Saturday, January 17, 2015

Romance and a Mystery Giveaway! #RomFantasy

As the evolution of romance continues, its eternal appeal mutates and changes with the attitudes of society. It’s a bit like culture shock to see how the very definition of romance has changed during the past ten years. Like all emotion-based needs, the hunger for something that satisfies your desires is almost a living thing within you, and perhaps that more than anything else explains why romances remain the biggest selling genre in the publishing world.

For me, one of the more interesting constants is the on-going love affair with love stories is the never-changing ideal of romance. The hero is often the prime focus of most stories, and it’s been observed that a great hero can save almost any tale. If readers fall in love with the hero, the book is a success on an integral level.

The perennial favourite hero is the Alpha-male, and he is a staple in virtually any subgenre of romance you care to mention. The man who is strong, forceful, secure in himself, borderline arrogant in that not so nice way, but always a man of action in some fashion. He is masculine in the most basic and base ways. BUT, he’s never a total asshole. If you send him too far in that direction, no one will love him, least of all your heroine, and no matter how good your story might be, it’ll fall flat for the romance reader who can’t understand how any sane woman would want such a man.

The flip side of the coin in traditional romance is the heroine, who tends to be the feminine  complement to the Alpha hero. She is secure in her own skin, smart, honest even when she keeps secrets. (A trait your hero better have, too, of course.) She is not afraid to be female, or to admit if she needs the hero. She embraces her weaknesses as well as her strengths, and she enjoys being herself. If you don’t allow the heroine to be as three dimensional as your hero, your story will be very unbalanced, even if it is the male character who ultimately makes the story appealing to most readers.

Romance is a wonderful way to explore basic human nature, it’s one of the bonds that unites us as the human race, and love is an emotion virtually all living beings can understand. Through romance stories, many people are able to escape the stresses of their daily lives, experience places and situations that are out of their reach in real terms. We laugh, we cry, we hope and thrill to the joy of falling in love… all of these emotional responses are evoked from the words of a good writer who crafts with skill and care.

I’m a traditionalist in many ways when it comes to the stories I want to read. Time has become a precious commodity to most of us, and when it comes to my pleasure reading, I want to know what I’m about to invest those precious hours in. I often try new writers, but nine times out of ten, I never get past a few chapters before I pick up a book by someone I know will tell me a story I want to submerge myself in for a few hours. We have a market flooded with every kind of story imaginable. A lot of them I’d never call romance, but that’s just my opinion, we all define creative art in our own terms.

What is it you, the reader, looks for and craves in a romance? Do you stay with the authors who write the stories you know you’ll love, or do you explore new talents all the time? And, what does define romance for you, I know it’s different for all of us, of course.

If you leave a comment, I’ll choose someone to award a romance themed prize to in about a week.


  1. Oh, this was fantastic, Denyse! You really nailed the most important things that make the core of a romance, even if that romance occurs as part of a fantasy, a mystery, a historical, or a thriller, or if the story is primarily a romance - you still need that Alpha male, and a female with a special interior strength. It is the characters that build a good story, and attract readers who feel that they are friends. There are certain authors I will always be interested in - Debbie Macomber, Stephanie Laurence, Linda Lael Miller, Diana Palmer, and Sheryl Woods. Others, well, I investigate each book and probably reject at least half of them. And every now and again, someone recommends a different author, or I spy an intriguing title or book cover; I crab the book, and hope and pray I've found another great author. Of course, there are other times, very sad times, when an author I've read for years starts to fall apart; I still mourn my loss of Sherilyn Kenyon and Laurel Hamilton, authors I followed diligently for years, and then found each new book a greater disappointment. I still look at their new books, borrow them from friends or the library, hoping to be pulled in again - and occasionally, Kenyon does so.

    Now that I am reading romance titles specifically to review them, I am reading many, many new authors, and it's a fun challenge. (PTL for gifting me with speed reading!) I'm still hoping to find a few more buy-every-new-title authors.


  2. I think more and more we are seeing far too many authors selling out to meet the supposed demand of the market. The problem with that is that the market is ever changing. I have read some pretty good books by virtual unknowns, and some damned poor books from the supposed best selling authors.
    I want a book that will pull me in and want to be a part of that story. I want to be whisked away to the old west, or the Scottish Highlands. I want my man to be a man, and the woman to be a woman; with all the strengths and weaknesses both possess. In other words, the story needs to captivate me, and sweep me away from the every day realities of life. Sadly, I am seeing far to much of the opposite, and I am so sick and tired of every little detail of the lovemaking being spelled out. For the love of God, I have a brain, and I have an imagination, please encourage me to use it.

  3. Excellent post!
    For me, I want to fall into a world that's different from mine and fall in love with people who are different from me. I want my world to slip away for a time and I want to become utterly submerged in the setting of the story. The story could take place in a garbage dump or the surface of the moon; I don't care as long as I'm drawn in, as long as the writer has painted a "real-feeling" place. And, as others have expressed, I want my man to be manly. Absolutely. These are fantasies and we all fantasize about the perfect man, the one capable of taking our breath away. While I love the fantasy man, I like the woman to be real, flawed and fallible, someone I can relate to and live through her experiences with her. I think that a lot of writers are so focused on writing strong female characters they lose sight of the softer side of women and some of the attributes that will attract men to them in the first place. Being caring and opening your heart and soul up to someone, even if it could lead to heartbreak, is not a weakness, it's a strength but one that many writers cannot seem to see.


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.