Romance book, just how real are you?

Let’s be honest, some times romance doesn’t exactly hit the reality mark.

I’ve read books where the hero will inherit a fortune if only he marries the heroine first and, no, it wasn’t a historical romance. Or another book where the heroine finally found her soulmate but stayed away, in spite of their ardent attraction for each other, because…well, there actually wasn’t even a reason mentioned. Or books where the hero had a perfect body, face, personality, teeth, hair, nails even toes…and none of these were damaged by the fact that he was a SEAL. Hm…

Libido is off the charts in romance novels. The hero never has any physical issues or is shy or incapacitated or has PTSD from the war he has just returned from.

Like Winter Bayne says in her fantastic post, “It may be escapism, but the readers do like a little bit of real life thrown in there. Ideal situations and characters are not looked upon as favorably in reviews as stories with more reality.”

Sometimes, romance is so off the mark, its simply ridiculous. And we don’t buy it. Like AAR Blythe says in her great post, “You have to have a reason you’re not sharing your Big Secret, a reason you became a prostitute, and probably a convincing villain for your Big Misunderstanding. We’re not going to buy it if you just use romance novel shorthand and depend on the hard work of better writers who have gone before.”

I love what AAR Blythe suggests.

“You can go one of two routes. The first is to go big or go home, a la Swiss Family. If you are going to have a beat a bunch of armed pirates, you should probably have them do it with a nine year old on an elephant, a log booby trap, and…wasn’t there a zebra? Or have your twenty-seven year old, Fifty Shades of Fucked Up anti-hero make more money than Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, because your whole story is already silly anyway.

Second route: Sell it. Have a reason your villain is taking Joseph out of the Christmas story, or your heroine is stealing documents, or your dashing, rich hero refuses to marry. A reason that makes sense and holds up to scrutiny. There are no shortcuts with this, and your reason can’t be “Because Romance Novel”.  Believe me, we’ll know.”

What do you think? Does reality fit in romance? Or should we just embrace escapism and give up any and all pretence?

A final note of thanks to both Winter Bayne and AAR Blythe for their amazing posts on the subject. Thanks ladies! What inspirational work!

4 thoughts on “Romance book, just how real are you?

  1. Awww, you’re welcome.

    I personally prefer romance where the lead female looks real. I want to identify with her. The lead male can be fairly unrealistic (that’s the escapism part). He’s got to have flaws though, no one is perfect and he needs a reason to fall in love w/ female lead.

    The situations can be unrealistic. I read sci fi fantasy paranormal romance JUST because it isn’t real. I don’t want real. It’s the characters, their motivations, their reactions I want real. I need to identify with them.

    Does that make sense or am I rambling like usual?

    • No. I was nodding as I read and thinking: yeah, exactly. You’ve nailed it on the head. I want a realistic female lead because I’m flawed and I want to connect with her but the hero better be awesome because otherwise, I could just look around my own life at the guys around here (ahem). Though he can’t be cartoonish perfect or the dream bubble bursts. I totally get that. And the situations can be unrealistic because we want that adventure. Makes complete sense to me.
      I loved your post on this, by the way. I thought it was brilliant. So well written.

  2. Romance is escapism, and I am willing to believe in over the top stuff in books as long as it’s enjoyable. Yet, it is those romances that have a dash of realism that make me feel for the characters more, even if the characters are larger then life, if they have real flaws and issues, I am totally there! 😀

    Great post 🙂

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