Romance By You, For You

by Jess Zimmerman

Thanks to my friend Emily, I’ve just discovered Romance By You, a service that allows you to insert your name, love interest’s name, and sundry personal details into a romance novel. I’ve spent all day putting everyone’s names I can think of into bodice-rippers about werewolves, detectives, werewolf detectives, pirates, vampires, ER doctors, and medieval knights.

Here’s how it works, at least for the free excerpts: You’re prompted to enter the heroine’s name, hair color, eye color, sometimes the name of a female friend or pet, the hero’s name, and sometimes his hair or eye color or build. Then it provides you with something like this:

Huxley sighed. He longed to go to Eartha Kitteh, to comfort her, to caress her, but he could not, and so he remained outside, just below her window, watching and listening. He thought of her silky brown hair and dancing blue eyes. His mouth filled with the bittersweet taste of longing.

Only much longer, and often a bit sexier, but I used my dog’s name and Emily’s cat’s name and I didn’t want it to get too gross.

That’s just the free preview, though. Surely, once you shell out the money for an actual book, you’re allowed to personalize it more. Here are some passages I’ve put together for your use.

***“But [man’s name],” [woman’s name] said tremulously, her [ring size] fingers clasped to her [skin tone] bosom. “Even a [college] graduate like me never dreamed of such wealth.”

“It’s all yours now, my love,” he intoned, gazing fondly at her [hair texture] [hair color] hair. “For I am an oil baron, and you shall be my wife. That is, if your father [father’s name] will grant his blessing for me to marry you on you family’s estate at [hometown].”

***Even as her hand traveled down his [body type] back, her [nail length] fingernails raking his sensitive spine, [woman’s name] could feel the change in him. His skin became [color one shade paler than regular skin tone], and his canine teeth seemed to lengthen into hideous fangs. She was a devout [religion] and didn’t believe in the occult — and yet there he was, the same [favorite item of clothing] but his handsome face now unmistakably belonging to a creature of the night. “[Frequently-used exclamation],” she shrieked. “He’s a vampire!”

***[Woman’s name] shook her [hair color] tresses and [removed her / didn’t wear] glasses. Why must Lord [man’s name] be so infuriating, with his [timbre] voice and his witty quips in [other language spoken]? He may be a brilliant detective, but he wasn’t perfect — he couldn’t even [thing man doesn’t know how to do]. Plus, he was so [physical quality of which man is ashamed]! So why was she unable to stop thinking of him, and how his hands would feel on her [favorite body part]?

“I must be getting over-tired,” she reasoned, putting the evidence she was considering down on the [material of woman’s coffee table] coffee table and deciding instead to have a drink of [preferred liquor or liquor alternative]. Very quickly, though, she realized she was being watched. Lord [man’s name] stepped out of the shadows, his [eye color] eyes ablaze, and the case was forgotten as she felt her heart beat at [rate 20 percent higher than normal resting heart rate].

***“Oh, my love,” [woman’s name] whispered as [man’s name] ran his fingers over her cheek. “That was such a lovely dinner at [favorite restaurant for dinner], and you even got me that [present woman has always wanted] I’ve always wanted. But I’m afraid I’m much too fragile and innocent for [man’s preferred sexual position or kink].”

“No, no,” breathed [man’s name], slowly undoing the [appropriate fastener types] of her [favorite item of clothing to wear on top half] and pushing her down on the [duvet color] duvet. “You’re not half so innocent as you seem. Don’t forget, we’ve shared everything with each other. I know all about the time you [early, vaguely embarrassing sexual experience] with [half-forgotten high school classmate]. I even know how much you like [woman’s preferred sexual position or kink, shared with man after three shots of tequila and a hit off the hostess’s joint].

***The pirate king [man’s name] stood [height descriptor] and proud at the helm of his ship, the [man’s mother’s name]. “Come with me, [woman’s name],” he called, “no longer as my prisoner, but as my love! Leave behind the [greatest frustration of woman’s job], the [element of modern life or technology woman finds most mystifying], the demands of [child or pet’s name], and the infuriating [infuriating thing husband does] that your husband does! Sail with me into the wilds of [place woman has always wanted to visit]! If you will give me [sexual favor woman enjoys or at least does not mind], I will give you the world.”

Jess Zimmerman increases the penis joke and Hitchhiker’s Guide reference density of the internet. She tweets a lot about feminism and dogs and stuff at @j_zimms.