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Why Mislabeling Will Hurt New Authors (or The One Where Jane...

DISCLAIMER: The following opinion letter WILL contain spoilers for Cameron Dean’s Candace Steele series. The post may contain cursing, negative statements toward the author, the publisher and basically the world. If you don’t like mean statements, I suggest not reading on. I’ve done all I can do to tell you not to read this post. You have been warned.

I read my ebooks on a fairly expensive electronic device. Even if I have read a wall banger, generally, I have been able to control my impulses. At the end of reading the final book in the trilogy, Eternal Hunger, I threw the IPAQ across the bed where it slid off and landed on the floor. Unfortunately, when I went to pick it up, it didn’t turn on. I had to unscrew the device and place a piece of scotch tape inside because I had broken some small plastic piece during the tantrum.

Between October and December, Ballantine released the Candace Steele trilogy. The series has “paranormal romance” on the spine, is designated as a romance in the bookstore computers, and is shelved in the romance section. The books were about Candace Steele, a vampire hunter, who does not want eternal life and the fact that her true love, Ash, is a vampire with eternal life. The first story wasn’t bad, the second story a bit dull, the third one a take off of Laurell K Hamilton’s books by ensuring that the sex to plot ratio is about 2 to 1. (I think out of the 20 chapters, 10 of them were sex scenes). The reader even gets the obligatory LKH orgy because no good vampire hunting series is complete without the orgy.

And the end of this romance series? The fine resolution to the conflict between true love and the desire to remain human? Ash dies. That’s right. My fingers didn’t stumble on the keyboard. The author kills off the true love of the heroine and has Candace hook up with her cop friend, all in the last two chapters of the final entry of the trilogy.

WTF? This is a romance? I slogged through three tepid books to find out the resolution of the conflict is to kill off the vampire hero? I kept thinking as Candace Steele engaged in various relationships with men other than Ash that – huh, this doesn’t sound like a romance but I will hang on. After all, the spine of the book says romance. Ballantine says this is a romance. It must be a romance right? I can live through the multiple partners and the separation so long as the hero and heroine end up together. Because that is the definition of happy ever after, right?

You market the book as a romance but kill off the hero at the end of the trilogy? What is the point of marketing this to romance readers? Put the stupid book in the sci fi/fantasy section. Shelve the book with Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison. If the book is good enough, it will reach the romance readers. Don’t market a book where you fucking kill off the hero as a romance because it will seriously piss me off and not just me. Look at the unhappy ladies at Amazon who are returning their books. (Oh, if only I had that option).

After reading Paula Guran’s blogpost yesterday about the new Paranormal Romance anthology that Juno Press is putting out (Juno Press is also the house that bought the Gail Dayton book) and Shannon McKelden’s post at Romancing the Blog, I started wondering who it is that wants romance redefined.

I listened to the podcast of an interview with Paula Guran of Juno Books and Elizabeth Bear about paranormal romances.* The interviewer must not read alot of romances because she starts out by saying that paranormal romance is ignored by two genres. (had to stop the podcast there because I was loudly saying WTF and missed the next part). The interviewer sees the paranormal romances occassionally in the Sci Fi section, but there is no separate section in the romance section. Again, WTF. There is no contemporary or historical sub sections. Its hardcover, trades, and then the rest are thrown together. That’s the purpose of the cover.

Back to Juno Books, the submission guidelines are as follows:

Some might call our books “paranormal romance”, but don’t let either word frighten you off. “Paranormal” really means “beyond the ordinary” and “romance” is defined as “an exciting and/or mysterious quality as of a heroic time or adventure” as well as “a story dealing with love”.

Doesn’t sound like a romance to me. Ms. Guran acknowledges that not all the Juno books will be romances in the traditional “category” “formulaic” sense. (her words). The interviewer suggests that the romances of old are exactly that – old and outdated. Romances featuring the bond mate or the one girl/one guy ending up happily together are not representative of life today. The three agreed that romances tend to revolve around the question “Do I go with him and live with him in fairyland or do I stay here and be sad.” and that “People don’t think that way anymore – that committing to a life with single man is the only way to find happiness. So you can have lots of different happy endings.” That’s true, but that does not mean that those books are romances.

I hear no clamor from romance readers saying, “boy I really wish there were more books where the hero and heroine don’t end up together. I really love those books.” or “I love it when the main couple, after a couple of books, end up with one dead. That really tickles my HEA jones.” Why doesn’t Harlequin put out a line that is Happily Ever After Alone, seeking romances where the relationship ends with at least one character dead or the two characters parting ways – going their own paths.

Sarah Frantz of Teach Me Tonight didn’t read Barbara Samuel‘s The Black Angel because based upon the storyline and the surrounding historical events, the couple only have 14 years of happiness together. I never read Stephanie Lauren‘s Promise in a Kiss because I knew that not only would the hero die but he would also cheat on the heroine and present her with a bastard to raise.

It’s not really that happy endings are the sole province of romances. How happy would readers be if Temeraire got killed off at the end of Black Powder War? Would Novik sell lots more of that series? How about if at the end of the whodunits, the mystery isn’t solved, or in the fantasy, the bad guy is not defeated. Where would be the triumph in those books?

Redefining romance isn’t necessary because the romance genre isn’t confining to authors. Authors are free to write whatever they want. They may not get their books in front of the millions of romance readers, but if they aren’t going to write romance, why should they? Don’t call it romance if it is not a romance because all it does is piss off readers and make them take LESS chances. Which means that new authors lose out. As commenter, Kimber An, noted at Romancing the Blog,

Seems to me the marketing goal is to snag new readers, because the veteran readers stick with their favorite authors. Do they realize it’s because these veterans have been burned?

Readers will stick to the tried and true because they know what they are getting and that isn’t this “new” idea of happy ever – not together – endings. It’s not that I don’t like books without HEA. I love the Temeraire series. I am very anxious to read Patricia Brigg’s end of the month release, Blood Bound, a book with no HEA in sight. But these books don’t promise me a happy ever after ending. To tell me that the book is a romance and then to kill off the hero? That sucks big time.

I won’t be buying any new paranormal romance series soon without reassurance from trusted sources that it is a romance with the romance ending, as sappy or out dated as anyone thinks that is.

*Its start at the 8:48 min mark if you don’t want to listen to the advertisement.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

237 Comments

  1. Bev (BB)
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:23:24

    [quote comment="19928"]And this is totally off topic I know.[/quote]

    Oh, I don’t think so. Someone asked for any other total romance taboos and infidelity comes about as close as any I can think of as non-HEA. It’s not as bad an error as not having the HEA but it’s up there pretty high if not handled correctly. And that’s where the arguments come in. Depends on the readers as to what’s considered “correct” or not. With HEA, things are usually much more clear-cut. Usually, but not always.

    Actually, I can’t think of anything else that ranks on the “no-no” list as high as those two. There are things are “iffy”. That can be argued one way or the other but they don’t usually get the absolutely not the HEA does or the almost universal no that infidelity (within the story) does.

    Of course I seem to still be half asleep this morning so that’s no guarantee. :D

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  2. Ann Wesley Hardin
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:31:01

    Here’s a question. Would you guys consider The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a love story, or a romance? They certainly had the happily EVER after *gg*. Personally, because they were together for all eternity at the end, I consider it a romance.

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  3. Karen Scott
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:36:02

    Yay! you got to 200+ comments! That must be some kind of Romanceland record!

    I still have nothing illuminating to add to the conversation.

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  4. jmc
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:46:51

    Also what’s the name of that Jo Beverly book where the heroine has an affair and a child while her husband if off on crusade?

    Bev, I think it is The Shattered Rose.

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  5. Jane
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 10:47:01

    Bev – I thought that book was a Brenda Joyce book. A de Warenne book.

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  6. Jackie Beltran
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 12:33:25

    “TeddyPig replies:
    January 13th, 2007 | Quote
    If Nora keeps being such a intelligent and thoughtful writer of sensitive and caring comments here on this site I swear I am gonna read her books. She had better written something with a werewolf in it or I’ll – damn it! I’ll be stuck reading something just because she made me like her so much.”

    I agree. It is called “class.” As a reader, I feel gratified. As an ignorant new writer, it makes me less afraid of getting my proverbial head snapped off (which is a regular occurance online). This discussion not only remains relevant to the topic, it is professional, courteous for the most part, and educational.

    Now, either I’ve been hanging out around the wrong blogs, listservs and review sites, or this is an anomaly.

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  7. Janine
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 12:49:01

    Infidelity is not a deal-breaker for me. I think it is often poorly executed but when it’s done well it can make for a very powerful story. The most recent example of a book with infidelity that worked for me is Pam Rosenthal’s The Slightest Provocation. Kit cheats on Mary out of youthful insecurities and then she cheats on him with his best friend for revenge. They split up without divorcing and lead seperate lives, but the book takes place a decade later when both of them are more mature and filled with regrets.

    Another book I liked that involved cheating was Anne Stuart’s Black Ice. Bastien is a spy and has to have sex with women whether or not he wants to as part of his job. If I’m not wrong he does this once after meeting the heroine. Later on, he leaves the heroine in order to avoid endangering her life, and during the time they are apart he has sex with another woman to try to forget Chloe.

    Whereas I didn’t care for Guhrke’s The Marriage Bed, I really liked these two and several other terrific romances that involved infidelity. Whether it works or not all depends on the execution. I would hate for authors to feel that they can’t even attempt this type of story because I think variety is not just the spice of life, but also the life of a genre.

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  8. Robin
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 14:14:10

    I think for me the only definitional deal-breaker in Romance is a failure to put the love relationship at the center of the novel and provide an optimistic ending (I don’t need an HEA). Now, there are some things I don’t *like* in Romance, primarily graphic violence, torture, abuse of children or animals, and inclusion of rape merely for titillation purposes. I can’t stand to read about the sexual abuse of anyone, so if that’s included I have to skip passages or pages (same with torture), but I have a high tolerance for (and sometimes a real appreciation for) moral ambiguity in the protagonists. Janine mentioned Black Ice, a book I also really liked, and Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold is one of my very favorite Romances. The more envelope pushing something is, though, the more I need awareness on the part of the author of what she’s doing and why. I want those elements to be well-considered and not just dropped in a novel for shock value.

    Here’s a question. Would you guys consider The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a love story, or a romance? They certainly had the happily EVER after *gg*. Personally, because they were together for all eternity at the end, I consider it a romance.

    I feel the same way about Wuthering Heights. Technically speaking, I think it’s a Romance, even though I don’t find it particularly romantic.

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  9. Sybil
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 14:18:54

    I think we all have a our own lists of what we want to read in romance and what wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot poll. One deal breaker for one person might another readers fave and they would both be right.

    At the heart of it I think Romance is simple to break down. It is a love story that ends with a HEA. How the author gets from the beginning to the end may define what type of romance novel it is as in Historical, Paranormal, Erotic, Contemp… so forth and so on.

    Everything else comes down to personal opinion. I think The Marriage Bed was one of the worst books I have read. Tara Marie liked it. We are both right.

    Of course others would disagree with me I am sure *g*.

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  10. Jane
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 14:19:40

    Ms Barkevich posted earlier about reincarnated heroes, the most of which, in my opinion, would be Knight in Shining Armor. To me, those books don’t work really well for me, but are romances.

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  11. Sybil
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 14:24:39

    [quote comment="20068"]The more envelope pushing something is, though, the more I need awareness on the part of the author of what she’s doing and why. I want those elements to be well-considered and not just dropped in a novel for shock value.[/quote]

    Good point… but how aware can an author be if they sit down to write one thing and end up labeled another…

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  12. Robin
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 15:48:45

    but how aware can an author be if they sit down to write one thing and end up labeled another-

    Good question. My first instinct is to say that the integrity with which an author approaches her story is somewhat separate from how she’s marketed, but I realize that’s not completely true, especially since many readers have different expectations for different genres. But assuming an author intends to write a Romance, I appreciate it when an author seems to have really thought out the more provocative elements of her book. Actually, I also want that awareness for staple elements, too — if you want to write the gazillionth virgin heroines, don’t just make her a virgin because everyone else does, especially if she’s a 30 year old contemporary heroine. Sometimes I think readers get tired of certain things not just because they’re common, but also because they seem so rote.

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  13. Sandra Barkevich
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 16:26:17

    Cool!!!! I’ve been referred to. Ms. Barkevich ROFL. That sounds soooo….formal. *BG*

    Yes, it was Knight in Shining Armor. I still count that as a Romance. I was disappointed, but the implication that the heroine would see this man as the same man she’d fallen in love with was there. However, I was very disappointed with the ending. So much so, that it was years before I touched another time travel romance. And, when I did finally purchase one, it was only after I skimmed the last couple of pages to be sure they ended up together.

    Karen Marie Moning did a wonderful switch thing in one of her Highlander series books. Though the hero was not the same person the heroine had fallen in love with at the beginning of the book, Karen created a way to merge the two incarnations and memories melded together and it soooo worked and I freakin’ loved that book as well as all the rest in that series.

    As for the infidelity issue, even though I have a very hard time with this, I wouldn’t call it a deal breaker so long as it is resolved satisfactorily in the end. The infidelity on either character’s part cannot be glossed over. It needs a sound and believable resolution.

    I look at it this way. A good romance makes me, the reader, fall in love with the hero and care deeply for the heroine. If one betrays the other, I feel betrayed as well (I really get into the stories I read. LOL) Anyway, if I don’t respect or trust the hero or heroine, then I’ve lost that connection that makes the story good for me. So, it is up to the author to regain my trust by making sure the hero and heroine resolve their issues by the last page of the book. And, the resolution has to make me believe that HEA is, at the very least, inevitable.

    I certainly don’t need a cut and dry, spelled out, cookie-cutter HEA at the end of each romance I read. However, I do need to have it implied.

    Sandy :-)
    http://www.sandra.barkevich.com

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  14. Jackie
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 17:06:09

    I look at it this way. A good romance makes me, the reader, fall in love with the hero and care deeply for the heroine. If one betrays the other, I feel betrayed as well (I really get into the stories I read. LOL) Anyway, if I don’t respect or trust the hero or heroine, then I’ve lost that connection that makes the story good for me. So, it is up to the author to regain my trust by making sure the hero and heroine resolve their issues by the last page of the book. And, the resolution has to make me believe that HEA is, at the very least, inevitable.

    This is fabulous.

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  15. Bev (BB)
    Jan 14, 2007 @ 19:13:47

    Waaaahhhhh. That’s what I get for actually taking the time to do some reading today. I “wake” up to figure out my email isn’t working and the comments here have “miraculously” jumped from 201 to 214. Okay, enough teeth gnashing.

    Yes, it was The Shattered Rose. I’m not even a fan of Jo Beverley the writer that much and even I appreciated that book. (She’s another fantasticly, thoughtful and insightful poster, though. :D) It’s not my favorite book by any means but I could appreciate the way she dealt with the situation on both sides.

    Not to confuse things even more mind you but sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on the HEA phrase itself. It’s not so much that I want things tied up with a big pink bow but that I want some type of “promise” that they can make it together. That’s not the “and they lived happily ever after” of the fairy tales. It’s a much more mature realization of two adults having worked through their relationship and knowing where they’re at when the book ends. How the author shows that is still very much up for grabs though. It doesn’t have to be with a wedding or baby on the way.

    Oh, and to tie this back to the top of the thread and because I can’t email Jane at present, I was checking back at that Dragon Page site to see whether Summer had posted anything else today and noticed she’d instead posted a rather curious addendum to her last post about genre romance needing to be redefined to be broader and less restrictive.

    What is with these people who think they don’t have to read romances but can tell us how they should be defined?

    Head to desk. Bang, bang.

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  16. Dawn
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 09:28:00

    Deal breaker for Romance? It may be considered a small thing, but I want the H and h to have said “I love you” to each other. I read a Silhouette Intrigue (which are romance) a few years back, where the hero did not tell the heroine that he loved her, and that totally screwed the story for me.

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  17. Tara Marie
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 10:30:27

    Bev said…

    Oh, and to tie this back to the top of the thread and because I can’t email Jane at present, I was checking back at that Dragon Page site to see whether Summer had posted anything else today and noticed she’d instead posted a rather curious addendum to her last post about genre romance needing to be redefined to be broader and less restrictive.

    What is with these people who think they don’t have to read romances but can tell us how they should be defined?

    Bev I’m thinking it’s time to just give up, for some reason they want the publishing term “Paranormal Romance” to fit their definition and since some publishers are helping them do just that, I think the whole damned thing is going to remain ambiguous at least to them, we get it–LOL.

    I’m still trying to figure out why visiting the Romance section of a bookstore is so abhorrent, but apparently no one can actually answer this–LOL.

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  18. Sybil
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 10:54:54

    [quote comment="20287"]I’m still trying to figure out why visiting the Romance section of a bookstore is so abhorrent, but apparently no one can actually answer this–LOL.[/quote]

    And yet they want to be there… I have decided they just don’t think they are good enough for us.

    You know sort of like that harlequin heroine who really wants the hero but oh he is too swell for her. She knows someone as fabulous and goodlooking as he is could never want her. So she is bitchy and insulting. She tosses her raven locks and stomps her feet saying I hate you!

    When really… deep down.. in that secret part of her woman’s heart that only beats for him… she knows she lurves him. And if he will give her one night.

    Just one chance…

    It doesn’t matter if he ever wants her again. Because she will have had that one night to hold forever and evah.

    ::sniff:: doesn’t it bring a tear to your eye?

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  19. evilauntieperil
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 13:38:14

    I’m still trying to figure out why visiting the Romance section of a bookstore is so abhorrent, but apparently no one can actually answer this

    -LOL.

    It doesn’t matter if he ever wants her again. Because she will have had that one night to hold forever and evah.

    *snortlaugh*

    Either denial, like sybil said, or it’s dread fear of the horrible romance cooties. Highly contagious and you can’t tell who’s got them until they’ve gone beyond the point of no return and start to dress Barbara Cartland and talk like one of her heroines. The brain was washed away in the flood of purple prose years ago, poor thing.

    I’ll go get my bell and frilly pink cloak. *Ding.* “Unclean…(but virginal)!” *Ding.* “Unclean…(but virginal)!”

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  20. Janine
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 13:44:19

    [quote comment="20284"]Deal breaker for Romance? It may be considered a small thing, but I want the H and h to have said “I love you” to each other. I read a Silhouette Intrigue (which are romance) a few years back, where the hero did not tell the heroine that he loved her, and that totally screwed the story for me.[/quote]

    That’s not a deal breaker for me, either. If the author has shown that the hero and heroine love each other, and that they each know the other loves them, I don’t necessarily need for them to say the words.

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  21. Diana
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 18:55:19

    A connected question:

    A lot of series are coming out now, labeled “romance” but the characters don’t get their HEA until the end of several books. In other words, the series as a whole is a romance, but not each individual book. For those who think the HEA is a necessary condition for the label of “romance,” would that be okay? Or just the last book in the series? Or label it as fiction until the last book comes out and then re-release an omnibus labeled romance? I’m honestly curious because it seems like a genuinely sticky situation. Romance readers would love the series, would not be “betrayed” by the very HEA ending of the whole, but for the first year or two, there is no HEA b/c it hasn’t been published yet.

    What would be the ideal solution to a case like this?

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  22. Miki
    Jan 15, 2007 @ 19:04:12

    Personally, I would think that would work, as long as the idea of HEA was close-ended. If Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series was marketed as romance, it would annoy the heck out of me that she hasn’t chosen yet. (Okay, it does anyway, but for different reasons) :)

    I suppose it’s the idea of the “optimistic” ending – it’s heading toward an HEA.

    But…as far as genre definitions go, I don’t know if it’s a good label. Would the reader know from the start that the book is the beginning of a series? Moning’s latest is being pushed online as a series, but if I’d just picked it up in the store, would I know?

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  23. casee
    Jan 18, 2007 @ 12:12:43

    Normally I try to avoid spoilers on books I’m planning on reading. When I saw that the 3rd book had a TWO STAR rating on amazon, I had to look. I was horrified to read that Ash died. I don’t read LKH because I really enjoy the romance and HEA aspect that I didn’t feel with Guilty Pleasures. I am in complete agreement, don’t advertise something as a romance when it is NOT a romance. In a romance, the hero/heroine does not die (with few exceptions, I suppose). I have the second book, too, but I won’t be picking it up.

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  24. Brenna Lyons
    Jan 20, 2007 @ 13:06:44

    I won’t go into the fight over what romance is and what it isn’t. The dictionary has one definition. The industry has another. For the purposes of books, the industry standard for “romance genre” includes a HEA. What you see is an artificial expectation of romance today that did not exist in the classic romance period. But, that is neither here nor there. We’re talking about the world of TODAY and the expectations that today’s industry sets forth and readers have come to expect.

    All of that stated to set the mood, let me say that I write BOTH romance and non-romance genres, one of which is DARK ROMANCE. Dark Romance is a term that originated back in the 60s and 70s to describe the sort of classic love story, tragic love, and other non-romance genre expectation books that would be romance but for a few small changes.

    As an author, I make it plain on my site. IOW, I have my own rating system that lets readers see which books have a HEA and which don’t. It allows them to avoid breaking a PDA in anger, if they choose to use it.

    As an author, I am APPALLED when I see dark romance offerings without a HEA touted as romance. The expectations of romance genre as set forth by the industry of today give ASSURANCE of a certain experience from a romance genre book. Calling something that doesn’t conform to that expectation “romance” is bait and switch. It’s not fair to the reading public.

    Further, I am APPALLED when book stores choose to shelve dark romance OR straight genre written by authors who ALSO write romance in the romance section. Anyone who’s seen the fiasco with Luna books knows what I mean.

    That doesn’t mean I have anything AGAINST dark romance, tragic endings or even atypical HEA (where someone dies but it’s a good ending for that character). I write it and read it. I will write and read standard romance, as well. It DOES mean that I expect those putting it out there to be HONEST in what their product IS and what it is NOT.

    Brenna Lyons

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  25. Robin
    Jan 20, 2007 @ 13:31:27

    A lot of series are coming out now, labeled “romance" but the characters don’t get their HEA until the end of several books. In other words, the series as a whole is a romance, but not each individual book. For those who think the HEA is a necessary condition for the label of “romance," would that be okay?

    Collen Gleason’s new series, beginning with The Rest Falls Away, is an example of what you’re talking about. She has indicated clearly that the series itself with have a HEA, even if the books don’t make that resolution individually. I regard her books as mainstream Romance with paranormal elements, and it is marketed as such.

    I also think that JD Robb/Nora Roberts’ In Death series is about as mainstream Romance as you can get in a series that has a strong suspense/mystery element. I cannot imagine a universe in which Roberts brought Eve and Roarke to an unhappy end, nor do I think any of her Romance readers feel differently. And I think we’re right to trust this, especially given the small closures we get at the end of every book (although I paid only peripheral attention to the latest one).

    Romance readers who want a HEA (and I say this as one who DOESN’T require a HEA) aren’t the equivalent of drug addicts looking for a fix. They’re not inherently inflexible or incapable of forethought or delayed gratification. I don’t think your question was intended to suggest any of those things, but I do think there’s a tendency to equate genre expectations with simplistic reading preferences, and I think such an association is mistaken. The issue, IMO, is one of how a genre reader’s expectations are treated by a publisher, not one of genre readers being too narrow-minded.

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  26. Jenn Reese
    Jan 24, 2007 @ 18:42:13

    I’m sorry that I missed out on this fascinating conversation while it was occurring. I’m the author of JADE TIGER, the first Juno book. I really can’t speak to the rest of the line, but I will say that I’m a huge fan of the happy ending and I hope I’ve delivered one in my book. I didn’t set out to break any formulas, I just wrote about what I love: martial arts and romance. In fact, I was writing with the Bombshell line in mind for most of the process. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I will let you know that although my heroine is alpha, my hero is beta.)

    I would be happy to send a free copy of the book to folks willing to give it a read. I have about 5 on hand. Just send me an email with your address. If you don’t like it, feel free to throw it across the room. :)

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  27. Mippy
    Jan 27, 2007 @ 17:33:29

    I, too, was completely dumbfounded at the end of Eternal Hunger! WTF is right!!! When I read a romance book, I expect an HEA – period. It’s not that I don’t read non-HEA. I love sci-fi/fantasy – Laurell Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, etc. Love them and don’t miss a single book when they are released, but they are not romance and therefore, I don’t expect it to be wrapped up all nice and neat for me at the end of the book. I know that going into the series and I’m okay with it. But I hung on to the Candace Steele series till the bitter end..hoping and expecting a HEA. I was so pissed when I realized that Ash was dead and not coming back! “Dead!,” I said to myself, “Ash can’t be dead…this is suppose to be a freakin’ ROMANCE trilogy, for God’s sake!!! I even went in search of Ms. Dean’s website/publisher in hopes of being able to contact her to see if maybe, just maybe, she had a 4th book in the works because surely she wouldn’t leave a romance with an ending like that…would she??? I never could find anything so I’m left here with one simple question…”Why?”

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  28. Dear Author.Com | Who Moved My Cheese? Are Paranormal Romances Due for a Career Change
    Feb 02, 2007 @ 11:16:00

    [...] week I blogged about my frustration with the labeling of a certain paranormal book which was labeled a romance but [...]

  29. Read for Pleasure
    Jul 08, 2007 @ 00:13:57

    Paula Guran: Best New Paranormal Romance…

    While some of these stories are excellent, none of them resembles what I’ve previously read as “paranormal romance”. Some are romantic; very few are paranormal. I’d call the collection a cross-secti……

  30. Sonya M. Shannon
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 20:20:21

    I have just stumbled upon this topic and feel the need to put in my own two cents. When I was younger, I DEVOURED romances, typically gothics & other mild types such as those by Emily Loring. I read quite a few others as well in HS (my friends & I called them smut books back then, oh how tame they seem compared to some of the books published today!) and I also read quite a bit of SF/F.

    Over time I wandered away from Romance, and focuse more on SF/F/H (which is mostly what I read now) and as I have read most of LKH’s work, I feel that I can comment. LKH is Urban Fantasy. There is no mistaking her books for anything other than that. They are not romance, and they are not really horror. For years they were shelved in the horror section only, and IMHO, that was because they contained paranormal creatures & elements, that up until then only (really) existed in horror… vampires, werewolves, zombies. All classic horror stuff. There is a romantic vein to her earlier Anita books, but it is in no way satisfying the way a good romance is.

    As for Juno Books, I have to say that I would not classify most of what I have seen from them as Romance either. Urban Fantasy some of it, Chick Lit: all of it. There’s a trend lately for strong heroines who “don’t need a man to stand on their feet”. While this is great and liberating and all that, I for one get a little tired of alpha everything and dominance games all the time. And using an excuse that these books reflect modern life as opposed to ‘romance’, which is dated, is missing the point altogether. Women read romance to escape, for whatever reason: they’re lonely, they are in a bad relationship, they can’t get enough sex, they don’t like the sex they get, or maybe they just want to forget about real life for a little while and live in a world where everything works out OK. Chick Lit does not (very often) fulfill this need. Chick Lit can be empowering, but it’s not usually comforting.

    As for why SF/F/H authors/publishers want to avoid the ‘romance’ tag/stigma? I think it’s because the stereotype says that Romance is strong on relationships & character building, but weak on action, suspense and plot. I don’t think this is true for the most part, but there’s nothing you can do to change some peoples’ minds.

    As to why more books are showing up as Romances that truly are not? That is simple economics… Romance has the largest market share when it comes to readers. And romance readers read A LOT and OFTEN and buy LOTS and LOTS of books. These other publishers/authors are trying to get into that game. The problem is they don’t really know what they’re getting into. And rather than sit down and do some research and get some educated opinions, they are going to end up putting their foot in it.

    ReplyReply

  31. Gracie
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 13:21:58

    Wow, what a heated debate! I’m loving it ;)

    I too will read other genres, but when I want a romance, I want a romance, and when I want a HEA, I’m going to read a romance. And if a book labeled a romance doesn’t end with a hea I am going to be pissed.

    As Kimber An said, I will just rely on word of mouth to get the skinny (and even then with a jaundiced eye. I got a lot of positive feedback on LA Banks’ VHS from “romance” readers, so bought it on the strength of that alone and was sorely disappointed. Not only is it not a romance, but it doesn’t stand alone. I could have forgiven the latter however, had the book been a romance. When Lori Foster’s new urban fantasy series came out, I almost went out and made the same mistake again, except this time I asked around extensively until I was told it was not a romance but had romantic elements in it with the “possibility” of a romance. That wasn’t enough for me so why set myself up for a fall going in? I’d rather just stick to her other books that I know are romance. And again, the new series doesn’t really stand alone (which is another gripe and another issue outside of the is-it-a-romance-or-isn’t-it issue better left for another blog ;)

    The marketing ploy of “mislabeling” may work for the first book (in a series or by a first-time author), but if a reader isn’t happy with the first book, she is not going to go out and buy the second, romance or not. At least I won’t and Jane, I have to say you were more than patient to continue reading the series. But then you had the promise that you would get your HEA.

    ReplyReply

  32. andreas04: close to attraction
    Jan 03, 2008 @ 17:55:48

    [...] on.) In the meantime, here’s something to chew on whilst I’m out and about. I think this thing over at Dear Author has fried my brain but it did get me to thinking – always dangerous – and I started wondering what [...]

  33. Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary » Foot in Mouth Disease Affecting Fantasy Sector
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 12:39:00

    [...] of Juno publishing (whom we have reviewed here both favorably and unfavorably), who said this and this. It appears Guran is suffering chronic [...]

  34. Merry
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 07:38:06

    I read romance (along with most of its sub-genres), erotica, fantasy/ urban-fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and YA books. I know, when I read a horror novel I won’t necessarily get an HEA – and that’s ok, because I *know* I’m reading horror. Same goes with urban-fantasy, some science-fiction and so on.

    But. When I read romance – whether it’s contemporary, hsitorical, paranormal, futuristic or fantasy (and any other sub-genres I’ve left out) – then I expect an HEA. When I buy a romance, that is what I believe I have been promised. By the author, the publisher – that it is a romance that will end happily, no question. The journey might be harrowing, but the outcome is guaranteed.

    I borrowed Nicholas Sparks’ Message in a Bottle (I think that was the title) from the library on the understanding that it was a romance. No. I’ve never borrowed any of his books since nor will I try him again.

    I don’t don’t class the LKH books as romance. Paranormal fiction with romantic elements in the first half of the series; paranormal fiction with muy sex in the latter half of the series; but not a romance. Doesn’t mean I don’t read it, or enjoy it, I just have it in my head what type of book I’m reading and everything’s ok. My expectations are met.

    So (the purpose of this rambling post is that) labelling correctly is important (or perhaps, that labelling incorrectly is very bad). I don’t *mind* a book not having an HEA if I know it’s not a romance. Because I’m not expecting it. You might hope for it, but it’s not, necessarily, necessary.
    In a romance though it’s, for me, one of the things that can’t be left out if a book wants to be seen as a romance (rather than romantic/ tragic etc.) My 2p anyway.

    ReplyReply

  35. andreas04: close to attraction
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 16:32:52

    [...] I’ve asked this question before and I’ll probably ask it many times again before I die but it popped into my head yesterday while deep in the mislabeling discussion over at Dear Author. [...]

  36. Heather
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 16:59:19

    AHA. Oh, God, I’m with you!
    Eternal Hunger hit my wall when I was done reading it, and I vaguely recall screaming, out loud, “WHAT THE FUCK, I’VE READ ~WEREWOLF~ EROTICA WITH BETTER ENDINGS!!!”

    ReplyReply

  37. So, what do people really believe are in romances that is so abhorrent? « Bev's Books
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 07:56:12

    [...] So, what do people really believe are in romances that is so abhorrent? I’ve asked this question before and I’ll probably ask it many times again before I die but it popped into my head yesterday while deep in the mislabeling discussion over at Dear Author. [...]

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