Friday, January 27, 2012

Real Romance Behind the Romance Novel...

     Earlier this week, I was given a link to a blog of a gentleman, and I use the term loosely, regarding his opinion of, and I quote, "The Problem with Romance Novels."
     Rarely am I offended by what bloggers or anyone sharing an opinion has to say. It's just an opinion, right? In fact, here on Sealed With a Kiss, we welcome it.
     This guy, and a couple of his seven followers, said some pretty offensive things. Things that not only hurt, but really made me mad. Professionally and personally.
     Without going into great detail, he stated that romance novels were, "purposefully meant to be a lesser work," and that included the skills of the authors who write them.
      He went on to say that romance was "inexplicably" the best selling genre and that the nearly 50% illiteracy rate in the US was partially to blame, siting that, "Many people don't have the reading skills to rise much higher than children's books or romance novels."
     Well, I beg to differ.
     People don't read romance novels because they can't read Dickens or Jane Eyre, they read it because, often times, they're looking for that escape from reality and feel good, happily ever after stories give us that momentary reprieve from our everyday lives.
    They're stories we can relate to... even the fantasy or paranormal stories are, in most cases, more about the romance that the paranormal effects.
     For me, it's more about the entertainment factor. And, by the way, I know for a fact that most of my readers HAVE read Dickens, Jane Eyre and other classic love stories.
     I write romance novels as an outlet for the stories brewing in my head and as a way to deal with things that haven't always been so perfect in my life. Every story I write touches on real issues that real people suffer from everyday. I've said this until I'm blue in the face.

    Let's be honest, the classics may deal with betrayal, greed, politics, death and similar problems, but are you going to find anything about dealing with drug addiction, alcoholism, autism, drunk driving, child abuse and the like? Maybe, but times are a lot different than they were a hundred years ago. Hell, things are different than they were twenty years ago. People want to connect with something they can relate to, something that at least looks and sounds familiar and current. Unless, of course, they're die-hard fans of Historical or Western Romance. But even then, the feel and tone is easier to understand and relate to.

    Readers also want the "Happily Ever After" and the classics don't always offer that.
    I also write romance because that stuff really does happen and I can prove it.
    I posed questions on Facebook regarding romance, in hopes that real people would open up about the romantic gestures they had experienced in their lives, either as the one perusing their intended or as the object of another's affection.
     Guess what I discovered?
     Romantic fiction isn't far from reality at all. In fact, in my opinion, a couple of people who shared their experiences may have even had it better than any book could ever get it. Long term, monogamous, mutually beneficial, gratifying relationships. The real deal.
     If I wanted gloom and doom, I'd pick up Wuthering Heights, though reading it again won't change anything. Heathcliff and Catherine aren't going to get it right this time around anymore than Romeo and Juliet will ride off into the sunset together and fill Verona, Italy with further generations of beautiful children and grandchildren.

   I want something with hope. Something that will make me laugh, cry and hopefully even blush. Which brings me to another point... romance leads to more than marriage, it leads to sex. Not that all romance novels have sex, a lot don't, and that's fine, too.
    That's the beauty of today's romance novel. The degree of heat and sexual content spans from one end of the spectrum, as found in religious type romances, all the way across the board to full blown, no holds barred, bend me over the kitchen table, press me up against the bedroom wall, "fornication."

    Is that wrong? Why should it be? Real people have sex and in the post women's liberation and equal civil rights world we live in today, we can do it without ridicule or fear of punishment.
    Does sex take away from romance? You tell me. But the way I see it, religious or moral beliefs aside, how could it? As far as I'm concerned, throwing two unlikely characters together, add a little sexual tension, toss in some flirtatious banter and you have the beginning of a romance that's likely to pack a punch.
    The blog post I mentioned before not only insulted the writing of romance novels, but even went so far as to suggest in later comments that the content was unbelievable because those types of romantic gestures and story-lines never happen. Maybe not in their world, but I've witnessed it and have even experienced some of those moments myself.
In a later post on the same blog-site, one of the comments said that romance novels glorified rape by creating alpha-male heroes who ravaged unwilling women, only to have the them fall in love with their attackers later. Okay, well anyone who has a brain and lives in this century, knows that yes, before the world stopped turning a blind eye to those kind of things, some authors did write those types of story lines. But no more.
     In today's publishing world, I can assure that rape and other sexually deviant behavior, is not tolerated. Admittedly, there could very well be unscrupulous publishers in some third world country that may produce that kind of story or even people who manage to fly under the radar and self-publish, but they are held in the same regard, we as a society, place child pornographers. The genre is not only "frowned upon", it's downright unacceptable and unwanted in the legitimate publishing world.  Don't worry, we'll have a much more in-depth discussion on that topic for another day.

    For now, I just want to say before I close, that regardless of the sub-genre or heat level you prefer, the author who wrote it, did so with the intent of making you, as a reader, smile.
    No matter what some ignorant blogger does to insult our intelligence or yours, Romance novels are here to stay!! You can count on it!


  1. Hi Robin,
    thank you so much for this article! I had to smile because I belong to those people, who met one partner in a lifetime and still lives with him in a very happy marriage. We have children, we share a household and we love each other more and more.
    Sometimes life is much better (and, yes, more surprising) than an author can invent it. Additionally, we all need romance. We hunger for the relief at the end of a good book or movie. We want the heroes and heroines to be together. And that is true especially if your life is not happy at all.
    I stopped watching terrifying movies long ago. I want to be entertained and shiver with anticipation at what will happen next, but I want to be sure that my favorite characters survive and, eventually, stay together as a couple. I don't consider this shallow. There is so much trouble in the real world that a good book or a movie shall remain an escape from reality.
    Keep on writing romance that warms the readers' hearts! I'll do the same.
    Have a great day,
    Ann Raina

  2. I happened upon the same blog and while the man is entitled to his opinion he would be incorrect. Music started playing when I happened on your page and now all I want to do is go write some sort of scene where the hero sweeps the heroine off her feet and they ride off into the sunset. Okay. Anyway many plot lines are derived from real life moments, scenes are sparked from some thing the writer has seen or experienced and people who hold degrees as well as those who don't write those torrid little novels. Yes, *gasp* even those with MFAs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I love the pics.

  3. Bravo! Wonder if he knows that a lot of men write romance novels, mayber that will turn him. I hate it when men or women talk about a genre they know nothing about. Prevention Magazine reported that 60% of the public believes in love at first site; Men's Health reported that 59% of the men on believe the same thing.

    If you don't understand the genre, please don't talk about it or review it...ask the writer's who write it!

  4. Robin, you said it all perfectly!!!

  5. They are here to stay. The biggest sellers in the entire world! Good job, Robin!

  6. "Real people have sex"? I must be imaginary :(

    Hardy har har. You said the person writing the blog was a guy. I don't think men are as likely to understand or pick up a romance novel as much as women are. Still, though, what a jackass. Romance novels are fiction, and fiction is usually a bit unrealistic, but holds themes that are very realistic as well.

    If there's any genre that should be frowned upon, it's fiction written by idiot reality "celebrities". Those people who bought Lauren Conrad's "L.A. Candy" or Snooki's "A Shore Thing" should be ashamed and locked up in the stocks. And those people who were comparing Tyra's book "Modelland" to Harry Potter a few months ago need to be punched in the throat. HOW DARE THEY! I say. HOW DARE THEY!

  7. Here here robin. You are so right. Only a small mind person, who has never picked up a romance novel would possibly think these things. You are so right to set the record straight. And I feel bad for any woman with him, since sounds like she'll be getting vacuum cleaners for valentines day.

  8. Awesome post, sis! I saw the link you referred to being shared around, but didn't click on it. Good thing I didn't. Only the simple minded can be so grossly dense as to think what this person does. Obviously he's never had the love of a good woman, or felt anything as satisfying as contact with someone other than his inflated sense of self.

  9. Beautiful, Robin! You said everything I've been thinking about since I read that man's blog. I was so angered by what he wrote, that I couldn't think straight at times and really had to fight to keep from posting a tirade on my own blog. I'm glad I held back. Your words expressed my feelings perfectly...without the various insults and cuss words that I had for that Neanderthal. LOL

  10. Thank you for making this blog.

    Here is something he said, and I am quoting his words here... "My concern is with any grown woman still being overly concerned about romantic life when they should have moved on to much more advanced modes of thought at least by the time they were out of high school. It's rather like a man still fantasizing about being a super hero."

    "I don't have the time, nor the inclination to deal with a pack of throw-away housewives who still sit around thinking about romance like a 13-year old girl."

    "Throw-away housewives" is the term he gives to those, and I quote again, "who are too evil to keep a husband, or too lacking in wisdom to marry the right man to begin with. I highly suspect that the vast majority of romance writers fit that description."

    I posted a comment, replying to everything that was said, but he didn't seem to like what I said because he didn't allow it to be seen. That might have been because I told him I was twenty years old, and write paranormal romance/erotic, and asked him if he was going to call me a "throw-away housewife" and then told him to grow up and stop acting like a virgin.

    He could never been more wrong on the subject of "romance". Without romance, without my partner, my other half, my soulmate, I would never have known how it felt to be on love, and never known how to write a romance book, though I have read alot.

    What annoyed me more was the fact that he focused on FEMALE authors who write romance books. Not male because we females were suppose to have been thinking about being swept off out feet, wooed and explored all the pleasures a male can give, and that we can give in return... AT 13?

    My partner called him a pervert. And then added that if that were true, why is this... I cant even call him a man... watch/write/sleep/drink/eat and breath sci-fi, when "you were suppose to have gotten rid of those thoughts when you were a kid"? Why is it one rule for one thing, and another for something else?

    Without romance, there are no dreams for happy endings. No dreams for love you need and want.

    Romance gives you faith that someone will come along and sweep you off your feet. Romance brings you closer to the one you love. And sometimes gives you ideas in the bedroom -wink wink-
    Romance is EVERYTHING.

  11. There is no hope for stupid people!!! Great blog, Robin!

  12. Well done, Robin. I read the post, and while I was insulted by his comments, I also recognized that his words were purposely inflammatory to draw a lot of attention and bring readers to his site. There's only one word for people like him and his "followers." That word is SIMPLE.

    Romance is the biggest-selling genre in the world, and they just insulted a multitude of people--readers and writers alike. There are so many different subgenres and storylines in romance novels that I would venture to say anyone could find a book(s)/author(s)/series/subgenre they like.

    They are so close-minded, SIMPLE-minded. They belittle a genre that we take pleasure in and in which we can find escape and appreciate for the pure ability of storytelling. This not something everyone can do--male or female.

    My only thought is that because they can't appreciate such fine storytelling, such fine LITERATURE, that perhaps the problem regarding INTELLIGENCE is not ours, but theirs.

  13. Valerie Maarten
    Well done! I read the post, but ignored it. This one, I love and agree with. Thank you for venting and sharing for all of us.

  14. Thanks, Robin! Every so often, some crackpot comes along with a post like that, disrespecting the readers and writers of a genre s/he's never bothered to actually read. All while they read of life on other planets, elves and faeries and magic, serial killers around every corner, etc., or stories of some pitiful idiot wondering about the meaning of his insignificant life.

    The fact is, some people cannot stand for others to enjoy something, to find fulfillment, to be satisfied, because they themselves have nothing worthwhile in their own lives. I suspect this person is one of those, though I haven't read his post, and won't.

    I know for certain that love at first sight exists. Hubby and I fell in love the evening we met. Six weeks later, we were married. That was 26 years ago, and we love each other more every day. When we think about it, we're both just blown away by the enormity. I can count on one hand the number of serious disagreements we've had in all that time. It hasn't always been easy, but our love and trust in each other has never wavered, and never will.

    I have a need to share the hope and joy of such a relationship, and that's what I attempt in my books. If the man who wrote that post is so dissatisfied with his life that he needs to insult others, perhaps he should read a few romances to help him attain hope and a more positive outlook.

  15. Thanks everyone for the excellent comments and touching stories of love and romance.
    I've been without internet most of the day and am just now getting caught back up, so forgive the delay of my reply.
    I know our paths will eventually cross small and close minded people, but with friends and colleagues like all of you, we'll mute their ignorance one love story at a time!!

  16. Guys like this idiot just fire my blood and make me want to stand up on a soapbox to give them an earful!

    I had some hater comments like this from an idiot who was into dungeons and dragons type of fiction on another site. His opinion was that writers such as myself who wrote romance and paranormal fiction, were putting all other genre of authors out of business.

    Loved the Blog Robin, keep the girlpower going!! RAWR!! :D