True Love Takes a Detour to the Courtroom

By Neal Comment

Jane Litte recently transformed her popular romance genre blog, Dear Author, into the Dear Author Literary Agency, and she’s wasted no time establishing her reputation as a fierce advocate for her clients—not because she’s getting book deals signed, but because she’s stopping books from reaching stores. On behalf of The International Consortium of Heroes, an organization that supplies the romance publishing industry with its male archetypes, Litte filed a lawsuit against Touchstone Fireside and Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, the co-authors of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels, and called for a temporary injunction against the book’s release.

beyond-heaving-bosoms.jpgLitte’s complaint alleges that Beyond Heaving Bosoms contains several items of internal e-mail correspondence between ICH members which have been published without the permission of their authors, constituting not only a violation of privacy but a revelation of trade secrets such as the ICH’s refined techniques for “overcoming personal angst, seeking revenge while maintaining a soul, learning to overcome bad parenting to seek solace in the arms of a good virginal woman, [and] knowing which women are innocent despite their sometimes brazen outward appearances,” along with “other traits, methods, techniques that provide the demarcation between heroes and villains.”

In a response posted to Wendell and Tan’s insanely popular romance fanblog, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a spokesperson for Touchstone responded that “the email messages were released to them by the ICH with the full knowledge and permission of the individuals in question.” Furthermore, Touchstone added, the so-called “trade secrets” couldn’t be all that secret if they’d been played out in novel after novel, over decades of romance publishing. “It is our intention to file a resistance to the temporary injunction and demand a hearing on the matter as soon as possible,” the statement concluded. “We take any allegations of copyright infringement and theft very seriously, and we will defend our authors and this book.”

APRIL FOOL’S!Litte, Wendell, and Tan are actually the best of friends, and concocted this prank as a way to promote Beyond Heaving Bosoms, which is appearing in bookstores any day now. In the interest of full disclosure, we should also point out that Wendell will be the guest co-host at next Monday’s installment of Lady Jane’s Salon, a monthly reading series for romance novelists which is usually emceed by senior editor Ron Hogan.