What’s Your Take on Romance in a Novel?
For a long time, from junior high to my mid-twenties, I read romance novels by authors like Connie Mason, Norah Hess, Ellen Tanner Marsh, Teresa Medeiros, and Christine Feehan. I loved them. Loved the romance. Loved the strong male characters and the feisty and strong-willed heroines.
Then at some point, after Harold and I got married, I switched genres. Mysteries, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, medical thrillers, political thrillers, any kind of thriller. So long as it didn’t have any romance in it. A little bit was fine. But if solving a crime was merely the setting in which a romance took place, forget it. Not for me.
But then around 2012, I gradually became interested in young adult novels. Naturally, I started with The Hunger Games. I listened to the entire trilogy on audio while at work. And there’s romance in it, as I’m sure you already know. There’s romance in the Divergent series. There’s romance in just about every young adult novel I’ve read. In Burned by Ellen Hopkins. In The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. And I love it.
But I’ve noticed a big difference. Or maybe it’s just me. The romance I typically find in mysteries and thrillers is gritty. Maybe too realistic. Too much lust and not enough love. Too much instant gratification and not enough long-term commitment.
Most of the young adult novels I’ve been reading have the kind of love that promises a fulfilling future. Love that seeks to understand and respect one another. Love that cares fully and deeply. That’s why fairytales are so wonderful; they leave us feeling good afterwards. They give us hope for the fairytale ending.
But realistic romance is gritty. It’s filled with complications and disagreements and differences of opinion. Arguments and fights. Lust and ill intentions. Misinterpretations. It’s real, but it’s not for me. Because the more I read it, the more I feel I’m creating a divide in my own marriage. I want to believe in long-lasting love because that’s what I want for my marriage.
When I read, I connect deeply with the characters and the situation. If the main characters are struggling in their marriage, it affects me. I almost stopped reading The Girl on the Train because of that. It was starting to be too much.
I write romance in my young adult novels not because it’s real, but because I want it to be encouraging. I want to instill the belief that true love exists. That it’s okay to care for another. To love someone so much it hurts. To feel love, not just mentally and emotionally but physically through a simple touch of fingertips on the flesh. I want to instill the belief that true love is worth fighting for. Because it is. It’s always worth fighting for. And true love always wins.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your take on romance in a novel?