By Vikki Perry
Bodice Rippers. Trashy Novels. Sentimental Formulaic Drivel. Bestsellers. If romance novels do anything among readers and writers, it is to provoke emotion. As a reader and writer of romance, I have heard it many times, “You read that!” “You’ll grow out of them eventually,” or “I feel sorry for you that you enjoy those books.” The disparaging tone from other readers and writers can be disconcerting. So, let me take this opportunity to explain why I love them.
The happy ending. The truth is, for me, the happy ending is like a drug. It’s addictive and it feeds my optimism and my hope. The world sucks. The economy is in the toilet. People are dying everywhere. I want escape into a world where I know that it will all come out marvelous in the end. I know it isn’t real, but a romance novel allows me to escape for a couple of hours.
Variety. No other genre of fiction has such a large group of subgenres. I can find paranormal romances, historical romances, futuristic romances, contemporary romances, Christian romances and romantic suspense. There are a endless choices.
Well-crafted stories that have complete plot and character arcs. OK, I read like a writer because I am a writer. I love a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. I also love a story where the character changes from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. In romances, they typically change for the better.
I started reading teen romances at eight years old and since then I’ve probably read thousands of romances. I’ve read everything from the classics by Kathleen Woodwiss, Georgette Heyer, and Barbara Cartland to the modern bestsellers by Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, JR Ward, and Gena Showalter.
As a writer, I want to write like them. I want my prose to evoke emotions in my readers and make them long for more. Reading all of these authors in my preferred genre has been like a master class in romance writing. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. The best piece of writing advice that I’ve ever gotten is that you write what you read. So that is what I’m doing. I’m not ashamed of my romance novel writing or my romance novel reading. Here’s hoping that one day my bodice ripper is a bestseller