Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hearts a' flutter

Romance. It can make your palms sweat and your heart pound. It can give you a moment of utter breathlessness and make you believe that nothing in your life will ever be as perfect as this moment! It has been the elusive star by which thousands of gifted authors through the years have aspired to capture in their hand--if only for a moment in time--and let their readers bask (as it were) in it's glow!

What better time of year than February--the month devoted (among others things like oh,say...my birthday)--to romance!

But is the element of romance in peril????

I read the other day on a bookseller/reader forum a thread where a few readers were discussing this topic. Their chief concern? Their favorite authors were including less and less romance in their works, in lieu of strengthening other non-romantic elements.

Now I write erotic historical, but have always written toward the sensual side of life--only because I see that as more "real." Passion may appear in many forms between characters--but it is that heart-pounding passion that , for me, makes a great read!

Here at the manor, this discussion has come up more than once and always the consensus has been that there has to be something deeper between the characters. Sure, there may be multiple partners--past, present, or future. The hero and heroine may not always be together from page seven to the end of the book. The whole attraction may begin as pure lust and evolve from there--but somewhere along the way--the journey of the characters will bring them to a brush with romance--either realized or wished for.

Personally, I find that writing stories where romance hovers over my characters like that elusive star give me the greatest satisfaction. Sometimes, they don't even realize until much later that it is this very element that ultimately puts all the pieces of their puzzled lives into place.

In DIARY OF COZETTE (Spice, Oct.'08) my heroine, deep down, finds a correlation--call it a sense of security, perhaps--between romance and lust. The lines blur for her, due to her life circumstances and sex becomes a tool by which she survives. But in her heart, she longs for the companionship of the one man who will accept her for the woman she is--passionate, strong,his equal in many ways-not to be dominated unless by her consent! It's a human part of us, this elusive desire for a bit of romance in our lives. You've only to look at the Valentine market at present to understand that.

What are your thoughts on this idea? What do readers want? Is the idea of romance coupled--pardon the pun-- even with hot sex, in danger of becoming even more elusive in books?

We'd like you to weigh in your thoughts on this topic. Lord CM, our lord of passion & romance (good heavens, he thrives on that title) will select a winner from all the comments offered and that lucky soul will receive a box of chocolates to savor as you read your next passionate book passage!

Until next time~
here's to romance and passion!


Charlotte Featherstone said...

Great post! I could ramble on for hours about this, but here's my take.
1. I must have a happily ever after in my romances, erotic or non. I read for escape, the fantasy, the fairy tale. I want some idea that the H&H are staying together, and at least, trying it for now.

2. I want real emotion with my sex. It doesn't have to be the 'I love you' sort of emotion, it can the the physical awakening of a touch, but I want to feel what the woman is feeling~I want to BE that woman. don't just tell me what she feels. show me.

3. I want romance. yes, a date, a quiet conversation, a glance of tenderness. I love erotic romance, but erotic to me isn't yoga tantric sex in every chapter. That might be for some, and that's okay, but I think we have to remember that's there's many tastes out there. For me, I become desensitized to the erotic element of the book when it's just sex after sex. And desensitization is not what you're wanting in an erotic romance!

4. And this is just my opinion, I wonder if thise burgeoning issue (hate to call it a trend) stems from the view of our young people today. There is most definitely a feeling of sex empowerment, especially with young women. There is less focus on staying with one partner, and more about getting your freak on and hooking up. I wonder, if this less romantacized view of the act has anything to do with it? Young people after all, do buy books too, and maybe they don't want the emotions of romance to get in the way of the sex and the chemistry.
I work with young people, and I can safely say, that from where I live, and from what I've seen, romance is not integral to the act. It's the physical pleasure they want, nto the emotional entanglements.
Of, course, I'm not be all inclusive all here. I know not every young person will fit this description, but I do believe a large part do.

Amanda McIntyre said...

You make an interesting point, Charlotte! Have we become desensitized to the point where romance is no longer "enough?" Do we as a society push the idea of "extreme" in everything?

Is the quest for self (IE; what gets you off) more important than the other person involved? (assuming,for all practical purposes, that there is another person involved!)

Have we lost sight of what romance is, or even its value to our lives?

Inquiring minds want to know!


Kristi Cook said...

I guess my feelings on this depend upon what readership you're targeting. I think there are romance readers who have decided that they like sensual, more explicit 'realism' in their romances, and so these readers have tapped into the 'erotic romance' lines. They definitely want (and expect!) at least a 'brush' of romance in the stories.

Then there are true erotica readers, who probably didn't come from the romance readership pool at all. They probably consider themselves more 'literary' readers, and I suspect they read erotica for the sex. But they may have discovered the new 'erotic romance' lines, too. I would imagine they don't require the brush of romance at all.

So I guess I'm saying that there are readers from both "pools" entering the erotic romance readership (and by that, I mean buying/reading books published by houses/lines that traditionally do romance, but have branched out with the more erotic lines--such as Berkley Heat, Avon Red, even Kensington's Aphrodisia line, though that line is considered more erotica than erotic romance).

And honestly, I think that you can't necessarily please them both.

I actually think it has less to do with what the reader personally 'wants' out of sex (be it romance/love or sex simply for the pleasure of it), but more just about what they want out of the reading experience--either a really hot romance, or simply really hot sex.

Anonymous said...

I think from time to time, we all lost sight of things from family to love.

We become so involved with other aspects on living, that when we see what we've been missing we make the long journey back, and it makes us appreciate our love ones even more.

As human beings we always strive for the extreme in all things. But it's always the basics, the foundation that keeps us going, from the simple red rose to I love you

Romance will never die as long as there is love in the human heart.

Amanda McIntyre said...

Ranearia,what you said is so true and you said it so eloquently!
Thank you!


Genella deGrey said...

The readers on that bookseller/reader forum need to branch out- find other authors to read.

I can jump onto one of my reader boards I'm involved in and get a sizeable list of new romance authors by merely asking.

Romance is not at all in peril - and erotic romance is growing every day in popularity.

I also need the Happily Ever After element in what I read. Steamy flirtation scenes AND hawt bedroom action are what keep me coming . . . back for more.


Amanda McIntyre said...

Probably wise advice Genella! The interesting thing is that they were talking of authors that they had read for years, whose work is suddenly evolving into a "less romance" mode.

They expressed disappointment in the enjoyment(of romance) they had had from those authors for years and now they could not rely on their more current work to "read" like their previous books.

I did not get that this thread involved the ever popular erotic vs traditional romance, but that in fact, romance all together was being watered down, not necessairly for the sake of hot sex--but simply not used at all or very little, in the storyline.

so these are readers that had come to expect romance from their fav authors , and now are seeing an evolution to very little romance from those same authors.

Of course, that could also spur readers to try an budding new author (*HINT HINT)


Jane said...

If a book is marketed as a romance, I expect a HEA. I think many people read romances to escape from their daily routines and enjoy the fantasy. Hot sex is not essential for a romance to be enjoyable, but in most cases it enhances the story, as long as it doesn't become gratuitous.

Fedora said...

Great comment, Charlotte--I agree with you. I'm a romance reader, and while I do sometimes read erotica and erotic romance, I prefer stories where emotions and feelings are engaged, not just body parts. And yes, I do want my HEA :)

Amanda McIntyre said...

I love the HEA. I like to make my characters fight for it ! LOL


Kammie said...

I want a good storyline, romance and a HEA ending in the stories I read. It can be a very steamy romance or one with just a wee bit of steam. lol I have to believe in the romance and have a connection with the characters to truly enjoy a book.

wendy wallach said...

I think if you gather a bunch od people in one room you will get a bunch of different opinions but I, for one, appreciate the steamy and the erotic. If I wanted real, I would watch Oprah.

madamerkf at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

i like hea, mostly or knowing there was be a book 2 and they will get back together then
i like some romance novel sto have several sex scenes and some with hardly none, though not who or what the book is abot, but what the day has been top me, some days, a sex scene is way to much with a really bad day then some times it nice on a really bad day


Amanda McIntyre said...

I tend also to be as eclectic in my reading as in my music, depending on how I am feeling any given day. Example , I never thought I would "enjoy" gothic metal, but I have discovered a group called, "Kamelot" that has lately inspired by their music, an entire story (Master of Desire afore mentioned on other posts) for our upcoming "Celtic Spice" anthology, "Dark Pleasures"

Even the most difficult plot, the darkest twists, the greatest peril can have a satisfying ending or like you said, continue to the next book (the hope that things will get better!)

I have been known to throw a few books against the wall in my day ;)


traveler said...

In a romance it is necessary to have a story that has depth and emotion. The characters have to have a strong relationship which can lead to an HEA. The strength of their relationship has to be resolved with a real romance. I prefer depth and heavy duty meaning in my romance novels which means a connection between the two individuals eventually leading up to a meeting of the minds, bodies and souls.

Amanda McIntyre said...

Well stated Traveler. I too like a meatier story and rich and colorful characters. I admit, I tend to be a bit "outside the box"
in my writing, but it makes the story interesting-which is what I adore about writing for Spice.

I am curious though, in your movie preferences, do you enjoy the same type of movie or a lighter cuisine?


Amanda McIntyre said...

Note: I'll be taking comments up to noon on Friday (2/6) and will announce the winner of the box of chocolates Friday afternoon.

All the best and be sure to check out tthe awesome grand prize for using your passionate pen to impress and beguile Lord Craven-Moore!