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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Romance or Love Story???

 by Dina Sleiman

Last week at the ACFW conference was filled with wonderful memories. One of the great conversations I had was…well, more of an argument really…with Gina over the definition of a romance novel. Gina follows very strict guidelines and often fusses that even award-winning books in romance categories aren’t actual romances. I, on the other hand, take a more liberal view. However, after hashing it out for a while, I think we came to a consensus.

Dandelion Dering played by Taylor?
There are romances, and there are love stories. For instance Nicholas Sparks books could be called love stories, but they fall far outside of the parameters of romance, sometimes even ending sadly.

And I have decided that for me as an author, romances are a bit stifling.

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl face obstacles in getting together. Boy and girl live happily ever after. That’s the basic romance novel in a nutshell. For a true romance, if you remove the romantic thread, there’s no plot left. And the story should be told from the hero and heroines third person points of view.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore romance. For me, no book is complete without it. I even love a happy ending. But personally, I enjoy a few more twists and turns along the journey.

When I penned my debut novel, I wanted it to be a love story, but I wanted to go a different route in how I explored the topic of love. The first thing that came to mind was a Eugene O’Neil play I had read in high school. In it, the heroine lost her true love in one of the World Wars. She spends the rest of the play searching for a man who can take his place—but instead finds only men who fulfill aspects of that longing. This gave me an idea. What if my heroine turned her back on true love because of a childhood wound? She could spend the rest of the story searching for love. She would find men who represented aspects of love, but never quite the real thing.

The next thought that came to my mind was a nonfiction book I’d read by Dr. Ed Wheat called Love Life for Every Married Couple. The book lists the different Biblical words for love and explains each one. What if I were to combine this idea with the Eugene O’Neil play? My heroine could meet men that fulfill certain Biblical definitions of love, but never that true God-like agape love.

So in my novel, Dance of the Dandelion, my peasant heroine does indeed turn away from true love because of her childhood trauma of enduring a famine. This launches her on a journey of discovery. She goes through a series of men against an exciting backdrop of the medieval pageantry and adventure on the high seas. Gottfried, the stoic knight, fulfills her need for safety and belonging. Richard, the charming castle steward, meets her longing for romance and fun. Giovanni, the kind Italian merchant, provides her with friendship and companionship. Finally she meets Lucio, the sexy sea captain, who represents passion and desire, but each relationship lacks some important element and leaves her unfulfilled.

As you might have guessed, it is only when Dandelion finds God’s true love that she is set free to find earthly love as well. But the story doesn’t end there. Dandelion still has challenges and difficult choices to face.

So, I guess the verdict is in. I write happy-ending romantic love stories of the non-romance variety. Did that make any sense? To hardcore romance readers who approach a book with a very specific set of expectations it does. And yet I think any romance readers will love my novel.


Here's what a few of your favorite authors have to say (humor me for a minute, I just got two of these yesterday and have to share them somewhere.)

"Dina Sleiman is a beautiful writer. Romantic and gritty, Dance of the Dandelion takes readers on an epic journey of human failings, self discovery, and second chances. Through it all God’s love and forgiveness shines through."
--Julie Klassen, Bestselling Author

"This medieval romp of a book reads like a dance! Full of unexpected twists and turns, it displays the folly or joy of our choices and the God who enables us to find true freedom in Him. Dandelion Dering is a heroine you won't soon forget!”
--Laura Frantz

"A magical medieval tale of whim and whimsy, the Dance of the Dandelion is one woman's journey to both true love and the truth, spinning a spell that will hold you captive from the first page to the last. Strongly recommended for mature audiences, this is a novel--and an author--not to be missed, and an emotional and spiritual journey that will leave you breathless."
 --Julie Lessman

Dance of the Dandelion is now available in print and ebook on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Next week the Inkies have decided to celebrate the release of my debut novel. Please come back and join us and enjoy their various perspectives on the book as well as a giveaway opportunity.

Which do you prefer, a romance novel or a love story? Why? What is your definition of a romance?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

45 comments:

  1. Great thought provoker Dina. I expect only writers would be arguing love story versus romance -- in fiction. Otherwise I want them to be one and the same in life.

    Thanks for (and congratulations on) the reviews. I think we'll have a blast next week with Dandy!!

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  2. I guess I'd have to go somewhere in the middle too. I love romance, but I want more twist and plot, and at the end, I do want the happy ending.

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  3. My stories definitely do not fit Gina's strict romance definition--especially since they are written in 1st person! Mine are love stories, through and through. That's why I usually just characterize mine as historical fiction instead of historical romance.

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  4. Good for you, Anne!!!! I'd much rather books be defined as fiction with romantic elements if that's really what they are. No shame in that. What irks me is when a book is labeled romance and it's not.

    Romances can have bunches of twists and plot, but the key difference between a story with romantic elements and one that's truly a romance (IMHO) is if the romantic thread can be removed and the lead character(s) still have that arc.

    I've read numerous CBA classified-romances that could easily end with the leads not together and the story still have a satisfactory ending. And that's OKAY!!!! :-)

    Just be upfront with me the reader.

    Reminds me of a series that Lynn Morris wrote about Cheney Duvall, a female doctor after the Civil War. The books have romantic elements but aren't romances even through there is a strong emotional connection and physical attraction between Cheney and Shiloh. Takes almost the whole series for them to get together.

    I shall confess that I read the first two books without skimming. Then I got bored with Cheney's adventures and skimmed the books for the scenes with her and Shiloh together. Didn't care about any insights into their characters that they each needed to make.

    As far as the follow-up series of Cheney and Shiloh married and having adventures . . . . zzzzzz.

    With all that said, I'm not adverse to women's fiction with romantic elements.

    The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson is the best book I've read so far in 2011. Not a romance.

    My theory is that the CBA's romance parameters are more broad becuase there's this shying away from sexual attraction depth to inspirational romances. As if the, maybe, industry as a whole doesn't want stories to be sooooo focused on the progression of the romantic relationship between the leads.

    One of my favorite books I read in 2010 was Jamie Carie's ANGEL'S DEN even though it has an unnecessary and pointless epilogue. The story isn't a romance to me becuase if it didn't have the epilogue (and shouldn't), then the story wouldn't have ended with the leads together. Only with the promise of maybe they would. And I was completely utterly okay with that because the ending served the story.

    Let me put it this way, if the male lead in ANGEL'S DEN had been an old man, a youth, a woman, with a few tweaks, the heroine's journey from a victim to victor over her abuser would still stand. In other words, the male lead helped the progtagonist along on her journey. And he didn't really have much of his own character growth to be doing.

    Still, let me repeat, ANGEL'S DEN ranks in my top 5 favorite reads of 2010. Fabulously written. Except for the pointless epilogue that, while I haven't confirmed with Jamie, I suspect was ONLY included because Jamie's editor asked for it.

    I wish they would have trusted in the strength of Jamie's storytelling for the reader to close the book feeling satisfied that the leads would get together eventually. But they probabaly thought, "We want to market this as a romance so we'd better include that HEA ending."

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  5. Well, Deb, the difference actually does seem to matter to genre romance fans who generally stick to books like Steeple Hill and Barbour. It's a matter of reader expectation. It's a bummer to them if we let them down. When I entered this in Faith, Hope, and Love, they had no problem with it since it was a general historical category that could include romantic women's fiction. But they reamed me in the Genesis historical romance category because the hero wasn't clear and they didn't know who to connect to. As Gina and Anne point out, it's better to just say historical. I know mine will be entered in straight historical categories for contests this year.

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  6. Sounds like we're on the same page here Jessica. I love authors like Julie Klassen, Laura Frantz, and Julie Lessman who do a little bit more with their romance. Mind you, all of those still squeak by in the the romance category most of the time, although Gina might not be pleased with that designation.

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  7. Mine's in first person too, Anne. I think it really makes it more of a coming of age story about the heroine with a strong romantic theme. Can't wait to read yours.

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  8. Gina, thanks for adding your own post to my post ;) Makes it a two for the price of one day. And as you see, I'm very teachable and got it right this time.

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  9. Dina--

    Dr. Wheat's book was required reading way back in our premarital counseling class. And as far as your book illustrates the important differences in the types of love, I imagine that's one of the reasons I found it to be so deep and edifying, even if it was a tad edgier than I would normally like. (That coupled with the fact that it was extremely well written!) And I think it's especially important for young people to understand the different qualities and types of love--and to be able to recognize the difference when they come along.

    I have to bicker just a tad with Gina on her choice of the word "depth" when talking about shying away from sexual attraction. To me, a romance where the focus is on sexual attraction to the exclusion of all other forms of love is shallow, not deep. Yes, it's a natural part of romantic love, but with all the other aspects of love to explore, why spend all the time there? That's pretty much what secular romances offer--I think an inspirational should offer more.

    As far as what books are labeled as--I think the deciding factor is that Christian fiction is still dominated by romance, to the point where it is often hard to sell a book that doesn't contain it. I expect a publisher's decision to label a book a romance has more to do with marketing than anything else.

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  10. Just doing my part, Dina. I have the spiritual gift of generosity, you see. And receiving, which was why folks were always trying to share things with me at conference.

    Julie Lessman's first four books (and I'm assuming book 5 is this way too) are family sagas with uber strong romantic elements.

    Laura Frantz and Julie Klassen are historical fiction with romantic elements.

    There's nothing at all wrong with defining their stories as such.

    I figure if I'm reading a "romance" and I'm skimming all the scenes that don't have the heroine and hero together just to get to the scenes with them together . . . *sigh*.

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  11. Barb, I have to say that I've been so pleased that my book has resonated even with the more conservative audience. That was definitely a concern with some of the risks I took. But, so far so good. I think the conservative audience has recognized the power in this story to effect younger women positively.

    As for your argument with, Gina...this is me taking one giant step backwards out of the way :)

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  12. Barb, I really don't think we differ on the sexual tension depth. My problem with most ABA romances is that if it weren't for sexual attraction, I'm not sure what would draw the leads to one another. There's TOOO much dependance on sexual attraction.

    On the flip side, I've read far too many CBA romances where the leads notice the other is attractive but no other sexual tension is given. By book's end, the hero is confessing his love and proposing. Huh? Really?

    A good inspirational romance will balance out the sexual attraction (and tension that results from it) and the emotional connection, while also layering in the spiritual thread of "hey, God is being matchmaker here, drawing these two together."

    I want to have that moment of falling in love with the hero but liking the heroine so much that I want her to have him more.

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  13. Gina--
    I don't know that we differ all that much. What I was objecting to was the term 'depth.' And I think I have a recent ABA-type romance coloring my opinion this morning.

    I think we already have depth. As far as sexual tension--I'm wondering, in particular, what you think is missing?

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  14. Hmm. Well, I don't think sexual tension is missing as much these days in CBA romances as, say, ten years ago. I can even see a difference from 5 years ago.

    Now while I don't think every inspy romance needs passionate kissing scenes like Julie Lessman writes, I would like to see more of that Maddie-David "Moonlighting" sexual tension.

    On the way home from the airport, I read one of the free books provided at the conference. It was an anthology actually. First let me clarify that I actually enjoyed the entire collection. And all four authors did a very nice job with including sexual attraction between the leads, and doing it in an appropriate manner.

    My favorite of the stories was the one where the hero was pretending to be in love with the heroine to help the heroine make another guy jealous. Only the hero was really in love with the heroine so he struggled with doing what his flesh enjoyed and with being selfless enough to sacrifice his wants to make her happy.

    Well, the heroine actually was in love with the hero too. She had been trying to make him jealous when her plan backfired.

    While it seems like both leads were being intentionally deceitful, the story was a good example of how we commit to a plan for getting what we want and then when obstacles arise, we scramble which often can lead to us making poor choices we wouldn't were we not under pressure.

    So the ultimate theme of the story was "unwillingness to be honest leads to greater deception, while honest leads to freedom."

    Anyhoo, the author created some appropriate-for-an-inspirational sexual tension scenes that were fitting for Christian characters.
    Major kudos to her!!!

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  15. Wow, you Inkies can really get into it over romance! Um, my thoughts are . . . I LOVE romances and find myself disappointing with most books that have as much other stuff as they do romance. For example, I can think of a bestselling CBA author whose book I recently read by skimming chapters. I mean, if you have to skip 20 or more pages to get the hero and heroine together, it is NOT a romance and better have a glue-me-to-the-page plot if I'm going to keep reading.

    But that's just me. Obviously, since this CBA author is an established bestseller, not all CBA readers feel the way I do. :-) So Dina, I started your book and I'm anxious to finish! Dandelions adventures sound great, and I had the same thought about The Frontiersman's Daughter. Not a true romance, but a romantic and adventurous enough story to keep me enthralled. :)

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  16. Sounds like you're a true romance lover like Gina, Naomi. You'll have to let me know if Dandelion passes the test of romantic enough to hold your interest. There's rarely more than a chapter that goes by that she isn't caught up in a romance with someone or another. She's a bit of a floozy before she finds Jesus, I'm afraid.

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  17. I'm done with love stories. Too many disappointing tears. Having said that, I think I just read one. LOL

    *SPOILER ALERT*

    Book 1 of Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion, ends without whom I perceived as the H/h getting together. What an utter disappointment! I was all set to throw the book against my beautiful new red wall until I caught a glimpse of the preview for the Book 2 in the series and realized all hope was not lost. It was just... uh ... postponed for another 500 pages. If it wasn't for that preview, though, I don't think I would've read another Francine Rivers book regardless how much everyone else seems to enjoy them. As it is, I'm now onto Book 3 which I started before heading to St Louis and am eagerly anticipating the happily-ever-after ending. And if you've read it and know the ending - DON'T TELL ME WHATEVER IT IS!

    I have to admit that until I walked in on Dina and Gina discussing love stories and romances, I didn't know the difference. Now, it seems too plain. I hope the marketing departments agree and promote accordingly.

    Anita Mae.

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  18. That's a good point, Anita. Sometimes the romance stretches over several books. Certainly in the Mark of the Lion series there is a lot more going on than just romance, though. You definitely could remove the romance thread and still have great books.

    If you like that Roman era but want hero and heroine together, try Sandi Rog's books.

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  19. Anita's comment also reminds me that in an earlier version of Dandelion, sometimes people were rooting for the wrong hero. In this newly edited for WhiteFire version, we made some changes to make sure that you're cheering for the right guy.

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  20. I guess I'm a fan of the romance, because I like it when people end up happy, and together. Or at least knowing for sure that it was thte wrong person, so there's hope. I don't really like it were books end and you know that he was the one, and he got away.
    I also like it when the action and intrigue is center stage, and romance takes the supporting role. But I guess, overall I just want to characters to be happy!
    Dance of the Dandelion sounds wonderful :)

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  21. I love the idea of exploring different aspects of love and what people need from love. As soon as my life isn't quite so crazy, I'm going to dive into your book, Dina.

    We need more medieval stories out there, too!!

    I don't guess I ever write just pure romance either. I think story rules, so whatever makes that story work is right.

    But I do want a happily ever after most of the time. And, if you must break my heart, make it for a good reason!

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  22. Faye, I like how you put it. You just want the characters to be happy. Me too!!!

    I suppose there's a lot to marketing decisions that we will never understand.

    And let me say I don't mind reading a book that's ____ with romantic elements. Just don't list it as a romance when it really is not.

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  23. Faye, I like a happy ending too, although I can handle a bittersweet ending if it's still hopeful. As far as the books I write, they will probably always have happy endings.

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  24. I'm a big fan of yours now, DeAnna. We'll have to get Gina's final verdict sometime on whether or not yours is a "romance." It's certainly more so than some of the others that she's nixed here in the comments. But I would say the one that I read might have ended up being slightly more about the inner journey of the hero than the romance itself. Hmm... Either way it was wonderful and incredibly romantic.

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  25. Fun post, and what a conversation!

    I love both kinds of stories. And even stories with no HEA at all that leave me thinking.

    But like Gina said, tell me what I'm getting. When I'm in the mood for romance and the book doesn't deliver, I get a bit frustrated (I do not want the hero to die at the end. UGH!).

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  26. Awww, shucks, Dina. Thanks so much. That means a lot to me.

    And, yeah, I have to agree. It's his story more than anyone's, as important as his heroine is to him and to the overall story. It's funny, because the first time I talked to a book group about the book, I was chatting along, "I guess the book is mostly about such and such, and when my main character does so and so, HE--" and there was this audible gasp from the group.

    I wrote a romance with a MALE MAIN CHARACTER? Consternation! Uproar!

    So maybe the elusive title of "romance" doesn't technically fit the book. It may fit the second book better, but I'm probably no fit judge. I think my agent is sure I don't know what a romance is.

    I'm kind of afraid she's right. O.o

    I guess my books just are what they are. :D

    Bless you for reading though.

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  28. Well, let me just say that before the extensive Gina tutorial, I would have said that yours, Julie Klassen's, Laura Frantz's, and Julie Lessman's were all romance, just not category romance. In fact, I think those ladies would probably all say that they write romance. But either way, it's been a fun conversation.

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  29. What an intriguing post! Definitely an interesting distinction to consider. :) Even though I suppose traditional "romances" could feel a bit too predictable or "boxed-in" for some, I feel like there's still plenty of room to weave a good story in through the elements of boy meets girl, they experience conflict, and they live happily-ever-after... I think each story is unique, and as much as I realize that genre division is important and helpful, at the same time I like the idea that each story is its own entity that doesn't always have to be categorized.

    Sorry if my ramblings don't make much sense! You can probably tell that my WIP (and my first manuscript in need of editing) fit in the "romance" category, since I sound a bit defensive. ;)

    Anyway, your book premise sounds so intriguing, and with the great Kindle price at Amazon.com, as well as all the awesome reviews, I decided to buy an e-copy. :) I don't actually own a Kindle (I just have Kindle for PC), so normally I just get the freebies, but this one sounds great! :)

    ~Amber

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  30. Oh, that's so cool, Amber. You made my day. When you're with a small press, every sale counts.

    Now about the romance, we've actually been continuing this conversation in our secret inky cave. The truth is, I don't like category romance as much as a broader sort of romance.

    But, some people do it really well like Ruth Axtell Morren, Louise M. Gouge, and also our own CJ Chase. Roseanna White will have a great category romance coming out soon. I'm sure there are lots of other great ones that our romance aficionados could mention.

    The problem to me is category romance seems very hit and miss. Too often they seem more focused on fulfilling the plot points than on truly weaving a great story.

    So my unsolicited advice to you ;) is just to be careful to truly craft as good story and be one of those great romance novels that anyone can enjoy.

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  31. Had to come back and mention that all of our WhiteFire novels are beautiful love stories with happy endings. And all of them are under $4 on kindle. So if you like mine, check out these as well.

    A Stray Drop of Blood - Roseanna White

    Jewel of Persia - Roseanna White

    Shadowed in Silk - Christine Lindsay

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  32. Okay, be cautious about assigning category/genre romance formulas onto all romances because trade paperback/single-titles are going to have some variances.

    Such as . . .

    _a hero protagonist
    _leads not meeting in first chapter
    _subplots
    _hero and hero not spending long time apart

    Naomi made an excellent point. So did Susie. So I'll combine: If the book is listed as a romance and the reader is skimming pages to get to scenes with the H/H together, then the odds are that book really isn't a romance.

    I read genre/category romance and authors such as Missy Tippens, Ruth Logen Herne, Carla Capshaw, Victoria Bylan (okay, practically all of them LOL) do an excellent joy writing romance-focused novels.

    I have, however, read a few Heartsongs that were more women's fiction with RE than romances, but I think that was the author's type of storytelling.

    And you can still consider yourself a romance author even if your book is a "with RE" one.

    While I don't consider Julie Klassen's or Laura Frantz's books (at least the ones I've read) romances that DOES NOT AT ALL mean I didn't enjoy the books, because I did. :D

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  33. Ack! I wrote a looong comment. And it seems to be MIA. Not sure this one will be as long.

    Dina, thanks for the plug :)

    DeeAnna, I think the heroine-centric focus is more common in the CBA market. In the general/ABA market, there are a lot more romance novels with more emphasis on the hero's journey than the heroine's. Check out the difference in the covers. CBA tends to be a woman in a gorgeous dress or a bonnet with nary a man in sight. ABA has far more couples and solo guys than CBA. Love Inspireds have more couples, but then, they are shelved with the other Harlequin romances at places like Walmart, not in the Inspirational section.

    Okay, now for the quibble. No, disagreement. Who says romances have to be in 3rd person? Is this a Christian romance rule? The general romance market has some big names writing 1st person: Simone Elkeles (YA RITA winner), Kristin Higgins (contemporary RITA winner), Karen White (women's fiction with romantic elements RITA finalist).

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  34. Love story, without a doubt. And I have an affinity for dandelions!

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  35. Very thought-provoking, especially for those of us who write things that never seem to be an exact "fit" anywhere!
    For myself, I MUST have a happy ending. No happy ending, not a happy reader, IMHO. As for the romance, if a story just has "romantic elements" I may love the story but it leaves me wanting at the end.
    I guess that makes me a romance junkie.
    BTW, Dina, I hadn't heard the history behind "Dance of the Dandelion" before. Reading it now, after reading the novel, WOW... you absolutely achieved your objective! Makes me want to go back and read it again!

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  36. CJ, you know I love first person books. Mine is first person. But evidently this is an expectation of category romance readers. I wonder if the ones you mentioned are long, single title ABA romance novels?

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  37. Well, Lisa, do I have the book for you :)

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  38. You know, Niki, it would be nice if those with romantic elements books came with a disclaimer as to whether or not the ending was happy.

    I happen to love Siri Mitchell's Love's Pursuit, which has a tragic moment 3/4 through and then a bittersweet ending. However, I usually try to warn people about that. Once I forgot, and boy did I regret it. Thankfully, Carrie Pagels forgave me and we're still friends. LOL.

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  39. Dina, yes, 3rd person is a category requirement. But as I mentioned in the comment that disappeared into the ether , category is just a more restrictive subset of romance. Category is really about branding -- a reader knows what's in the category book without having to pick it up.

    Now I don't know if the CBA non-category romance market is more restrictive than the ABA counterparts. But 1st person seems to be on an upsurge in ABA, and since the ABA trends often influence CBA eventually, the market may open to more 1st person.

    (And of the ones I mentioned, only Karen White's books are long. The others I mentioned are surprisingly short, so it's not a matter of length.)

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  40. I'd love to see more in first person. What about chick lit? I know it's out of style already. Those were usually in first person and they included a lot of romance. Siri Mitchell's Kissing Adrien one of my favorite books, and I would call that both Chick Lit and Romance.

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  41. Dina, as usual, this is a great post. Lot's to think about and discuss. But first, let me congratulate you on the fabulous author endorsements!

    Second, let me say that both yours and Anne Mateer's books are wonderful with excellent heroines. Whether you categorize them as historical fiction with romance elements, or historical romance, they're wonderful.

    I love romance, and I love fiction with romantic elements. Whichever one I'm reading, though, I want a happy ending. That doesn't mean marriage, but I do want some indication that these two characters are going to pursue a lasting relationship. So maybe a satisfying ending is what I mean by HEA.

    Now for an opinion that may not be so popular: more and more I'm growing disappointed with books that try to fit all of the so-called "rules" of category romance into the story.

    Hero and heroine must meet right at the beginning, there's instant attraction, and an instant reason why they can't pursue a relationship. A lot of times, those reasons seem forced to me, as do the "cute-meets" on page three, and the electrical impulse that goes up someone's fingers when they touch - the cause for their instant attraction.

    I don't care if the h/h meet on page one or page fifty - as long as you make me care about them. I don't care what the conflict is that keeps them apart - as long as it's believable.

    So often lately, when I pick up a book, the "cute meet", the conflict, and instant attraction all happen right in the first scene. To me, that's too rushed for me to care.

    Let me meet one character, learn about them, care about them, before all the other things are thrown in there.

    If I may, I'd like to use Anne's book to make this point. Hero and heroine do NOT meet right away. By the time they meet, I have come to adore and care what happens to the heroine. She's well-developed, and her conflict is well-enmeshed into the story. I basically knew where the book was headed, but that was a good thing because I cared about the heroine and wanted to see how she made the journey to her HEA. But this isn't a category romance, right?

    So then, let me use Missy Tippens as an example. She writes category Love Inspired. She does it well. Why? For the same reasons Anne, and Dina did with their books. She creates heroines I care about. She doesn't throw a jumble of rules at the reader. And the other thing Missy does well that I'm seeing less and less of ... She shows the characters truly falling for each other. Even if there's an instant attraction between them, there has to be more to it, a reason why they fall in love. Let me feel it, let me experience it, and then I won't care whether it's a category romance or a big book, a romance or a love story. Because I'll love the characters and love reading their journey. Just don't take away my HEA.

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  42. Oops. That was a rather long diatribe. I didn't mean to get so carried away. ;)

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  43. I wonder if too many category romance writers are rushing to meet contracts. I know I'd have a hard time writing several good books a year.

    Sounds like the point we all agree on is that story should come before category rules. And a compelling and believable hero and heroine are a must.

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  44. I think I've had that conversation with Gina, too. If one took the romance out of my stories, one would still have stories, as I write romantic suspense. Historical romantic suspense, and yet I don't think they'd be as much fun. My heroes do not always rescue my heroines, mind you. That is annoying.

    Frankly, I read few books without some romantic element, and if it doesn't have a happy or at least potential for happiness in the future, I put it down. I even flip to the end to see if the happiness will be there. If it isn't, I set the book aside. The one exception i can call to mind is Wintercombe by Pamela Belle. But I knew of a sequel and trusted the author to deliver the HEA in the next book.

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  45. Yeah, I love that romantic element too. Got to have it in there somewhere. Thanks for stopping by Laurie. It's always nice to have you visit.

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