What makes a romance novel a romance novel? We all know the answer… the HEA (happily ever after) in the end, right? I say no.
The hero always gets the girl. It’s part of the formula. It’s built right in like the crusty butt of a loaf of bread, you know the piece everyone bypasses to get right into the middle. In a romance novel, the HEA is the accepted inevitability, but that's not why we read the romance novel. Or what makes the romance novel the bestselling genre of the literary world, despite what the well read, highbrow book enthuastis would like to think. Statistics don’t lie. So what keeps us coming back for more if we know how it’s going to end before we even open the cover? Simple....the toe curl factor.
Regardless of what genre romance we might read, we all turn the page for that toe curling factor. That sigh, which a good author can extract even from the hardest shelled bi#@% out there. Because if done right, the words on paper can make us not only sigh, but giggle, loosen our clothes and even sweat a little. I'm not talking about the use of hardcore language and taboo fantasies to shock us out of our underwear. Nothing wrong with that, but that is not a romance novel. It's Erotica, a whole genre of it's own, which has it's place on the bookself when done right. But is it romantic? No.
The toe curl factor I am refering to is the romantic element, which keeps us coming back for more. For example, an author has the hero show up at the heroine’s door with a string of Halloween ghost lights that sing an eerie tune instead of flowers simply because it's October 20th, her favorite holiday is Halloween and all her decorations are packed away from a move. It’s when the hero sees inside her soul. The intimacy of seeing someone so clearly, and instinctively knowing what brings them joy is the very point of romance. Another example...when the hero has to touch his woman, even if it’s just her hair while she sleeps, because he can’t stand the space between them any longer. The hunger, the insatiable need for a connection so deep, is what keeps us turning the page.
The hero always gets the girl in a romance novel, otherwise it would not be considered a romance novel. It would simply be a good book with romantic elements. The toe curl factor is what makes a romance truly a romance novel. And what makes it worthy of a place on my bookshelf is how many times my toes curled while I read it.
Which book curled your toes and got you hooked on romance novels? Tell me about it in the comments below...