I'm what you'd call a middle-of-the-road romance reader. I love books with romance, but I don't love straight-up romance novels. I always need something more: intrigue, conflict, struggles, murder, mystery . . . I could go on and on. Why? Because life isn't all sunshine and roses. Romance isn't without struggle, and I appreciate those authors who can deliver romance with a hefty portion of something more.
Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey I've been a fan of Woodiwiss and Lindsey for many years. In fact, they were the first romance authors whose books I ever bothered to read. So, what was it about their style of writing that drew me in despite the romance genre? Adventure and conflict, both of which Woodiwiss and Lindsey pull(ed) off with great success.
I'll be the first to admit that not all of Roberts's books appeal to me, primarily because at times there is far too much language and sex for my tastes. Having said that, Roberts knows how to spin a tale. Romance is the primary focus of her stories, but throw in a bit of mystery, perhaps a murder, some family drama, and you have a classic Roberts' book.
The Bridgertons are one of my favorite fictional families, and though many of Quinn's books lack the adventure and intrigue I often prefer in books, she makes up for that ten-fold with her Bridgerton characters. The characters offer non-stop wit that always leave me wanting more. I love a great character, and Quinn has proven that she can deliver.
Goodman is a more recent addition to my library. Heavy on the romance for certain, but she delivers characters and drama with style. I appreciate the little quirks she gives her characters as well as the humor that can be found woven into each of her stories. I'm always pleased with the bit of intrigue tossed in for good measure. Goodman is another one of those romance authors who offers up something more than pure romance.
Kelly's books are sweet romances, but she writes the kind of character I'd like to see more often in the genre. Her characters are so well written that I've never failed to connect on an emotional level with their life and story. I'm partial to Kelly's Regency romances because they have a little more "grit" to them . . . and did I mention the characters? Kelly offers up something more in the form of unique stories. Not every author manages this, but Carla Kelly is one of those rare authors who can deliver a plot almost as unique as her characters.
There are many romance authors who fall into my exception category, but I find myself returning to the above authors over and over again because they deliver more of what I want in the romance genre.
Writing the Hero & Heroine
I love character-driven stories. There are only so many variations to the same plot, but with interesting characters, a tired plot can come to life. If I can't connect to the hero and heroine of a story, then chances are I won't finish the book, no matter how good the story. I enjoy characters to whom I can relate on some level. I want them to find their happy ending, but I'd like to see them struggle like everyone else. If they are perfect on the outside, I like to see internal flaws or their life in disarray.
Do you read romance novels? If so, what drives you to read them? What do you enjoy most about them?