First off, let me define the kind of romance I like and write: The clean kind that makes your heart do pirouettes and makes you say "AWW!", where all parties are honorable and well behaved, but not cheesy. I don't like the icky physical attraction kind where both parties can't keep their hands off of each other, or the super dramatic kind worthy of Katherine and Heathcliff or Romeo and Juliet. We all know how those ended. My feelings for romance covers all genres.
When I read, I prefer romance and mystery/adventure in a 1:2 ratio, so that's how I write it. The majority of the story is centered on the mystery, with a few sweet spots in between. In my Lizzie Evans series there is only a little romance. Lizzie's boyfriend, Jim, is such a gentleman. *sigh* I have three couples and only a little romance between them. Not enough to overwhelm the mystery, but enough to be realistic and charming. I think the most romantic thing that happens in The Black Cat Diamond (the first Lizzie book) is Jim going with Lizzie to eavesdrop on a black market meeting. No dramatic rescues, no messy get-together-break-up-get-together-again cycles, just my characters being themselves and loving each other for it.
In my opinion, romance can be overdone. For instance, the following scene is overdoing it:
"My Darling, Patricia, I love you more than my house in Paris!"
"Oh, Baron, you know my heart belongs only to you!"
"How long we have waited for this! But please, call me Pollard. Your Pollard."
"We shall ride into the sunset, ours souls harmonizing with the song in our hearts!"
"We shall live in my mansion, and your presence, the presence of my angel, will dispel the evil presence my father left behind!"
"Our love will seep into the walls and create a paradise of warmth and happiness!"
"Kiss me Pollard!"
The couple kissed. All the love they had ever felt was there at their lips. They lived happily ever after blah blah blah.
Ick. I apologize if that made you throw up. This is overly sweet. Like rotten fruit. Or anything made by Little Debbie. A good romance should be like a good curry or red bean ice cream. There has to be flavor, the more complex the better, and not just sugar. The lovers have to be compatible and complicated, like red curry with cilantro and pineapple, not just a waxy chocolate icing over a sawdust-like cake.
Okay, enough with weird food analogies. This is what good romance looks like in my eyes:
I blinked. I was free. Free to run away. Free to live my life with the one I loved.
It had worked. The court had found Prince Jack guilty. I didn't have to marry him, and there was no potential war hanging over my head. I could marry George with a clean conscience.
My parents had lost. I was sad for them. They were losing their youngest daughter, a princess, to a gardener.
I caught sight of George, and the smile on his face clearly expressed his happiness.
As soon as I got back to the palace, I met him in the gazebo. He was still smiling.
"We did it. We can marry." His smile fell. I let mine drop. "What's the matter?"
"I want to marry you, but I do not want to force you to live a life as a peasant. You have been royalty all your life. If you marry me, you'll have to give it all up, and I don't want you to be miserable. I won't sacrifice your happiness for mine."
"What makes you think I'll be miserable? I'd rather be a chambermaid and married to you than be forced to marry someone of my parent's choice and be a queen. It will be a learning curve and take some getting used to, certainly, but I will do it. I will only be under the tyranny of my parents as a subject, not a daughter. I will be free to make my own decisions and choices. And my first choice is you."
His smile returned, making his eyes shine. "And my choice is you, Princess."
"Do not call me Princess. From now on I am simply Odessia, your Odessia."
We were married that fall. It did take me a while to get used to life as a peasant, but I got it. My sisters may look down on me now, and I may no longer be glamorous, but I am happy, and free. We have lived happily ever after, so far.
Still a bit sappy and cliche, but also adorable and charming, and the message of freedom and happiness makes the sappiness more tolerable. Notice how both the upper-class lovers in each scene ditch their titles, but Odessia doesn't sound nearly as pompous as Pollard.
So that's my two cents worth. Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day
February 5-- http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com --Novel Journeys
February 6-- http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com --Lily's Notes in the Margins
February 7-- http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com --Kirsten Writes!
February 8-- http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com -- Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
February 9-- http://delorfinde.wordpress.com --A Farewell to Sanity
February 10-- http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com --The Word Asylum
February 11-- http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com --From My Head
February 12-- http://estherstar1996.wordpress.com --Esther Victoria1996
February 13-- http://alohathemuse.wordpress.com --Embracing Insanity
February 14-- http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com --Red Herring Online
February 15-- http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com --Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)
February 16-- http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com --This Page Intentionally Left Blank
February 17-- http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com --Oh Yeah, Write!
February 18-- http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com --The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
February 19-- http://herestous.wordpress.com --Here's To Us
February 20-- http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com --Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month's chain)