Kissing Books

Real Life and Real Romance

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again. 

Romance News:

The Heart Principle book cover

As promised, I did a bit more research into the discourse surrounding The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang. My take on it is that most people as so upset because it’s not a rom-com. To which I say…did you really expect it to be? I love this author’s work and feel she’s a romance writer. But I would not ever classify her work as rom-com.

The Kiss Quotient was advertised as a gender-swapped Pretty Woman. So, many went in thinking it was a rom-com. Those expectations were shattered within the first forty pages though when Stella pretty much has a panic attack while trying to have sex with Michael for the first time and he rightfully put a stop to it. For me, this showed that this would be a romance that ‘got real’ and dealt with real issues. 

Don’t get me wrong; the cover for this book is very misleading as are the others in the series. But neither one of the other books are rom-coms; so, I really don’t understand why anyone would expect THP to be. We all know by now that most times authors have no say on their covers and they can be deceptive. There’s a reason we say to not judge a book by its cover. 

If you didn’t like this book, please don’t take this as “you’re not a real romance reader.” I could easily name five books that are beloved in the genre that weren’t for me and that’s okay. But I don’t think this book should get the amount of hatred it is getting, to the point where the author apologized for it, simply because it’s not a rom-com. 

Most of us are well past the age of sanitized fairy tales where the Princess never gets her period, the Prince never farts, and woodland creatures clean the house. In real life and relationships, you’re going to see the ugly parts of your partner. You may have to deal with them realizing late in life that they are neurodivergent or they have a mental health issue. Chances are you will have to help them bury one or both of their parents which, speaking as someone who’s been on both sides, is very hard.

Grief and suffering doesn’t always have an overnight fix and I don’t expect it to be that way in any of my novels. In fact, I get insulted when it does. And it seems a bit odd that, in a genre that is always criticized for having unrealistic endings, when one does, it is still criticized harshly. We can’t win for losing. 

The RWAs also happened last weekend and the drama surrounding that is something else. There was only one winning book by an author of color, and a book that opened with a hero committing genocide won for ‘Best Romance with a Religious or Spiritual Element’. That’s a whole lot of ‘nope’ from me. Fellow Rioter Sarah fleshes it out a bit more in her news piece here which pretty much is how much of Romancelandia is feeling right now.

What makes it even more insulting is this was the first year the awards were called the Vivians. I mean, we all suspected it, but this really showed that this change was just a form of performative allyship. They also released a ‘statement’ which again is a whole lot of yikes.

I’m happy to see that one of my new favorites, Reese Ryan, took away an award though. I was rooting for her.

Around the Web in Romance:

And now, in lighter topics…

Fellow Rioter Annika has a round-up of some of the best love scenes in books.

Are you interested in hearing a bunch of awesome writers write about their equally awesome books? Then you may want to sign up for the Summer Date Night. It takes place August 13th and is hosted by Loyalty Books.

Check out this cover reveal for The Bachelor’s Valet.


Yes there is only one recommendation today and that is going to be Kennedy Ryan’s Reel. If you’re a regular reader you know it took me a bit to finish this book, because I was absolutely savoring it.

Reel book cover

This book was rich in its storytelling. I literally had to keep reminding myself that Dessi Blue was not a real person whenever we got the snippets of the script. The realism of what Black entertainers during that time had to deal with was heart wrenching. But it was the realism of the relationship between Neevah and Canon that did it for me. Without going too much into spoilers, they had to deal with a lot when their relationship became physical and known to the rest of the crew. They also had to deal with something that not every couple can work through. And it was hard. It was hard to see and read and imagine how a newly established couple deals with something that can (and has) broken long-standing ones.

This is a great book. Its page count is a beast but it’s worth it. So, if you haven’t picked it up yet, take this as your sign to go ahead and do it soon.

And that’s all for today friends. I’ll be back next Monday with more updates for you. If you want to give me a follow on Twitter, I can be found under @PScribe801. Until then.