Once, when I was in college, I checked out a stack of romance novels from the library as a joke — I found lots of weird things hilarious at the time, OK?! — and the "new hire" working at the library's check-out desk just happened to be my hyper-serious, incredibly intelligent TA from a class about 17th century British literature.
I could have died. There was no way to explain the situation to him without sounding even more culpable than I already was, because there's nothing like saying "These are TOTALLY A JOKE!" to sound like you're totally not joking. So I let him run the library scanner over A Love So Inflamed and The Fire Between Them and Everything Was Burning, Everything, EVERYTHING!!!: A Love Story. Then I ran for the hills, cheeks blazing and bosom heaving.
The main reason I found romance novels so hilarious was the covers — the glorious, cheesy, unbearable covers. Is there any other genre of art so wonderfully consistent? So full of archetypes, like the Shirtless Rogue and the Almost Shirtless Damsel? So full of passion, longing, inappropriate hand placement, NSFW necklines, and terrifying bodily contortions? Romance novels are a gem, my friends. In captioning them here, I also celebrate them.
The One With the Music Festival Hipster
He's got VIP Coachella tickets, he read an article on the Internet about making flower crowns, and he is ready to BLOW YOUR MIND (with his knowledge of Drake lyrics).
The One With the Sleeping Mansplainer
He came over and drank a bottle of your most expensive wine while lecturing you on the importance of having a daily "art practice." You've never been so happy to see anyone passed out on your sofa before. One quick selfie with his drooling face, and then you're off to bed.
The One Where the Horse Is Being REALLY CHILL Given the Circumstances
This is not how you ride a horse, ma'am.
The One Where Peeps Are Real Naked
Thank goodness for that conveniently placed, waist-tall police car!
The One Where Someone Ignored the Dress Code
"This is MY DRESS, sir."
The One With the Well-Moisturized Back, Part 1
"What's your secret? Shea butter?"
The Ocean-Themed Dance Album Cover
Check out their new hit single, coming July 2015: "Overboard (W/ Love 4 U)"
The One That Zoomed In on Fabio's Face
This is actually an old illustration from Carly Jung's famous work, The Structure and Dynamics of the Male Psyche.
The One Where the Girl Has a Head But the Guy Doesn't
He does, however, have a nipple, so he's not entirely useless.
The One Where She's Not Taking Her Kidnapping Very Seriously
Call me crazy, but... does she, like, know that guy?
The One That's Not Fifty Shades of Grey
Nope, still not Fifty Shades of Grey.
The One With the Well-Moisturized Back, Part 2
The One That Blurs the Lines Between MAN and BEAST
Alternate title: I Married an Animorph.
The One That's SUPER MANLY, GUYS
WOLVES! ABS! NIPPLES! VEINS!
The one With the Invisible Chair
She was a witch. He was a wizard. Together, they created a chair out of... NOTHING.
The One Where She's Almost Getting Stabbed
For the first time in romance novel history, "his long sword" is not a metaphor.
The One With Rich People Being Naughty
Excuse me? Excuse me?! This behavior really isn't appropriate for a room with a BABY GRAND PIANO.
The One Where He Just Won't Take Off His Shirt All the Way
"It's like I'm wearing handcuffs... but they're soft."
The One That All Poets Need to Check Out Immediately
Who needs The Art and Craft of Rhyming anymore?
The One Where Their Noses Touch gently
"You may now lightly brush the tip of your nose against the bride's."
The One With the Thirdwheeling Swan
Just baaarely coping a feel.