Romance has remained the most popular fiction genre for decades, far outselling all other genres. Why do we love romance so much? The obvious answer is the happily ever after at the end of every story. Happy endings may be the hallmark of romance, yet I don’t consider it the main reason so many readers flock to the genre. For me, one element in romance stands out—emotion.
Lots of non-romances are full of emotion, but no genre focuses on the emotional connection between two people like romance does. The sensual passion in romances must be borne out of that emotion, otherwise it falls flat. The personal relationships between the hero/heroine and other characters, such as family or close friends, are also often imbued with real, powerful feeling. But it’s the connection between the romantic couple, the ups and downs of their emotions as they struggle to forge a lasting bond, that turn a simple love story into a true romance.
I love to explore passion of the heart in my romances, for this very reason. In Dangerous in a Kilt, Erica and Lachlan each endure the lowest of lows and revel in the highest of highs during their unusual courtship. She has lost her trust in humanity in general, but especially men—and whoa, look out for the hot ones! Lachlan wants nothing to do with commitment, for painful reasons that eventually become clear and affect his entire relationship with Erica. Emotion has become so important to me as writer that I will listen to intensely emotional songs (with vocals) while writing critical scenes, to get me in the right frame of mind to craft a heart-rending moment or a soaring happy ending.
Yes, all romance fans love the happily ever after and we count on it to provide the ultimate payoff in the story. What I believe draws us all to the genre, however, is emotional passion. Without genuine, often intense, feeling behind every scene, we wouldn’t cherish romances half as much. Through these books, we can safely experience the whole spectrum of emotion, knowing everything will work out in the end.