Well, not any more.
This week I had the novel experience of having my non-romance-reading husband read one of my works-in-progress (WIPs).
I resisted this, and so did he. But in the end, it was a smart move. Because he wasn't expecting any specific genre conventions, because he doesn't have any professional need to keep me happy, because he has a personal (and financial) investment in my success AND because he's a hyper-logical-critical-analytical sciency dude, he brought sharp eyes, a sharp mind and a new vision to the book.
"Why is she doing leaving the house to go to the graveyard?" he asks.
"Because the epic battle HAS to happen there," I explain.
"Yeah, but SHE doesn't know that."
And it goes on . . .
"Did you realize you left this typo on page 6? And this one on page 25? And this one on page 33?"
"Shut up," I reply, and get out the orange pen.
"Why does she get up in the hero's face about this painting?" he asks.
"I explain that later."
"Oh yeah? Well I'm confused right now."
And Mr. Smartypants is correct: If he is confused, if anything I write throws him out of the story, it's my problem and I need to correct it.
After all, someday soon, some gal's gonna be laying on a lawn chair with my book in one hand and a margarita in another. She'll have her eye on that volleyball game at the other end of the Lido Deck. If my words don't flow seamlessly from my page to her brain in the first (and probably only) read, she will put that paperback down (cracking the spine) and watch the game. She might pull it out again for the plane ride, or she might not.
One chance. That's all we really get until we're La Nora or La Christina or La Susan or La Jenny. These authors have a loyal (and more forgiving) fan base--as opposed to the Virgin Reader, who is much less tolerant of plot holes (even if she doesn't know the phrase), rambling prose, and who will lose respect for us as authors if we forget the "l" in public.
Until I achieve La-Hood, I do, at least, get to cuddle up with my Hawt Virgin. And my orange pen.