If there’s one thing I’ve learned talking to readers over the years it’s that there as many different ideas about what makes a romance as there are flavors of ice cream. What makes one reader happy turns another reader off and for yet another falls short of expectation? We’ve all been in both seats, reading a book on the one hand that makes us glued to the words, unable to tear ourselves away, wishing we could trade places with the heroine. On the other hand we’ve read some that were either not really romantic or fell short of the mark. So let’s take a look at the different types of romance.
To begin with you need a hero who’s smart, savvy and sexy. Hair and eye color don’t mean us much as the electricity that surrounds this man. He must be commanding as well as gallant, tough as well as sensitive, and tuned into the woman’s needs.
The heroine can be a lot of different things as long as she’s smart and gutsy. Even if it’s a romantic suspense and the heroine is in jeopardy, for heaven’s sake don’t give us a woman who has “the vapors” or wrings her hands and whines every five minutes. And she must of course, be likable. She can have a smart mouth and be defensive if she’d fighting bad luck or an unfortunate circumstance, but make us feel for her. Make us want her to open her mouth for one of her smart remarks.
And of course, there must be a great plot. If the hero and heroine are held together by the flimsiest of strings, any discriminating reader will fling the book or ereader down in disgust. There has to be a valid reason for them to connect, good chemistry between them, a logical reason to move the plot forward, a logical Big Black Moment and finally the Happy Ever After. Or at the very least a Happy For Now. No happiness, no romance.
I’ve had people try to insist that Romeo and Juliet is a romance but it isn’t. It’s a very tragic lover story but definitely not one to lift up your spirits. And the novel Love Story? It was about love, but not romance, not when one of the two dies in the end.
So, Happy Ever After or at least for now is a definite must.
Beyond that there are so man y variations, it really depends on the taste of the reader. For some inspirational romance (which I often read) fulfills them. Gives them the satisfaction of a successful conclusion. But when the couple clinches, the story “fades to black,” as they used to say in movies. And for a lot of people, that’s plenty.
From there we move to the “sweetly sensual”–some sex but not very graphic–to fully sensual–not much left to the imagination but in soft language. And then we come to erotic romance, where the sex sizzles and so does the reader! We have BDSM, ménage, male/male, and just about every variation you can think of. It all depends on then reader’s personal preferences. There’s no single right genre. And no single right age group.
But again, they all have five things in common–a strong plot, a believable a hero we want to keep for our own, a heroine we love and can identify with and a very satisfying happy ending.
So what do you think makes a great romance? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you. And one lucky commenter will win a choice of ebook from my backlist.
Bridget Reilly lived her entire life using dark glasses to hide what she saw as deformed eyelids. But she also hid her real self, working a dead-end job and locking herself away from any social life. And they also allowed her to hide her real feeling about her next-door neighbor, Navy SEAL Clay Randall. She lusts for him in secret, a lust unexpectedly fed during an electrical blackout. When a masked ball provides the opportunity for her to have an entire night of glorious, unrestrained, erotic sex with him how can she ignore it? The night more than exceeds all her expectations and now she wants to find a way to have a real relationship with him, without the mask. She applies to The Durban Trust, a fund set up by a former movie star to provide plastic surgery under certain circumstances and the surgery is successful. But what she hadn’t counted on was Clay’s reaction when she revealed all to him and the wedge it drove between them.
Bridget cocked her head, all kinds of possibilities suddenly speed-racing through her brain. “You have a full face mask?”
He nodded. “In a manner of speaking. I’m going as a pirate. Figured that wasn’t too embarrassing. Got a scarf thing to wrap over my head and a big black mask that matches it over my eyes.”
A pirate. Bridget filed that piece of information away in her mind.
“Women love pirates.” She hoped her tone was casual enough. “They’ll probably be hanging all over you.”
Clay snorted. “I doubt it. The women who show up at these things seldom come alone and the ones that do aren’t worth the price of a drink.”
“Maybe tomorrow night you’ll be surprised.” She wet her lips. “Tell you what. I’ll make a bet with you.”
“Uh-huh. I predict you’ll meet a mysterious woman. She won’t even tell you her real name. She’ll tempt you and tease you and make you want to sweep her off her feet.”
Clay’s mouth kicked up in a grin. “That right? You guaranteeing it?”
“I said I’d bet with you, didn’t I?” She shoved her hands in the pockets of her shorts, waiting tensely for his answer. “Well? You gonna put your money where your mouth is?”
He laughed. “Okay. A bet. Loser buys dinner.”
“You’re on.” She held out her hand.
Clay’s grip was firm and warm. Bridget had expected that, but she hadn’t been prepared for the jolt of electricity that sizzled up her arm and through her body. She pulled her hand back quickly, doing her best to ignore the gleam of mischief in Clay’s eyes.
“I certainly hope so,” he teased.
Bridget’s cheeks turned hot. This was just harmless flirting, something Clay probably did as naturally as he breathed. But for her this was a scarce commodity. Once men got a look at her eyes all flirting was off the table.
“I-I have to go.” She hurried up the driveway, calling over her shoulder, “Good luck. And I expect a full report.”
“If it turns out the way you predict,” he answered, “don’t look for too many details.”
If only this works.
”Confession time day after tomorrow, okay? We’ll meet over the fence.”
“Only long enough so I can tell you where I want you to take me for dinner. Get ready for an expensive meal.”
“We’ll see. “Night, now.”
She nearly ran into the house, her mind racing. She might never realize her goal of introducing herself in public as a published author but she at least had the possibility of one night with the man who filled her dreams. And one night was better than none.
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