Not a Review – Hannah’s Deep Thoughts about her Intense Reading in May 2023

Book I might have chosen for a Review - Broken Warrior by Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott.

This is not a review. I don’t have the energy to write up a good review for a book this month, for various reasons. (Still crawling out of Burnout. I’m reading a lot of comfort books, discovering new ones, and they all have one thing in common.)

The truth is that I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’ve been binge reading more M/M romance, from mafia to vampires to magic users. And it’s mostly series by Jocelyn Drake, and yes, the Weavers’ Circle is one of them. (Also go and read Haelan by AJ Sherwood.)

All of this has me pondering the big question: Why?

Why am I so hooked on M/M romance?

To be clear, it’s not the bed scenes. They are well written, don’t get me wrong, but there are only so many ways guys can be together. Eventually, you’ve seen (or read) it all.

If you already read my progress report, you got a glimpse of what’s in my thoughts. I decided to go into more detail here.

The Gender Stuff (not a lot of reviews go into that)

For me, the biggest part of romance is the relationship (d’uh). It’s the dance of daring to meet, date, fall in love. It’s the misunderstandings, the hangups, the fears, the feelings of inadequacy, the terror of being rejected (again). And of course, the wonderful decision to face it all together, and make it work out.

And during all of that, in M/M romance, the partners are more or less equal. They are the same gender. That is the point, after all.

Which means, that while they might be fighting through all that relationship stuff (on top of whatever adventures the author chooses to throw at them) they do not run into the traditional gender drama.

There are no stupid stereotypes about women in M/M romance. (D’uh again.)

In most of F/M romance, gender stereotypes rule. Worst example is the horrible, HORRIBLE alpha trope, with the male the big, growly protector, and the woman the small, sweet-smelling, (often spunky), loving, caring, perfect person who needs to be protected despite her own aspirations of success. Yes, people play with that trope, but man.

I am so freaking tired of it.

And just yesterday, in a class on the Mythical Hero, the teacher explained that

Male Hero = Strength
Female Hero = Beauty

Yes, I invite you to puke with me.

F/M Romance Relies on Gender Stereotypes (doubt that appears in a review, either)

Okay, I’m going out on a limb here, but bear with me.

I am still looking for F/M romance where both partners are truly equal. (In fact, I tried to do that with my Wolf stories, not sure I completely succeeded.) Where the male does not have to impress her with his prowess and where the female does not need beauty to be desirable.

Let me take a sweet little detour here:

In my neighborhood, there’s an elderly couple I have been seeing around for years and years. They are both very elegant and they are devoted to each other (I always see them walking close, holding hands or even having arms around each other.)

She is really tall, with long white hair. He is really short. Her arm goes around his shoulder. She pulls her steps so they can walk together easily. She looks protective.

And I love it. I love seeing them. They break stereotypes.

I wish I could read romance with a couple like them. YetI doubt I ever will. Here’s why:

Romance authors are smart. They know exactly what their audience wants and how to hook them. I’m in awe of what the authors I’m reading are doing, both in their stories and in the way they interact with fans. Just… so impressive.

Let me tell you, the majority of fans of M/M are women (and possibly of the authors, too). I believe they are precisely those women who adore equal partners and equal roles. Who adore men who cook, clean and get groceries. (Ahem. Listen up, men!) Who allow themselves to be weak and vulnerable at times.

The readers for F/M romances are different. I believe that they are also mostly women, but they are looking for a different relationship energy: That of the male hero protecting the female beauty. Winning her heart, yes, but through saving her. Yup, the old damsel thing, just much less obvious. Those readers want the classic hero. And the classic woman lead. The beautiful, spunky, modern… damsel.

And I get it. It’s a thing. So many women in so many countries live under incredible pressure, trying to make family and their job work. Trying to live two full lives in 24h a day. They are so tired, so worn down by it – they want their knight to ride in (maybe in the shape of a billionaire, an alpha wolf or a badass mafia boss with a good heart) to rescue them, at least when they can find a few minutes to read.

It’s just not my thing. I want the strong woman, the one who can handle herself and her lover in an emergency when necessary. I want them to be on equal footing. That’s just not something that works well in the F/M romance niche – because those readers do not want it.

I do hope that tales with strong women will become their own little subgenre. Because I’d be binging that so hard.

Tell Hannah what else she could be Reading so she can write a Review

So if you happen to know of an author or a series that does the strong woman equal partner in an F/M romance – let me know. Drop recommendations. Please. Let’s make this a thing.

The Newsletter Popup – also Not a Review

SEO sucks. It makes me use these stupid headers. Apologies.

So this is what I put at the end of my posts instead of inflicting a pop-up on you. I’ll make it short and sweet here: Sign up to my newsletter.

You’ll get links to my stuff, my reviews (or not-reviews), to book sales and opportunities, and the Ember Tale (that you’ll get nowhere else).

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About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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One Response to Not a Review – Hannah’s Deep Thoughts about her Intense Reading in May 2023

  1. Pingback: June 2023 Review: Embers, Scales 'n Spells Book 5 - Awesome Read - Hannah SteenbockHannah Steenbock

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