There’s a misconception about romance among people who don’t read our genre. The name “romance” implies a happy state of mind, a glowing time of falling in love. But readers of the genre know that’s hardly the full story.
I thought about this over the weekend while finishing up my third book for Harlequin Desire. The heroine is a ballet dancer, and I wrote painful scenes about dancing on stress fractures and broken toes. Then I wrote scenes about the confusion that comes when you don’t know how much of your heart to reveal to someone you care about. Scenes about misunderstanding, miscommunication and misery. And, of course, that black moment scene of betrayal when it feels like all is lost.
So my story contains a lot of fear, panic, worry and heartache. This is romance, my friends. Falling in love is often fraught with obstacles, the kind we run into and the roadblocks we raise ourselves. Shakespeare wrote that the course of true love never did run smooth, and it’s that course that we write about—and read about—in a romance. The bumpy, difficult, misunderstood days of angst that happen while we try and forge a relationship.
Because at the heart of it, that’s what we’re really interested in—what it takes to build a relationship. We want to read about the gritty strength it takes to make a relationship work. The kinds of sacrifices we can make in order to solidify our emotional bonds. The battle to get out of our own way so we can give and receive love. We’re interested in this dynamic our whole lives because it remains relevant to us no matter where we are in life’s journey.
We read romance, not to see the hearts and flowers of perfect relationships. But to better understand the give and take that makes good relationships work. I am uplifted and hopeful about my own relationship after I read a romance, and I hope I can give that to a reader when they read a book of mine. I like to think a romance teaches younger readers how to recognize a good potential partner when they meet one. Romance shows what unselfish love looks like. For more seasoned readers, romance reminds us why we are in relationships that can take a whole lot of work. We seek romance for the emotional pay off, and in doing so, find a greater one in real life.
***In the spirit of optimism, shared joy and lifting each other up, tell me one happy thing you’re grateful for this week. Share with me on the blog or FB and I’ll give one random commenter an advance copy of my very first Harlequin Desire story, His Secretary’s Surprise Fiance.