Romance novel readers are said to love emotionally satisfying endings. Are there issues you feel are taboo in romance novels that you wish you could write about? What are they?
As both a romance writer and long time romance reader, of course I love emotionally satisfying endings. I mean, who wants to read a romance that doesn't have a happily ever after? If I wanted to read something that wasn't emotionally satisfying, I would go read some non-fiction political novel. (Which I do read occasionally, by the way)
I think that the whole premise of romance stories is that the reader wants to escape into the perfect world of relationships. The hot men with a lot of testosterone, interesting careers, lots of money, seductive sex scenes...instead of the vanilla ice cream blandness that most of us tend to have in our own lives. Reading romance novels tends to throw the hot fudge, whipped cream and cherries on top of our ice cream and lets us enjoy a bit of rich decadence for just a little bit.
To be emotionally satisfying, there has to be a lot of different components for a lot of different women (and sometimes men!). As we are each very individual in our tastes, so would our reading choices be diverse in nature. Some of us like sweet, slow, tender love stories with young, ingenues falling in love for the first time. Others like the heated, fast paced sexual encounter with the baddest boy ever. And there's a whole range in between. But how do we, as authors, know when it is emotionally satisfying?
Someone asked me once how I know when the sex scenes in my own stories were enough. Emotionally satisfying would have to be judged the same way. I know that it's enough when it reaches out and grabs the part of the reader that the story was intended to grab. With sex scenes it's pretty easy to know for me, my beta reader tells me that she had to run off to the bedroom with her man after reading a certain scene. For emotionally satisfying, did my reader get misty eyed as the happily ever after rolled off those last few pages?
Enough of the emotionally satisfying topic. Let's talk about the taboos in romance novels. Of course, this is going to be a matter of the reader's taste. With the newer surge in the romance novel market including everything up to down and dirty erotica, I'm not sure that anything is taboo that anyone would WANT to write about. Seriously, when I think of taboo, I think of spanking and props and aggressive domination and we all know that those topics made one particular author a best selling author. These might have been taboo subjects back when Harlequin first came out with their monthly selection of romance novels where they only hinted at sexual relations. Do you remember those? Where the young woman was still virginal and the man was several years older than her and very experienced? I do...which is very age revealing! But even Harlequin and Silhouette has evolved with the market and have their own lines which are more risque, even though they might not rise to the level of erotica that has the ability to provoke the reader into seducing their mate into the bedroom for some afternoon delight. (Or to their toy chest for some alone time.)
So, I guess my answer there is that it's a matter of choice. A matter of taste. What's taboo for one person may not be taboo for another one. We have such a wonderful variety of romance writers today that tell stories of varying levels of heat that appeal to a growing market of readers. I may not necessarily write about something, not because I feel that it's taboo, but because it may not be something that in appealing to me in a romance story. Taboo? I think that it's taboo to say that anything is taboo these days as long as it's written tastefully and appeals to the reader at a level that keeps them reading.
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