Things in Print Thursday :: a review of a list in the spirit of this month

21 Apr

This month being April, which is Autism Awareness Month.  This is something I’ve done a lot of reading about in the recent past, for pretty personal reasons, and media portrayals of autism (and public opinions) interest me, although mostly in an “oh my god, stop it and try again” kind of way.  Which brings me to my difficulty finding something I can actually swallow reading this month (I’m going to find something, though!) and also to this list.

This is a Goodreads list of “Romance Fiction with Characters Having Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.”  So the summaries are already going to be, uh, not my cup of tea, shall we say.  But I’m interested in seeing how these “Best HEA romance where the main character has either Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Characters can be either diagnosed or undiagnosed” books describe their characters in the official summaries.

Oh, and I want to see how many are about women on the spectrum.  And what characterizes the love interests.

  1. The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.”
    I am skeptical of this.  Both because it sounds trashy but because… “the Mad Mackenzie.”  The love interest is a troubled socialite.  +1 man.
  2. “Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance.
    “Difficulty with social rituals” I expect will be an ongoing theme. The love interest may or may not be a manic pixie dream girl.  +2 men.
  3. “Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special… Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.”
    “Special.”  The love interest is a childhood friend.  +3 men.
  4. There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.
    I am a bit skeptical here, too.  The title involves the word “neanderthal,” also.  The love interest is “Sir McHotpants,” apparently.  +1 woman.
  5. I don’t thrive well in chaos. That’s why I gave my captors exactly what they wanted: my skill with computers.”
    I think that’s what’s supposed to explain it?  Maybe?  The love interest is… literally a mafia member.  +2 women.
  6. “…Freaky Flynn. Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger’s.”
    Well, this one cut to the chase, at least.  But it’s about a former bullying victim reconnecting and romancing with his female bully, so that’s… eh.  +4 men.
  7. Having been told his entire life that he can’t process or understand emotion, he considers it a big deal.
    Okay, then.  The it in question is being entranced by a sexy lady, and said lady is down on her luck.  +5 men.
  8. This one is a sequel to #4 on this list, also mentioning “neanderthal” in the title, and it doesn’t describe the presumably neuroatypical woman in the summary at all.  It also makes the guy sound like a jerk.  But +3 women, I guess.
  9. Dr. Aiden Sharp is Complicated… Aiden’s body was perfect. He was sleek, every muscle was defined and despite his bizarre diet, Aiden didn’t have an ounce of fat on him. But it was the tattoos. They’d all been hidden by his street clothes, but most of Aiden’s chest, back and arms were covered in ink.”
    Well, that’s barely a description, but at least this one is a gay romance about a detective and a spectrum man.  +6 men.
  10. This one is a sequel to #2, and again, it doesn’t explicitly describe the character that got it on this list.  +7 men, though.
  11. I straight-up cannot tell if it is meant to be the timid and shy Maddie or Flame… the broken man who has captivated her fragile soul” who is meant to be neuroatypical in this equation.  Nullified.
  12. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket.
    I genuinely do not remember this being a romance but it’s been so long since I read it I might be imagining things?  +8 men.
  13. Robert is different. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population.
    Okay.  Blunt.  I like that, even if it starts with “is different” and that’s getting tiring..  It doesn’t mention who the love interest is in the summary, but it does mention his flatmates, one of whom is also on the spectrum and is a girl.  But, +9 men.
  14. William Drake is an artistic genius with a photographic memory and the intensity to master practically any task.
    And the love interest seems to be a literal refugee in dire straits.  +10 men.
  15. I can’t tell with this one, either – possibly “the journal’s reclusive owner” that the protagonist deals with? – because it’s not a very long summary, but it doesn’t specify so I’m choosing to think it’s about lesbians.  Nullified.
  16. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
    This is another gay romance, and the other character has clinical depression, so that’s something.  But, +11 men.
  17. This is a sequel to #6, and does not describe the protagonist in a way that might tip off spectrum designation.  It still sounds uncomfortable. +12 men.
  18. “Ford Aston is known for many things. Being an emotionless, messed up bastard, a freakishly smart social outcast, and a cold, domineering master who keeps “pets” instead of girlfriends.
    …oh dear.  Also, “something is not quite right with Ashleigh. In fact, something is seriously, seriously wrong” and I’m not sure what to say to any of this.  +13 men, probably.
  19. the quirky, reclusive CEOMason Talbot isn’t good at talking to women. Well, to anyone, really.her endearingly awkward new boss
    Who plays opposite an apparent cipher of a woman.  +14 men?
  20. I assume it’s the boss whose rule is “no relationships,” but I don’t even know.  +15 men.

So there we have it.  Out of 20 romance titles about autism/Asperger’s, 3 have female protagonists, 15 have male protagonists, and 2 have incomprehensible summaries.

2 are about m/m romance and the other 18 are probably about heterosexual romance.

3 directly mentioned autism/Asperger’s in the summary.

2 have explicit difficulties with emotion.

“Quirky,” “different,” “Complicated,””special,” “odd,” and “difficulty” are all used to coyly describe the characters.

Other themes include difficulty with women, lists of unusual habits, and mentions of the characters not fitting in.

–your fangirl heroine.



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