Need a reason to skip the “Twilight” vampire-romance series beyond that Stephenie Meyer writes at a fourth-grade reading level … and that’s in her adult novel, The Host? You’ve gotten your excuse from the authors of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels (Free Press, 2009), a new guide from the creators of a lively Web site.
Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan have identified ten heroine-archetypes in romance novels, such as the Airhead, the Smart-Mouthed Cynic and the Spoiled Hoyden of Historical Inaccuracy. Then there’s the “Doormat: Still out there, waiting for you to wipe your shoes on her.”
Here’s how Wendell and Tan describe this throwback, whom they see as exemplified by Bella Swan, the American teenager who falls in love with a vampire in the first novel in the “Twilight” series:
“She’s malleable, weak, and an utter bore. She doesn’t stand up to anything, much less her own desires, and can be found swooning on the nearest sofa, or lying on the bed while she’s ravished with pleasure she so does not deserve. Might be seen swooning, wringing her hands, whining, or otherwise worrying about something. Any resistance she might mount against the hero is ineffectual, and she couldn’t find her backbone if you showed her an X-ray … “