Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Swoon by Betsy Prioleau - TLC Book Review and Giveaway

Swoon by Betsy Priloeau
Norton, 2013

Format? Hardback
Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclaimer:  the publisher provided me a complimentary copy of Swoon in exchange for a review.  However, the review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Title? Meh :/
Cover? Nope...wouldn't have enticed me at a matter of fact, I normally stay away from covers that look like this.

What I Was Reminded Of? Janice Radway's Reading the Romance, the movies, "What Women Want" and "Hitch"

Why?  the promise of an academic look at what makes women fall for certain men

What Now? While not actually a favorite that will move in with the other keepers in my antique secretary, I will keep this one close by, shelved right next to Radway and other books from my feminist literary behavioral studies.


The publisher via TLC Book Tours has generously offered a copy of Swoon to one of my readers.  Just leave your name, blog address, and email should you be interested in this fabulous academic read.

Golden Lines

Romantic love is one of the most extreme human experiences.  As philosophers say, love is "strong stuff."  Under a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan, passionate love looks like a lightening strike; centers deep in the midbrain flare up and release a torrent of dopamine and norepinephrine.  It's so close to what happens when we're angry or afraid that psychologists believe any intense feeling, in a "spillover effect," can ignite desire. (37)

In studies, women seem to be of two minds about virtuous partners.  On the one hand, say researchers, they want a nice guy, with "that old-fashioned quality: integrity"; on the other they want a fun, bold, bad boy.  (63)

Studies show that Americans tend to defer fun and enjoyment; we work longer hours and work at play and relationships.  Which isn't how eros operates.  As Johnny Depp's character in the movie Don Juan DeMarco explains, "I give women pleasure if they desire.  It is of course the greatest pleasure they will ever experience." (86)

Love stories are storehouses of gastronomic seductions.  Drouet captures Sister Carrie of Theodore Dreiser's novel with a mushroom and steak dinner, and Robert beguiles Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's Awakening over a shared roast chicken on an excursion to Grand Isle. (130-131)

Psychoanalyst Eric Fromm compares listening to poetry interpretation, an intuitive and creative art.  Rather than a passive, laid-back enterprise, it's as demanding as talk.  A man has to be fully present, his mind cleared of distractions, and his brain and emotions engaged.  A hint of insincerity and a woman's superior bullshit detector will find him out. (168-169)

"The art of love," instructs Havelock Ellis, "is even more the art of retaining love than of arousing it," and he cites dozens of works since antiquity on the subject. (193)

The ladies' man, though, shouldn't bring more pressure to bear on distressed men, more impossible sexual standards to meet, more stage fright.  Instead, the great seducer and his arts can be a male liberation movement, a release from the stranglehold of games, bogies, inertia, and ignorance, and a recovery of erotic empowerment, passion, and joy. (245)


Covering the anatomy of a "great seducer," including charisma and character and following up with sections including:
 Lassoing Love: The Senses
Lassoing Love: The Mind
Locking in Love
Torching Up Love
The Great Seducer Now...
Betsy Prioleau provides the reader with much to think about along the lines of what makes women fall for certain who may or may not be the person they end up spending the rest of their lives with

What I Liked

For a seemingly sappy topic, Prioleau takes quite an academic perspective when looking at the "ladies' man"...who he was, is and even will be in the future.  This saved the book for me...I have to admit when I first sat down to read Swoon, I was afraid I'd made a mistake.  I soon found out I was wrong indeed.

Examples, examples, and more examples...from Casanova to memorable literary characters to politicians, actors, musicians, and even just regular guys, Prioleau seeks a pattern in their behavior, conquests, attitudes, etc.

Ahem, Joe Morelli, Stephanie Plum's love interest in the Janet Evanovich's series, is one of the examples in the category of **cough, cough** Sex Drive.  Oh my.
I feel a little faint. 

The expectation and the assumption that men and women can live, exist, love, and still be their own person...while at the same time planning, thinking, and spending quality time with one and out of the bedroom.

The very realistic look at how we (men and women) spend so much more time on things other than our partners, and how that's affected the quality of relationships between men and women in the 21st century.

The Notes section of Swoon is 75 pgs. long...I'm literally drooling.  I read stuff like that with as much fervor as some people read romance...I'm a "recovering academic"; what did you expect??

My favorites were the men who really loved women but found one particular woman with whom he chose and keeps choosing each and every day to spend his life with.  Hugh Jackman, for example, as a "great seducer" now because he still "actively courts his wife of 16 years."  There are definitely some lessons to learn here for men and women.  

What I Didn't Like

Even though Prioleau doesn't try to push a prescription of any kind on the reader, there were a few examples I really disagreed with...Ashton Kutcher, for one, doesn't strike me as an example of a man who is good to women.  While we obviously don't know the whole story behind his or anyone's break-up in Hollywood, I think we can all agree that Demi Moore was not and still is not exactly ok after the fact.  
Um, Bill Clinton? Just because he can play the sax? Nope, nuh-uh...I bet Bill doesn't make Hillary "purr"...of course, she is still married to him after all his ridiculousness.

"Women are fools for flattery." (143) and "There's no end to what a woman will do for male intimacy." (151)
While Prioleau is using these statements as attention getters and very possibly I read entirely too much into these statements (and a few others like them), they rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall Recommendation

Don't pick up Swoon if you're looking for your next fast, romantic, bodice bursting read.  Even though the cover may lead you to believe that, you will quickly be disappointed.  However, if like me, you enjoy brain exercise while you read, and a book that provides you with tidbits to look up, poetry to read, other books to read, psychology to consider and compare with previous notes, etc, then go for it.  :)

The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, March 4th:  Scandalous Women
Tuesday, March 5th:  Enchanted by Josephine
Thursday, March 7th:  A Bookish Affair
Monday, March 11th:  The Blog of Litwits
Tuesday, March 12th:  In the Hammock
Wednesday, March 13th:  Staircase Wit
Thursday, March 14th:  Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, March 15th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, March 19th:  Book Addict Katie
Thursday, March 21st:  Unabridged Chick
Friday, March 22nd: Books a la Mode - guest post “Heartbreakers in History that were Ugly”
Monday, March 25th:  Man of La Book
Tuesday, March 26th:  Literally Jen
Thursday, March 28th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf 
Wednesday, April 3rd:  Peppermint Ph.D.


  1. I think this sounds kinda interesting! Great review. Here's my info: & ruthellenanderson (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    1. I wasn't sure at first, Ruth...but I really liked it by the end :) I can definitely see myself referring back to it in the future as well :)

  2. My husband is all about the footnote/end note too. It's the lawyer in him. Drives him crazy when he reads a book and there are no notes.

    I don't need to enter - I have too many books as it is and I'm generally not a big reader of non-fiction.

    1. Ha, Patty! He's looking for the "evidence" just as I am ;)

  3. This sounds rather enticing, as I love to read about the various different kinds of men and relationships in an academic way. I am glad that you mostly enjoyed this one, but I have to agree that Ashton Kutcher is NOT a male I would like to be associated with!

    1. My idea of a ladies' man that a lady would WANT to be around is one who does not hurt other women. There are plenty of examples in Swoon and all over where even though a break up happens, the woman (or man) doesn't feel slighted, cheated, etc. That is my idea of a ladies' man...and that is not a description of Aston Kutcher.

  4. I love the cover if it is ironic.
    I've seen this book around on blogs a lot and definitely wantto read it.

    1. It's an interesting read, no doubt :)
      Thankfully, yes, the cover is somewhat of a play on the subject matter :p

  5. I'm reading it for the tour too. I agree, I don't think Ashton is a ladies man...I do however think Bill Clinton is...though not because he plays a sax. The thing I've taken away the most from this book were titles of some romance novels that I want to read.

    1. Clinton must have some kind of staying have one of the most powerful women in this country want to keep him around ;)
      He does have that soft voice and the eyes, etc. some of the features the author discusses.

  6. I'm fascinated with the great lovers of history, especially those who didn't fit the image of "gorgeous" - I'd love to see what make them so appealing!

    Thank for being a part of the tour.