In the back room of Flying Saucer in Addison, six women sit together drinking and playing Pokemon Go on their phones as they await the arrival of the other members of their fantasy romance novel book club.
It’s called Vaginal Fantasy, and it's a local chapter of a national club started by four women — Felicia Day, Veronica Belmont, Bonnie Burton and Kiala Kazebee. July’s book was Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon.
The women who lead the national club are in charge of choosing the book each month and at the end of the month, they host a video chat discussing it. As long as a book has a strong female lead and some aspect of fantasy, it is considered.
The Dallas sector of Vaginal Fantasy Book Club has been around for about a year and most of the six women at the July meeting have been involved from the beginning. They all work in different industries, everything from insurance to massage therapy, but share a love of reading.
“I feel like this could have been three separate books,” Sarah Barnes says. She thinks the book was too long at 600-plus pages.
The conversation quickly moves to one of the book's sex scenes.
“The sex scene was very awkward,” one woman says. “Two 13-year-olds shouldn’t be having sex.”
“And the guy cried after they were done,” another member adds.
“My high school boyfriend cried after our first time," yet another says. The rest of the group laughs.
Everyone in the group has an issue with the underage sex. “Let’s compare it, though, to two important pieces of literature, Romeo and Juliet and Game of Thrones," says Laurel Hannigan. "Both involve young people having sex.”
Barnes tries to bring the discussion back to Rhapsody. “One of the two sex scenes,” she begins.
Then another member, Zoey Copeland, interrupts her. “Wait," she says. “There were only two sex scenes in the 600-plus page book and one of them is with teenagers?”
Copeland is unapologetic about not finishing the book. “I went to the gym just so I wouldn’t have to finish that book,” she jokes.
“This was the hardest book to stay awake for," Hannigan adds. "I fell asleep three times in daylight. There’s something to be said about that.”
Distaste for July's book seems to be unanimous, partly because of poor writing, partly because it was so long, and partly because it wasn’t interesting. Stephanie Koehler, a mother, student and self-proclaimed one-book-a-day reader, notes that the author skips from one point-of-view to another without so much as a line break.
That’s not the only problem the women had with the author. “I thought for sure a man wrote this book, but then I look and it’s written by an Elizabeth," Copeland says. "I was reading how the female characters were being developed and I was like, 'A dude wrote this book.'”
These women clearly aren't gathering once a month to discuss the next great piece of literature. And it’s not about the book or the sex scenes so much as it’s an opportunity to bond over something terrible. It’s the same type of enjoyment people get from watching bad reality TV.
If 60 to 70 percent of the members like the book of the month, it's considered a success. However, they say the events where the book is universally hated are much more fun.
“What about that one book where the girl had to have sex with the fire,” one woman mentions.
“Yeah, I remember that," another adds. "Remember the cupcake one? The tension between the main guy and the girl was so intense, I had to read the rest of the series."
Then the conversation shifts to the book Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne. “If a romance novel starts with vomiting, then no,” one woman says.
Everyone laughs again.
“It’s nice when you can read a crappy book and you can come commiserate,” Barnes says.
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