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Saturday, July 31, 2010

In love with love: the appeals, pitfalls, and social commentary in the romance genre

Often when I tell people I write erotic romance, sweet romance, and erotica I get a very similar sort of response: "Ohhh", said in a certain tone which makes me think they're envisioning me writing the sorts of novels that have the heroines on the covers in the corsets and heaving bosoms, with the male leads dressed in outfits you'd typically see at a Renaissance Festival, featuring overly poetic sentences such as "His pulsing rod of love entered her floral castle". And I sort of laugh because I know fully well the sort of stuff I do write about, and how it manages to sometimes put me out of the mainstream erotic romance genre.

Love it or leave it, sex and romance sells. People enjoy reading about falling in love, being lost in passion, that thrill of being swept off your feet, and finding that special someone with whom you connect on a special level. Ideas on what constitutes as romance in our culture are often flawed: romance will make your life perfect. People should find that special someone to "complete" them, as if being alone is this weird, flawed, freakish thing with people running around with only half a head and partial limbs, deformed and "incomplete". Then there's the idea that everyone should fall in love, marry, and have 1.5 kids in that white house with the picket fence and the SUV in the driveway.

I've often found that being able to deal with life's pitfalls, bad days, and the standard obstacles of being human and still manage to be in love and have a fulfilling sex life to be the most romantic thing there could possibly be. When I write about obstacles to romance in my books, they usually surround people's own uniqueness and lack of ability to share that with others, let alone find people who can both understand and embrace it. Uniqueness is not a flaw, although some in our culture would have you believe that it is.

So what's the deal with being in love with love? Why does romance truly appeal? Is real romance romantic, or are we just kidding ourselves for the sake of getting some hot sex between the sheets into print? For me personally, I love reading and getting into the heads of people whose emotions and lives are intensely complex, as is their interaction with others. Real romance is never smooth sailing; otherwise the moment our characters hooked up on page 15 there'd be nothing more to really write about. The plot wouldn't progress, the characters wouldn't evolve, and by that point you'd just have a lot of really great sex scenes, the sort of thing you dream about reading in fiction.

But emotions are real; we are all emotional creatures who seek fulfillment in our heart of hearts. We want to see our wishes, hopes, and dreams fulfilled--and even be able to share that with others, in particular a partner who can accompany us in our adventures and pursuit of living one's life. It's why most people prefer a "HEA" or "happily ever after" ending in their fiction; they read to feel better and to hear about good things happening to good people. They want to believe in true romance. Perhaps not perfect romance, but true romance.

And above all else, everyone just wants to be happy. :)

Love & Magic,

Please Note: I am blogging on behalf of the Boston Rape Crisis Center, and if you wish to sponsor me in any dollar amount--none is too small, every bit counts!--please go here: then email me your receipt at so I can keep a running total. If you don't know what to put down for the donation, just put "Adrianne Brennan - Blogathon".


Phelan said...

Try being a female gore writer. Now those are some interesting looks people give you. Kind of like you just killed their cat right in front of them.

Adrianne Brennan said...

ROFLMFAO!! Oh, that is well put. XD

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