Slight Warning: this Six contains full and frank discussion of Naughty Bits. (Not that I think any of you will be offended: it's more like you'll be extra-tempted into clicking, you delightful bunch of pervs, you.)
Six Oscars I'd Like To Award To Bodice-Ripper Romances
Best Sound – Hot & Heavy by Sandra Hill
This book has got one of the most "huh??" premises I've ever seen in these things. I've noticed plenty of time-travel romances on the shelves, but this one is about an 11th-century Viking priestess-type ending up in present-day Iraq of all places, and copping off with a Navy SEAL on a secret mission. How, errr... topical. Anyway, this one gets its award not for political debate but for incoherent noises of a totally different kind.
Many bodice-ripper heroes and heriones spend love scenes in a floridly described haze of gasping, moaning, crying, keening, squealing and otherwise annoying the neighbours. This one, however, takes a much more primal approach to the whole thing. And so the award goes to the scene in which the hero's "manpart" (yes, really) moves the heroine into a no-frills performance of "Noooo!", "Uh, uh, uh, uh!" and the finale, "Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" (yes, that's ten As and five Hs... I counted).
I would rather like to hear the acceptance speech for this one. My bet is, it's got a lot of vowels in it....
Best Supporting Actress – Awaiting the Moon by Donna Lea Simpson
A top pick for all you Lupin-lovers out there, here's a pervy werewolf tale. Feisty young heroine Elizabeth Stanwycke ends up stuck in a huge Gothic pile in deepest darkest Germany (land of all scary things, hee hee) and meets Count Nikolas von Wolfram. Is he a werewolf, or does he just have a ridiculously macho name for no reason? Hmm, what a mystery.
The award goes to the hero's Great Aunt Uta, who makes no real contribution to the shall-I-shag-a-werewolf plot, but instead hangs around in the dingy castle providing a bit of "authentic" local colour with pronouncements like "We vill haf to see, Katrina, how dis all turns out", and "I was pretty den, prettier dan you, Charlotte. And better breasts, ja?"
The funniest thing about this is that she is the ONLY character that speaks with a comedy accent, despite the fact that the hero and most of the rest of the cast (bar the English-rose heroine) are meant to be German too. I can only conclude Great Aunt Uta was just extremely lazy with her exam revision, perhaps because she believed that her fantastic breasts would get her through life instead. How wrong she was, ja?
Best Foreign-Language Feature – Desperate Tigress by Jade Lee
This one's a sort of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" rip-off, set in 19th-century China, but with all the unromantic kung-fu and swordfights replaced with endless scenes of... yes, Taoist tantric sex! And it's the author's shameless embrace of "authentic" Eastern-Mystic!vocabulary that nabs this award. The heroine has a "cinnabar cave", a "lotus flower" or a "pleasure grotto" (sounds like a popular tourist attraction), while the hero has a "dragon" that keeps "emitting white pearls" (sounds positively painful). And somewhere around the point where "she produced more yin to react with his yang", I decided to start seeking enlightenment elsewhere....
Best Special Effects – Courting Midnight by Susan Holly
The subgenre of vampire romance appears to be huge – Buffy and Anne Rice have a lot to answer for. Even if you're familiar with other vamps, however, the reasoning behind this particular award requires some background explanation, because it involves a bit of "mythos" I've never come across before.
Basically, the hero is ice-blond (!) Lucius (!!) White, an upyr (apparently some sort of Eastern European vampire, but all I could think of was "she doesn't like it upyr!") who contrives a passion for spirited mortal lass Theodora Becket. Now, Lucius can do stuff like wander around in daylight, so the chicks tend not to suspect him straight away, but he's so gorgeously glowing and preternatural that he has to cast a spell on himself to make himself look dull and human. When he is turned on, however, the charm starts to come off, and produces the tell-tale side-effect of.... an erection that GLOWS IN THE DARK:
"It is beautiful," she said, her focus all on his lambent cock. "If I stroke it again, will it grow brighter?"
When I'd picked myself up off the floor in hysterics, I had a sudden mental image of those common everyday moments when people are coming home at night and can't find their keys, so they have to get out their mobile phones to use as a light so they can find the lock in the dark. I simply hate to think what Lucius does instead....
Best Screenplay – Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight
As the back cover blurb explains, this is basically a Terminator rip-off with added sweaty arousal. Good, eh? A glance at the deathless prose should tell you you're on to a winner, but you have to skip ahead to the naughty bits to get the full force of the half-arsed purpleness at work here.
Picking one prize line is just too difficult: I was torn between the "technology meets crudity" charm of "If Baran hadn't ordered his computer to prevent him getting an erection, he'd have had a hard-on up to his ribcage", and the "bathos-meets-Bodyform" what-the-fuckery of "He couldn't have looked more indifferent if he'd been watching a commercial for feminine hygiene products." The Terminator meets Tampax... Jane Austen, thou shouldst be living in this hour!
Best Original Score – The Dark Horse by Patricia Simpson
There is an apparently thriving subgenre of paranormal romance that I shall call, for want of a better name, "The Beast Within Him". The tales are usually based around a shapeshifter who spends some of his time as an oiled-up male-stripper lookalike with anachronistically great hair, and the rest as some sort of hairy animal. I've seen wolf-men, cat-men and even a lion-man, but this one is about, surprise surprise, a horse-man (no, not a man ON a horse, a man who turns INTO a horse – and yes, they do share the most obvious similarity, hee hee). The plot of these things generally involves the swooning heroine falling for the beast-man, but the beast-man being unable to go the WHOLE way in case he turns into The Beast (TM). And thus the stage is set for a couple of hundred of pages of mutual manual pleasuring (yes really), before they discover that True Love (TM) OR an ancient gypsy charm OR a magic spell OR something else will break the curse and finally allow them what nature intended – a long, lingeringly described bout of the Old In-Out. Ain't love grand?
Anyway, of all these astonishing works, this particular one wins the prize because ALL the love scenes involve the hero worrying about turning into The Beast (TM) and as a direct consequence, thinking about horses' penises. I'll say that again in case you missed it: THINKING ABOUT HORSES' PENISES:
A vision loomed in his thoughts, that of the stallion covering a mare, his great phallus bursting inside the female.
And yes, it's the HERO that does that. ALL through the book. The words "what", "the" and "fuck" just don't even begin to cover it, do they? Strewth. The Grand National will never be the same again...
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In other news, I finally finished that poetry meme from a couple of weeks back. Well done, me. At this rate, my stuck-in-transit dw_santa fic might be finished by July or thereabouts....