I have a love/hate relationship with romance novels. I absolutely love reading them and I constantly have my eyes peeled for good ones. Since I work at a bookstore, I see the books before they hit the shelves. There’s a specific kind I like and they’re hard to find. I don’t like the cheesy stuff that focuses too much on things besides the couple getting together. Not really in to historical or paranormal romance, or authors like Nora Roberts that are popular with old ladies.
What I look for is very specific. First, the characters have to be black or people of colour. Call me prejudice, but I like reading about people who look like me. I like reading about young characters and the main guy has got to be believable. When I read romance, I want to fall in love with the guy and put myself in the female lead’s shoes. If the guy is corny, or overly macho, I don’t like it. I also like the kind of storyline where the couple first meets each other and have this unexplainable chemistry that they don’t understand. There’s so much romance out where a couple has a passionate night together, they go their separate ways and they meet up years later and the passion is still there. BORING! One of my favorite romance novels was one that I read recently was in the teen section called ‘Perfect Chemistry’ about a white girl and a Mexican gang member who fall in love because they’re partners in chemistry class. It was the most beautiful book, I laughed and I cried. It took me through so many emotions. Another thing I love about them is they crack me up. I will be reading in my bed giggling about the cheesy lines and how every single book follows a formula. All romance novels are essentially the same. That makes them especially fun for me to read as a writer. I’m actually trying to write a romance novel now, following all the conventions and it’s much harder than it looks.
Romance novels make me believe that beautiful love exists in this world and that there are good guys out there who respect women. So many times the novels focus on a girl who has low self esteem, has been hurt by guys in the past and then she meets this golden boy who takes all her pain away. It’s the most perfect escape. It’s like candy.
What I hate about romance novels is if they’re good, they always make me cry. Always. Most of the time it’s because the guy is so perfect and the love is so beautiful. But mostly because it’s fantasy that I wish could be reality. Stuff that happens in romance novels doesn’t happen in real life, at least not in my life. That’s why they’re a beautiful escape and a way to imagine what would happen if life were really like that.
I’m so going to be one of those old ladies who come to the bookstore every month and stock up on Harlequins and I will not be ashamed.