This past February, I wrote a blog post about romance novels and questioned whether the books I write really are romances.
Because for a book to be a romance novel, “…the core story is the developing relationship between a man and a woman. The other events in the story line, though important, are secondary to that relationship…”*
I think my books, A Year with Geno and A Beautiful Day in Alaska do meet that requirement: the romance between the two characters is the focus of the story, though both of my heroines have other priorities.
But what about my debut novel: Celebration House? The main character has much greater priorities than falling in love. There are things she’s dying to get done…
If you glanced at the Goodreads page for Celebration House, you would see reviewers agree: “There is a nice romance element in the book,” and “It mostly concerns the renovation of a house, with a hint of romance.”
And then, it happened. Yesterday, the Romance Writers of America announced a new category of books (that’s me doing a drum roll): “Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance.” That’s it! That’s me! More importantly, that’s all three books in my Celebration House Trilogy. No, my female protagonists are not solely focused on finding and maintaining romance. They have other things to do. But, yes, the men who find a place in their lives are important. They are essential to the story.
I’ve thought up an analogy: The romance in my books is like the mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon and onion, and peach cobbler that are served alongside the roasted chicken. No. It’s not the entree, but damn, who wants to eat roasted chicken without those side dishes? Not me!
And maybe I’m still on a sugar high from all the birthday cheesecake I ate yesterday – thank you for the many birthday wishes, by the way – but I am so excited about this. Truly! This news has lit a fire under my fanny to buckle down and finish the first drafts of my Celebration House Trilogy. I’m not yet ready to announce publication dates for the three books, but I’m feeling like 2016 will be an amazing year.
Let’s get ’em done! Because now, I have a place I belong. I have a strike zone to aim for. I have “a category.”
Hands and arms inside the cart: Re-releasing
Bone Trombone Girl.
*Quote from Leigh Michael’s book, On Writing Romance
Intriguing development. I wonder how long it will take for this classification to gain enough traction to be taken seriously. As a reader, I’m especially interested, because I have no interest in reading genre romance books. Genre romances usually have some simple “save the…” or “solve the…” subplot thrown in that is supposed to be the driving force in their heroine’s life, but that’s a ruse that fools nobody. I want the fiction I read to be grounded in realistic life circumstances, accompanied by a developing relationship that is important and intense, but not the central purpose.
My “Irish Firebrands” could fit in this new category, too. I think the fact that the characters are middle-aged or older and have well-established habits helps contribute substance to the story. The romantic element is very strong, but the relationship is a consequence of the characters’ other choices (many of which are downright poor, to put it politely).
Still anticipating the reissue of “Celebration House” and the advent of its siblings! 🙂
Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment. It’s difficult to admit I don’t write romance novels. I once loved the genre. I remember dragging my three young children to the library where I would borrow every Heather Graham or Jude Devereaux novel they had, and I’d be set for the week. Now, I struggle to finish a romance novel when the heroine makes bad choice after bad choice or doesn’t know what she wants or how to get it. I don’t like weak heroines; I like abusive heroes even less. Maybe you and I are writing books that we want to read and just hope a few souls among the masses might want to read them too.
Thanks again for your comment. So appreciated.