It’s February – which means traditionally it’s the month of LUV Being a romance writer (and avid reader) I love any excuse to celebrate romance, so a whole month devoted to it makes me a happy camper
I grew up reading romances. In fact, the first adult novels I remember reading were Victoria Holt’s gothic romances. Full of windswept moors, isolated castles, danger, mystery, suspense, and of course, heart-thumping romances, these books seeped into my blood stream and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love just about any sub-genre of romance. As long as the romance between the main couple is strong, I can enjoy just about any setting or storyline that romance is a part of.
1) A good believable conflict – there is always a reason the main couple can’t get together right away, but it drives me nuts if the reason is a simple misunderstanding that a two second conversation would clear up (though even these can work if done well). I prefer a good, solid “someone will die if we get together” or a “I love you but I’m supposed to hate you” type conflict. A reason to stay apart that has some teeth to it
2) A flawed heroine – I really love a girl that has some weird quirk…maybe she’s klutzy, or always has her nose in a book, or has a scar running across her face. It’s easy for a guy to fall for the perfect supermodel…I like to see a girl who isn’t so perfect get the hot guy.
3) A tortured hero – I’m a sucker for the bad boy with a heart of gold. A Dread Pirate Roberts who turns out to be Wesley the farm boy. A thief who meets the girl of his dreams and changes his life to be with her. Jack from Romancing the Stone who tries to romance the treasure out of Joan and ends up falling in love himself. As long as there is a good heart beneath the bad activities, it makes for a great read.
4) Or, A “non-average” hero – the nerdy librarian who finds out he’s a bit of an Indiana Jones. The soccer coach who turns into Rambo to save his family. I love when a regular Joe turns into the ultimate alpha male when the going gets tough.
5) A setting that sucks you in – this is probably why I love historicals so much. I want to be transported to another world; whether that world is in the past, the future, another planet or timeline, or a regular world turned on its ear, I want to live in that world while I’m reading the story.
6) Actual romance – I’m all for love scenes But sex scene after sex scene can actually get a bit tedious if there is no romance going on along with it. A simple brush of the hand can get my heart pounding harder than the most graphic love scene when done right. Gotta have the romance
7) A little danger – romance is always a little more fun when something dangerous is going on. Falling in love while fighting zombies? Squeezing in a make-out session or two between a few near-death experiences? Intense situations can make a romance all the more thrilling and can make for a great read.
8) A little mystery – maybe the main couple grows closer together as they try to solve a murder, or find a treasure, or search for a missing person. Romances are always a little more fun when there is underlying mystery to solve.
9) A great supporting cast – the best friend who helps the lovers sneak off together; the sidekick who’s great for a little comic relief; the sibling who puts aside the rivalry to help (or maybe hinder) the lovers getting together. Sometimes these supporting characters can make or break a story.
10) An intense love that makes me want to re-read the story again and again – for me this is different from the romance. The romance is the building love, the sweet gestures, the tender kisses. Those are wonderful and I want them in the books I read (and write!). But I really love an intense love that defies all odds, that lasts years, sometimes centuries….Jamie and Claire from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series; Rane and Alex from Celeste de Blasis’ Wild Swan series; Bella and Edward (don’t judge, I love these two!) I want intensity. I want the pages to smolder. I want these two to conquer the whole world in order to be together. I don’t ask for much, do I?
What are your favorite elements in a romance?
p.s. If you like a little historical romance, the blog tour for my book To Trust a Thief is currently underway, with lots of chances to win a copy