The Night is Mine: The Night Stalkers by M.L. Buchman (Feb. 1, 2012)

I spent several of my undergraduate years engrossed in gender studies.  But a guy writing trashy romance novels for women?  That made me do a double-take.  I couldn’t help myself from buying one of his (M.L. Buchman) books to see for myself what his mass market romance, complete with (hot) pink cursive title and (very hot) beefcake on the cover would read like.  My verdict?  It reads like a guy wrote it.  And there’s something hot about that.  I mean, we (educated, normally level-headed) women who have been known to take a paperback hunk home with us on occasion, are familiar with seeing the romantic world through the eyes of fellow females.  It’s all so familiar — how we women typically view ourselves in relation to men, the little things about our appearance and personalities we worry to death, the way we tend to analyze intentions and interactions — as written by other women who intuitively just know what it is to be a woman in lust or love.  Reading a typical trashy romance is like talking about men with a bunch of women over cocktails.  But in The Night is Mine by Buchman, it’s more like having your best guy friend drop his walls and reveal the tender romantic under the usually non-verbal, tough exterior in talking about the woman he wants and loves.  And so I ask you — do you want that girl chat?  Or do you want it from the horse’s mouth?  If you choose the latter you’re in for a military, black-ops adventure into a world of more specialized helicopters and weapons than you may ever have known existed.  As someone who has struggled with pacifism, it was initially disturbing.  But the fact it’s the main, very strong, female character who is most skilled with both contraptions somehow got me over myself.  I found it pleasantly surprising that Buchman’s main female character was far stronger than the vast majority (in my experience) of female characters in romances written by women.  To know it is a male author giving such respect to the creation of this character was additionally refreshing.  And, as I mentioned, hot.  The effect was to finish the last page in something of a boosted mood, feeling good about the potential of male-female relationships. Oftentimes I finish these mass market romances feeling, yeah, that got me hooked IN SPITE OF the pathetic characters.  That’s when the pleasure is truly guilty — when the book reveals women’s more pernicious stereotypical qualities in characters that don’t make us reflect on ourselves as particularly strong women, and still, we find the storyline enticing.  About the only guilty pleasure I felt in reading Buchman’s work was an unexpected interest in helicopters capable of swiftly dispatching people from this life.  I found myself having, for the first time with my husband, helicopter conversations that were not heavily tinged with sarcasm (usually directed at the models he spends days making, or the flight simulator he could similarly spend days on).  Of course, he scoffed when I asked him if HE wanted to read the helicopter romance.  But isn’t that perhaps in our future?  I mean, we have a few men now writing mass market romances, and doing a pretty good job.  Now maybe male readers will clue in to all the fun they’re missing out on.

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About Cheryl McNeil
I am the User Services Librarian at the Orangeburg Library in Orangeburg, NY

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