Monday, January 30, 2017

Patricia Johns: In Defence of Clean Romance

Romance novels get a bad rap in the broader literary community. They’re accused of being “pure fantasy,” or giving women false expectations when it comes to real relationships. But I don’t think those accusations are completely fair, especially not in the "sweet" or clean categories like Heartwarming, and I’ll tell you why:

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1. Romance novels don’t show easy relationships!
If the complaint is that romance novels show love being unrealistically easy, they couldn’t be more wrong. It takes an entire novel to get these two people together, and they have to overcome a lot of personal issues and external pressures in order to get there. Real life is actually a lot easier for some people: Boy meets girl, they date for 2.5 years, he finally proposes on her birthday over a nice dinner, and they plan their wedding for a year and a half in the future. Romance novels have the time span significantly shortened, but that doesn’t make it easy for the characters. If anything, the road to love is that much harder.

2. Real men really are as appealing as romance heroes…
Some worry that women will want a fictional character over a real, flesh and blood man. What’s most appealing in a romance novel, however, is the connection between the characters, and that connection has nothing to do with him being an earl, a cowboy or a cop. The romantic tension is what makes a reader’s heart go pitter pat, and that romantic tension happens in real life, too. I have to say, on the writing side, romance novels have given me a new appreciation for my husband’s manliness. Things that might irritate me without the right perspective, make me realize how male he really is. Men talk a certain way–or don’t talk, for that matter. They express their desires a certain way. They have a lot going on under the surface that they don’t put into words. Writing a romance hero helps me to see the hero in my own man!

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3. Romance novel tropes hide something deeper
The marriage of convenience, the amnesiac trying to put his life back together, the single mom who wants to do it on her own, the abandoned baby… Yes, these tropes are used over and over again, but they are used for a good reason–they go deeper into issues that readers care about. The marriage of convenience explores what makes a marriage work. Does community support make a difference? Does enforced time together make something deeper blossom? The amnesiac is a great way to explore who we really are when you strip away everything we’ve built up around us. What makes us lovable–our carefully constructed life, or something more elemental? Single moms can’t only think about themselves, and parenthood complicates a romantic relationship. How do you navigate love with kids in the mix? These tropes are used repeatedly because they hit upon our deepest desires and insecurities, and they let us get right into it without a lot of preamble.

Are romance novels fluffy and fun? Maybe! And why not? There is nothing wrong with some enjoyable reading. We do that in other literary forms, too. Fantasy is an elemental part of the reading experience, being whisked away to another life and another experience. But pure fantasy? Those are strong words. Love and relationships are alive, well and challenging in our real lives, too. And nobody–least of all a romance author!–said that love was easy.

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I write for three different Harlequin lines: Love Inspired, Western Romance, and Heartwarming. All of my books are sweet, so they don't go beyond a kiss. If you liked my first novel in Heartwarming, you might like my next Heartwarming book coming out in June 2017. You also may like my other books from the others lines!

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January 2017


Former beauty queen Isabel Baxter returns to her hometown, scarred after a near-fatal accident. But in high school, she was the fantasy of every teenage boy in Haggerston, Montana, including James Hunter. Even though James was too far below her social circle to be noticed…

Now her father's attorney, James isn't ready to forgive Isabel for the part she played in his own family tragedy. Yet she seems eager to make amends and prove herself capable of being more than a pretty face. Has the girl he once worshipped—his boss's daughter—grown into a woman James can respect…and maybe love?

Find it on the Harlequin site, or on Amazon!


February 2017



 Brody Mason needs a nurse. As soon as he can walk again, he'll leave Hope, Montana, and go straight back to the army. But Kaitlyn Harpe? That's adding insult to injury. Not just because she's a daily reminder that Brody's fiancĂ©e, Kate's sister, married his best friend while he was fighting in Afghanistan. But because Kaitlyn had kept the truth from him.

The Kaitlyn he knew before he deployed would never have perpetuated a lie like that. But this new person—the confident, beautiful woman with hidden depths in her eyes—is nothing like the shy, serious girl he knew. This Kaitlyn troubles him. Because Brody is starting to wonder if he proposed to the wrong sister…

Find it on the Harlequin site, or on Amazon!

24 comments:

  1. Welcome to our author group Patricia, and congratulations and best wishes for your first Heartwarming release!

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    1. Thank you, Kate! I'm so thrilled to be here! :)

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  2. An excellent post, Patty. Good luck with your releases--I LOVED A BAXTER'S REDEMPTION!

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    1. Thank you so much, Liz! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much! <3

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  3. Great post, Patricia. "Writing a romance hero helps me to see the hero in my own man!" I agree! Congratulations on your upcoming releases.

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  4. Well said Patricia, in every way! All the best with your releases.

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  5. Patricia, I'm so impressed that you write for 3 lines and keep all those balls in the air. I so enjoyed Isabel's story and will look forward to reading your Western Romance. Like you,I think it's the tangled webs we weave that keep avid romance readers buying romances every month.

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    1. Thanks, Roz! I don't have hobbies--which is my explanation for how I do it. LOL! And I'm so glad you enjoyed the book! Yes, I write dramatic love stories, and I'm so grateful for a lack of drama in my real life. :)

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  6. Great post. Romance novels, judging by their popuarity, fill a need in our lives. TThe examples of love overcoming great obstacles helps us understand and appreciate our (hopefully) less dramatic problems. Loved A Baxter's Redemption, especially his devotion to his sister.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed A Baxter's Redemption, Beth! And I agree--romance novels definitely fill a need. Like you, it makes me appreciate a good man and significantly less drama. ;)

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  7. Hi. Patricia and welcome! I loved A Baxter's Redemption and I look forward to all your books! Wonderful post!

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    1. Thanks so much, Catherine! :) I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it!

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  8. Love this, Patricia. I've never understood the critics of more contemporary romance because the heroine always wins! She manages to make the wildest, most unpredictable creature on earth - the man - walk into her arms because she's smart and strong and loving. So, he wins, too. No wonder young women love Harlequins. Congratulations on the book! Sounds great - and I love your Western cover!

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    1. Thanks, Muriel! And I agree that the criticism of modern romance doesn't seem to be rooted in the actual books we put out. I'm so honored to be writing with Harlequin.

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  9. well said, Patricia. I write across the board, across the "heat" spectrums, but what I really like about the 'sweet' Heartwarming books is that it really allows me to dive deep into characters' emotions and the complications that arise. Given romance is the best selling genre hands down, I think we're doing something right. :) Looking forward to your June release!

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    1. That's really neat that you write all across the spectrum! You get a really broad view. What is your website, Anna? I'd love to check it out.

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  10. Well said, Patricia. Thanks for sharing your insights and expertise.

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  11. So agree. I hate it when someone criticizes the romance genre! I think romance, especially the Heartwarming line, offers hope and a happy ending. Congrats on your first Heartwarming, Patricia. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. And I so need that happy ending in my writing and my reading!

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  12. Wow. Three lines. You are amazing! I read across a wide range of heat levels, but my absolute favorite is the sweet romance. I don't mind a little heat on the page, but so many books now have sex in it just for the sake of having sex. And as all of us old married ladies know, it's so much better when there's a deep, connecting emotional bond. I much prefer to connect with the characters that way than when they start dropping their clothes! Congratulations on your books! That is so exciting!!!

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    1. I'm also an "old married lady" (LOL!) and you said it perfectly! Thanks so much, LeAnne!

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