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I’m back from vacation and ready to get down and dirty finding new free and amazingly bargained books for you! But first this week I have something special. I convinced super hot and crazy talented …

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Month of Love Guest Blog: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ Sarah Wendell visits the Dollhouse!

Submitted by on February 9, 2012 – 9:00 am2 Comments

Today the Dolls are extremely excited to welcome Sarah Wendell AKA Smart Bitch Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – where romance and all things romance books take center stage every day. Sarah also wrote Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels – which Noa reviewed earlier today! Welcome Sarah!

By day Sarah Wendell is mild mannered and heavily caffeinated. By evening she dons her cranky costume, consumes yet more caffeine, and becomes Smart Bitch Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, examining the history and future of the genre, and bemoaning the enormous prevalence of bodacious pectorals adorning male cover models.
Sarah is the author of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels, now available at a bookstore near you.
For more about Sarah visit her website and the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books website You can also follow Sarah on

It’s the month of love, I’m told, and as I’m the author of “Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels,” and have read a landslide number of romance novels over the years, I have a few ideas about love, romance, and happiness.

But rather than talk about your relationships with other people, I’m going to start with what I think is the primary and most important step in finding your own happily ever after.

While I was never a truly devoted fan of the show Sex & The City, I love this quote from Carrie Bradshaw:

“…the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Part of discovering happiness with someone else is learning how to love and appreciate yourself, and being your own best ally. In other words, Be the Heroine of Your Own Life.

In Everything I Know About Love…, I outline several key lessons learned from romance novels. While so many people assume romances are fluffy fantasies for emotionally starving women who then come to expect too much from real life relationships, I assert that the opposite is true: romances are a road map of what to do, and what not to do, in relationships. They teach readers about emotions, conflict, compromise, sexuality, and courtship – and that last part is key.

Those who haven’t read romance novels often presume that they’re all about sex. The term “porn for women” is often tossed about when discussing the genre – and if you pick up a romance looking for pornography, you’ll be sadly disappointed. Romances are about courtship, not sex, and courtship is a lasting and useful talent that underscores and elevates the concept of romance. Courtship is the process of demonstrating in thought, word, and action that someone is important to you, and that their happiness is important to you as well. Courtship is also integral to romance – which is why so often gestures of courtship are called ‘romancing.’

As I wrote in Everything I Know about Love…

“Romance is in the small moments and the motivation behind a quiet gift or action. Demonstrating your affection does not necessarily mean chartering a yacht to sail around the world. A big chocolaty, flowery gesture of Valentine cliché does not automatically equal romance. But filling her gas tank when you notice it’s empty, or cooking his favorite meal after a really crappy day at work—all those little moments combine to portray a clear affection. The gesture is not the romance; the motivation for the gesture is.”

So let’s go back to your relationship with yourself. How generous and caring are you with yourself? Are you nice to yourself? Do you motivate yourself with positive or negative thoughts?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that, like me, you’re not often as kind to yourself as you could be, nor are you as kind to yourself as you are to other people. I think it’s time we learned to court ourselves, and learn to love and appreciate ourselves more.

Now, think about the last time you did an unasked favor or kind gesture for someone you cared about. Could you do something similar for yourself? What would it be?
Beg your pardon, but I’m going to quote my book again:

“Romance Means Loving Someone For Who They Are, Right Now.

Romance is truthful—in the sense that you don’t lie your pants off, and you don’t pretend to be someone you are not. You should be able to reveal your true self to the person who loves you, and they’ll love you exactly as you are. Romance is knowing that you are loved without any requests or demands for change. To quote Shakespeare (Oh, come on, I had to do it once): “Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds, nor bends with the remover to remove. It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

Being the heroine of your own life means that you are in charge, you are going to save the day, and you are exactly enough and awesome just as you are. You spend a lot of time with yourself – you should absolutely “love the one you’re with.”

It’s not an easy process to treat yourself like a heroine, particularly as there are so many messages that communicate the ways in which we don’t measure up to an always-changing standard of perfection. But if there’s one lesson romances have demonstrated ably, it’s that the hero and heroine are not perfect people. They have identifiable flaws – it’s part of what makes them sympathetic to the reader. And because they aren’t perfect, they are perfect for one another. They learn to love and appreciate each other exactly as they are.

I hope this Valentine’s Day, you make yourself smile, and find lots of reasons to appreciate yourself just the way you are, right now. You’re awesome.

Paperback Dolls is made up of women from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different tastes and beliefs that were brought together through a love of reading. We like to think of ourselves as a cyber version of "The View" that focuses on books, authors, and reading. We are proof positive that one common love can unite the most opposite of people and form lasting friendships that introduce other ways of life and perspectives to each other.
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  • Mona Leigh says:

    A romance reader after my own heart. Thanks, Sarah. BTW, I really enjoyed your book and loved your sense humor.

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