Top Ten Things I Learned From Romance

Yes. There will indeed be Ten Top Things, but before we get there, here’s some blatant self promotion for the release next week of Mr Bishop and the Actress:
And here’s the cover. Isn’t it pretty! You have two ways to enter: go to my Facebook page, read the excerpt and then share it and post me the link on the comments. And/or, sign up for my mailing list here.
Your choice of a book from my backlist (with the exclusion of Dedication, which is selling for ridiculous prices online and which will support me in my imminent old age. Sorry).

Although the official release date is February 4, those naughty scamps at bookdepository.com have Mr Bishop & the Actress on sale now–free shipping worldwide!

And now back to our regularly scheduled program….

Last week I talked about the challenges of writing contemporaries. This week I want to tell you what I’ve learned from reading (some of) them.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that…

  1. You can qualify as a doctor within one year.
  2. If you’re teaching English at college level and feel like a change of pace you can avoid all that agonizing search committee stuff by calling a friend because he’ll have an opening in the department.
  3. If a single woman moves to a small town there will always be a hot, single sheriff/bartender/mechanic/rancher. Occasionally there’s a squad of white-collar single hot guys too.
  4. If a white single woman moves to a small town there will be no other ethnic groups there.
  5. If a black single woman moves to a small town there will be no other ethnic groups there.
  6. Most heroes are mysteriously rich (but not through illegal means) and their flair for interior design does not impugn their masculinity.
  7. If the hero tells the cops the heroine has been kidnapped, they immediately spring into action, even if it’s just a hunch (and to give them credit, she’s never just gone out to the convenience store. He’s right).
  8. A voluptuous heroine is a size 10 (US). Ha.
  9. If a heroine loses ten pounds she immediately has to go shopping with her best friend for a new wardrobe.
  10. And the final and most exciting one: All heroes wear boxers except for cowboys who apparently can’t risk all that fabric bunching up around their manly bits in the saddle and wear jockeys. It’s the law.

The great thing about this is that it makes the Regency view of history seem well, almost realistic. Twenty hot rich single thirty-year-old dukes in London at one time? Why not?

What have you learned from reading romance?

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11 years ago

I started reading romance about a year ago, so I’m still a learner. Mine are all across the board not just a particular kind. Loved your post. Though I can say that they’ve taught me love can be found in a variety of situations.

11 years ago

Yup. You are so right! How about this one:
After some crisis or other (fill in your own blank), its easy to switch careers and become a (well-paid) university professor.

Oh wait.. I got this one from someone in real life.
my bad.

11 years ago

LOL!! There is also no vetting of a potential single foster parent. A two-minute conversation takes an entire meal to traverse. Time and space take on whole new meanings. Does anyone really believe that any person on the planet can have an affair, no-strings attached, no emotional involvement, and no one gets hurt? Really? Someone is lying to him/herself. Do I think there are people who do this? Yes, but I wouldn’t want to be associated with them either because it isn’t healthy. It’s particularly difficult to read about a hero or heroine abuse survivor by someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves. They may have read about it, but they don’t get it.

All that being said, I still love contemporary romance as well has historical. But there are times when the lack of continuity or believability makes it too unbearable to read.

So maybe what we can take from this is that romance writers prefer boxers, except on cowboys. And we wish we could be voluptuous and wearing a size 10, could afford to go shopping for a new wardrobe after dropping 10 lb, and want a perfect man in every perfect location. Okay, so maybe now is the time to laugh at myself.

Cara King
11 years ago

Well, movies and TV have novels of all genres beat. The hero says “I think I’ll write a book” — and literally in one month, he’s having a book tour and signing his best-seller. (I’ve seen that more than once!)


Jane George
11 years ago

On a slightly different note, the most important thing I learned from Romance is how to write effective deep-3rd-person limited POV.

And that’s not such a small thing. 🙂

11 years ago

Oo, I like that idea, Janet! Maybe this is why I love Regencies more than any other type of book.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Oh, Janet! You honed in on some unfortunate truths. As have your commenters. (Judy, I am writing an Undone about that “we can have an affair” premise–I’ll be eager to hear what you think of it)

Still, sometimes a romance can have all those unlikely conventions and something special, as well, that makes us sigh at the end.

Dominique Peters
11 years ago

I started reading romance when I was in high school. It’s safe to say “Forever” by Judy Blume was a sex-ed course to this former Catholic school girl. I also consider “Gone with the Wind” a romance, although maybe others consider it “literary fiction.” I guess what I’ve learned about reading romance is loving the happy endings…AND discovering that I wanted to write a romance novel too!

11 years ago

I love your list. Too true. It shows just how “realistic” contemporary fictions is.
I’ve learned
1. if the hero is in any type of law enforcement, the woman he needs to protect will always be beautiful and appealing.
2. The hero always has a warm spot for children and is good with them even if he has never been around them.
3. Same as #2 for dogs.
4. If the heroine pulls into town needing help, it will be a handsome, nice guy that gives it to her.
5. Bad guys never win.
6. By page 10 they will be lusting after one another and by chapter 10 they will have had sex at least once usually having known each other less than a few days.

11 years ago

I’ve learned there are a lot of wealthy Greek and Italian men who prefer the mousy english type- particularily ones with no backbone.
And it is unbelievably easy to fall pregnant after one night even if one is using some form of birth control. Now that I am officially in the not conceiving naturally camp that one is particularly annoying (and yes I know it happens for some, but romance defies the odds)
Abusive and controlling behaviour by the hero is rewarded with love and affection when he apologises.

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