Saturday, November 29, 2014

Why Read Romance?

Today our regular contributor, Annie West, shares her thoughts on why Romance, instead of all those other genres.

How long have you been reading romance? Are you a newcomer to it or have you, like me, been reading it since your teens? If you're a long time reader you may have encountered some of those comments from non-romance readers. You know the ones, usually made with raised eyebrows and a little titter -  references to bodice rippers or porn for housewives (said as if the word housewife was in some way an insult), or pulp fiction as opposed to 'real' books. 

Fortunately I haven't had too many of those but enough to know that for some romance books are so 'other' they feel the need to mock, usually without having read them. I have a theory that part of the reason is that romance is mainly written by women for women. Therefore it's seen as in some way less than other forms of fiction, just as historically professions dominated by women haven't been recompensed as well as others, possibly because they're seen as less important. But don't let's get distracted on that subject.

Instead of focusing on what people think might be true about romance stories, I wanted to talk about why I read it. I read outside the genre - a lot. But I keep coming back to romance again and again.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the reasons I like to pick up a romance:

1) Some of the best writers I know write (or wrote) romance. I love a well-crafted story that can move me and I find that in the genre again and again.

2) Mr Darcy and Rupert Carsington. Need I say more?

3) Romance writers aren't afraid of emotion. Romances are all about emotion - overtly portrayed or simmering beneath the surface. How characters feel about what's happening in their world is important to me as a reader. I don't need it thrashed out in huge detail in words of one syllable, but I do want to believe the people I'm reading about feel and react. In fact, I want to feel what they feel - the highs and the lows and of course, the triumph and pleasure at the end.

4) Romances are essentially optimistic. Awful things happen in romances and often characters find themselves facing terrible odds. But these books reinforce the idea that it's okay to keep trying, to respect yourself enough to search for love and expect others to treat you with respect too. They defy the cynical idea that love is corny or outmoded. The desire to have someone who is special to you, who cares for you and whom you can care for, is a pretty basic instinct.  I love reading about that.

5) Characters in romances grow. They're forced to learn, adapt and improve to deal with the issues facing them. As a result they're often admirable, despite being flawed. But as we've all got our flaws, that's fine.

6) Many romances are about characters triumphing despite overwhelming odds. The heroine who's facing a mountain of problems, the hero who doesn't know the meaning of love. Take your pick. There are plenty more. I adore it when the underdog wins and in romances you've got two winners.

7) I feel better when I've read a good romance. Maybe it's endorphins, maybe it's relaxation, maybe it's escape to a world where hope is often justified and there is a belief that happiness is possible, but I feel the benefits, physically and mentally, when I've had time out with a good romance.

How about you? Why do you read romance?

Annie is currently writing her 25th book for Harlequin Mills and Boon and loves the fact that she's a romance writer as well as reader. It's a wonderful career and a great excuse to indulge in plenty of romance reading! 

She's looking forward to the new year when her Desert Vows duet hits the stores. In the meantime Annie's current release, REBEL'S BARGAIN is out now wherever Harlequin books are sold. Here are some quick links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Harlequin

Look out next month for her 2nd Hot Italian Nights novella called BOUGHT BY THE ITALIAN. Buy links will be available soon from her website. Here's a taste:


She's up for sale and he's the highest bidder.


Gennaro De Laurentis might prefer motorcycle leathers to Armani, but when it comes to what he wants, he's as ruthless as any corporate raider in a killer suit. And he wants Chiara, the unforgettable woman who denied the passion sizzling between them and walked away without a backward glance. Now he has the high society princess back in his power - and he'll risk everything to make her his.

When glamorous fashion designer Chiara Armati goes up for auction, she's selling her company over dinner for charity. Nothing else. As bidding rises to astronomical heights, she gets nervous. Yet only when she discovers her purchaser's identity does she realise she's caught in a trap. She's never stopped wanting Gennaro or forgiven his betrayal. Now she's at his mercy - and he's as irresistible as ever!

16 comments:

  1. I loved this interview. I like the romance because makes dream and for a while you distract you from reality.

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  2. Hi Franca! I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. Isn't romance a terrific distraction from the real world? And sometimes that's exactly what I need. It's nice to dream of other realities sometimes.

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  3. I say you just can't beat an emotional drenching. Even in not-particularly-romantic books and movies and television shows, I am drawn to the big moments, where people lay their hearts on the line. I re-read and re-play those moments trying to work out why they get to me - and I can never work it out. The eternal power and mystery of words. Perfect.

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    1. Avril, those big moments really are something, aren't they? When they're spot on they always get to me and, like you, I want to revisit them. It can definitely feel like a kind of magic I think, when the writer or actor gets them just right. Makes me think about story telling as a mirror to life's big issues. That sounds a little inflated but I suspect that's what we're tapping into.

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  4. What a lovely piece, Annie. I think everyone should read it - maybe you should put it on your website! So true about all those reasons to love reading romance. Like you, I love a story where people get rewarded for going the hard yards and where hope triumphs. Another thing I love about romance is that the genre is so wide, it's easy to find a book to suit every mood. There's such a rich variety of stories available to readers in romance!

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    1. Hi Anna. Thanks for the kind words. It's nice to know this piece struck a chord with you. I found, as I wrote, that I felt very strongly about this.

      Great point about the huge variety of romance and being able to find a book that suits so easily. Isn't it wonderful?

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    2. I agree - there are so many fantastic sub-genres in romance that it's such an exciting time to be a romance reader :)

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    3. Joanne, it's like having your own private library to choose from, isn't it? Something for all tastes and moods.

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  5. Hi Annie - I really enjoyed your post and agree with all the points you've listed :)

    I love the happy endings of romances and also, the growth and change in the H&H. There's nothing better than finishing a romance with a happy sigh :)

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    1. Hi Joanne. Hey, nice to think you agree. I'm with you - that sigh-worthy ending to a good romance makes me want to reread it again or find another one just as good. It's such a terrifically satisfying feeling.

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  6. I know why I read romance, though not excusively as you point out, - because the urge to pair is deeply buried, because romantic love touches the deepest parts of our psyche, because the tension between male and female polarities is exhilarating and because, therefore, sexual love is utterly, utterly delicious. Having said all that my preference is that romance be enriched with a mutlitude of accompanying themes - complex fascinating characters, humour, conflict and tragedy to name a few.

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    1. Hazel - absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said romantic love touches the deepest parts of our psyche. Otherwise I don't think romance would be as globally popular as it is. Love your 'utterly delicious' description. It's amazing how much a good romance novel can cover, isn't it?

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  7. Oh, well said, Annie! I agree with all your reasons for reading romance. I just adore the way it makes me feel, from the fear that it's never going to work out to the absolute heart-warming joy that comes from a happily ever after. Romances make us feel GOOD. How can we resist that!

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    1. Cathryn, yes - heart-warming. That's it. I love the lift a good romance gives. Thanks for dropping by!

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  8. Great post, Annie! I agree with all your reasons. I think the main reason I came back to reading them after a long break was because I wanted something happy and uplifting after a long day at work. They're my escape from the real world, a slice of the day that is purely for me.

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    1. Hi Stefanie. I like that - 'a slice of the day that is purely for me'. I love reading romance when I want an escape too. Such fun.

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