Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Romance: First, Last and Always

The word "romance" has endured considerable corruption in the last few decades. Originally derived from the Latin word "romanicus", an adverb meaning "of the Roman style", the original meaning of romance was not necessarily connected to love but rather to chivalry and adventure. A romance was a brave soul setting out on a noble quest to prove his (or her) courage and strength. In the seventeenth century the concept of love was added in that the adventurer did so on behalf of a beloved. Until the middle of the twentieth century, a romance referred to a novel which usually involved love but was more focused on the adventure, the quest, the journey of two people in search of each other. Nathaniel Hawthorne's novels were called romances. Probably the greatest American romance novel ever written is James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans.

However, in the 1970s the term "romance novel" was hijacked by the romance novel publishing industry and, because of the rigid guidelines imposed by publishers like Harlequin, readers came to have very rigid expectations of romance novels. The heroines would be young, vulnerable and either virginal or widows who were most likely abused. The heroes were robust, manly, alpha-males who were always in control. Above all, the genre romance novel HAD to have an HEA ending -- "happily ever after." True romance has never been the same.

I love the original meaning of romance and, while my stories are not formula romance (I rarely find writing about 20-somethings to be very compelling), I'll never give up on the original meaning of romance: adventure, passion, the quest for the higher meaning.

R is also for Ruby, the heroine of the title story in my collection, My Last Romance and other passions. Of all the female characters I've ever created, Ruby is closest to my inner self. 

This blog post is part of the April 2012 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Thanks for visiting.

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