Okay, so I was reading an article about the myths surrounding romance and found myself saying (out loud, embarrassingly enough) HELL YEAH! People do have a lot of misconceptions about modern romance…and I’ve had to enlighten many of my friends about what is out there and how good it is.
I find that with the romance that I am reading, whether paranormal or historical, there are a few very key things that are a must in order for me to want to pick up another book by the same author. These same things are elements that I include (or at least try to include) in all of my paranormal romance and to some extent, my urban fantasy…so YES, I hold myself to the same standards as the authors I read.
So, here we go:
Number One, The Sex: Okay, so I listed this as number one because, well, its romance for goodness sakes…the sex is important. For my tastes I like the intimate moments to be on the more graphic side…and frequent…I can wait for it to happen but I prefer for something to happen within the first hundred pages or so.
Number Two, The Strong Heroine: I like to see the female lead in some kind of position of strength. Even if there are moments throughout the novel where she is in need of help…or if she starts off being insecure and unsure of her power. I like it when she comes through a particularly difficult situation on her own…without the need of being saved by the hero…I like the kick-ass, strong, independent type…always.
Number Three, The Strong Alpha Male: Now, with that said about my women, I also like to see a strong male lead. No sniveling, wimpy boys for me…no, the hero must be muscular, strong, defiant and very much the bad boy. As much as you want to smack him for being stubborn or insensitive, it’s part of what makes him more appealing…and tempting…especially to the strong heroine who might need to be dominated every once in a while. But, he’s not that dense that he totally misses his opportunity to get the girl…no, unless it’s urban fantasy…and then that type of ending is expected, I want to see my hero figure out what he needs to do in order to fix things that he, or someone else, messed up.
Number Four, The Fast Moving Plot/High Tension and Danger: Of course…duh…there has to be a lot of violence, high stakes…blood, death, gore…it’s romance but it’s not for sissies. I like there to be a good melding of thriller, horror and romance…if there isn’t something to lose, some threat that the hero or heroine could die, then I’m usually not interested.
Number Five, (This one is particularly important for Paranormal Romance) Believable world building…not too much but not too little: This is important…particularly if the novel I am reading is a part of a series. I want to be able to understand what is going on with enough information about the world to get me going but I don’t want so much world building that I know too much! I don’t want it to be so in my face that I lose track of the romance in an attempt to keep the politics straight. As well…I’ve been into the world of paranormal for practically my whole life. I live for Halloween; my kitchen is decorated with jack-o-lanterns. All. Year. Round. So you can’t fool me…if you don’t love it too, I can tell.
Some great examples of authors who I love…and who incorporate these things into their novels in some way or other (whether we’re talking romance, paranormal or historical, or urban fantasy) that have me coming back for more are: Kresley Cole, Rhiannon Byrd, D.B. Reynolds, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison Sharon Ashwood and Veronica Wolff. There are more out there but these women do it particularly well.
So you tell me…what misconceptions have you heard about romance? What are your standards that keep you coming back for more?