My writers group has two dudes, Eric and Larry, who weren’t eager to get on board with Fast Lane. The first few times I read pages, they prefaced their comments with, “Well, it’s all right for your audience, but…”

I wondered who they thought my audience was, though I was pretty sure they didn’t think it was members of the Association of Female Rocket Scientists.

A Romance Writers of America study revealed that 63% of romance readers have attended college, 21% are college graduates and 10% have attended post graduate programs. The ladies over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books don’t have any stats, but they do have ire to burn.

“I’m not sure when enjoying romance novels became equated with being stupid,” the Smart Bitch called Candy wrote, “but I know it’s a stereotype that’s been kicking around for a long time. Why? Is it the fact that they’re not viewed as being realistic, and that one would have to be stupid to buy into all that nonsense? Is it because a genre this popular could not possibly have any intellectual merit? Or is it something else entirely?”

One website says fantasy and escapism are the elements that make romance novels popular. I don’t have stats or ire, but as someone who leaves his cares behind by putting on a Green Bay Packers shirt every Sunday and watching a football game I can only fantasize about playing in, I can’t really judge anyone else’s intelligence based on participation in escapist activities.

At any rate, Eric and Larry are now riding the bandwagon. After one reading, Larry wrote in the margin Fast Lane had “moved beyond quasi-porn” into “novel material” that requires “worldly experience to understand.”

That was pretty early on. It took Eric a while longer. On page 83, he wrote, “I’m ready for what’s next and believe the reader will be, too.”

Great! But who is that reader?

“You’ve actually got me rooting for Lara and Clay to escape this madness and go off and be happy together forever,” he announced to everyone at the table after I’d finished a section that ended on page 120.

Later, I also saw what he had written in the margin: “I’m such a sap.”

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