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Friday, July 1, 2011


Pat Dale has been writing novels and short stories for over twelve years. After a career as a professional musician and educator, Pat has turned to the pen to craft more than a dozen mysteries, romances, and suspense stories. Her latest is Sleeping With Her Enemy. You can read more about Pat at her website. For today, she’s offering us what some of you might find a controversial guest blog on romance books. -- AP

What Defines a Romance?

I’ve been amused by some of the comments following the Cooking Channel’s ‘romance cover’ contest a few weeks ago, many of them questioning who told the cooks what romance is supposed to be. When I started writing romances, I thought I knew what constituted a ‘romance’ as opposed to just about any other genre. Take one girl, slightly addled, add a twist of longing, confront her with a slightly goofy guy, and mix thoroughly. Nothing to it. Right?

Well, that was before a full blown attack by the ‘fringe’ element. Oh, there have always been the ones who had to have ‘more explicit’ sex scenes in the books they read. For a time the battle raged on over introspection; should it be a quarter of the text, a third, half? Most sensible authors saw through that little spat and continued to write ‘show, don’t tell’ romantic tales that caught the hearts and imaginations of most of our romance readers.

Then came the ‘paranormal’ crowd, believing that anything natural and normal was just too dull. Oh, and the romantic suspensers (is that a word?) who spiced up their longing ladies’ worlds with uncertain outcomes and futures.

Then, and this is what I’m leading to, the bats came out of the belfries of the world and vampirism gulped down every bloody romance it could suck up. Now you know my beef. For crying out loud, how can an unreal character that holds nothing but an obsession to drink your blood be considered romantic? Come on, readers, are any of you—any—ready to bare your neck so some long-toothed creep can pierce your jugular and bleed you to death? If you are, please tell me how you can possibly think that lends itself to romance.

Oh, I admit, there are a couple of scenarios that a good writer can use to make a version of a vampire’s life romantic in some limited way. And they have done that. Sadly, over and over they’ve done it, repeated ad nauseum in my humble opinion. I don’t even want to get into werewolves and such. And don’t even mention the word zombie.

I’ll leave you with this thought; there are some days when I long to get back to writing the simple boy/girl love/fight/love HEA, that everybody agreed was romance. How about you? Cheers and happy reading,

Okay, readers, I know many of you are strictly mystery readers, but more and more mysteries are adding romances, and some have gone paranormal. So what do you think? Do you agree with Pat? Let’s hear from you! -- AP


Liz V. said...

The fun in reading is the breadth of choice.I might not seek out certain genres, but I don't mind trying most.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. To me it is the quality of the writing. A good writer can make even the most boring and inconsequential thin interesting.
Nellie's Mom

Cathy Shouse said...

I read and write mostly straight romance, but I did see the draw to vampires after reading "Dead Until Dark," which started the True Blood T.V. show.

I'm hearing that urban fantasy has moved in and I haven't even looked at that.

And the mystery I'm writing absolutely has romance. :)