Let’s talk romance!

There are a fair amount of you who follow this blog and read romance in some form or another, so I thought to discuss this subject today and get some feedback.  This particular genre branches off into all kinds of areas.  Some people like it mixed in with suspense or action.  Others like to see it in historical, fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi, etc.  If you are like me, you will read romance in multiple genres.  Yet this isn’t where it stops as to what we are looking for.  Each of us has a picture in our mind as to what constitutes an ideal romantic story.  It isn’t that anyone has only one kind they will read, but certainly one they prefer and look for over others.

I’ll admit that I want my heroine to be strong, but also well-grounded.  She should have some flaws, but also be willing to stand up for herself and be redeeming in some ways.  That helps me to identify with her.  Outside of this, I’m not too picky about the female side of things.

For the hero, I have more requirements.  He has to be strong and tough.  A man who is fully capable to taking on the bad guys.  It’s not to say he wins every fight (where would be the fun in that?) but he certainly needs to be a formidable force to be reckoned with.  He also shouldn’t be too soft.  Oh sure, at some point down the story line I want him to reveal some of his feelings, but otherwise I mostly want to see what he feels in action rather than words.  Maybe he doesn’t say he loves the heroine right away, but he does show it by doing things for her that the average uncaring guy wouldn’t.  It could be something as simple as tending to her when she is sick or injured.

It isn’t just the characters that make the romance, though.  The story-line/plot contribute to it heavily as well.  Most of us don’t want an easy romance that has no obstacles.  There has to be some adversity to overcome before the hero and heroine can be together.  For stand alone romance novel, this has to be done more quickly than in series.  If it is going to come to a satisfying conclusion all in one book, the author has his/her work cut out for them.  Urban fantasy has spoiled me to romance taking multiple books to work itself out.  It keeps the suspense high as to when it’s finally going to happen and some writers will make you wait until book three, four, or even five before resolving it into a fairly solid relationship.  That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the stand-alone novels though.  Just that there is a much shorter space of time to get to the HEA (happily ever after).

I want the H/h (Hero/heroine) to face off at first.  The more they dislike each other initially, the more amazing the romance is when they give in.  Of course, there is a caveat to this.  Nothing can annoy me more than false assumptions.  Especially when it is so easy for the reader to see through them.  Something along the lines of “he did this, so it must mean this” even though it probably doesn’t mean that at all and a blind man could see through it.  The only time there should be major false assumptions (minor ones can be okay) is if one (or both) of the two characters really can’t reveal what is going on.  Maybe they are sworn to secrecy or have some other obstacle that prevents them from saying the truth of the matter.  In that case, it usually works to enhance the story and makes you look forward to the big reveal.

Then there is the old “someone broke my heart so I’m never going to love another person again”.  That one has been used many, many, many (did I say many?) times and is still being used frequently.  I’m not saying a writer can’t use it, but it takes a lot more creative twists to make that particular ploy interesting.  They have to put more into it to keep readers captivated because otherwise it makes for a boring storyline due to its overuse.  The fact of the matter is, in real life, people do move on in almost all cases.  They may take a breather from romance for anywhere from six months to a few years, but not forever.  I especially love when authors use this on immortal characters.  Back five hundred years ago, a woman broke the hero’s heart and he is still stuck on that.  I’m not buying it.  You want to say he is jaded and the years have made him less caring and feeling, that is fine.  If I lived for that long, I’d probably be that way too!  Just don’t try to sell me on the idea that he is still dealing with a broken heart after five (or more) centuries.

There are many more scenarios I could give, but just thought to cover a few examples.  Feel free to tell us what you like and don’t like in romance.  There is nothing wrong with each person having different preferences.  That is what makes us human and unique, but hopefully it will spark an interesting conversation.

As a final reminder, the November writing contest period for submitting entries will be ending Tuesday night.  If you were considering joining in on this one, try to get your story in soon.  There is a first and second place prize this time so your odds of winning an Amazon gift-card are even higher.  With Christmas coming up, it could help out on buying gifts!


~ by Suzie on November 26, 2011.

15 Responses to “Let’s talk romance!”

  1. You are interesting. Nice read.


  2. I started reading Harlequin romance when I was in hs and loved it. As time went on, I loved stories mixed with sappy romance, like an action thriller or mystery. Then, I loved stories that had heavy sex scenes with a decent storyline. So college was all about erotica. Now, I get irritated by sappy romance stories AND stories that have nothing but sex in them. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many of both. I’m always on the hunt for something different. Plus, my idea of “romance” just seems to keep evolving based on my life experiences.

    No matter what, I prefer to have a love story mixed in whatever I’m reading. As long as it’s in there somewhere without being the whole story, I’m not picky.

    Whether I like the heroine or not, as long as I LOVE the hero, I’m good to go.

    • Dicey, I’m totally with you on it needing to have a story. I never read much Harlequin. At fouteen I was reading the regular romances (yep, the sappy ones). It certainly evolved over time. Buy twety years old I was already eating up the paranormal like Christine Feehan and Sherilyn Kenyon. Eventually, though, I found Urban Fantasy and that ruined me for reading most other types of paranormal romance. Despite that, if the author can get a great story in there, I may still really like it.

      I’m the same way about erotica. Can’t be all sex. We do seem to evolve our tastes over time.

  3. Really interesting post (as usual)… This is one area of writing where I know I can improve. Romance in my books will, most likely, always be a back-story; in Firebird I tried to use it to lighten an otherwise bleak/bloody backdrop and that has stimulated one or two comments due to the contrast (hard to soft). I’m not sure what the lesson is though – except, maybe, to be particularly careful and probably more abstract when playing ‘romance cards’ that aren’t mission-critical to the plot-line…?? With hindsight, I think I possibly over-cooked it a bit (…on which thought, I’d better stop this and go and check how my dinner is doing!!) 🙂

    • The trick is, Anthony, you got to read a lot of romance to understand how it works. I’m not sure how much you have, but you’ll probably get more insight into how to make it work if you do. Since romance is more of a side show in your book, you might look at some writers who do something similar. Lately, I’ve found myself analyzing the really good books to see how the author managed to sell me on both their story and the romance. That way I can learn the lessons for my own writing.

      Hope your dinner turned out alright!

  4. I found myself nodding (a lot!) in agreement with your comments. You like the same kind of heroes and heroines that I do – strong, believable characters who can love and are worthy of being loved.
    I like action mixed with romance, the heroine and hero having goals (or a shared goal), but if the story’s well-written, I don’t really care if it’s romance/fantasy, romance/SF, historical romance or contemporary …
    Thanks for another well-done, thoughtful post.

    • It’s funny but I moved away from historical in recent years unless it involves vampires. Those I sometimes like because often a gothic backdrop makes for an interesting story. I do like fantasy that is set up in a kind of medieval environment and also time travel, but not so much with just straight historical romance. I would still kill for a good romance story where the heroine travels back to ancient Greece or Rome from our time, but haven’t seen a book like it yet.

      It does seem we like the same kind of H/h! You have good taste by the way, lol.

  5. I don’t like whirlwind romances either. I recently read a Janet Evanovich book and didn’t like it for that reason. Which means I do like my romance mingled with something else, usually action/adventure of some kind. Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series were the first romances I really fell in love with. They have a nice balance of the romance story with cop stories. 😀

    I’ve mentioned this in one of your other posts, but I have to like the hero. I’ve read several books where he’s too arrogant and pompous or the extreme “bad boy” persona to the point where he reads more like an antagonist. There has to be some quality that is likeable. Unfortunately, that quality is based solely on my personal preferences.

    • Lol, Angela. I know we differ a bit on the hero. I love it when they are arrogant, pompous, bad boys because it is fun to watch them fall. It’s okay to have different tastes though. That just means I have no competition from you when it comes to Klaus!

      • Doesn’t wanting to watch them fall contradict your desire that they be strong heroes? And Klaus is not the hero! I have no idea what you see in him. 😛 To be honest, I didn’t watch the first season of Vampire Diaries because I couldn’t stand Damon. Then I caught the last few eps of season 2 and now I like him. Yes, different tastes are why there are so many books to choose from. 🙂

        • Nah, it doesn’t because they are only falling for one person. Everyone else is still fair game!

          I love our debates about Vampire Diaries, lol. You made me laugh with your Klaus comments. He may not be the hero now, but you can’t be sure about the future. With typical paranormal fashion, there will always be a bigger, badder enemy lurking somewhere and it’s always possible that his strength will come in handy later on down the line. Joseph Morgan (Klaus) is currently trying to talk the producers into giving him an actual love interest. I know this because I read his tweets. So if he gets one, maybe this woman will soften him up a bit! As you said, Damon sure has improved since season one 🙂

          By the way, the husband did thank me this morning for spending all that time blow drying his shirt in the middle of the night (and his pants). I went back to bed a little while after he left. It was not the funnest night I ever had, lol.

          • Gah, that is true. I can even see it: Klaus, Stefan, and Damon standing against the armies of hell with Elena standing on a cliff overlooking them, weeping for not two, but now three loves. … But he’s so EVIL! 😛

            Lol. I hope your hubby’s smart enough to think about getting you something on his way home.

  6. I tend to enjoy a paranormal background to a romance. Oft times this challenges the H/h to new and unusual circumstances to work through as the relationship develops. I also like strong characters to find each other and not necessarily like each other or get along at first. But attraction and attractive qualities are a must especially in the hero.

    • I completely agree with you Cassia. That is one of the great aspects of paranormal- the wide variety of situations characters can find themselves in. There also must be an attractive hero. No arguments with me there! Thanks for commenting.

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