"Beyond Heaving Bosoms," Wendell & Tan

Pros: Laugh-out-loud tears-in-your-eyes funny and highly educational!
Rating: 6 out of 5

NOT a publisher- or author-provided review book. (Purchased).


If you ever thought that romance novels were just “chick porn,” the Smart Bitches (Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan) are here to set you straight. Their blog is wonderful, intelligent, hilarious, frank, and a joy to read, and their book Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels is every bit as amazing, if not better. Within pages I was laughing out loud, and it didn’t take long before I had to start reading quotes to the other women in the room so they didn’t strangle me. By chapter two or three they were all asking if they could borrow my copy; not long after they were writing down the book information so they could get their own. Yes, it really is that good!


Whether you’re a writer who wants to understand more about the genre, a reader who wants to know how to defend your reading choices against derisive family members, or just looking for an entertaining read, Beyond Heaving Bosoms is drop-dead perfect. It’ll also help you find more books and authors who write the particular kind of romance novels you enjoy, and it’ll teach you a ton of fascinating facts about the history and present of romance novels.

I hardly know where to start without going on forever. Sarah & Candy break down the various kinds of romance heroes and heroines, the difference between “Old Skool” and “New Skool” romances, and cringe-worthy plot devices. They delve (pun intended) into the accusation that romance is “just chick porn” and provide some sample replies for occasions when you find yourself facing this line (my favorite is, “Mmmm. Porn”). Best of all, this book is loaded with more euphemisms than you could shake a turgid… umm… stick at. Make sure you read it when you have someone around to read quotes to or you will go crazy!

Beyond that, however, I learned a whole hell of a lot I didn’t know before—not just about the history and authors of the genre, but about the whys and wherefores behind a lot of the genre conventions. Most interesting to me was the entire chapter covering the depiction of rape in romance, and why the topic might not be as historically black-and-white as it sounds.

When you’re ready for something a little lighter in mood, however, no fears. Beyond Heaving Bosoms includes a board game, a coloring page, and a handful of other fun games!

There’s enough solid, smart information in this to be an academic piece—yet it’s written with such a hilarious sense of wit and irony that you’ll never once find yourself drowsing or getting bored. It pokes good-natured fun at our chosen reading material while also taking unabashed enjoyment in it. I can’t imagine a better guide to the genre, whether you’re a reader or a writer!

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3 comments on “"Beyond Heaving Bosoms," Wendell & Tan
  1. Jessa Slade says:

    While romance lovers will greatly appreciate the book, I also recommend it to my friends and relatives — and random strangers — who claim they don’t “get” romance. If I hand them the book and they don’t start giggling, I know I probably shouldn’t start a discussion about the wonders of the genre. When they smile and look intrigued, I can hope I’ve hooked another reader for romance.

  2. pool table says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the event you described with all the other women writing down the book information and you reading quotes aloud to them. That’s too funny. Well, I must say,you did a good job of selling it; I’m intrigued and think I will try and track that book down. Thanks

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