Real Life and Romance

California Sunsetby Casey Dawes, author of California Sunset

One accusation frequently leveled at romance novels is that they are “fluff.”

Oh, really?

Romance novels can dive deeply into both today’s issues and personal issues of the heroes and heroines. In fact, if a character doesn’t have flaw, that’s a pretty boring character. Part of the journey through a romance novel is seeing how the character gets beyond her or his problems.

Go back to one of the oldest romance novels, Jane Eyre. Bronte tackles a few of the important issues of the day—the horrendous state of orphanages and insanity. We root for Jane when she walks the road of integrity, even though she hurts so much from walking away from the man she loves.

A few years ago Susan Mallory tackled the issue of date rape in one of her “light” romances, All Summer Long. Robyn Carr has covered all varieties of issues in the Virgin River series, including spousal abuse and substance abuse. In these books the characters overcome their issues, usually with the help of a good woman or a good man.

It’s tricky to deal with some of these issues realistically and still have a romance that’s enjoyable to read. After all, how much time to you want to read about what happens in a therapist’s office? It’s awkward, painful, and involves too many boxes of tissues.

Watching someone else, even a fictional character, deal with their problems, we can become aware of how to make our lives better as well. As we read, we can become more involved with the hero and heroine, knowing they’re “real” people with “real problems. And when they get past the pain to live “happily ever after,” the sense of satisfaction is even greater.

In California Sunset, Annie has problems – boy does she have problems! I hope as you take the journey with her, you’ll experience joy as she learns to love herself first before falling into the arms of the hero.

Have you ever read a romance novel that’s changed your life? Leave a comment to tell us about it and let the world know that romance novels aren’t just “fluff.”

2 thoughts on “Real Life and Romance

  1. Erin Richards

    Great post, Casey, and thanks for writing this! I hate it when people call romance “fluff” or “drivel” or worse! These are people who have never read one. I’m not sure that I’ve read one particular romance that changed my life, but I get a bit of life lesson from every ONE I read, even when all I want to do is just escape from life. If romance is just “fluff,” why are nearly half of all books sold a romance?

  2. jw ashley

    A good idea for a post! Fluff, indeed. I am sure that many of my colleagues will consider my writing fluff. I think that it isn’t so much as the issues or lack of them that make our work fluff in most people’s opinions. Instead, it’s the way romances resolve the issues. The prevailing paradigm is that suffering is realism and unhappy endings are art. My literati friends see an HEA as the mark of creative garbage. Happy ending = fluff. I have a blog post coming up that celebrates the HEA. Here’s to moving the culture in a direction that values finding a happy resolution to the issues of the day!