:

-          managing the journal’s main email account

-          coordinating the submission, review and publication procedures of papers submitted to the journal

-          preparing and reporting on (skype) meetings of the journal’s editorial team (bimonthly) and editorial board (annually)

-          working closely with the Executive Editor in the daily management and further development of the Journal.

The ideal candidate has a PhD (in any field; late stage doctoral students will also be considered), knows the field of popular romance studies (or is willing to become familiar with it) and/or has an interest in academic publishing.  We are looking for someone who is flexible, enthusiastic, and discreet, since the Managing Editor will be in possession of confidential information about the status of manuscripts, the names of peer reviewers, etc. This is a volunteer position – there is no salary connected to it. However, it affords ample opportunity to  develop transferable skills, gain experience in publishing, network with scholars around the world, and contribute to the further institutional and scholarly recognition of the field of popular romance studies.

If you are interested, please send a letter of motivation and a brief CV to Eric Selinger (Executive Editor) and An Goris (Managing Editor) at managing.editor@jprstudies.org  no later than September 1 2014. Questions may also be sent to this address.


Friday, July 04, 2014

New PhD Thesis: Roles, Representations of Age, and the Non-traditional Romance Heroine


Sandra Barletta (who writes romance as Sandra Antonelli) recently completed her PhD and the thesis is now available free online. In it she issues a "call to arms to other authors, besides me, to speak out, to rally and write romance novels about older heroines" (62).

In one chapter she states that
romance publishing is profit-focused and wary of undertaking anything that challenges its revenue. The chapter reveals through interviews conducted with various romance publishing editors [...] that there is an inherent conservatism at work in the industry that makes it less willing to take risks with publications valorising older women in the role of romance heroine. These editors consider Women’s Fiction as the ‘proper’ home for female protagonists of a certain age. While publishing profits play a large role in limiting the role and story for older women, there is also an industry resistance to the idea of a sexually active older women [sic] who is beyond childbearing age. (53)
Therefore,
For the author who wants to take risks in presenting older women as worthy participants in the romance paradigm, there are considerable obstacles to negotiate in a largely risk-averse industry. (57)
Sandra would, however, appear to have negotiated them successfully as
during the course of my research, I had two romance novels accepted for publication by Harlequin Escape. In no way does this suggest this outcome was not a long and frustrating enterprise. In the four years it took me to be offered a publishing contract, vast changes occurred within the publishing industry. The demise of brick and mortar book stores, the ongoing rise of Amazon, and the explosion of e-books, are all indications of a shift away from traditional models of publishing, and an accompanying shift in thinking among readers, authors and publishers. (57)
Her A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only were published in 2013 as e-books by Escape Publishing (an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises Australia).
----------

Barletta, Sandra A. Cougars, Grannies, Evil Stepmothers, and Menopausal Hot Flashers: Roles, Representations of Age, and the Non-traditional Romance Heroine. PhD thesis in Creative Writing and Literary Studies, Queensland University of Technology, 2014.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Past & Present: Greek Romance


Since it's the last day of the IASPR conference, being held in Thessaloniki, here's a Greek-themed link to a recent article by Kirsten Day on the relevance of one of the oldest surviving romance novels, Longus' Daphnis and Chloe. The article argues that,
Despite a chronological gulf of nearly two thousand years, the second century C.E. Greek romance writer Longus and the early twentieth century Irish novelist Henry de Vere Stacpoole were prompted to produce their best works by a similar motive: an urge to explore the world, and particularly the phenomenon of love and desire, from a standpoint of complete innocence. Although the resulting novels, Daphnis & Chloe and The Blue Lagoon respectively, have no evident direct connection, they exhibit surprising similarities not only in plot, setting, and characterization, but also in the values, perspectives, and worldviews they advance. The striking intersections between these two chronologically and geographically diverse works offer us a lens for examining persistent notions of “natural” versus learned masculinity and femininity, for exploring the dynamics behind patriarchal power structures, and for scrutinizing how these issues relate to ideas about the value and merits of civilization. [...] this comparison helps to drive home the persistence of ideologies and power structures that initially seem remote.
 -----
Day, Kirsten. "Experiments in Love: Longus' Daphnis & Chloe and Henry de Vere Stacpoole's The Blue Lagoon." Dialogue 1.1 (2014).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Update from the 2014 IASPR Conference

Jodi McAlister's written up a report on the first day of the conference. Here's a taster:
Angela Toscano looked at ancient Greek romance (appropriate, given the conference’s setting!) The Ethiopian Story and read it against twentieth century romance The Windflower, painting a fascinating picture of the way the romance has evolved from being what she called a “romance of adventure” to a “romance of courtship”, the two texts featuring similar tropes but entirely different story arcs. One point she made that I really liked was that romance is in many senses the opposite of epic – while epic is largely concerned with the death of heroes, romance is in many ways about rebirth.

Lesley Ann Smith discussed the theories that many romance writers are familiar with and draw upon when constructing their novels, including Kim Hudson’s notion of the 13-beat virgin’s archetypal journey [...]. This led to a very interesting discussion about the way academic attempts to codify or define the romance are sometimes appropriated as guidelines – for instance, Pamela Regis’ eight elements of the romance novel (from A Natural History of the Romance Novel) being drawn upon by writers in order to better structure their novel. This was a crossover between academia and creative practice that I hadn’t really thought about before – I’d love to know how/if/to what extent authors use scholarly work when they write!

One paper that might be particularly ripe for this kind of mobilisation in the future is Catherine Roach’s, who proposed another alternative (but not incompatible) nine elements for understanding the romance novel, concerned with deep structural priorities – that is, the core claims romance makes about love – rather than formal plot features. This was fascinating and nuanced and I don’t have time to reproduce her argument here (especially because it’s part of a book she has coming out next year which I will definitely be reading), but one claim she made that really resonated with me is that romance is essentially about the word “love” as a verb – that the romance story can be summed up as “find your true love and live happily ever after”.
You can read the rest here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Review of New Approaches


I was pleased to see a review of New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction in the June issue of the Journal of American Culture and the contents were even more gratifying. Carrie Marjorie Peirce concludes with the following statement:
All scholars of popular culture should read this sophisticated and rigorous volume even if they never intend to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey or a romance trilogy by Nora Roberts. The essays in the volume are refreshing: they offer a variety of feminist critique, explore the many subgenres within romance fiction, and, most importantly, demonstrate a genuine appreciation for the fans and writers of the genre. New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction — Critical Essays are model studies of popular culture and should interest all scholars of fiction and literature — popular or otherwise.
Peirce praises the introduction, for offering "a fascinating, comprehensive, and surprisingly concise history of scholarship on popular romance fiction," and gives a brief outline of the contents of the "Seventeen remarkably erudite and instructive essays."

----
Peirce, Carrie Marjorie. Review of New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays. Ed. Sarah S. G. Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger.  Journal of American Culture 37.2 (2014): 237-38.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Updates to the Romance Wiki Bibliography


I'd been adding new entries to the Romance Wiki Bibliography, watching as Christina Martinez adds some, and only mentioning a few of them here, on Twitter or at my blog because I couldn't write up responses to them all. I've decided that, in future, every so often I'll post updates at Teach Me Tonight. Some of the items may not be easily available but, if nothing else, it's good to be able to see the quantity and range of the work being produced on popular romance. Occasionally there will be older items which had slipped through unnoticed until recently or which have recently been put online.

---------

Cawelti, John. "Romance: The Once and Future Queen." The Wilson Quarterly 2.3 (1978): 102-109. [Here are a couple of excerpts at my blog. An excerpt of the first page is available via JSTOR here.]

Frederick, Rhonda. "Making Jamaican Love: Colin Channer's Waiting in Vain and Romance-ified Diaspora Identities." Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal Of Criticism 17.3 (2013): 63-84. [This "essay asks, What can a romance novel teach us about being in a Caribbean diaspora?" and here's the full abstract.]
Kania, Richard R. E. "Pirates and Piracy in American Popular Culture." Romanian Journal of English Studies 11.1 (2014): 183–194.  [Includes a section on "Daphné du Maurier and the Romance Novel Pirate." Abstract and full Pdf available here.
Nilson, Maria. "From The Flame and the Flower to Fifty Shades of Grey: Sex, Power and Desire in the Romance Novel," Akademisk Kvarter/Academic Quarter 7 (2013): 119-131. [Available in full.]
Novak, Julia. "Nell Gwyn in Contemporary Romance Novels: Biography and the Dictates of 'Genre Literature'." Contemporary Women's Writing.





Roach, Catherine. " 'Going Native': Aca-Fandom and Deep Participant Observation in Popular Romance Studies." Mosaic 47.2 (2014): 33-49. [Roach discusses how she combines being an academic, a fan of romance, and a romance author. Abstract and excerpt]

Selinger, Eric Murphy. "My Metatextual Romance: Thinking With (and About) Jaane Tu Ya Janne Na." Mosaic 47.2: 51-66. ["Scholars of popular romance fiction have begun to credit the genre with political and aesthetic self-consciousness, a “metatextual turn” that parallels changes in the academic reception of Hindi popular cinema." Abstract and excerpt]
Sonnet, Esther. " 'Erotic Fiction by Women for Women': The Pleasures of Post-Feminist Heterosexuality." Sexualities 2.2 (1999):167-187. ["This article addresses the material construction of female heterosexuality through examination of the mass marketing of women’s pornography - ‘erotic fiction for women by women’ as exemplified by Virgin Publishing’s Black Lace imprint." It's available in full.]
Sonnet, Esther. "What the Woman Reads: Categorising Contemporary Popular Erotica for Women." Consuming for Pleasure: Selected Essays on Popular Fiction. Ed. Julia Hallam and Nickianne Moody. Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores UP and the Association for Research in Popular Fictions, 2000. 246-267. [This article is also available in full and it could be considered an expanded version of the previous one. It puts the Black Lace erotica in the context of other fiction for women with sexual content, including romance "bodice-rippers," and discusses the ways in which these texts are classified/assigned to particular genres/subgenres.]

Sonnet, Esther. "'"Just a book", she said ...': Refiguring Ethnography for the Female Readers of Sexual Fiction." The Audience Studies Reader. Ed. Will Brooker & Deborah Jermyn. London: Routledge, 2002. 254-273. [Available in full]
 
Tang, Yang. "Between Fantasy and Reality: Time-Travel Romance and Media Fandom in Chinese Cyberspace." MA Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2014. [Available in full]
Tapper, Olivia. "Romance and Innovation in Twenty-First Century Publishing." Publishing Research Quarterly 30.2 (2014): 249-59. [I discussed this at my blog. Abstract here.]

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hell Hath No Inventiveness Like a Romance-Reader Scorned


When Gabby Maait, Kat Mayo and Jennifer Wu discovered that the Sydney Writers' Festival was ignoring popular romance fiction, its writers and readers, they were angry - and then they got inventive.

They made a range of postcards which could be left at the festival to challenge perceptions of the genre. Bearing in mind that romance novels are often judged by their covers:


This "cover remix [...] features an Australian classic, My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, re-imagined as a chicklit romance."

This "cover remix [...] features The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde re-imagined as a paranormal romance" because, as Kat points out
Today The Picture of Dorian Gray a classic work of literature, and no critic would dismiss it because they think it will raise men’s expectations of debauched lifestyles. Contrast this to romance fiction, which is blamed for women having unrealistic expectations in relationships, of being porn for women (nothing more than a masturbatory aid rather than an expression of art or a form of literary entertainment), or of being escapist and therefore too light for serious review or analysis.
 

This one gives a clinch cover to Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles ("A classic bodice-ripper ... without the happy ending") to make the point that "in our books women always win."

The covers were designed by Jennifer Wu, who's written about the project here. You can see more of her work on her website. She also has prints/iPhone and iPod cases/skins of the original artwork for these covers available for sale. Here's Tess, The Picture and My Brilliant Career.

There are also two postcards featuring quotes from romance novels (one from Patricia Brigg's Fair Game and the other from Untamed by Anna Cowan). On the reverse, all of the cards carry a quote from Judith Arnold:
To belittle romance fiction is to belittle women. To read romance fiction is to confront the strength of women, the variety of their experience, and the validity of their aspirations and accomplishments
I think Jennifer, Kat and Gabby have given us a very impressive taste of their "aspirations and accomplishments."