Monday, January 17, 2011

What I Like in a Romance

Story! Lots of story!

Did you think I was going to say sex? Sex has its place in romance, but sex is not at the top of my list of requirements.

First of all, my preferred type of story is historical. I don't care for contemporaries because they're too much like real life. When I read, I want a vacation from the everyday. The past contains fantasy because we can't go there and see what it's like. I used to read pure fantasy, but the magical elements have worn thin.

My love for historicals is subdivided, though. Most of the books I read are set in the Regency, that period in England history about two hundred years ago. Lords and ladies, gorgeous clothes, and a time far enough in the past for a little fantasy, but not so far as to be unrecognizable. If I venture out of my comfort zone, I'll read a book set in the next closest eras, Georgian and Victorian. Occasionally, I'll read a medieval or two, and maybe an Edwardian, but I rarely travel farther.

Next, I want something in addition to the romance. I like mystery, adventure, or suspense added to the mixture. Although the relationship is paramount, I want it to develop in a larger context. What else do these people do?

I also want likable characters. Both my hero and heroine must be decent people. No bad boy heroes or doormat heroines for me. My hero and heroine must be equally matched in strength and intelligence. At the end of the story, I expect them to walk into the sunset together, not one following the other. I also like my hero to use a little muscle against the villains. I like kick-butt heroines, too, but they're harder to do in historicals.

Next on my list is humor. Real life can be depressing. As the newspaper saying goes, "If it bleeds, it leads". Not for me. I want a laugh. The funny possibilities of a story lock into my mind, so I appreciate comedy.

Then there is the Happily Ever After. The real world has so few happy endings. If I invest several hours reading a book, I want that happy ending. I rarely read fiction other than romances.

And last, but not least, there is sex. I want romances full of love, and sex is part of love. Some is fine, but I don't care for pages and pages of it.

So, there you have what I read, and also what I write: a funny Regency with decent heroes and heroines involved in a story full of love with another story in addition to the romance. Sex is nice, but not necessary.

And of course, a Happily Ever After.

Romance, you gotta love it.

And what do you like in your romances?

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!


Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I, too, like a little humor in my romances--those I read and write. Like you, I prefer historicals to write and read, because of the same reason you mention. But strangely enough,a dear writer friend told me not long ago, my "contemporary voice" was really stronger and she liked it best. Then I realized I have five releases in 2011, and only one is historical. Four contemporaries--how did that happen?

Your list of things to like about a romance fits my tastes, too, except I don't read many Regencies. I follow one author, but her books are becoming too familiar. Sooo...

Very good post--I enjoyed reading it and agree with your views. Celia

Nancy Naigle said...

I'm not a reader of historicals. I think the commonplace of the contemporary is what brings me back to it every time. I love a setting and community that sweeps me into its arms like another character in the book.

I want to laugh, worry, and smile along the way.

Isn't it great that there is something for everyone out there!
Nancy Naigle

Alyson Reuben said...

I agree, Linda, that most readers read a book to take them away from reality. At least, I do. And I love reading historicals. All types. I write WWII era stories, which are later than the ones your prefer, but I still think the same basic rules apply.

As far as contemporaries go, there are a few of them that I've really enjoyed reading. Usually, however, they're so different from anything in my life (i.e. government agent jobs) that they still manage to take me from reality. Still, I always go back to historicals. And the more stories I hear about how things 'used to be', the more interested in certain time periods I become.

Fabian Black said...

For me humour is an essential component of any romance story. It doesn't always have to be belly laughs, but just anything, a line, a quip, a remark that brings a smile to my face and makes me warm to the character. Humour definitely helps bring a story to life. I love heroes and heroines who have a sassy sense of humour.

Savanna Kougar said...

Ah, Linda, I too want lots of story, adventure, suspense, and mystery to my romance. However, I also write pages of sex/love/passion.

I used to read a lot of historicals because I was swept away in the glorious fantasy of it. And, because I just adore history.

What I enjoy most, though, is the interaction between my heroines and heroes. How they passionately relate to each other. And, by passion, I don't mean only sex or lovemaking. I mean the whole of life, and moment-by-moment.

Humor is usually included because life is funny, and it just happens, no matter if I'm writing fantasy, futuristic, paranormal, shifters, etc.

Right now, my Cary Grant/Remington Steele-similar hellhound hero, is cracking me up with his dry wit. And, of course, as a hellhound, he's not only kick-ass, he's bite-ass.

Taryn Kincaid said...

I am with you all the way! (Although, sometimes I really do love a good sniffle-fest,too!) In the last few years, I've also discovered paranormals -- talk about escape! -- and now I'm hooked on those, too.

StephB said...

You've hit on so many points I agree upon. I love likable characters, humor, and sex. LOL!! Pig that I am, I'll put first in that order!

I love historicals, too, but writing one can be a challenge. I've been tweaking and editing my historical for over a year now. I commend you and your historicals. You make it look easy!


Linda Banche said...

Sounds like we all agree on the big picture, just vary a bit in the details.

Celia, having two voices sounds good to me. Means you can go in multiple directions. And congrats on *5* releases in 2011!

Nancy, we all have our comfort zone. Setting is so important, and authors who can make the setting a character in the book are skilled indeed.

Alyson, although I'm not a big WWII fan, I did like Mary Jo Putney's "The White Rose of Scotland". Escape from reality can take many forms, including someone with a wildly different life from yours.

Fabian, I think most people like some humor in their books. After all, humor is part of life as much as sturm und drang.

Savanna, romance takes all types of passion, sex as well as other kinds. And since we're talking romance, I agree that the interaction between the H/H is central.

Taryn, paranormals definitely provide an escape. And there are so many types of them, if you don't like one kind, you can find something else that suits you.

Thanks, Steph, but you know as well as I do that writing anything, historical or otherwise, is never easy. You'll get that historical done. Just keep at it.

Penny Rader said...

Emotion, emotion, emotion. I want to feel. And I want to laugh. :D

Paula Martin said...

You're so right. Linda - no bad boy heroes or doormat heroines for me either. My (ideal) hero is confident and self-assured but not aggressive or domineering; my heroine is her own person. Neither is 'tamed' by the other. They come together out of mutual respect and love (of course).

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
I agree with most of what you have said. I love history too, Victorian and Edwardian are my favourite era. You didn't mention the dark tortured hero.I like reading and writing about them, but there is always the obligatory HEA..



Linda Banche said...

Penny, I agree. Romances should have emotion because love is an emotional experience. But it can be funny, too!

Paula, you're a woman after my own heart. I knew I wasn't the only one who liked heroes and heroines like these.

Hi Margaret, I don't care for dark heroes in general, or dark, tortured ones, either. When I hear "tortured hero", I think Heathcliff and I HATED Heathcliff. To my mind, a hero deals with his problems and goes on. He doesn't make himself or others miserable. Of course, the heroine can help him, but she's not there to "save" or "baby" him.

Savanna Kougar said...

I can't help it. I hate Heathcliff, too.