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Topic: What do you look for in a romance novel?

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Subject: What do you look for in a romance novel?
Date Posted: 6/13/2008 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 5/21/2008
Posts: 107
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So I saw the post on authors everyone hates and plot lines that make you want to slap the author, and it made me wonder what you look for in a good romance novel?

Do you like for it to be completely realistic (something that could happen in real life)? More unrealistic, like the stuff fantasies are made of? A lot of sex scenes? No sex scenes? Hot heros/heroines? Average or plain heros/heronies? Younger characters? Older characters? Or any other characteristics?

 

Personally, I like more realistic romance novels (though I do like a few regency novels!), with tons of sex scenes. I like younger characters (since I'm in my early 20s) and I'd rather they not be perfect looking (they can still be attractive, but I don't want the 5'8" blonde model or the 6'4" adonis hunk). I do have a thing for cowboys : ).

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 2:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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I will be blunt and admit that I like there to be sex, even somewhat graphic sex.  However, as I mentioned in my post in another thread, I like there to also be some bonding and some actual emotional feelings between the characters before that happens- I'm not really liking the erotica I've been reading where the sex happens minutes after they meet.  I think I enjoy experiencing the development of the relationship where it progresses into sex, so that it actually has some context other than 2 people who are attracted to one another getting it on.

Apart from that, I like a good, engaging storyline, strong characters who are at least somewhat likeable, and I like books to be descriptive enough to actually put me "there" with the characters.  They don't have to necessarily be realistic- I'll read contemporaries, historicals, or some involving fantasy/paranormal themes.  One of my favorites is the Outlander series, and the time-travel element is hardly realistic.  As far as characters go, I favor a strong female heroine over a delicate, spoiled one.  For heroes, it's nice to be able to picture them as good-looking, but it's not necessary for me.  The hero in the book I just finished was described as being scarred from smallpox and at times was described as ugly, and it didn't bother me.  I will admit to liking it when I find a book where the characters are older than their twenties- I'm 40, so I'm kind of done with the 20s mindset, lol (no offense).

Lesley

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 3:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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I don't need it to be realistic if its a good story...ie Outlander.  BUT, I do enjoy a good storyline with believable characters.  I'm not so much into the adonis good looks but I'll read them.  Give me a man's man, even a "ugly" man who has a good heart and can take care of himself and I'm totally into it.  I'm not a tremendous fan of the uber-strong heroine though.  I like her to have some sass but also some heart and some vulnerability to her.  (Think May from Jude's Law) 

Like Lesley, I'm now more into older characters.  Being 39....sometimes its hard to enjoy a story with a 21 yr old heroine.  It can work but most often for me, I enjoy the VERY late 20/early 30s hero/heroines best.  One thing I love about some of the later Outlander books is that Jamie is in his late 40s/early 50s and the man hasn't slowed down yet!

And honestly....a man with a little experience in the bedroom can be a great thing.  ;-)

Sherri

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Amen to your last line, Sherri!

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I can enjoy all sorts of things; the writer's style is more important to me than details. I do prefer an author who pays attention to authentic detail, especially in historicals. I like strong world building, good characterizations, active writing that isn't repetitious, and lots of heartache. :-)  I dislike cliches, cutesy-pie stuff, too-perfect characters, and absurd plots, though I guess all those things can be considered a matter of perspective.

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 4:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2007
Posts: 1,028
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I really can't do contemporaries because if the author is off on something it just takes me right out of the story.  The idea of what's in and what's not can be pretty different depending on where the author is from.  When it's an historical, I can be drawn out of that story, too, if the author is not authenticating the actual time period or speech.

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 4:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2008
Posts: 3,641
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Last Edited on: 2/6/15 2:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/13/2008 5:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2007
Posts: 13,134
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And honestly....a man with a little experience in the bedroom can be a great thing.  ;-)

I second this emotion!

I will also join in the "like the H/h to be 30+" crowd, which I guess also tells my age.  I am glad to see that even one of my fave genres---Regency romances--has more older females characters than it used to when I first started reading it. 

 

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 7,052
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I have to have a hero and heroine that I can respect. I find that if that's the case, everything else is usually in place. Decent writing, good plotline, intelligent dialogue. You know.

Date Posted: 6/13/2008 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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I'm starting to think it's all about the writing/story-telling for me - I like contemporaries, I like historicals, I like realistic, I like time-travel and some paranormal elements. I like young protaganists and old ones too (I'm older than 50) because I can remember being young too. I like May/December romances,and December/May and same age. I like zany comedy and I like suspense and I like tragedy and tear-jerking heartache in the stories - in short, any plot in the hands of a good writer!!

Give me tall hunky alpha heros. Give me normal, shy, retiring beta heros. Cowboys. Executives. Sports heros. Farmers. Red headed spitfire independent heroines. Dishwater blonde midwestern housewifely heroines. Athletes. Authors. Matchmakers. Courtesans. First Love stories. Love at first sight stories. Shoot, I'll even read a story with the dreaded Infidelity if the writer handles it well. Amnesia. Secret pregnancy. Lots of graphic sex. Or, just implied tension and then close the bedroom door. Bring it on, but write it well. Make me feel what the characters feel, put me in their heads and I'm all over it.

There isn't any one author that completely epitomizes what I like - but right now, Jo Goodman is a particular favorite. I love her layered, complex writing in the books I've read so far (currently glomming). But there are lots of others I like too. I like Big Books. I like short stories. I'm easy to please - just write it well! I *don't* like everything I read.

For me, it's all about the journey the writer takes me on. (I do have a soft spot for heros that fall head over heels in love and say it to the heroine, early on and often.)

Angie -
Date Posted: 6/13/2008 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 3,299
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Well written sex scenes are a requirement (exception: Stephanie Plum.)

Aside from that, as long as the hero is sexy and NOT "ugly", I can be pretty open minded. I really like romantic suspense lately even though they are really unbelieveable. I really like alpha men too.

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 9:06 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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Well, what I look for varies..I just want to know what to expect! I k now what I dislike more than what I like I think. I usually go for alpha hero though not mean. not too much drama over  misunderstandings. no stupid woman. I like some humor in the story and of course don't object to some good sex! usually that's a requirement though I've read some that were very good and didn't 'need' that - curtiss ann matlock is one author who didn't go overboard in the sex and I liked a lot. a relationship is great too..where it develops realistically.

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/21/2008
Posts: 107
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Michelle,

I also like when the man (or the woman) has had to deal with something truly terrible, yet manages to remain a good person. I really enjoyed Nora Roberts's Cheasapeake Bay series for that reason (Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor, Chesapeake Blue). All of the characters had extremely bad childhoods (like abuse, drugs, jail), until they were adopted by one special couple. I don't cry over many books, but I cried over those!

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 10:15 AM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2007
Posts: 462
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Melinda,

You summed it up so well. It truly is about the journey in the book. Some authors draw you in right away. I love the banter, the relationships that are developed that seem possible and realistic are the ones I really enjoy. Though a plot may be a little unrealistic -- what's escapism for anyway-- if the relationships are great it makes it a good read. There are so many different types I like to read -- I'll even read a good science fiction with a little romance thrown in -- Yargo by Jacqueline Suzanne and Restoree by Anne MacCaffrey are on my keeper shelf. I must say I don't like simpering misses too much - they can be shy just not too weak--. And men of all types - tortured strong silent types, strong alpha ones -- they just always have to have a heart -- at least by the end of the story.

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 10:35 AM ET
Member Since: 12/6/2006
Posts: 623
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Melinda, great summary of good reading.  I'll read the less than great authors because I enjoy the story line, but there are times when I read a particularly well written sentence, and I have to stop and reread it a few times.  I am easily bored and will toss a  book in a heartbeat if it doesn't draw me in pretty fast.  I know that eliminates some good books.  I'll read any period, any storyline, any age -- it's all about the writing.  My favorite will always be that cold, strong, tortured hero who falls for the bright, strong heroine. 

As I read through everyone's post, I'm struck by the excellent writers within our group!



Last Edited on: 6/14/08 10:35 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/14/2008 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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It all depends on my mood.  Sometimes I read a book because I know it'll have lots of sex. Sometimes I read a book because I"m hoping it'll have a good mystery type plot w/the romance.  Other times I'm in the mood for a sweet romance.  Other times I want the wow fantasy factor with lots of unbelievable could never happen stuff going on. 

I have to say that generally, I'm not a picky reader. I tend to like at least something about every book I read. 

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2008
Posts: 2,553
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Although I would HATE it in real life, I really like alpha men in a romance novel (especailly when they are being brought down a peg or two by the heroine). I also like tortured hero's, imperfect heros, nerdy or geeky heroes.

I like it when the H/h are forced together in a story rather than drawn apart through the whole thing. So I tend to like cabin and road romances a lot, since the H/h are forced together most of the book and having to work together and get along.

Oh, and I like sex scenes in my romance novels. The hotter the better. It irks me when I read nothing but kissing, or one underdetailed sex scene at the end of the book or something. There are a few exceptions, Barbara Micheals' The Master of Blacktower is on my keeper shelf and the author hardly even describes the kissing in that one (but it is still a good gothic romance, IMO).



Last Edited on: 6/14/08 2:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/14/2008 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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I like it when the H/h are forced together in a story rather than drawn apart through the whole thing. So I tend to like cabin and road romances a lot, since the H/h are forced together most of the book and having to work together and get along.

Sarah - I like these alot too.  Add to that the "kidnapped for her own good" and the "forced together for her protection" stories and I'm sold.

Sherri