Betsy started her little “rules for romance” and I started thinking I have my own little list. If you haven’t read Betsy’s list, it’s here.
Betsy’s Rules for Romance Novels:
- Marriage before sex.
- At least one romantic event every 25 pages.
- There must be mess.
- There must be an antagonist.
- There must be a catastrophic event.
Here are my rules for romance novels.
1. The hero must be a hero.
The hero and heroine are the stars of the romance novel. Not the side characters, no matter how much you may love them. The main protagonists. But not all heroes are actually heroic. I don’t mean putting out fires and saving lives. I mean being heroes to the heroine. The neighbor guy who climbs up that tree to get down her scared kitten. The coworker who spends all night working on a report for her so she can be with her mom in the hospital. The fellow student who secretly hides money in the heroine’s backpack when he discovers she’s out of financial aid and can’t pay her rent. Those little acts are big acts to the heroine; they’re heroic.
Even if a hero is a hero and does these heroic things, he can still blow it by acting dumb and talking like a moron. A hero doesn’t call the heroine “baby” or “babe”. She’s not an infant. She’s not a child. She’s an adult, a full grown woman. Even if she’s eighteen years old, if she’s old enough to have a romantic and eventually sexual relationship with the hero then she’s old enough to be treated and spoken to as an adult.
2. There must be monogamy.
No sleeping around, period. Why do romance authors think it’s sexy or even the least bit romantic to have a hero or heroine cheat? Once they meet each other, or start down that road to a relationship, that’s it. No more sex with anyone other than their new significant other. Period.
3. There must be a courtship.
A romance novel is NOT a romance novel when the couple meet and hop immediately into bed. It’s a proven fact that men and women fall in love differently. Once sex is on the table, a man can no longer fall deeply in love with the woman he’s sleeping with. He can’t. Read a few psychological studies and see for yourself. So although the heroine might already be in love with the hero, once she sleeps with him, it’s over. There must be a courtship and dating in order for a man to fall in love with a woman.
4. Marriage before sex (preferred).
I prefer to read romance novels where the couple, for some reason or other, are forced into marriage and then fall in love with each other. When they finally have sex, they’re already married and already in love. That’s why I like western romances and Christian romances. The couples are married first before they have sex and that makes it sweeter.
For the past three decades the fabric of families in the United States has changed significantly. Men leave their wives of 30 years and take up with younger women, forgetting about their old family and starting a brand new family. From a woman’s point-of-view, that makes marriage obsolete. Why get married now, have children with this man, and then have him ditch the kids and me thirty years from now? It’s happening so frequently now that a lot of young women my age have decided to forget about marriage, use sperm donors, and leave men to their own devices. It’s a rational consequence of the male trend to dump their families once they hit 40. For that reason, number 4 is not required but preferred. For the record, I’m totally for the women who want to remain single and skip marriage as long as they’re not living with men too. Living with a man is just as detrimental to a woman as marrying one.
5. The heroine must be a heroine.
In the late 90s and early 2000s there was a trend to make heroines who hated kids. As in they never wanted to have children or be around children and their careers were more important than anything. I hate those women. They’re not really women. They’re girls wanting to be men. They’re not heroines. There is an innate sense of wonder and natural bond that develops between women and children, even children who are not theirs. This is a byproduct of many hormonal changes that take place in girls as they become women. When a woman doesn’t feel that change, she’s still a child with a child’s selfishness. I don’t want to read a romance novel starring a spoiled selfish child. I want to read a romance novel starring a selfless woman who thinks of others first and is strong enough to take care of her children as well as others. There’s no room for hating children in my romance novels. Ever.
There you have it. Love ’em or hate ’em, these are my five rules for romance novels.
Ashley’s Five Rules for Romance Novels:
- The hero must be a hero.
- There must be monogamy.
- There must be a courtship.
- Marriage before sex (preferred).
- The heroine must be a heroine.