Monday, July 6, 2009

Gotta Love a Good Romance

By Robin Kaye

When people ask why I write romance, I tell them that it’s because I love to read it. It wasn’t always that way. I don’t think I read a romance until eight or nine years ago. I grew up reading all my father’s books, Harold Robbins, Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon and the like. My mother was never a big reader, thank God because if she’d known what I was reading in the third grade, she probably would have had a conniption fit.

It wasn’t until a few months after I moved to Maryland from Boise, Idaho in October of 2000, that I picked up my first romance. I fell in love with the smart heroines, great dialogue and to die for heroes--what’s not to love? Once I got one in my hot little hands, I couldn’t put them down.

I’m a book a day reader, and believe me; if I don’t get my book fix I go through romance withdrawal. I’ve been on a reading ‘diet’ due to a crazy family life and writing deadlines. You should see me now—It’s not a pretty picture. But going on a reading diet has shown me what it is I really miss about reading a great romance. I realized I love to see the character’s arc—the way they grow and change through the book. I want to understand why a character is who he/she is at the beginning of the book and then watch her/him blossom into a better, happier version. I love to watch people, who, with the love of the right woman or man, rise to their potential even when it’s difficult to see that potential in the beginning. The great thing about love is that a true soul mate has the ability to see through the facade our heroine shows the world around her to her true essence.

Take Annabelle Ronaldi, the heroine in Too Hot To Handle. Annabelle has by no means led a charmed life, and because of it could be considered a bit of a pill. She’s not perfect, but then, who is? Even in fiction, every character has flaws—they are a part of what makes the character believable and someone we can all relate to. What makes a heroine heroic, in my opinion, is that she has the strength to recognize and overcome her faults and any other obstacle keeping her from being the best person she can be. In Annabelle’s case it was a family from hell, a dead boyfriend she never quite got over, the embarrassment of catching the her fiancé boiking the help and having a sister take over the dream wedding she’d spent the last year planning.

Annabelle was so far from perfect it wasn’t funny. Okay, it was funny, but hey, I write romantic comedy, work with me here. The thing I love about Annabelle is that she was strong enough to face her fears, and with the help of Becca, her best friend, Dr. Mike Flynn our Domestic God hero, and even the family from hell, was able to grow, overcome her past mistakes and learn from them. She became the best version of herself. Isn’t that what we try to do every day? Learn and change and become a better version of ourselves?

What is it about reading romances that you love?


  1. "I love to watch people, who, with the love of the right woman or man, rise to their potential even when it’s difficult to see that potential in the beginning. The great thing about love is that a true soul mate has the ability to see through the facade our heroine shows the world around her to her true essence."

    You perfectly summed up what makes a romance satisfying to read, and fun and challenging to write.

    Robin, if there were a "Wish I'd said that award" you would win it!

  2. That is the beauty of romance novels... they are all about showing people finding that perfect match (which may seem to be spectacularly imperfect at first!) to bring out the best in a person.

  3. I am so thankful that fate brought me back to the reading world of romance after a 20+ year hiatus. And I am VERY thankful that it was the Casablanca authors I first read! Now I am branching out a bit - when I can find the time to read! - and I know precisely what you mean about loving romance. What can I say? I'm an unabashed happily-ever-after kind of gal!

    Robin, my daughter read THTH and LOVED it. It is still on my TBR list. You know how that goes! But I can't wait to read it. See you in DC!

  4. I think, perhaps because I am a hopeless romantic, that I love the happy endings :) You can always count on one in a romance novel... or maybe in the next book in the series!!

  5. Thanks MM! That's quite a compliment!

    The challenge of writing a hero or heroine who is not "wonderfully perfect" is getting the reader to care enough about him or her to strap themselves into the roller-coaster and hold on for the ride. But once you succeed at that, they're wonderfully fun to play God with!

    Donna- Exactly!

    Sharon- I'm so glad your daughter enjoyed THtH! I'm also thankful that you rejoined the ranks of the romance readers and writers! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in DC!


    I'm a hopeful romantic. Even when there's not a HEA, I invent one and think that's the way it will eventually come to pass. After all, you never know...

  6. The sex.
    LOL! You were probably expecting that, weren't you?
    I like romances because I'm a falling in love junkie. It's a high you just can't get any other way. That first inkling of attraction and the excitement that follows. I used to fantasize constantly about it. I'd pick a guy up on the street (figuratively!) and run the romance through my head for weeks. Then I'd find another one. Call me fickle if you will, but it's that initial portion of a love affair that I find so appealing. I jumped from one rockstar to actor to singer to man on the street so many times that when my husband said "Write!" I had plenty of experience. Not so much in the writing, but in the plotting in my head. That's probably why I don't use outlines and index cards to write a book. It's all in my head just waiting to come out!

  7. Ah, the reading diet. I soooooooo hear you - it was great to go on vacation and just lay on the beach and read. And I did. Not as many as I used to, but definitely more than I have recently.

  8. That's the beauty of a good writer, Robin. Making characters realistic. Showcasing problems they may have had in the past but showing how they can overcome those problems. How they can choose to live their life to the full and have a happy ending. Not without effort, of course, but it can be done.

    My reading diet is not a book a day anymore. I don't have the time, but I do manage to finish at least two a week.

    Enjoyed your article. :-)

  9. I'm so glad you touched on the imperfect heroine, Robin. I love to read and write those characters. They're so interesting!

    Re: a book a day... yipes! I'm lucky to get through one a week and I'm a fast reader. But I end up putting off reading so I can prolong the pleasure. I'm always going on the reading diet, too, because of writing pressures. But I end up reaching for nonfiction during those times. That way, I don't feel influenced by whatever novelist I'm reading.

  10. I still read every day because I get cranky without my fix. Even if it's just 20 minutes before bed, I have to have it, so I do 2-3 books a week even in the mist of madness. I recently read THTH, Robin. Very cute!