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What is a romance anyway?

My neighbor’s husband kind of irritated me recently when he called romances “trashy novels”. Ahem. Has he ever read one? Especially a good one by a best-selling author? Even if it’s not his thing, I think he’d be forced to admit that the writing is as good as–or even better than–other popular genres.

When you think of romance novels–if you ever do–you probably picture Harlequin’s category books. You know, the thin books that come out every month with names like The Captain of Industry’s Cavorting Concubine. And hey, don’t knock ’em. In spite of some goofy titles these are well-written stories packed with conflict and emotion.

But there are so many more types of romances out there. Maybe you just call them bestsellers. Ever hear of Nora Roberts, Allison Brennan, Sherilynn Kenyon, Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Brown? Romance writers all.

The only requirements for a romance are the HEA (happily ever after), and that the purpose of the story is to bring the couple together. That’s it. I’m writing romantic suspense. My MCs (main characters) get shot at, thrown overboard, kidnapped, and more. But, those are all elements of the plot that conspire to keep my unsuspecting couple together long enough to fall in love.

I love the action and intrigue, but my ultimate goal is the happy ending. How is a romance different from other novels where the couple commits at the end? It’s all about the focus.

For example, in the movie Avatar, Jake and Neytiri (I had to look that up) get an HEA. But the movie’s not a romance, because the point of the story wasn’t their relationship. Their romance was an integral part of the plot, but not the purpose of the movie. So, Avatar would be a story with romantic elements, rather than a romance.

The desire for love is universal. That’s what romances are all about. There’s a subgenre for every taste (paranormal, suspense, historical, comedy, inspirational).

If you’ve never read a romance, try it. You might be surprised.

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