As I’ve been on the hunt for good romance lately, I’ve started pondering about why I read it. I mean, obviously I love it because I devour it like Godiva and spend all my spare time writing it. But what is it that I love about it? What is it I’m looking for when I’m reading?
- I love falling in love. Seriously, there’s nothing like re-experiencing that rush of falling, wallowing in the tension, the awareness, and seeing the change between two characters and waiting for that moment when they tip over. I’ve been married for nearly ten years, with my husband for thirteen. I adore him. He has a goal to make me belly laugh every day (and he’s very very good at it). But we’re more like my favorite pair of comfy, fuzzy socks (which is a fantastic place to be, as the “new” of a falling in love relationship is not a sustainable place and what happens after is often not nearly as gratifying as fuzzy, comfy socks). So I like reading romance to fall in love, get that oxytocin flowing, and remembering all the reasons I fell in love with him. And in remembering, appreciating all the awesome things about our relationship.
- I love first kisses. Obviously THAT only happens once in a relationship (okay I’m going to hazard a twice because you have your first kiss and then you get your first kiss as a married couple and that’s pretty damn awesome in its own right), and it really goes hand in hand with that tension I mentioned. I’m a particular sucker for antagonistic heroes and heroines, at getting to read about their absolute frustration and annoyance and growing awareness of each other until they finally flash to a kiss. For some people it’s the love scene, but for me, I just love that first kiss. The book I’m reading now totally failed me on that front. There was zero description, no emotion, no nothing. Just the hero kissed the heroine and then they were interrupted. SUCH a missed opportunity.
- I love seeing the hero and heroine having to work for their HEA. Non-romance readers don’t seem to understand that the hero and heroine in romance have to earn their happily ever after. If they didn’t, the stories would be like 5 pages and then done. They have to work at it, through personal conflicts and clashes and misunderstandings and personal demons. Kind of like–GASP–real relationships. Because, really, couched in the unrealistic, mind-blowing nookie and washboard abs, you’ve got real people with real problems (demon and vampire attacks aside), who not only face said problems, but overcome them. And that’s a great and hopeful thing to see.
- I love the friends and family. Okay this isn’t necessarily just a characteristic of romance, but it’s something I love in a lot of romance. I love reading about the dynamics between girlfriends, brothers, friends, and big, sprawling meddlesome families (I’m told by my friends who are members of the latter category that this is far more entertaining in fiction and I’m lucky being an only child). And for the same reasons I enjoy reading about the conflicts between hero and heroine, I like reading about friends and families working out issues.
- I demand an HEA. I fully recognize that life goes on after the happily ever after, and that said life is not perfect. That’s not the point of the HEA. The point is that there is so much bullcrap negativity and bad news EVERYWHERE AROUND US in real life, that I want a read that is going to guarantee me some HAPPY, damn it. A read that is going to make me believe in the positive and that everything is going to work out, no matter how fubared it is. As I heard quoted in a movie somewhere, “If everything hasn’t worked out okay, it’s not the end.” Or something like that.
I’m sure there are other things I get out of reading romance, but that’s the short list of what I’m ACTIVELY looking for. What is it you like about reading romance?
Oh. that first kiss. There’s nothing like it. And, as an author, trying to describe it so the reader can FEEL it….not always easy.
Yep, that about sums it up. I’m reading the Jill Shalvis book you recommended and it’s coming together for me (no pun intended). Her dialogue is fantastic. I liked the beginning, then thought it lagged for a few chapters but I’m smack in the middle, Tara did her big reveal and I’m totally into it now. THANK YOU. 🙂
Shoot, Jenny, if you like Tara’s story, you’ll probably really like Choe’s — it’s the next one 🙂
You hit the reasons why I like them. I love the relationships, all of them. The hero and heroine, family and friends, antagonist, all of them. Relationships are like crack to me. I also demand a HEA from my entertainment. If that doesn’t work for the story, it at least has to be a fulfilling ending for the characters that stays true to who they are. And there must be closure of some sort. Ultimately, I just prefer the HEA. It’s fiction. If it can’t happen in the world of make believe, what hope do we have of a HEA in our own lives?
The falling in love and the first kiss are why I love *writing* romance. It’s so exciting to keep exploring that first rush.
Love the belly laugh goal – that sounds like an awesome treat to have every day.
Absolutely – I totally read fiction to re-experience emotions, and recently I have discovered that well-written romance can remind me of falling in love and not depress me too much (usually) as I can imagine it happening to me as well as it giving me hope and that feel good tickle.