Greetings and Salutations

Welcome to Wonk-o-mance!

We are a community of seven women writers of sexy, romantic stories who have a common interest in celebrating the wonky, weird, and wonderful in popular romance. Look look, we even have a manifesto—

In the Land of Romance, the men are all tall and tanned, the women are thin and plucky, and the sex is always mind-boggling. It’s a fine land, indeed. But we prefer the land of Wonk-o-Mance.

We are the mythical readers, the undermarketed writers, who like our protagonists less conventional, our conflicts less tidy, our endings less certain. We want escapism, but we want it with a nice, stiff shot of human frailty. Give us Scarlett and Rhett, yes, yes, but can we also have Harold and Maude? Atticus Finch, mmm-hmm, but also Boo Radley? Nick and Nora, absolutely, but also that broody, effed-up Philip Marlowe? We want the whole messy spectrum of human behavior, packaged up for consumption in romance novel form.

Here at Wonk-o-mance, we’re lovers, not fighters! We aren’t anti-convention. But sometimes the market says, “Ooh, too much. This hero you’ve written, Aspiring Romance Writer– Whoa. He’s really . . . strange. You’re going to lose readers.” And we at Wonk-o-Mance say, “You might lose them, but you’ll gain us. Bring on the strange!”

Because we believe there’s a place in romance fiction for weird-ass heroes and heroines. We want characters who are depressed, who are fat, who are diagnosably bent. We want nerds who are actually nerdy, lumberjacks who are unabashedly bearded, quiet men who are so close to mute, it’s hard to tell the difference. In fact, we want cripplingly shy middle-aged virgin heroes. Ambitious, ball-busting heroines who never apologize. Bricklayers and plumbers and short-order cooks who don’t turn out to be slumming heirs and heiresses.

Here at Wonk-o-Mance, we want to read stories about how lust and love make screwed-up people do stupid, stupid things. Because they do. Ohhh, they do. But they make us change, too. They make us better.

People are strange. Life is weird. Love is weirder. And fooked-up people deserve happy endings, too.

A romance-writing friend recently told me that the genre expects stories about “perfect people with perfect problems.” We like those stories just fine. Sometimes we even write them! But this website is all about how much we adore stories about imperfect people with imperfect problems. Because we are those people, and those are the people we know, and we find romantic fiction that includes us — that grapples with us — refreshing and fun and honest and downright fascinating. Viva la wonk!

Our diabolical plan is to publish two posts a week and win the world over to our vision. Or, you know, at least provide a little entertainment and some food for thought. Wonk-o-Mance will be a corner of the Internet where readers and writers and writers-who-read (all of us, in other words) can come together to talk about the appeal of the offbeat romance in fiction, movies, TV, and other forms of popular culture.

In the coming weeks at, you’ll find gushing fan-girl essays about favorite authors, impassioned screeds of various sorts, recommendations of all sizes and shapes (including “certified wonktastical” books), author interviews, amusing lists of things, and whatever else we can think up to impose upon you.

If you’re the sort of person who perks up with interest at the mention of a wonktastical romantic story, come join the fun! We’d love to have your company.

To get the love flowing, we’ll kick things off with a giveaway. Tell us something about one of your favorite wonk-o-mances, and you’ll be entered to win one of four $5 Amazon gift cards. We’ll announce and contact the winners on the morning of Friday, January 6, so be sure to use a valid e-mail address when you comment.

About Ruthie Knox

Ruthie Knox writes witty, sexy romance novels for grownups. Read more >
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38 Responses to Greetings and Salutations

  1. Pingback: Wonk-o-Mance Launch! | Amber Skye

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  3. Ruthie Knox says:

    I’ll kick off the conversation with praise for Theresa Weir’s Long Night Moon, whose hero (a) lives in his car, (b) is a tabloid photographer, (c) has served time for committing a felony, and (d) takes the heroine leisure suit bowling for their first date. Nash Audobon: incredibly hot because of, not in spite of, the wonk.

  4. Kaetrin says:

    I just posted a comment at another blog about Courtney Milan’s Unraveled. It strikes me that may fit the definition of “wonk”. Smite is the hero. He doesn’t like having his face touched. He throws up in front of the heroine in reaction to being in a closed watery space. Those fears are still there at the end of the book. He hasn’t been magically fixed by the love of a good woman. In fact, they both specifically acknowledge that he’s not broken. I still got my (necessary) HEA but not everything was sparkly butterflies and that was grand.

    Best for the new site – I’m looking forward to reading more about the wonk!

    hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

    • Ruthie Knox says:

      Oh, definitely wonky! Several of us read (and LOVED) Unraveled. Smite made me swoon, and I loved Miranda’s insistence that he wasn’t broken and she had no intention of fixing him — her admiration of his ways of coping with the trauma life had dealt him made me really happy. Thanks for the comment!

    • Serena Bell says:

      I’m reading Unraveled right now, and loving it. Ah, Smite. (I also love Dalrymple. Does he get his own book at some point??)

      • Ooh, great example. I loved Smite’s story–and Mark’s (UNCLAIMED) was a little on the wonko side too, since he was a virgin who remained chaste out of respect for women. That’s a motivation I’ve (sadly) never read before.

        Serena, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Dalrymple in his own book. You’ll know why by UNRAVELED’s end. :)

        Congrats, ladies, on a smashing new blog! I’m looking forward to keeping up with the wonk-o-mance.

      • If you’ve read Ash’s book you’ll be no fan of Dalrymple.

    • Oh definitely! I’m going to do a running thing on Wonkastical Historicals, and Unraveled is on my short-list to discuss along with Trial by Desire (hero is a severe depressive, heroine spends most of book trying to conceal the fact that she’s busy running an underground railroad for battered women). So much brokenness. Even in her books that aren’t truly wonktastic, she has those elements in her characters, though. Wonderful stuff.

  5. Corina says:

    Just read a pretty wonky m-m romance by Lyn Gala – Urban Shaman. One of the heroes is an . . . urban shaman. He’s weird and difficult to know. His protective instincts have sharp and dangerous edges and when he’s not busting out the freaky shamanic spirituality, he’s rattling off Yiddish idioms like an irritated bubbeh. The other hero is a scarred, tattooed Hispanic cop who’s scared all the time. He’s angry and bitter because he’s hated by the people he wants to help. This romance was so wonky I honestly wasn’t sure there would be a HFN, let alone a HEA until almost the last chapter. I loved it.

  6. Serena Bell says:

    So many good ones! So hard to pick! Vicky Lewis Thompson’s Nerd in Shining Armor is one of my favorites, and it’s a mainstream success, too, despite (or, I argue, because of :-)) being wonky. He is the anti-alpha-hero, a computer programmer who can’t match his clothes or organize his life. She has dragged herself out of the poverty of “the Hollow” but hasn’t completely lost her twangy accent. They get stranded on a desert island and hilarity (and heat) ensue. Amazing wonky goodness.

    • Ruthie Knox says:

      Needless to say, one of my all-time favorites. Jackson gets to absorbed in his programming nerdiness that he loses all track of time and forgets he even has a girlfriend. I lurve him.

  7. Amber Skye says:

    Let’s see, I’m going to say the wonkiest Wonkomance I’ve ever read, which was….Caged by Tam Ames, which is hamster-shifter MM erotica. I know. I know! But it’s adorable!

    It’s a short story, about twenty pages. I love that it was created on somewhat of a dare. She’s (He’s?) a writer and a friend said such a thing would be impossible. It turned out great. Very funny. And it’s free if you go here and then click on the Scribd link:

    I read a lot of Wonkomance, but I must say, that one takes the weird cake.

  8. Penelope says:

    Wonkiest story I’ve read in the last year is Dementia by Jaid Black.

    Here’s a synopsis of the story…..

    It’s a 30 page quickie about a super horny alpha male gorilla alien dude from outer space who kidnaps an earth girl to use as a sex slave, chases after her in the jungle, and then she gets trapped by a super horny alien plant that fondles her sex organs and tries to suck her dry until she goes completely insane (hence the title Dementia), but then the “hero” finds her and boinks her for most of the 30 pages, and then they decide they are hopelessly in love with each other.

    Is that wonky enough for you? ;^)

    • Ruthie Knox says:

      *collapses in fit of giggles*
      *tries to sit up straight*
      *collapses again at the thought of “finds her and boinks her for most of the 30 pages”*
      *wipes tears from eyes*
      *puts Dementia on TBR list*

    • Serena Bell says:

      My mouth is hanging open at the idea of a “super horny alien plant that fondles her sex organs and tries to suck her dry.”

    • Although that isn’t really wonky in the sense that we mean it here (think “policy wonk”, that sort of wonky, people who are wonky about things/other people/themselves), that certainly sounds like some serious sf/f cracktasticness, oh yes it does. And it sounds wonky in the sense of, you know, a cart with a “wonky” wheel at the grocery store. Wobbling firmly in its own direction. Oh, Jaid. An interesting woman but one whose dreamscape would, I think, baffle and horrify me.

    • Amber Skye says:

      Oh man, I thought you were going to say Bearotica. Bearotica!

  9. I’m reading Black Silk by Judith Ivory at the moment, and it’s full of angsty, wonky goodness (quick, we need some sort of word to convey wonk and angst. Perhaps some sort of portmanteau. Somebody get on that, stat!). Heroine is not beautiful or really even pretty (she has kind of a snaggletooth, and really bad hair, and hero can’t figure out why he’s so attracted to her; but she sexy, she’s one of those girls whose whole is greater than the sum of her parts); she’s also a widow, who still mourns for her husband, the hero’s uncle (they married when she was sixteen, he was like fifty). She’s smart, but socially inept. Hero is a rake. Not a reformed one, or a misunderstood noble one, but a current, functioning rake. He’s in a paternity suit he’s about to lose because he’s pretty much unable to prove he hasn’t slept with everybody in London. Right now it’s about a third of the way through the book and the heroine is actually living at the hero’s (married) mistress’s place. And he’s still with the mistress. I’m totally sucked in by the train wreck potential. I really can’t wait to read how she pulls a happy ending out of this hot mess :-)

    • Ruthie Knox says:

      “Wangst” doesn’t quite work, does it?

      Black Silk sounds awesome. I like books where the hero can’t figure out why he’s attracted to the heroine. There was a novel called White Castle I read as an impressionable youth, which had lots of sex and a hamburger-stinking heroine with small boobs and a big butt. The protagonist was a snob who didn’t really like her but found her fascinating. That’s also part of the plot of The Accidental Tourist, which is one of my all-time faves.

      • LOVE The Accidental Tourist. I never read White Palace (book and movie were renamed that b/c White Castle refused to let them use the name) but I did see the movie. The smell doesn’t really convey in film, and the heroine was played by Susan Sarandon who does not have, by any stretch of the imagination, a big butt. But the hero was James Spader. WIN.

      • Amber Skye says:

        Wangst would be like that moment when you’re a teenage boy and your mom walks in on you right as you… yeah. Not that I’ve done that, on either side, but it sounds very wangsty.

    • Corina says:

      I think all of Judith Ivory’s books would probably qualify for your definition of wonky, odd and difficult people who shouldn’t find happiness with each other but do. Her books are beautifully written, but they always make me really uncomfortable because even though I KNOW there has to be a happy ending, it’s in the definition of of the genre FFS, each book has me biting my nails right up until the end and thinking “this is the time she’s going to screw with me and these people are never going to get their act together and just be happy, damn it.”

  10. Catherine Lee says:

    Wonk-o-Mance? Oh Boy. Since I am very new to romance & erotica, I probably can’t cite anything useful. I do like very peculiar characters. Flannery O’Connor is one of my favorite authors. Her characters are generally grotesque in a wide variety of ways…and there often is NOT a happy ending.

    • Ruthie Knox says:

      Welcome to the wilds of romance & erotica, Catherine! Flannery O’Connor is awesome. She was a master of the wonk-o. Not so much the -mance part. If she ever got tired of making her people miserable and occasionally shooting them, though, she’d have written Wonk-o-mance par excellence. (Actually, come to think of it, if Wise Blood had made any sense at all, it might have been a Wonk-o-mance.)

  11. Man am so on this like white plastic on a Stormtrooper! Both Unraveled and Nerd in Shining Armor I ordered recently and am waiting for them to arrive…. look forward to the ensuing wonkiness here!

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