I'm currently taking advantage of a free introductory month of Kindle Unlimited and trying all kinds of books, some better than others. The one I picked up today, Insatiable by JD Hawkins, is what would have formerly just been a longer book but is packaged as a two-part serial. It's good but not great. In fact, I wasn't really into the first couple chapters, but I kept reading anyway, so I guess that says something.
I read a lot of books, but only a fraction of them end up here on the Reading Writer blog. So why am I writing about this one?
What struck me about this book was that it was written by a man. Romance is a genre that is, for the most part, for women and by women (with the exception of m/m romance, which seems to be more evenly split). But I didn't know it was written by a man until I read the dedication in the back of Book 1.
Why did that take me by surprise? I don't know. The book felt the similar to other erotic romance titles I've read, and it certainly wasn't the darkest I've stumbled upon. But notice: Mr. Hawkins used initials, and I suspect this was an intential move to keep the gender of his pen name ambiguous. Actually, I personally know another male erotic romance writer whose pen name is female, as a male name in the genre is a possible disadvantage.
What? A genre where men need to hide their gender to attract readers? At this point, I had to admit to myself that though Nicholas Sparks' books are wildly popular, I have never gotten around to reading a single one simply... because he's male. Ugh. Do I really believe that women can uniformly write romance better than men? That's an narrow-minded as any other prejudices. And it's especially badly conceived since the subject of a majority of these books is... men.
I went back through the book to find traces of the author's gender, but I found nothing different than I had seen in other books in the sub-genre.
Do I think women write men better than men? Hmm... But I think there's something nice about romance being a girls' club. And it would feel different if writers were a more even gender split. A bad different? I don't know.
But I have a feeling we're going to find out. Fiction isn't generally a big money-making racket; it's a lot of work, in fact. But if anything can be a money-maker, it's romance. And with the ease of self-publishing, it's no wonder that more men are trying their hand at it.