Waiter, there’s a vampire in my book…

Vampires Suck - http://www.flickr.com/photos/vblibrary/5052252060/in/photostream/Somehow, a vampire snuck into my Blaze. I am so outraged. An open letter to Mills & Boon.

Dear Mills & Boon,

I heart your category romances; you know I do. I love some of your authors like a sheikh loves his billions.

But Harlequin, we have a problem.

Last week, I had nothing to read, so I decided to open one of the many ebooks sitting in my Reader, waiting for just this moment: the in-between TBRs decision dilemma*. I had a bunch of titles from Mills & Boon’s Everyone’s Reading website. I was surfacing from a historical romance binge, so I was eager to get into Kimberly Raye’s Cody.

I didn’t read the blurb when I downloaded the ebook. It was a Blaze. I thought it would be safe to assume a few things about the book.

When I open a Blaze, I expect a contemporary story with a bit of drama, a bit of humour and, more often than not, urban lifestyle issues. I can usually relate to the characters’ conflicts, secrets and insecurities.

But this one? The first page is set some time after the US Civil War. And the hero? Well, he’s a vampire. Yes, a freaking vampire!

Let me take a deep breath and calm down, because…

A vampire has no business being in my Blaze.

There are two reasons I read category romances:

1. They’re quick to read.
2. I know what I’m getting when I buy the book. (The quality of the writing may vary between authors, but in general, I have an idea of just how much enjoyment a particular line will provide me.)

You have other lines more than suitable for vampire heroes, such as Nocturne and Mira. Please keep them there. Screwing around with my expectations defeats the purpose of buying a category romance, especially when it’s a crossover to a saturated subgenre. I read contemporary romance when I want to get away from fangs, full moons, aliens and Aubusson carpets.

Imagine a Modern Romance featuring a hero who earns minimum wage. You see what I mean?

I don’t mind my Blazes mixing it up when it comes to settings and characters and plots. They don’t have to be set in the city (although I prefer them to be, because I think there are enough small-town settings in your other lines). The characters can be career-driven or not, family-oriented or not, sexually adventurous or not—I don’t care. I will even tolerate virgins.

But for the love of sparkles, please keep the vampires away from my Blaze.

Love and secret babies,

Kat

* Yes, there are TBR books and then there are the books between TBRs, but that’s fodder for another post.

Thanks to Aussie author Paula Roe for coining the title for this post.

Photo credit: Vampires Suck by Enokson (via Flickr)

Mills & Boon Australia | Mills & Boon UK | Harlequin

10 comments

  1. Keira says:

    Haha I recently downloaded those for my Kindle too… so funny you mentioned this particular book because I had noticed the vampire bit on the blurb and went… hmm??? :D

  2. Vassiliki says:

    I agree with you. Readers of category romance read them because they have set expectations. Sure you may have favourite authors but you expect that should a fave author want to dabble in a different writing direction they would be moved over to MIRA or a more suitable line. Readers aren’t stupid. They know what they are choosing and if they wanted “something different” then they would choose “something different” from other publishers. They are not selecting books in a void. I personally suspect that M&B are starting to play around with the lines and stories as I have seen several books vary from type. I am not particularly happy about this and have stopped purchasing my favourite author, Lynne Graham due to what I suspect will be larger changes to the category lines (or maybe I’m reading too much into it)

  3. Erica Hayes says:

    Fair enough :) the whole point of category romance is that you know what you’re getting, right? I believe they’ve recently taken the ‘paranormal elements are okay’ part out of their Blaze writing guidelines. Perhaps this is why :)

  4. SonomaLass says:

    I am not a big reader of category romance, although I do read them when they are recommended. But despite the face that I’ve read maybe a dozen Blaze titles total, I would be shocked and disappointed to find a vampire or the American Civil War in a Blaze, let alone both. I’m a reader and lover of cross-over fiction, and normally I welcome a good mix of genres or a crossing of lines, but you are absolutely right that this defeats the purpose of the defined category lines.  There are ways to experiment in category romance, but basic things that define the category should remain constant, IMO.

  5. +1
     
    I actually have to read the back of Blaze before I buy them now. If I want paranormal romance I buy paranormal romance. If I want a good sexy tale, I’ll buy Blaze. I don’t WANT to read about vampires in Blaze, I actually want a light sexy contemporary romance with no paranormal overtones! The other issue I would have had with this is a historical backdrop. I am a history buff and steer clear of historicals by choice because most authors, even when they do a lot of research, still take artistic license with their world building (which they are totally entitled to!). That is fine for most, but I find little things niggle me as I read, so I choose not to read them. Vampires AND historical context in a Blaze is extremely frustrating! I hope this trend doesn’t continue. When you buy category you should know what you are buying without needing to even glance at the back cover. I am just glad I did read the cover before I purchased it. I love my paranormal romance, but Blaze is not where they belong.

  6. Kat says:

    So glad I’m not the only cranky pants. :-)

    To clarify, the Blaze is a contemporary book, but it has a prologue set in the past, when the hero became a vampire. Either way, so out of place! The furthest I’m willing to go with a Blaze prologue is a flashback to some event during a normal person’s lifetime.

    ‘I love my paranormal romance, but Blaze is not where they belong.’ – I think you just summarised my entire post! lol

  7. Okay, flashes is not an issue, but yes, a vampire has a longer life than most.
     
    I have to admit, when the flashes are placed so far in the past, I tend to skim them, not read them with dedication. They tend to be superfluous as the story touches on the main points of the flashback.
     
    You are definitely not the only one frustrated. I doubt you would find a category reader who wasn’t!

  8. GrowlyCub says:

    I gave up on Blaze after the first time-travel Scottish historical and it was by one of my favorite Blaze authors, too.  What a disappointment.
    I cannot for the life of me figure out why they keep diluting their lines.  It used to be SSE were about normal people with everyday concerns, now they are full of sheikhs, billionaires and basically HP or Desire clones.  It totally defeats the purpose to have different lines if you then mash them all up anyway.

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