Descriptions for heat levels in book list

------holding hands, perhaps a gentle kiss
♥♥ ---- more kisses but no tongue-- no foreplay
♥♥♥ ---kissing, tongue, caressing, foreplay & pillow talk
♥♥♥♥ --all of above, full sexual experience including climax
♥♥♥♥♥ -all of above including coarser language and sex more frequent

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

abusive relationships

At their core, romances are about relationships. Generally speaking, their most important relationship will be sexual, whether that means with a consummation or merely suggestion. The stories are about emotions because there is no relationship where more emotions come into play than a romantic attachment.

Romances are thought to be aimed at women, but I think the stories are good for men too when they understand the romance novel speaks to relationships and emotions. Romances explore how men see things as well as women. Romances can be dramatic and strong stories.
CanStock Image

As a writer, I read a lot of human interest stories. Yes, I care if Yemen is suffering a coup or how the Saudis will be with a new king, but I also care about the stories regarding the problems real people have faced, overcome or been destroyed by. I am also a good listener to friends or sometimes even acquaintances, who want to tell me their story. This interest in relationships has gone back to being a little girl and listening to adult conversations (at least until they realized I was there). You learn a lot by listening. I also learn a lot by articles. A story like the following is one I've heard in real life more times than I care to count. The reality is all relationships are not healthy. When they go bad, what are the warning signs?

I would hazard a guess that every romance writer out there wants to write emotionally satisfying books where the reader takes away a stronger sense of self and what a healthy relationship looks like, helping to make their own stronger. There are those who claim it's not what happens to those who read romances. The claim (disputed by studies) is that such readers become dissatisfied with their own lives, maybe even leave them for a relationship that only exists in fantasy.

Writers can only take on so much responsibility for what their books influence. It's not possible to control whether readers will like what we write and equally not possible to be sure what they will take away from the words. I am not sure how many romance writers concern themselves with such things-- but I know some do. I do.

I like to write about women who, even if they don't start out strong, will end up that way. I like it when their path to becoming stronger feels real to me. I have never written a story about a victim even knowing that's very popular in the romance genre. With my heroines, if they aren't admirable to start with, they will get there in a realistic way. They will grow through what they experience. I also will never write about someone who is just plain mean to others, with the expectation that will change by the end.

The story above shows how relationships can deteriorate or someone can be fooled in the beginning where the situation changes so gradually that they do not react to the changes. While it's not the kind of story I enjoy writing, it is a good warning to someone who might be in such a relationship. Get out before it's too late.