The market is full of romance books – mainstream romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, medical romance, cowboy romance…the list goes on. So how does a romance writer attempt to stand out from the crowd? To keep her or his precious readers interested and anticipating their next release?
I am lucky enough to write three romance sub-genres for two different publishers – I write Victorian romance for eKensington/Lyrical press, mainstream romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin Superromance. The fact that I get to alternate between the three keeps me interested as a writer and, I hope, keeps my readers looking forward to seeing what type of romance releases next.
As I am currently writing my twenty-second novel, the issue of what keeps my writing fresh is a big one. I hope because I live so close to where my Victorian books are set and that Bath is a different city from London, I can bring a different feel and atmosphere than many other historical romances.
For my contemporary work, I am the first author to have books in the Harlequin Superromance line with all British characters in a British setting. Again, I hope this makes my books different than others on offer.
As for the stories themselves? My Victorian romances tend to focus on the lower classes and their problems, rather than balls, dances and upper class propriety. I like to research how the ‘real people’ lived in the late 1800s. The problems they faced, the changing world around them, domestic changes, moral changes, the fact that more and more women wanted to stretch further than keeping a nice house and a happy husband. I like that I am building a reputation for writing darker historical romances and the feedback from readers and reviewers has given me the confidence that there is a space in the market for me and my work.
The Harlequin Superromance line runs to 80,000 words so are the biggest of Harlequin lines. There is room outside of the central romance to explore. I have touched on domestic abuse, money laundering and drug abuse––issues you wouldn’t normally expect between the pages of a romance novel!
I personally feel that romance writing has as much scope and freedom as any mainstream novel…as long as the relationship of the hero and heroine is always at the forefront. I hope you try one of my books!