It’s time for my weekly wrap-up post! Here’s what’s going on with me this week:

1. Reading I just finished the second book in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and then immediately started book 3. I may have a problem. I forgot how much I liked series’ like this, where there are series arcs and the characters have to work together and side plots and all that. (If you’ve been hanging around here at all, you know I am an unabashed fan of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. I feel like Troubleshooters and BDB are similar and yet totally different. On the one hand, a team of alpha males have to work together to keep the world safe from terrorists/soulless vampire slayers, and the strong women who love them. On the other hand… vampires.)

So needless to say, a lot about these books is working for me. My one quibble so far is that I’m not really a fan of the mates trope in paranormal romance. It feels like a short cut. I like to see relationships develop and people fall in love when I read a romance novel, but in all of the relationships I’ve read so far in this series, it’s all, “OMG, you make me so hot, I’ve never felt this way before, I love you!” insta-love craziness. (I’ve also been skimming the chapters from the lesser POV; I’m less interested in that part of the plot.) So the series is not perfect, but I’m enjoying it.

Aside: I’m so in awe/jealous of those readers who can plow through many books in a week. It took me four days to read Lover Eternal, and I spent almost all my downtime reading. My life is too busy and/or I read too slowly.

2. Also reading! Given the enduring popularity of the alpha-hole hero and the doormat heroine (see 50 Shades, et al) there’s been a lot of talk this week about doormat heroines specifically and everyone’s wondering why they continue to be A Thing. (Here’s a great essay by May at Smexybooks and the question was asked over at Heroes and Heartbreakers.)

Given all the reader gripes online, it’s a little mystifying to me not only that the trope still exists but also that books that employ it are tremendously popular, particularly in the case of the heroine who is only functional with help from her man (see also Swan, Isabella). It’s one of the things that actually put me off m/f contemporaries for a while; I read one book too many with a klutzy, incompetent heroine who could only take care of herself and/or enjoy sex when this one man came along.

I get why this trope exists—it has a lot to do with restrictions on women and the ways they can express themselves, if you don’t mind me putting on my feminist pants here for a sec—but I don’t like it, and I don’t feel like there’s much justification for it in 2012. I suppose there is also something to be said for letting someone else handle things for a while, letting your partner take over if you’re the type who piles too much responsibility on herself, but I don’t particularly find this dynamic appealing.

One of the interesting things about the BDB series is that these are, like, Alpha Alpha Males. They’re all huge, muscular guys who are aggressive and fight a lot. I like an alpha hero, I do. But you know what I really love? A strong heroine who stands up to him and calls him on his shit, who is his equal and not his dependent. And Ward has put those women in her world.)

3. Writing! I’m about 25K into the novel I started last week, a Gilded Age mystery. I’ve gone off-outline a little, but it’s going well. Hooray!

4. Not Writing :( Heidi Cullinan put up a post this week that I identified with pretty strongly. I keep trying to write and then re-shelving the sequel to The Boy Next Door. It’s just… not coming to me. It’s not sustaining my interest. Which sucks, because it’s a story I want to tell, but every time I try to work on it, it’s just forced and awful. I hope that changes. Neal is a fun character to write, and the whole book is outlined. I’ve put it aside for now, though.

5. Pimping: I guested at Coffee and Porn in the Morning this week, talking about booze and bars. There will be an excerpt and giveaway of Four Corners today (as of when I’m writing this, it’s not up yet—I write my blog posts in advance—but go to the site and it should be there; the giveaway is open until Sunday I think). (Uh, site is NSFW, if that wasn’t obvious.)