Saturday, December 09, 2006

Have you ever?

Have you ever picked up a book and started reading it only to realize you’d already read it? Have you ever picked up a book and started reading it only to realize you’d read ten others just like it? That’s one of the complaints I hear about romance novels…if you read one, you’ve read them all.
That’s just not true.
Romance novels, despite the reputation they’ve suffered over the years are NOT all the same. They’re different because the people writing them are different. Take five romance novelists and put them in a room together. Give them each the name of a hero and heroine and a situation and they’ll give you five very different plots with those two people and that situation. Don’t believe me?
Here’s an example…
Meet Mary and John. Mary is a twenty-something with a good education and wealthy parents. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do with her life, but she’s happy with what she’s doing right now, working in her family’s business. John is an early thirties ex-military man with a good education, a scattered family of which he’s only really close to one brother. He knows what he wants out of life and what steps he has to take to get there.
If this was an historical romance, Mary might be an heiress rather than working for a living. She’s had at least one “season,” but is under no duress to marry. She would be attending balls and enjoying her life. John would be a former military man, possibly a spy. He’d be the ‘second’ son who has a good relationship with his older brother, the heir to the family title. They’d meet at a ball, become involved in some sort of scandal, have to marry and then discover that they loved one another.
If this was a contemporary romance, Mary might be working in her family business, at an executive level, but not running the company. She’d be fighting to gain attention from her father or some other senior level executive. John might be the new ‘hotshot’ executive brought in to bring the company forward in some way. They’d clash at first, but not be able to deny the physical attraction between them. They’d flirt, maybe have a brief relationship, something would happen to pull them apart and possibly they’d have a big argument before they wound up back together again.
If it was a romantic suspense, Mary might be a police officer or private investigator working on a case involving John in some way. He’d either be her number one suspect or her ally in some form. They’d have to work together, rescuing one another in one way or another before sharing an explosive night of passion and discovering that they were meant for one another.
If it was a paranormal, Mary might be a shapeshifter trying to make her way in the human world. John might be someone who doesn’t like shifters and who hunts them down when they break the law. He’d be attracted to Mary and yet repelled by her shifting. They’d have to work around that problem before being able to move on to have a relationship.
So there you have the same couple in a variety of situations. The common theme is that romance is at the heart of the story and they all end happily, and that’s what makes a romance.
So no, you can’t pick up one romance novel and think you’ve read every other romance novel out there. They’re different, and there’s something out there for everyone, no matter what type of story you like to read.