Ah, the return to romance

In the spirit of what day it is tomorrow, I thought I’d talk a bit about returning to romance. Novels, that is.

The majority of my reading over the last few years has been chick lit, with YA being the focus last summer and fall, as I prepared to write HEART BROKEN. The few romances I read were usually the odd historical written by friends of mine, just because I knew I’d love them.

But the strictly contemporary romances have been on the back burner for, as I’ve discovered the last month, far too long.

Since January 1, I’ve read 4 straight romances and one romantic suspense. Wow! I forgot how much I missed the sexual tension dynamic between the lead characters! Chick lit novels often contain a romance (at least the ones I read and write), but seldom are they told with the same depth as romances.

The five romances I’ve read this year have been a variety — a paranormal with gods and goddesses, a suspense with lots of action and great sexual tension on the edge, and three that were all about the romance, with a little humor thrown in like I like them. Three have been by authors new to me, and one was an author I’d read once before and loved, and one was an old favorite whose books never fail to touch me deeply.

Writing straight romance (paranormal in my case) again I thought would be a challenge. And, it is. But not as hard of a challenge as I worried it would be. Once I got back into the 3rd person POV again, once I got over the initial difficulty with stepping into the hero’s shoes for the first time in years, I’m told by my readers that I’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s a great compliment and a huge relief.

I’m loving exploring the emotions my characters have…the attraction, the memories they have of each other in the past, the fears they have of the future, the respect they come to feel for each other. I’m also making the book sexier than I think I ever did the other two romances I wrote a long time ago. Not just that I might actually put a sex scene (or two) in without being told to be my editor, either. I might actually WANT to hook these two up on the page. It’s an unusual thing for me, who usually likes to shut the door and give them some privacy.

With each of the romances I’ve read lately (and I’m midway through my sixth one, by the way), it clicks a little more in my creative brain where I can push the envelope a bit. Not the envelope of what can be published — I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of cutting edge, head-of-the-line writer who pushes publishing limits — but the evelope of what I’ve written in the past. How intimate I get with my characters, how much sexual tension I infuse into the story. These are all things that help me grow as a writer, and I have only the awesome writers who have gone before me to thank.

So, ladies, raise a glass to yourselves tomorrow…all in the name of love and a happy ending.