Anyone who’s ever seen Bambi knows that spring is a keen time for romance — a season when couples pair off in Twitter-pated affection. April romance novels brought a heap of this sense of the freshness of spring, with the blush of first love in both historical (Marry in Scandal) and contemporary (Now a Major Motion Picture) stories alike. What’s more, several books broke new ground in the genre, from choose-your-own-adventure titles to a Regency-era romance with a gender-queer heroine. Read on for more on EW’s take on five April romance releases.
My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel
By Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
Review: The tropes of the romance novel get merged with the choose-your-own-adventure novel in this unique interactive take on romance writing. The reader “plays” as the heroine, a young penniless woman trying to make her way in Regency-era London. Adventures range from intrigue with the haughty Sir Benedict Granville, an epic archaeological expedition in Egypt with Lady Evangeline Youngblood, a tryst in the Scottish highlands with Captain Angus MacTaggart, and a Gothic stint as a governess under the watchful eye of Lord Garraway Craven. The book leans perhaps more heavily on literary classics than it does on straight-up romance novels, with Sir Benedict being a direct descendant of Mr. Darcy, Lord Garraway Craven owing a debt to both Lord Byron and Mr. Rochester, and Captain Angus MacTaggart sharing more than just his ginger hair with Outlander’s Jamie Fraser. The book is an enticing romp, and it will certainly allow historical romance readers to live out their fantasies on the page. If you’ve ever read a romance novel and been frustrated by a choice a heroine makes, this book is a chance to stake out your own narrative. But, in places, it feels less like a tongue-in-cheek nod to the tropes of the genre than it does a slightly condescending send-up of romance. Ripped bodices abound, and the frequent intimate scenes are rife with talk of throbbing body parts and more. The truth is, the romance genre has long surpassed this. Though romance readers and writers have a healthy sense of humor about the genre, it feels like a step backward to have a book invest so heavily in the worst stereotypes (especially when many of them have long since stopped being remotely true of the genre, if they ever were). All in all, it’s a fun, engaging concept to find yourself calling the shots in a romance novel, but it needs to treat the genre as more than a punch line because sometimes it feels more like an improv sketch with a romance novel theme than a genuine “adventure.”
Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥