Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lookin' For Love

So this is a picture from my vacation. Yeah, yeah, so it's the "online surfing" portion of my vacation. Who said my brain didn't get to have a Spring Break too? And anyway, it's Wednesday, and everyone can use a little Fabio to get them through the rest of the week:-)


I really am on vacation with the kids in North Carolina right now and trying to keep my computer time light so I can actually enjoy the week off, but my mom and I were having a discussion about romance this afternoon: what we liked in books, didn't like, etc. I can see that I probably picked up Marie's cosmic vibes or something, because she talked about one side of that equation on Sunday with her pet peeves (and IMO, they were pretty spot on). So today, I thought I'd mention a few of the things that draw both me AND my mom, who I've mentioned is an avid reader and by the way has a TON of books here I want to read, to pick up and enjoy a romance novel. They're things I've tried to address in my own writing, of course, so I can only hope that one or more of these helps Wild Highland Magic fly off the shelves!

1. Great Cover. I can't tell you how many books I've picked up by authors I hadn't heard of simply because of an awesome cover. It may not say anything about the writing, but if you can stand out and get picked up (ha ha) in a crowded book aisle, you're halfway there already! And I'll admit, I'm a very visual person. I hunt for interesting covers.

2. A strong, non-wimpy heroine. I used to be more forgiving about this, and it still depends somewhat upon the time period, but I really do not like wussy heroines. I want a heroine with a strong voice, a woman who takes responsibility for her own destiny. She can have her hang-ups, sure, but I don't want her life to be all about the hero as soon as she meets him. She doesn't have to be a gun-toting tough girl, but I do want a heroine who always holds her own...and I do love it when she gives the hero a run for his money.

3. A flawed hero with heart. I still think Julie Garwood's Highland lairds and medieval barons are the best examples I can think of here. They're larger than life in a way, but they show their imperfections without coming off as insufferable jerks. They're real men as well as heroes. they can be grumpy husbands, they misread their heroine's signals, they do stupid things sometimes...and they also change and grow as a result of the heroine's love. I don't want a perfect hero. I mean, ew, where's the fun in that?

4. Sex scenes that mean something. And that don't suck. I have read everything from pulse-pounding to yawn-and-skim, and I stand in awe of the authors who manage pulse-pounding every time. Especially now that I know how hard they are to write! But I'm an idealist: I want the build-up, and the payoff, to be as engrossing as the rest of the story.

5. A great voice. I know this is the thing we really have no control over as authors...we sound the way we sound, and each of our voices is unique. But honestly, my process for buying a book is as follows: pick up book with cool cover, read back copy, open and skim a couple pages to get a sense of voice. If I can "hear" the story and the characters immediately, I'm in. Even if I was on the fence after the back cover. I may be a writer, but I still love falling into a good story more than anything.

So what about you? What draws you to a romance? Besides Fabio, that is:-)



  1. Um...

    Thank you.

    Oh, the question? A great cover can do wonders. Conversely, don't discount that first page. I picked up a book (when I was just learning publishers) b/c of the subgenre, hated the cover (brown - ALL brown), hated the blurb, hated what the hero did for a living (bombs), hated the excerpt. LOVED LOVED LOVED the opening. Glanced at that and COULD. NOT. PUT. THE. BOOK. DOWN.

    Bought it, read it in one sitting, actually emailed the author and made a friend.

    Bought her backlist.

    It did come down to the story.

    But toss Fabio on the cover and, yes, I'll pick it up. Too bad he's retired...

  2. My reading time is limited, so first I look for books by authors I've read and liked. If not that, then I look for a story that features elements I like, time period, any interesting twists mentioned on the back cover, intriguing first line, etc.

  3. Love your list, Kendra and I agree with every word. Except, sorry to say... Fabio. One word: Ick. Sorry, he just doesn't do it for me. I see that face and I imagine the diseases. LOL!

    Enjoy your time in NC, and tell your mom we said hello!!!

  4. You pretty much summed up what I'm looking for in a book, Kendra--except for the cover. I buy more books in spite of the cover than because of it.

    And maybe it's a contemporary thing but I'm with Marie. A Fabio cover pretty much guarantees a no-sale for me.

  5. "Lookin' For Love" in all the wrong places.

    Kendra, I'm in agreement with you and your Mom. I look for:
    1. Great Cover!!!!!
    2. Strong female.
    3. Strong male, with character flaws.
    4. Good story, with wild, heart-pounding, toe curling sex scenes!!!! that enhance the story.
    5. Happy EVER after and a baby makes 3.
    I may be "lookin for love" in all the wrong places. But, I now know where to find it. In the books of you good Casablanca babes. You ladies have written some of the best stories that I ever read.
    Thanks Ladies. You've got me hooked. You're my new favorite authors.
    P.S. I'm reading one of Terry's books right now.
    Great Cover, Strong feisty female red-wolf. strong flawed male gray-wolf. A great voice that drew me right in. It's a exciting story. The sexual tension is really building and I'm getting ready for a earth-shattering, toe curling sex scene. And hopefully a happy ending.
    Have a great day!!!
    Enjoy the rest of Vacation.

  6. The cover will get me to look, the author's name might be one I know, but the blurb is the one that will decide whether I buy it or not. Unless it's a Regency, a rich man will make me put it back on the shelf and if it's about a cop or a doctor, it's definitely a no sale. Other than that, I'm pretty open. Some things will hook me, and others just turn me off.
    Pretty vague, huh?

  7. Morning ladies! LOL on the differing opinions of Fabio. Honestly, he doesn't really "do it" for me that way, but I feel a lot of affection for him just because he was on the cover of so many of my, like, formative romances:-) I left that pic on my sister's myspace once and she cracked up, which was the desired reaction. My mom would still totally run away with him.

    Anyway, Donna Lea, I agree that I usually look for authors I already like first, but generally they're one book a year writers, so normally I'm out of luck. Then I start browsing!

    Hi Marie!! I am having a good time, even though the weather has gone ridiculously chilly. I'm in a sweatshirt and flannel Disney pants eating Bravos at 9 am...yeah, this is vacation! And LMAO because yes, I would imagine The Fabio has been...around.

    MM, the cover isn't make or break for me, but it can definitely induce me to pick up something I haven't heard of. A good title will do the same thing! Funny, though, now when I see a totally bad cover I always think "Hmm, I wonder what SHE had to say about that?" Major author sympathy now that I know they get very little say! And hmm, I guess that might get me to pick up a book too, now that I think of it!

    Hi Donna! Aw, you're so sweet, and we're lucky to have you as a reader:-) And I TOTALLY agree that I enjoy an ending/epilogue where baby makes three. Some reviewer once said she enjoyed my second book but for the pregnancy at the end (actually, that's the only time I've heard that about DHF, come to think of it), but I couldn't get all bugged about it because a)she was pretty cool about the book otherwise, plus made me laugh even about the things she didn't love, and b)that is totally a personal taste issue. For me, I love it when there are the beginnings of a family at the end.

    Cheryl, no worries, because even though I have these elements that I look for, sometimes defining what makes me buy a particular book is pretty nebulous. "We like what we like" is probably the BEST way to explain it after all! And sometimes, getting "hooked" is a total surprise:-)

  8. I'd have to agree with you, Kendra. And if the hero isn't absolutely someone I'd want to fall in love with, the book won't do it for me.

    Ahh, thanks so much, Donna!!! I'm so behind on checking out everyone's blogs what with my life being in such an upheaval right now, that I was so thrilled to read your comments!! Thanks, thanks so much! :)

    Oh, and Marie, Fabio has diseases??? Or did I misread your comment. :) LOL

  9. Terry,
    I'm loving your HOTW. You have to really look at that cover. I see a beautiful wolf. But than, I wasn't at first sure if it's a Nekkid well built woman or a Slim well muscled man. HMMMM!!!!

    Marie, Are you telling us that because Fabio has slept with every woman on the planet. He's
    diseased? Or do you have some other inside info you're not telling us.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  10. I totally agree about great covers... there are times where I go to a bookstore and tell myself--base what you read on the back blurb, or by skimming the first few pages... but the cover ALWAYS wins for me! Luckily, we have a couple of very talented designers and team of people who realize this as well--so we do what we can to make your covers pretty :)

    I also like when stories make sense and flow well. When there aren't too many "well, because of this coincidence" or "I created this world, so I can make up whatever to write myself out of a tough situation"... I know there are times where coincidence and creative license prevail, but I HATE when things just come out of no where.

  11. Eww, no ladies, I do not have "insider" knowledge of Fabio, nor would I ever in this lifetime want to! LOL! I'm just sayin... the guy looks like he's been around the block a few times.

  12. Ladies,
    I have not only bought books just because of the cover, I have kept books on my booshelf just because of the covers! Okay, they were great books to read, too. Speaking of which, I think Sourcebooks has given all of us fabulous covers.

  13. LOL! Hi Kendra! I had to laught when I saw the picture and then mentioned its your vacation, LOL. But thank you for the great treat!

    My daughter attends a local college and they are under a quarter rather than a semester system so she has no break. So now that the two are older now, there's no break here!

    I read alot of new to me authors and its true the book covers stand out I will pick them up. They showing a 'romance' then I definitely pick it up and then read the blurb and more. So I really believe the cover is part of the package for the book. I love a romance that's both a strong story of the plot but a strong romance too. I've read some romance suspense authors that over time, the romance gets less and less in the book until I'm reading a straight suspense, and those I got burned out of before. So I do want the romance to be as strong as the plot in the story. Its not always that its a sizzling scenes, but more of the tension and growth of the romance and that its shown as it grows. Then too some of my favorite romance genres bring me to want to read the book, such as historical, paranormal, fantasy etc. Everything goes for me but horror and inspirational when it comes to romance. I loved answering this question, thanks Kendra!

  14. Terry, you're spot-on with the heroes...I have read some who are every bit as obnoxious and undesirable as villains in other books, and I never could figure out why I was supposed to like them!

    Danielle, agreed, there's always room for some deus ex machina, but weird curveballs kind of annoy me if they're very obviously contrived just to wrap up a story.

    Amelia, I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that, LOL! Some cover art is just gorgeous, though:-)

    And HI Caffey, it's great to see you! I'm not much of a romantic suspense reader for just what you mention, actually...a lot of times it feels like there's very little romance actually in them. I'm sure there are exceptions, but it's personal taste, too...I'd rather dive into a historical or a paranormal...actually, I spent the afternoon reading "Devil of the Highlands" by Lynsay Sands, and it was REALLY good. A lot like the Julie Garwoods I grew up reading, and that's a BIG compliment!! Glad you enjoyed the question:-)

  15. Hi Everyone!
    Kendra, glad you got to take a little R&R time. I feeling in desperate need of a vacation myself since I haven't had one in... GASP! 4 months!

    LOL! On the picture and comments about Fabio. I personally am always a wee bit suspect of a guy whose hair is better than mine. ;-)

    And as for the romantic suspense, I HOPE I am the exception for you ladies. When my current CP and I first started to critique for each other I warned her, "What I write is about 70% romance 30% suspense." What can I say? That's the way I like to read 'em, so I write 'em that way too!


  16. You all know by now that my chosen reading genre has always been fantasy, but the 'must haves' hold true. A great cover, such as an a**-kicking dragon or wizard, will make me pick it up every time. Strong characters, especially those females who can hold their own alongside/against the sword weilding hero are a must.

    Diversity in 'voice' and style is what makes it fun to stay in a particular genre.

    Now, thanks to you all, I am learning the same with romance and it is fantastic! Plus, unlike the usual sci-fi/fantasy, in romance I get the serious lovin'! Nice. :)

    Sourcebooks DOES create some awesome covers! We should look into getting one of the design folk to guest blog!!! Wouldn't that be cool?