I was at a party a few weeks ago, and two beer-guzzling buddies were discussing romance. In loud tones with speech on the slurry side, they argued how the word ‘romance’ should not exist anymore. “Romance is dead,” said the tall one. “Women don’t believe in it anymore,” said the not-so-tall one.
Well, as a woman, and a romance writer, this caught my attention. Of course, rather than waste my time arguing, I decided to investigate the sentiment, to ‘tweak romance’ so to speak; actually, I dug up some interesting facts to back up my theory, facts that will lead each and every one of you to declare your own verdict to the question: Is romance dead?
Remember, Romancing the Stone? A few years ago? I know. You couldn’t go wrong with the choice of movie the day the blockbuster came out—the word ‘romance’ an integral part of the title. Of course, Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas had something to do with the movie’s success, as did Danny DeVito. The year: 1984. The year the book’s authors, Joan Wilder and Catherine Lanigan, became immortalized as romance heroines.
In a world where romance fiction grabbed the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2012, at 16.7 percent, and with the fact that estimated sales are expected to top $1.35 billion for 2013, (Source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013) I wonder how many times, and in how many ways can boy meet girl and girl fall in love with boy—the century-old formula alive and getting stronger—while still allowing our hearts to pound in our ears?
Interestingly enough, tweaking our love montages by aerating the genre into specific categories has added flavor to the Grand Bouquet of romance.
How many categories you ask? Wish I could name them all. Actually, an abundance of favorite techniques abound to sweeten the pie, from Paranormal Romances, to Medical Romances, even Sports Romances, the latter subgenre I wasn’t aware existed until recently.
I always thought Historical Romances spoke of a love story, which took place somewhere in the past … Of course, the conclusion, although right, was simply another one of my Duh moments. Especially considering the vast quantity of subgenres, which exist in the Historical Romance world—a world large enough to encompass much of our history up until circa 1920.
Ann Marble has an interesting article about Historical romances in her blog: http://www.writing-world.com/romance/romgenres.shtml
I also discovered Anne Mallory, thanks to a blog post by Dabney Grinnan http://dearauthor.com/misc/reading-lists/if-i-had-to-pick-my-top-current-thirty-favorite-historical-romances/ After spending time in some of Ms. Mallory’s boudoirs, I now understand Dabney’s term of Ballin’ Bodice Rippers collection. Great blog, by the way.
Although I’ve never been a crazed fan of Historical Romance, I get how quickly someone may get hooked. There is something poignant about hovering in the past and getting a bird’s eye view of all the heroines who have played a part in shaping who we are, if only metaphorically.
Yet, there is so much more to HR than a simple timeline. Aside from era capsules nicely slotted, Regency, very short from 1811 to 1820, La Belle Époque, covering the 19th century, Victorian which I figure took place during Queen Victoria’s reign, and my favorite, Medieval, as something about this dark period of our history strike’s a familiar chord in me, there are varied scenarios to take into account. Historical Mystery Romance for instance, Historical Thriller Romance. Then there are the Sagas, and the Western Historical, which portray lots of romance as well.
As I continue romancing the stone, I am reminded of our contemporary era, where some great romances take place under our noses every day; where I not only like to read about my heroines and heroes getting together in all sorts of vivid, yet familiar positions, but where I also enjoy writing about them.
Along the way, I found critics, who did maintain that romance is dead in the here and now. In an article by Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check states: Roman Polanski Says the Pill Killed Romance. http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/05/29/roman-polanski-says-the-pill-killed-romance-women-say-it-gave-them-control-over-their-lives
Yes, we’ve made compromises, but look how far we’ve come, the song tells us. Even in these fast-paced times we live in and complain about, we can’t pretend not to be lulled by a culture that idolizes instant gratification. Our parents did, pretend that is, tried their best to keep old habits alive; a failed attempt at best, thank God.
Despite our multitasking generation, I believe people still possess a romantic heart. Chivalry is not dead. Love is alive and well though we might need to translate the prose every now and then, but all the signs are there.
Candice Bushnell’s book, Sex and the City, opened our eyes to all the romance out there, whether it’s disguised as sex, which has prompted a contemporary favorite of Erotica, or whether it’s buried in a longing for the right man, a longing liable to span a decade. Tweak the ordinary a little, even in a cement jungle like New York City, and you’ll notice romance sparks ignite Time Square and Central Park. When you do, you’ll catch me standing by, trying to grab all the romance brightening the horizon, and put the glitter down into words.
Oh, turns out, the beer guzzling buddy, the tall one who’d started the argument, did so to attract a young lady he had eyed all evening.
By the way, if you ask people about me, they’ll tell you: I have taken up writing as a means of romancing our twenty first century, and Mirror Deep is further proof of my romance fetish: http://goo.gl/UMsbx3