Gather round romance and non-romance readers and writers. Or gather around. Do it in a circular fashion, circle before you get here, or just come and sit down anywhere.
Now, scooch in a little closer. I’m not a complete monster. I’m only halfway there.
Originally I wanted to be selfish. I wanted to talk about the deep psychological reasons behind why I can’t read romance and why others can. I’ve found great reading friends over the past three years and I know that our romance buttons need to be pushed in different ways. Some of us need a manual, but others can enjoy the book for what it is, and leave out with the nitpicking. This is one of those times where I think to say less is to say more. I have a habit of coming across a little cynical.
I was an obsessive reader before I started writing. When I found there were adult versions of Young Adult Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, I went a little crazy. Er, crazier. The supernatural without angst? Isn’t this one of their super powers that allows them to hook so many readers? Bring on the twenty books I ordered from the library. Bring on the flushed cheeks when I was served by a man at the counter and I used my husbands library card. He didn’t have to say, ” Are these for your husband?” But he did.
So my eyes were opened – widely. I have romance, sex and alpha men, and I didn’t know what to make of them. What I found though, is that there were romance aspects that stopped me from reading the more romance-skewed books. The romance seemed too extreme, too unrealistic. I was proclaiming, “Why is she so special!” “That wouldn’t happen!” I read to escape, but I found I was escaping less.
I ran to Urban Fantasy, clutching my pearls. I wanted more tension, a slower-burn romance, an exciting protagonist, a greater connection, a less protective male and less sex.
Would romance writers lose their market if they compromised these elements? When I throw a book because a woman looked at a man’s biceps thirty times while they were in a dire situation, is there someone out there dichotomous to me who throws the book when she only looked at them twice?
Is there a way to keep all of us happy? Is there a happy medium? Well, you’d have to find a happy medium first, and if they are happy, they’ve probably finally worked out the lottery numbers and won’t want to work anymore.