Okay, so I’m not always a happy camper.
My husband and I have a teardrop camper. It’s adorable and comfortable and I absolutely love it. After a day of fun, I look forward to climbing in through the little door to settle in for the night. Nestled against my husband with a book in hand, I am the happiest of happy campers.
We’re tired. We’re cranky. We have sunburns. It’s rainy and buggy and we’re covered in itchy mosquito bites. The sheets are sandy. We haven’t showered in a few days and are starting to smell like it.
That’s romance. That’s reality. That’s what’s missing from too many romance novels (were you wondering when I’d get back around to books? Well, here it comes…).
Romance novels have conflict, lots of it. There are villainous stalkers, police chases, love triangles, natural disasters, secret babies, scandals galore and more.
But sometimes they’re missing the small, every day stuff. The sunburns and sandy sheets. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly possible to go too far the other way. A good book offers an escape, after all, and no one wants to read something that’s too much like real life. There’s a reason not many romance novels include scenes with the hero plunging a clogged toilet. But there should be some degree of reality, shouldn’t there?
It’s easy to be in love with the gorgeous FBI agent who is hiding you from an assassin. What happens after the drama ends? I think it’s important to have a hint of that in the book. Will the hero and heroine live happily ever after in the real world? (Yes, I know they’re fictional characters and there is no “real world”; work with me here.)
These are things I think about as a romance writer. It’s always a balancing act. For me, it comes down to character development. Characters need to be believable. They should feel like real people. Flawed. Imperfect. Damaged. Because that’s where you find true love. If you can still want nothing more than to be with the person beside you, even when they’re a smelly & cranky jerkface, you’ve found it.
No one is a happy camper all the time. It’s not true in real life and it shouldn’t be true in romance novels.
Like campfires and marshmallows, we’re just better together. — Unknown