Theoretically, I am not a big fan of romance novels, but I've accidentally been on a streak of reading them because I didn't know they were romance novels; I thought I was reading crime/mystery novels. Theoretically, I don't like crime/mystery novels, either, but I've been trying my hand at writing one, for fun, and was looking at Nora Roberts, who seems doing well in the field—I am checking out her chops.
I learned, when researching Nora Roberts online, that her books are crossovers, a combination of crime and romance. GAK! If I were paying enough attention, I would have known that. The tension in the books comes not only from the escalating crimes, often murders, but also from the romantic stress. It would be delicious, if it weren't for the gushy stuff.
Two of the things I hate about genre fiction are the clichés and the predictability.
For example, all of Nora Robert's heroines (protagonists) look and act the same. They are tall, slender, have long legs, a full lower lip and are tough. Perhaps that's what Nora herself looks and acts like--or wishes she did. I know I have a tendency to want my protagonists to look a bit of like me, when I was younger—to be me, in a Walter-Mitty-ish sort of way.
In the current novel, Search, which, by the way, I have to sheepishly admit I am really enjoying, as I also enjoyed Chasing Fire, the last one I read, I keep predicting what I think will happen next. I was delightfully surprised when exactly what I expected to happen happened, but with a twist. Yes, an exciting, unexpected little warp as the plot thickens. (Yea thickening plot!)
But then, there's that awful romance: "I want to grow old with you," one character gushes to another.
Growing old together is sweet. But it is not for the faint of heart.
Sometimes, the one you love sickens and dies. Sometimes, you do. You each must endure and/or witness pain and suffering. Sometimes, the person you love disappears into their deteriorating brain cells and doesn't remember you--or you don't remember them.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't afraid.
Meanwhile, this is my husband, shown above. He is tired and contemplative after a long day’s work as I quick-sketch him at the dinner table. My love for this man, and his for me, not only continues, but also evolves and deepens.
This is the romance I prefer. Not wondering how our story will end (no happy ending, we're both going to die, like everyone else), but this every-day love we share. That's romance. Real romance.
Notes: the image above I quick-sketched and quick painted in my new California/Malaysia sketchbook at dinner 8/13/12, two nights ago. Sarasa pen and folk art acrylics.