Sunday, 30 June 2013

six things a romance novel must have!

Okay, I'm ranting. You have been warned! :) Been reading a LOT of romance novels these past few weeks - while on a break between writing books. Some of them grabbed my attention, some of them made me mad. In turn it got me thinking about what is absolutely essential in a romance novel. So, I'm making a list! This is just my own personal rant, I don't expect you to agree with everything. If you have anything to add, let me know!

So here we go. Six things a romance novel must have:

  • Romance!  

Seriously, people, I've read so many books recently where there is little, if any, actual romance in the book. Sure there's lots of sex (and we all love that) but it isn't romance. I miss the seeing the sparks fly between the couple and witnessing each glancing touch. I want to read about those thoughts you never thought you would have, but find they run riot in your head. Or even more delicious, that first look. The moment when you know, without any way to back it up, that that person is meant for you. Sigh. You can keep your whips and chains, I want more romance in my romance novels!
  • Love! 
I want romance that leads to love. Not to a break up, or a declaration that it was all friends with benefits, or some other "mature" version of that cop out. No. I want to see the hope of love. Otherwise what's the point? (I can already hear people reminding me about the sex again!) There's been a real dearth of actual, self-sacrificing, life-changing love in the books I've been reading. I want to see it develop, I want to feel that it's real, I want it to have depth and meaning and lead to acts that are selfless. I want to see real love, people!
  • Sexy men! 
I'm not talking about the taciturn ex-cop/army/CIA/fireman with six pack abs and a chiseled jaw. (Although, having written that, it doesn't sound that bad!) I'm talking about real men, with faults and flaws, whose histories don't define them, men who aren't afraid of love or commitment. Honourable men who know how to lead and how to nurture. Scars, muscles, hair colour - they're all well and good - but give me a hero who knows how to love a woman and I'll fall at his feet.
  • Believable heroines! 
I'm tired of reading about mousy women who don't seem to have anything going for them,  YET the gorgeous Adonis of a hero falls madly in love with them!! If I can't see what's so compellingly attractive about this heroine I sure as heck don't know how the hero spotted it! I want to see women who are attractive in every way, women who have personalities that draw you in, women without the angst of a past hanging over them, women who aren't afraid to love themselves and let someone else love them. I want to see heroines that actually suit the heroes, and not just bland women with fantasy/cartoon men!
  • Plot! 
Seriously, there has to be something more to the book than the couple having sex in a million different places, in a million different positions. Something has to happen. How about writing an actual story? How about characters that change and develop? How about background story that's captivating, or a mystery on the side, or drama that takes you on an emotional roller coaster? I want people to tell me a story, not just describe the sex scenes, otherwise I may as well just dig out that old copy of The Joy of Sex and read that instead!
  • A happy ever after! 
I want to see resolution. I don't want to get to the end of the book and find out it's part of a never ending series that will leave me with no idea as to how the characters get together. Leave something else in the book hanging, but resolve the romance. Please! I want the characters to have their day in the sun, to see love triumph and hope win, to have everything shiny and perfect for a moment - I know, melodrama much! But I HATE getting to the end of a book and discovering it only outlines the start of the story and you have to buy the other books to get the end. I want the whole story. And I want it now!!!


Okay, just read through my rant and it looks like I hate sex! :) I'm laughing as I write. Who doesn't love a good sex scene? But I'd like the rest of my romance novel too please!  So what do you think? Am I right, or have I gone overboard again? Let me know! :)

14 comments:

  1. Janet

    I can't agree more. In so many books I read...and I confess to skimming sex scenes as they are (mostly) plain old boring...there is nothing to draw me in and make me say Yes! that was a great book.
    Too often now I have a kindle I find myself buying books of the 80-90's that have that spark, that sense of wonder that leaves you sighing, can I steal that man please.

    I am sick of sex, sex and more sex in books and every writer seems to think that unless you have a B&M scene it's not a romance.

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    1. Hey Shirley, I'm with you. I often go back to my favourites from the 90's. And yes, you can steal the man. The more out there the merrier! :)

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  2. Love the rant! And agree on the plot part, I've been shocked how many words can be written without any plot development.

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    1. Hey Melanie, thanks for stopping by. I know exactly what you mean about plot. Sometimes I think that people are more interested in writing description than in telling a story. :)

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  3. Hey JEH, couldn't agree more! I think you've got to have an element of everything and I think there are some pretty good books published in 80s and 90s that have all of these.
    (I'm working on it as we speak! LOL) xx

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    1. I think we're searching for the older books because we're a bit fed up with the shallowness and repetition of the newer ones... or it could just be me thinking like this! :)

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  4. Right on, with your rant, Janet! I was a person that just HAD to finish whatever book I'd started, but now, when I find myself rolling my eyes more than once, or getting bored and I'm at least 16% of the way through, I delete. The main reasons for this are, unbelievable plot, characters not grabbing me or making me care, or too much sex for sex's sake without the emotion that should go with it! I mean - we're women, damn it and I feel we're getting short-changed on the romance front which is why we read/write them in the first place!

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    1. I agree totally, LaVerne. I think it's time to put the romance BACK in the romance genre!! :D

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  5. Love this post, Janet especially the believable heroine part. Frankly, I'm fed up with all these, "I'm broken and I have a deep, dark secret," kinds of heroines we seem to be getting from books lately.

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    1. There is a LOT of repetition out there Ever After Romance. I read REALLY fast and last week I churned through about twenty books. Honestly, I felt like about 14 of them were the same book! People are jumping on what they see as popular, but I think most readers are over the angsty heroine and cold hearted hero. I know I am. I want happier books and less angst. I want my romance hopeful and full of joy - even if there are bumps along the way!! Oh, oh, feel like I'm about to burst into a picket line chant... :D

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  6. Janet,
    From the comments it seems that we are not alone. I like a good meaty plot, a hero who can admit he's in the wrong (sometimes) and a heroine who is honestly not TSTL... I didn't coin this To Stupid To Live label...I saw it in regard to a horror flick...but it is (sadly) far to apt for some heroines.

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    1. I think "Too Stupid to Live" might be a bit harsh, Shirley! :) How about "Too Bland To Care About"?? And it is nice to know that I wasn't out there on my lonesome with my rant. Who knows? Maybe the tide is turning and we'll see more romance novels with romance in them? I hope so! :D

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  7. Really? You want heroes with faults and flaws and pasts but you want a heroine who's "attractive in every way"? Where will her emotional growth come from?

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    1. Quite right?!! I was talking female characters that you could believe the hero was attracted to - not perfect women!! For a writer, I suck at expressing myself. :D Just tired of these women who are described as boring, bland, ordinary - yet a George Clooney equivalent is falling all over himself to get to her because she's so wonderful! If she is wonderful, if she is that attractive as a person, I want to see it too!!!

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