When I first started publishing books, I was afraid to be labeled as a romance author, even though I clearly wrote love stories. The romance novels I knew of, other than Nicholas Sparks ones, had covers of a shirtless Fabio holding onto some helpless woman in a wispy white gown. Inside, the plot felt like an erotic fairy tale … The man had the power and rescued the woman.
The woman always wound up pregnant and married by the end and never had to work the job she hated again because her savior was rich and could buy her whatever she needed.
I wouldn’t say I identified as a feminist, but as a young girl that witnessed way too many women who allowed their entire existence depend on a man, similar to those paperbacks that were marketed to housewives in supermarkets, I didn’t find the male characters or storylines appealing.
I didn’t want some oily muscled man to rescue me. I wanted a man to understand me and listen to me and appreciated that I had dreams outside of him. I wanted his support on top of his love. I still want that, but I’m also strong enough to be on my own and won’t settle in life or love. Love should be about sharing your life and lifting each other up.
The truth is, I’ve always loved romantic movies and TV series more than books with romance as their focal point due to this outdated idea of a dominant macho male love interest. However, there are several romance authors I do thoroughly enjoy. There are plenty of authors out nowadays that feel the way I do.
Here are a few recommendations.
Don’t get my wrong — there is a sexiness to a male who takes control in the bedroom or who has a protective nature over his partner, but it’s a fine line between sexy and chauvinistic when the man carries that dominance and controlling nature into everyday life.
Another reason I was hesitant to market myself as a romance author is the fact that there has always been a stigma about it. Just as Hallmark movies are labeled cheesy and cliche, so are most romance books. Or these books are passed off as fluff or female porn.
When I was categorizing Lost In You and Dream Catchers all of those years ago, I imagined readers expecting some tawdry tales with those possessive male tropes if I labelled their genre as “romance”. When people asked me, “What kinds of books do you write?” I would answer, “Romance, but not like 50 Shades of Grey stuff…”
Almost 12 years later, my answer is still romance. I leave out the extra clarification and let people wonder what type. Maybe what I write is fluff or cheesy or even at times cliche, but so what? Does that make me a bad writer?
I predict the entire plots of movies, TV shows, and books on a regular basis, but does that make me not like them or think the writing is bad? Not at all.
I’ve become proud to write romance and carve out a piece of the genre for myself to include positive examples of couples who love and support each other. They’re not perfect, of course. I try to keep a certain level of realism and enjoy giving my characters depth.
When I think of my character Danny DeSano and who he’s been through the past seven books in the “Dream Catchers” series – we see him truly grow and learn from his past mistakes and relationships. He’s still true to his character, but in “Fanning The Fame”, he finally learns what it really means to love and be in a healthy relationship.
So, to answer my own proposed question, why do I write romance? To bring hope for myself and to others that healthy relationships exist, to teach young girls and even women who never valued their worth that they shouldn’t settle, and because romance is full of fun, lightheartedness, and youthful energy no matter the age of your characters or readers. We all could use a romantic escape once in a while.
What’s your favorite romantic story?
(movie, TV show, book, or even a song)
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