Okay, I’m ranting. You have been warned! 🙂 Been reading a LOT of romance novels these past few weeks – while on a break between writing books. Some of them grabbed my attention, some of them made me mad. In turn it got me thinking about what is absolutely essential in a romance novel. So, I’m making a list! This is just my own personal rant, I don’t expect you to agree with everything. If you have anything to add, let me know!

So here we go. Six things a romance novel must have:

  • Romance!

Seriously, people, I’ve read so many books recently where there is little, if any, actual romance in the book. Sure there’s lots of sex (and we all love that) but it isn’t romance. I miss the seeing the sparks fly between the couple and witnessing each glancing touch. I want to read about those thoughts you never thought you would have, but find they run riot in your head. Or even more delicious, that first look. The moment when you know, without any way to back it up, that that person is meant for you. Sigh. You can keep your whips and chains, I want more romance in my romance novels!

  • Love!

I want romance that leads to love. Not to a break up, or a declaration that it was all friends with benefits, or some other “mature” version of that cop out. No. I want to see the hope of love. Otherwise what’s the point? (I can already hear people reminding me about the sex again!) There’s been a real dearth of actual, self-sacrificing, life-changing love in the books I’ve been reading. I want to see it develop, I want to feel that it’s real, I want it to have depth and meaning and lead to acts that are selfless. I want to see real love, people!

  • Sexy men! 

I’m not talking about the taciturn ex-cop/army/CIA/fireman with six pack abs and a chiseled jaw. (Although, having written that, it doesn’t sound that bad!) I’m talking about real men, with faults and flaws, whose histories don’t define them, men who aren’t afraid of love or commitment. Honourable men who know how to lead and how to nurture. Scars, muscles, hair colour – they’re all well and good – but give me a hero who knows how to love a woman and I’ll fall at his feet.

  • Believable heroines!

I’m tired of reading about mousy women who don’t seem to have anything going for them,  YET the gorgeous Adonis of a hero falls madly in love with them!! If I can’t see what’s so compellingly attractive about this heroine I sure as heck don’t know how the hero spotted it! I want to see women who are attractive in every way, women who have personalities that draw you in, women without the angst of a past hanging over them, women who aren’t afraid to love themselves and let someone else love them. I want to see heroines that actually suit the heroes, and not just bland women with fantasy/cartoon men!

  • Plot!

Seriously, there has to be something more to the book than the couple having sex in a million different places, in a million different positions. Something has to happen. How about writing an actual story? How about characters that change and develop? How about background story that’s captivating, or a mystery on the side, or drama that takes you on an emotional roller coaster? I want people to tell me a story, not just describe the sex scenes, otherwise I may as well just dig out that old copy of The Joy of Sex and read that instead!

  • A happy ever after!

I want to see resolution. I don’t want to get to the end of the book and find out it’s part of a never ending series that will leave me with no idea as to how the characters get together. Leave something else in the book hanging, but resolve the romance. Please! I want the characters to have their day in the sun, to see love triumph and hope win, to have everything shiny and perfect for a moment – I know, melodrama much! But I HATE getting to the end of a book and discovering it only outlines the start of the story and you have to buy the other books to get the end. I want the whole story. And I want it now!!!

Okay, just read through my rant and it looks like I hate sex! 🙂 I’m laughing as I write. Who doesn’t love a good sex scene? But I’d like the rest of my romance novel too please!  So what do you think? Am I right, or have I gone overboard again? Let me know! 🙂