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The Reader's Soap Box: Your answers to our questions about the books we all love...
Romance novels have always gone through phases where certain types of stores, i.e., Medieval, Indian, Pirate, Western, Regency, are particularly popular with readers. Now, the genre appears to be going through yet another change, with books containing time-- travel, paranormal elements, suspense, and even magic becoming popular.
  • Considering this, what do you, the reader, find yourself looking for in the romances you're buying these days?
  • What kinds of books especially appeal to you, and what really turns you off?
  • Are you tired of certain eras but unable to find books with the settings you want?
  • -- I love almost anything paranormal-- no mean vampires. I enjoy Christine Feehan books also I read everything Nora Roberts writes as J.D.Robb.Nora's paranormal books too. I don't enjoy profanity in books. I don't like books where the couple are hopping in to bed every other page-- until less you come up with a believable reason for this action. I read mysteries-- paranormal and also Anne Perry, Carolyn Haines. I'm willing to try any author at least one time especially if recommended. -- Dot -- I like historical romances based in the Medieval times. Especially Vikings! I also enjoy futuristic, vampire and sequels. -- JA -- I'm another Georgette Heyer fan. Have been reading her books for years. Her characters are so very believable, not like other regency authers who have madern heroines in regency dress! I especially like Merline Lovelace, Suzanne Brockmann and Rachel Lee. Of course Nora Roberts is high on the list, too, but her hard cover books Tend to turn me off because of the unnecessary foul language! The story lines are great but the language spoils it for me! -- Edna D -- I like contemporary, historical, western (both contemp and historical) Native American (both contemp and historical) and Julie Garwood's historicals. I read romances for the happy ever after endings...They are an escape from everyday life. I like a hero who will stand up for the heroine, no matter how strong she is. He should be someone she can turn to and lean on. I'm talking love stories here...not sex, sex, sex. I hate books that say something like " he saw her across the room and wanted her" and that's is about the gist of the whole book...want not love. I also deplore the fact that so many of our favorite romance writers are turning to straight suspense. Some romantic suspense once in awhile is fine..a steady diet of suspense is not. I also like books with a continuing thread...ex. Nora Roberts' Chesapeake Bay series and Dream series, Sherryl Woods' And Baby Makes Three series. -- SJ -- Good romance novels should have the same qualities of any good novel: interesting plots and interesting, three-- dimensional people. I'm bored by teenage heroines because once I hit my thirties I could no longer identify with them. This is generally not an issue in contemporary stories but is often the case in historicals. I know that in historical times women were generally married in their teens, but good authors find a believable way to make the heroine a bit older (twenties and thirties are fine), whether because she is a widow or had no money or something. I'm bored by heroines who are too beautiful because often there is no conflict or story arc since the hero is immediately attracted to her (although Cinderella stories are fine). Strong men and strong women are much more interesting than wimps of either gender, but simply being stubborn or selfish is not the same thing as strength. Humor is wonderful and is one of the reasons Jane Austen is considered a great novelist and Georgette Heyer is tops on everyone's list. Any subgenre of the romance novel can be wonderful or can be put into the discard pile after only a few chapters -- it's how the book is written, not the category. -- JW -- I absolutely love paranormals/futuristics. Bascially any book in which the hero/heroine has powers/gifts or is set in another time/place will get me to buy the book. I wish all such books had this stated somewhere on the cover-- some of the books do not and I miss out on it unless I stumble over it. I also like Scottish medieval romances, some humorous contemporaries and some set in the regency time frame. I DO NOT like storylines with children in them-- they tend to be distracting to the story and/or irritate me to no end. I also DO NOT like the heroine/hero to be insipid or timid. They must both be somewhat strong-- willed for me to like the book. -- BR -- I absolutely love Heyer's books for not only the wonderful way they are written, but also her sense of the absurd, or the comedy. My first reading of Frederica had me laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes. Her characters are soooo wonderful!Dislike -- I HATE the paranormal/ghost/magic/time travel ones...I think I would just read a "regular" fiction novel. I also dislike books where the whole thing is based on a misunderstanding and the characters despise each other until the last 5 pages. I know regency times were strict but sometimes it just isn't believable that they don't just ASK each other about the misunderstanding! I also don't like tons of sex scenes (one reason I love the regency ones). -- AM -- I enjoy both contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, especially military themed ones (I love Merline Lovelace), ANYTHING by Linda Howard. There has to be good, believable stories, with sizzling chemistry between the main characters. -- Maryann -- What I especially detest are marriages of convenience and secret babies. I find the contemporary market, Harlequin in particular, is inundated with them. Nothing makes me move away from the book shelf faster than these books. -- AL -- Time travels and antebellum south novels, especially about Louisiana (both time-- travel and antebellum south) are enjoyable to me. I don't really care for Western expansion, Indian, Medieval (unless it's time-- travel), or regency. -- Allison -- I like books that are set in Medieval times or the 1600's, 1700's or 1800's London, Ireland, Scotland. I also like books set in the west where there are Indians, Sheriffs, Marshals, School Teachers...ect. I like books that are set in the future. . .also Time-- Travel to the future or the past, Paranormal and Magic. I like romance stories in the Pirate setting too. -- AY -- I like engaging, well-- developed characters. . .a strong sense of place and time. . .a hunky hero, whether he's tortured, brooding, sweet, or whatever, who can face up to dealing with his emotions. I want a hero I can admire and fall in love with. I like some humor in the book and in the characters. . .well-- done sexual tension. What turns me off? H/h who are promiscuous. Unrelieved angst. Heroines who are pig-- headed and call that being independent. Long passages in which the characters twist things around in their minds until they misperceive everything. The Big Misunderstanding. Heroes who never come to understand that women do not exist solely for their comfort and convenience. Villains who are psychopaths. Brutality that takes over the story. -- BH -- I like Medieval, Scottish & Irish the best. Some Paranormal are Ok. -- JS -- I prefer Historical books. Medieval is my favorite, especially Normans vs. Saxons. Knights and the life style during this period I find interesting and makes a great background for romance. I also enjoy Scotland, Ireland, Wales settings, even though England is my favorite. Vikings, pirates, sultans and regency I also enjoy. . .Stories set in America I do not find interesting. I DO NOT like India, western, time travel or contemporary romances. I enjoy a book with substance. . .Give me a good book, with some "steamy sex" that is 380-- 400 pages or more and I'll be happy! -- JV -- I feel romance is. . .somewhat illusional. It seems just beyond your reach, and that which a man or woman endure for their fulfillment of true love is romantic. Turn off: those with extreme profanity, blatant sexual content. That?s not romantic, it?s vulgar. Makes me uncomfortable. -- MF -- I am a fan of medieval and Regency novels in particular, but I also enjoy reading most other historical novels, especially pirate tales. I even like top authors like Julia Quinn who often add a little mystery to the plot mix. I do NOT like contemporary, time-- travel or paranormal novels. I don't like novels with main characters who are insipid females that cry and moan and pout. I love characters who are down as the story opens, but because of their skills, intelligence, whatever, become rich and wealthy and forces to be reckoned with in their own right. -- MF2 -- I despise the trend. . .with a pregnant heroine or a heroine who has a newborn baby (whether by the hero or not). I don't like these romances because, as a mother of a 7 year old child, I don't want to read a romance featuring an infant. . .that is not an escape for me. Also. . .there are many situations that are more romantic than someone going through a planned arrangement to have a child for a wealthy man or a woman who is pregnant accidentally through a one -- night stand, etc. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy books which include children realistically. . .but when the child is a newborn and they don't mention feeding the baby every two hours, diaper changes, etc., I find myself wondering who is watching the baby! I do enjoy romances that have an epilogue, series or sequel in which we find out that the couple we read about have children later. -- Beth -- I really dislike the trend toward suspense?it detracts from what I read a romance for. -- BH -- One thing that irritates me to no end, and makes me feel like I was just jipped out of my money, is when I buy a contempory romance, take it home and start reading and find out that it is sci-fi in some way. All of a sudden there is a ghost watching over things, or an angel who is trying to help. If the book has that aspect to it, I expect to know by reading the back cover. -- Darjo -- I like alpha-- male types and women who can deal with them, no wimps. I don't like "pretty" men. I love quirky humor, characters who can laugh at themselves and deal with whatever life tosses their way without whining about it. I like law enforcement or military men or themes. . .I prefer country or small town settings, but city is okay as long as the guy isn't too wimpy and is in a leadership role. I find mouthy defensive people, naggers, or people who feel sorry for themselves a big turn-off. -- LW -- I really enjoy books that "Take you away, and really dislike First person books -- they have to be extra special for me to sit and read -- Nancy -- I like books with a lot of sexual chemistry, well written but not smutty sex scenes. . .good story lines. Mostly contemporary and historical. -- NP -- I like to read of characters that are believable. I think that an innocent miss of the Regency period who was given a French kiss as her first kiss would not just be shocked, I think she would be repulsed! Wait until closer to the end of the book for Pete's sake! -- SS
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