I’m going to confess something here that will probably get me booted out of RWA- I’m not a big romance reader- or I should say, I wasn’t for a very long time. I read tons of romances as a young girl/woman. My grandparents owned a second house on the Tennessee River where we spent a lot of time in the summer. There were always a ton of romance novels on the shelves there. I devoured them. But there came a time, probably early in high school, that I became quite disillusioned about romances. I’ve always been a hard-headed, independent person and I started to cringe at all the women in these books that had to be rescued by the hero and some of the sex scenes read like rape to me- the hero forcing himself on the heroine and her liking it was so not up my alley. I couldn’t bear to read these books any longer and took myself further into the direction of general fiction, thrillers and the like. I’d always loved mysteries and that didn’t change.
I didn’t read a romance novel for, I would guess, about 25 years. Then, I wrote one in 2007. I sent it to my friend that is an avid reader of romance and asked her what she thought. She was honest and told me all the “rules” I broke in that story. She also told me that she loved it. She was helpful in her feedback but I still wanted to break the rules. I had no idea that there was a rule that the first man the woman encounters is usually the hero. HUH? Mine was the third man in the story. AND it needed to be the third man in that scenario.
I decided I should read a few romances to get up to speed if I was going to try to keep writing in the genre. I was thrilled to find that strong women that can take care of themselves had become the norm. AHH, that was more like it. Being a strong woman myself, I felt like I could come back to reading something I’d enjoyed in the past. Every once in a while, I still accidently pick up one with a heroine that’s too stupid to live, as they say in the industry. Ugh. Hate those.
So, to sum up all this carrying on, give me a strong heroine that loves the hero but can help him win the day. Leave the wimpy, pansy heroines at the bookstore.