Thursday, January 21, 2021

I'm not reading quarantine or lockdown romance, here's why

Man in lockdown

So it's been many months since the whole pandemic thing started, and we started seeing a rush of lockdown and quarantine romances in the early days of lockdown. I wrote an early article about it and wondered if the whole thing was on-trend or tacky. Since then, if you do a search on Amazon for "quarantine romance," you get over a thousand hits, and with "lockdown romance," you get 500+ hits. Have I read any? No.

For a long time, I was trying to be open-minded, and I kept telling myself that I would read one just so I can be informed about why I'm not reading them. Kylie Scott and Audrey Carlan released a book very early on, and they are both very well-known authors, so I'm going assume their book is well written. I had every intention of reading it. I figured if any author can do the topic justice, it would be them. But I never got round to it. Why?

Love Under Quarantine by Kylie Scott and Audrey Carlan

Because I was living the pandemic, and in all honesty, even though I tried, I couldn't. I haven't been able to get past the blurb. In that, I read the blurb of a book, and any mention of lockdown, quarantine, pandemic, or covid makes me feel physically ill while reading it, and I can feel an anxiety attack coming on, and believe me, I've tried. I've struggled with anxiety over the pandemic when I've immersed myself too much into the news cycle and the constant talking heads, so I know what an imminent anxiety attack feels like. I had to back off on the news consumption too. It's a balance between staying informed and caring for my mental health.

It's a silly thing, I know. This is basically the forced proximity trope, and I've read plenty of those. I love those mountain man romances, which are mostly this trope. You know, the ones where they are caught in a cabin during a snowstorm and have no choice but to stay locked up together for the duration. I love those. So when I ask myself why I can't read a quarantine romance, I think it's because it's got the pandemic in the background.

Nanny With Benefits by Cassie Cole

One of my favorite authors released a new book recently. It's a reverse harem contemporary about a nanny and her bosses. Not exactly sure how one nanny can have multiple bosses and if all the bosses have only one child or lots of children from multiple women. I haven't read the book yet, but that aspect is intriguing. Now, what I didn't realise when I saw the cover was that it's a pandemic romance. I only found out when I read the blurb. They are stuck in the house together because of the pandemic, and the bosses get sexy with their nanny.

So she's a favorite author. I want to read the book because she's a favorite author. I love her books and have enjoyed every one I've read in the past. But this one is set in the pandemic. So I'm back to wanting to be open-minded, and reading a book before making a judgment, and a favorite author seems like a good way to do it. I'm curious. I want to know who the pandemic is being handled. I want to know if any of the things that are new but now a part of our life is mentioned, like toilet paper hoarding, masks, hand washing, social distancing, etc. Most of all, I want to know how they get to a happy ever after since, well, the pandemic isn't over, and wouldn't you be violating social distancing and all the rules put in place to keep people safe if you get jiggy with someone you've just met and started dating? How does dating even work?

Couple holding hands and drinking coffee

And on the topic of dating, I'm so curious about that. I mean in real life. How do you date in these times? How is it safe? I mean, if this was someone you knew before, like a work colleague or from a mutual social circle, I can understand taking a chance. But what about a total stranger that you meet on an online dating site? You chat for a few days or a few weeks, and then you decide to meet in person. How is that safe? How do you know where that person has been? How do you vet that person? How do you protect yourself? It seems risky to me to be dating now?

As I write this, I know that a lot of places have had restrictions eased, and many places have not even been in lockdown. What about places that have strict lockdown, though? The state south of us is in a "state of emergency," and they have very strict restrictions because of a severe outbreak. No traveling further than within a 5km radius from home, only allowed out once a day for an hour for shopping, no going out after 8pm. All that's gotta put a crimp in dating if one person is living outside the 5km radius.

Love Under Lockdown series by Jamie Knight

Another author has released an entire series of lockdown books. Well, they are more like short stories since they are under 50 pages in length, but she's got over ten of them out so far in the series and more being released. I'm going to assume that there's a market for her to keep writing them, but since they are so short, again, I'm curious how the pandemic is being handled and how they can have their happy ever after, and if it's convincing. The books claim to have a "very happily ever after." I'm assuming it's gonna have to be very insta-lovey, which I don't mind. I mean, how is the author going to stretch out the story and the happy ending to the end of the pandemic when in reality it's nowhere in sight? An alternative reality, maybe? I have no idea what a post-pandemic world would look like. That could be some interesting conjecture, though.

There's another series which is set in a school or academy as they call it, which is quite popular. It's an academy bully romance reverse harem set with high school age students. From what I can tell, the students are locked up in the academy as the pandemic hits and have to figure their way around the boarding school locked up together. I'm told it's a good series, with the author doing a good job of using all the parts of the pandemic that has affected us, including the toilet paper shortage. I'm a little curious as to how it's all handled, but this series hits a lot of things I don't read. Bully. High school. Pandemic. So I'm going to give it a miss. Maybe read a few spoilery reviews to satisfy my curiosity.

Kings of Quarantine series by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

Romance is still very much escapism for me, so when I think about today's times, I have a hard time reconciling all the new rules, new behaviors into a believable romance, unless the author chooses to leave it all out and only have the setting as the pandemic as the reason the couple is forced together and stuck together. Let's face it; there's nothing very romantic about all the new ways of behaving and interacting. I've seen my parents once in six months, and I haven't even been able to hug them, so why in the world would I take the risk of hugging a stranger? Of course, then on the flip side, you also get people like this who rate a book one star because it doesn't have any mention of covid in it. Sigh.

So I'm still tossing this particular trope around in my head. I'm still having the "do I, don't I?" debate with myself. I guess it will be up to my mental state and my mood on what I do. I'm still keen on that Cassie Cole book, and maybe one day I'll pick it up to read.

Reading in bed

One final note. Just as I was getting ready to publish this post, my Steve said to me one night, right out of the blue: "I have not read any books with COVID, have you?" I mentioned I hadn't and that I'm not if I ever will. He said that none of the books he's read mentions it, and he hasn't seen any books from the thrillers and mysteries that he's read that has it either. A lot of the books he reads are traditionally published, and even the ones that are published right now are probably written a year or two ago, so that's off the radar on that particular topic. I don't think he's actively looking for pandemic or quarantine themed books, but he's certainly not come across any in his reading.

What about you? Have you read any of the books I mentioned or any others? Do you have any plans on reading this particular trope? I want to know.

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  1. No, and I'm not sure I will. Reading is an escape, so it's a big no. I can, and do, read dystopian romance, but that's not quite the same thing. I'm a bit confused as to you saying there still isn't a vaccine though

    1. I should have taken that out. When I wrote the article a few months ago there was not vaccine yet. Corrected now. Thanks for pointing it out.

    2. Oh. No worries. Lol. I sometimes start to compose things earlier too.

    3. Well, it's actually accurate to an extent because we don't have a vaccine yet. Our govt says that we won't have a vaccine till March at least here.

  2. I've seen these quarantine romances and they're a big "no" for me. Being stranded in a snow storm is one thing but quarantining because of a virus isn't something to be romanticized. I've been having such anxiety for 8 months, I can't imagine "falling in love" in a situation like this when I'm not at my healthiest. Let alone buying into a romance between two characters who are not at their healthiest either.

    1. I'm the same. I'm okay with being stranded. I'm all for a snowstorm and being stuck in a cabin in the woods, but quarantining during a pandemic, I find it hard to be romantic.

  3. I don't want to read a lockdown romance even though I know that as a romance there would be a HEA I still just have no inclination to read one I want to stay away from COVID and lockdown as much as possible :)

    I am sure that they are very popular with some readers

    Have Fun


    1. Well, it's hard to believe the romance and the HEA for me is kind of the big thing. And I think a pandemic is a lot more stressful and less conducive to romance than say a snow storm.