Friday, September 16, 2016

Dani Collins: What Makes A Great Romance?

I read a blog this morning that talked about readers becoming frustrated lately because they are buying books marketed as romance, only to discover they don't have a Happily Ever After ending.

This got me thinking about what makes a great romance--which is very hard to pin down. But I think we can all agree that the lack of a satisfying, uplifting ending, one where the couple (or menage) look forward to a future together, makes for a lousy read if you're expecting a romance.

I remember the first time this happened to me. It was way back in the stone age, when I was still in high school. I was buying used books from garage sales. This particular story had a married man on a ranch kiss the heroine (brutally) and say some awful stuff. That was pretty much the extent of the romantic development. The heroine left the ranch alone, having learned something, I suppose.

Perhaps the book had literary merit. I actually can't recall much about it because I was so horrendously disappointed. Where was the angst? The love me, don't hurt me, the dawn of understanding? The emotional and physical intimacy?

Romance gets a bad rap sometimes because of its predictable happy ending, but it's obviously something readers want. (I do!) Romance is a (nearly) billion dollar industry. Its readership is obviously a strong and loyal one if non-romance authors are marketing their books as romance, trying to get in on that game.

But I guess that's why and how Harlequin found its niche with the Harlequin promise so many decades ago. It's definitely why I started reading them and why I wanted so badly to write for them.

As for what makes a 'great' romance. That's highly subjective. You would think that, as an author, I would know. I write what I like to read and cross my fingers that others like to read that, too. Even at that, when I wrote my current Harlequin Presents, The Secret Beneath The Veil, I struggled. It was the first time my editor said, "Why don't we schedule a call?" rather than just sending a revision letter.

I won't get into all the things we (I) wound up changing, but it was a book that did not write itself. I was pretty sure my hero was too harsh, my heroine too wishy-washy, my premise too outlandish. All of it stank and my career was over. When it finally released, I glanced at the reviews sideways, with one eye. Cautiously.

I hope I don't jinx it by telling you the reviews so far have been very kind. Which leads me to believe what makes a great romance is author angst. The more insecure I am on this side of the screen, the more likely you are to enjoy the end product. I'll go with that, otherwise I'd be too paralyzed to continue writing.

I'm curious, though. Have you wound up buying a romance recently only to find it lacks that integral HEA (or happy for now?) What do you think makes for a great read in a romance?

Comment for a chance to win: Clair and Aleksy from The Russian's Acquisition make a guest appearance in The Secret Beneath The Veil. I'll draw one lucky winner for a signed copy of The Russian's Acquisition on Sept 20th, and announce it in the comments. Check back to see if you won.

Here's the blurb and quick links for The Secret Beneath The Veil, available now.

"You may kiss the bride." 

With five little words, Mikolas Petrides secures a vital business merger and finally repays his grandfather for rescuing him from the horrors of his childhood. But when he lifts his new bride's veil, it's not the woman he was expecting!

Viveka Brice will do anything to protect her little sister, even pretend to marry a stranger. Her deception revealed, she flees the wedding, but is soon confronted by Mikolas. He is a man who always gets what he wants, and if the marriage is off, Viveka will have to compensate him—by becoming his mistress instead!

US  |  CA  |  UK  |  Aus  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  GooglePlay  

USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins writes sexy, witty, vibrant romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Montana Born Books, and herself. 

Dani lives in rural BC, Canada with her high school sweetheart where they're getting used to being empty nesters. 

Join Dani's reader group and receive Cruel Summer, a short story ebook romance (with an HEA!) as a welcome gift. 

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