Within the last 1,000 years, we’ve been lucky to have gone through several Renaissances. The Medieval Renaissance lasted from the 14th to 16th centuries and brought with it huge strides in art and literature. A similarly huge transition happened in Shakespeare’s England, in which some of the world’s greatest writers gathered together to produce stories that have lasted ‘til this day.

We are on the brink of a New Renaissance. Sandra Hill, author of countless steamy romantic paperbacks such as the 2006 classic Rough and Ready, has proven herself to be one of the contemporary writers capable of taking on the Bard and challenging his legacy.

Through the genre of romance, both Shakespeare and Hill explore the theme of tragedy and love intermixed, Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony scene beginning with the iconic lines “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?” However meaningful these words may be, they hardly hold a candle to the prosaic genius of Hill, who begins the romance of Torolf and Hilda with a stunning passage; “Her long hair, still wet from the shower, had been combed down her back in a wet swath. Hilda was sitting on the floor, her round, wet boobs still wet from the shower’s water. She dried off the water with a towel, which then became wet.”

Another hallmark of these skilled authors is the use of analogies to convey subtle details about the text. Romeo Montague describes his love Juliet “As is a winged messenger of heaven Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds And sails upon the bosom of the air,” a series of clunky phrases in comparison to “As Hilda’s buttermilk bosoms squished up against his granite abs, Torolf almost had a dick aneurysm.”

In both works Torolf and Juliet call out to their lovers, and Hill scratches the surfaced of this intricate encounter through the words of Torolf; “Hilda,” Torolf murmured thickly, his throbbing meat wand pressing against Hilda’s warm thighs.” When there’s delicate, sensitive writing like this in existence, who needs “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?”

One of the few qualities the glowing multifaceted character and the other one are compared by their creators to elegant flowers, Shakespeare saying “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” This response, that while great, pales in comparison to Hill’s greatest work:

Hilda clutched at the bedsheets with lust and ecstasy and her hands. Her spongy love mountains hurled to and fro with each pounding. Her body was like a beautiful flower that was opening and somebody was pushing their dick inside it.

Even though Romeo and Juliet was written hundreds of years before Rough and Ready, the Shakespearean love story explicitly copied techniques from the modern romance novel. While Hill describes Torolf and Hilda as “shimmering with orgasm,” The Bard tries to imagine some pretentious analogy about how “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven.” Who cares?

Just as important as the introduction of a scene is its conclusion and the two lovers end their romantic encounters in different ways. Romeo tells Juliet that “parting is such sweet sorrow,” while Hilda was left in suspense as Torolf disappeared, leaving behind the “fading sound of galloping abs.” A first edition copy of the scene (signed by Hill’s signature, a seashell stamp) from the Museum of American History can be seen below:

page-1-rough-and-ready page-2-rough-and-ready

Clearly, there is a discrepancy in craftsmanship and skill between these two texts. The superior one, the one which will be a masterpiece for decades to come deservingly earns a 10/10, while its inadequate twin earned a 2/10 for an average of 6/10.

Alex has an honorary doctorate from the Kim Dan Institute of Higher Learning in Book Reviews. He is also working on becoming ordained as a minister online.

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