I call myself a romance novelist; I write romance books. The genre in which I write is entitled ‘romance’. But I wonder, sometimes, whether that’s quite accurate.
Because while I do write about romance, I would say that the core of my writing is love. I write about love. Romance plays a part, of course, but love is the fundamental theme.
Semantics, perhaps you’re thinking. But I think it’s a point not often appreciated that romance and love are two separate things. Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say:
- Love (noun):an intense feeling of deep affection.
- Romance: a pleasurable feeling of excitement and wonder associated with love.
Differing definitions; and it’s interesting that the romance definition relies on love.
Love can exist in a relationship without romance. You may love a man without his bringing you flowers or gazing deeply into your eyes or kissing you in that way. Love goes beyond romance.
Now, of course I’m not advocating romance-less love! The novels I write are full of romance, and for good reason – because romance is what makes the heart sing. But that’s not all my novels are about.
In Burning Embers, a reader with romantic sensibilities finds plenty to enjoy. Rafe is a strong character with an understanding of how to romance (and seduce) a woman. He makes Coral a delicious meal. He flies her to a deserted canyon for a picnic. He tells her she is beautiful. He worships her body. But there is more underlying the characters’ connection than the romance – a much deeper bond. The depth of feeling is what scares the pair; to allow oneself to feel that way takes courage, a willingness to allow vulnerability. The end of the book is about the stripping back of barriers and being as one, open to each other. And that’s love.
So while I’m happy to call myself a romance novelist and to publish within the romance genre, I like to think of myself as someone who writes love stories.