#RomanceChallenge : Update

This project has been a real surprise for me.

Last night I finished reading book seven of my random selection, and yet again it was different. Different situation, different storyline, different characters. There were, of course, a male and female lead character who felt a strong attraction and ended up together at the close of the book, but this is the ONLY common thread I’m finding in these stories.

The last week of reading has also seen the first book I had to abandon.

Romance (or at least, this subset of romance) has a reputation for overblown language and hokey situations, not to mention one dimensional characters. My interest in this challenge was partly sparked by comments that one of my plays contained dialogue that could have come “from a Harlequin Romance”. Reading these books, I see what the person meant, and I hold my hand up to it. Yes, in that play, that dialogue was over the top. It was flowery and unrealistic. I wish I could say that I intended it that way and there was a reason, but no… I was just caught up in the writing and let things slide.

Book number five was guilty of worse than just flowery writing. The initial introduction to the characters was terrible, the male lead unlikeable and the female lead ridiculous. The setting was supposed to be exotic, and I think this was probably the issue with the whole novel – the ones I had read previously were regular people, more or less. They were cowboys or soldiers or doctors or whatever, but they lived in towns, drove trucks and drank coffee. This book was set in the glittering jet set, where the rich and famous rubbed shoulders with old money families in fabulous surroundings. It all felt fake and unbelievable.

In the seven books I’ve read, this was the only one that had any resonance with the criticism normally aimed at Harlequin romances.

And how’s my story coming along? Well, I have a lead character name, but no further ideas. I’m thinking there should be an English angle, since our recent trip there reminded me of the beauty of the place and the fascination the people of North America seem to have with the UK. Any suggestions for the female lead name would be welcome, and if you want to challenge me with a suggested location or trade for either lead character, fire away. Feb 14th is looking pretty close already.

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