The Cardinal Rules
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Welcome to the first installment of The Fabio Files! Each month I will bring you a review of a different Trashy Romance Novel (TRN). I’ll review its plot and dialogue, steaminess quotient, and overall quality. Before I begin (the first review will run next month), here is a primer on the TRN. I give you, the Cardinal Rules, as this humble reviewer finds them:

  1. As a general rule, the fewer articles of clothing featured on the cover, the steamier the sex scenes (or “naughty bits”). If the male figure is the one and only Fabio, even better.

  2. Romance novels set in the current day are, by and large, lame. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, and your mileage may vary. But I usually find that the historical romances are the best. TRNs set in the Scottish Highlands circa the 18th century or before are the crème de la crème.

  3. While TRNs require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, the plot should not be so outlandish that the reader finds herself skipping ahead to the naughty bits. Yes, there should be plenty of sex, but this isn’t outright porn. Plot should count for something.

  4. TRNs are almost always told from the female’s point of view. She is always uncommonly beautiful, stunning even. Sometimes she may be “a unique beauty” or “unconventionally attractive.” But still, the hero will find the heroine to be the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. The hero is always extraordinarily handsome. He will have a full head of hair, perfect teeth, and an Adonis-like body. He will be very well endowed and never suffers from erectile dysfunction. Never.

  5. The hero and heroine will hate each other upon first meeting. They will be thrown into some sort of peril where the hero will be forced to “save” her, thereby realizing he loves her. The heroine will have decided she loves him within days of their initial meeting, but will be uncertain of his feelings until he finally declares his love for her.

  6. For the man, this peril often is a seemingly mortal wound (which she must nurse him back from), an attempt on his life, a betrayal by his closest kinsman, or any combination of the above. For the woman, she will usually be accused of witchcraft, infidelity, or treason. She might be kidnapped, or her enemies might try to hang her, rape her, or burn her at the stake.

  7. The author will use specific words and phrases to describe the characters’ anatomies. Among others, they are:

    • For the male: man-sword, manhood, his glorious weapon, his member, and throbbing bit of man flesh. “Turgid shaft” is also quite popular.
    • For the female: delicate flower, silken folds, glistening sheath, her core, the throbbing center of her being, and dewy embrace.

  8. The female is almost always a virgin, and her first time is never overly painful. She usually experiences pain that lasts “but a moment” and quickly dissolves into passion. She always orgasms her first time – often more than once. The actual act of sex always goes extraordinarily smooth. There is no fumbling about, save in the most passionate of ways, and no one ever fails to climax. They often will reach “love’s most perfect bliss” in unison.

  9. The couple will be parted for a time, either from an argument, kidnapping, or misunderstanding. But they will be reunited in the final chapters of the book. Devotions of love will be made, as will proposals of marriage. She will accept and will inform her betrothed that she is already pregnant with his child.
  10. They live happily ever after. The end.
There are, as I said, exceptions to these rules. Regardless of the above guidelines or any breach thereof, a TRN must – above all – entertain. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, but (at least to this reviewer) they should be well written and more than just a compilation of borderline pornographic sex scenes. In the case of historical romances, it doesn’t have to be perfectly accurate, but at least some semblance of accuracy must be at least attempted.

Next month I'll be reviewing His Immortal Embrace, a collection of shorter romances by four different authors. Tune in next month to see how it fares in (insert cheesy soap opera music here)… The Fabio Files!

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