1. What are some of the things you expect when you read a romance? Why do you/readers read romance?
Mostly, I expect to see two people dealing with the big issues of human relationships and difficult life events and have it play out in a life-affirming, positive way. In contrast with “literary” fiction (which I also love) and “women’s” lit, in which challenges and tragedies tend to dominate, often without much relief.
What I expect in a romance, other than an HEA, is a genuine conflict between the main characters in which both are challenged by their own perspectives and motivations and both have to work hard to overcome the barriers that are keeping them apart. I want it to hurt! And I want to think, “How is the author going to pull this off??”
I look for a strong connection between the two main characters, that feeling that they really see each other in a way that nobody else does. Julie Anne Long does an amazing job of creating a sense of “like recognizes like” between her people.
I’m a huge fan of great dialogue and I want lots of it. That’s where I want to see the two main characters challenge each other and start to reflect on their own issues. So, I look for a lot of character development, which for me means the heroine (in m/f romance) needs to have agency and not just be a passive savior for the hero.
I also expect the relationship to unfold in a rich setting with interesting supporting characters. I expect to see that these people are grounded in living their lives and there’s that white noise of a believable setting and background activity, if that makes sense?
2. What sub-genres of romance have you read (e.g., paranormal, romantic suspense)? What are some similarities that you’ve noticed among the various novels in the sub-genres you’ve read?
I read mostly historical romance but have also read a fair share of contemporaries and quite a few paranormals. The similarities I’ve noticed are the alpha hero, the hero is wealthy, one if not both MCs have a devastating past hurt, either from childhood or from a previous romantic relationship, difficulty with trust and being vulnerable, in historicals, lots of female virgins! And surprisingly, some virgins in contemporaries too. Over the last ten or so years, more heroines are more flawed, both internally and externally. In historicals, they’re often described as “plain.” No more Mary Sues!
3. Which common storylines do you most enjoy and why?
I’m not sure I can answer the “why” to these! But I love enemies to lovers, second chance, marriage of convenience, alpha hero (but he can’t punch down), brother’s best friend, slow burn (as long as there’s heat the whole time), governess or other class difference.
4. How can writers find new twists for old classics?
I read once is that historical fiction is written in two time periods: the time period the author belongs to and the time period of the story. So reflecting contemporary concerns, ideas, and perspectives into any genre is a way to keep classics fresh?