Thursday, September 19, 2013

Growing Up Romance

Posted by: Marie Harte

I cut my teeth on Johanna Lindsey’s A Gentle Feuding more than twenty years ago. My very first romance, shoved my way because I was getting on my mother’s nerves. It wasn’t fantasy, mythology, or horror, my typical go-to books , but I was twelve and bored and needed something to do. She told me to shut up and read, and an addict was born.

I have my library of romance books I’ve kept over the years. Some stay, some go. Every year I have what I call “the Culling” to keep my library somewhat manageable. With the advent of e-readers and ebooks, I’m pleased to say I have many more that I could have handled in print. However, I’ve found that technology isn’t the only thing that’s changed. So too have my tastes.

It used to be I could read a historical romance and not be bothered by a sixteen year old girl getting married. Now I can’t do it. Same with reading about innocent virgins that need a big strong man to help them out of any situation. I recently read a historical by a favorite author of mine, so the character might have been in context—it’s not as if women were policemen and judges back then—but the book drove me nuts. The hero was a complete ass, the heroine a little pleaser. I couldn’t finish it.

Everything changes, but I hate it when, as a reader, I’m turned off to an author I usually consider an auto-buy. Why? Is it me, as in the case of my recent disappointment? That’s not something an author can control. What really gets me is when I’m used to a level of romance or intimacy in a book, and an author completely changes what they write. (By all that’s holy, if you start a romance series, don’t turn it into chicklit or women’s fiction halfway through! Same with paranormal romance. Urban fantasy is NOT the same thing!)

We all know about author branding. You buy author A because you want a funny romance. Or author B because you want something dark and mysterious. But when author A suddenly changes the rules, and you’re reading a sad historical drama, not the lighthearted romance you’d expected, things go from bad to worse.

I find branding an interesting topic anymore, because authors are sticking to one name for everything. Mostly. I don’t see authors writing erotic romance and YA under the same name. But that romance umbrella sticks to everything under the genre for some.

I too find it easier to write erotic romance, and soon mainstream romance, under Marie Harte. You can read contemporary, paranormal, futuristic—it’s all romance and all me. Do I worry about branding? Not really, since most of my stuff is erotic in nature. But the mainstream books that release next year… I hope to heck my readers will be okay with books that are a bit less spicy than what I typically write. Considering those mainstream books are spicy as well, I don’t think it will be that much of a stretch. But we’ll see…

Now I’m going to do my best to keep looking for my tried and true authors and enjoying their books. I hope. 

Marie Harte
website | blog | facebook
follow me on twitter @MHarte_Author
USA Today Bestselling Author


  1. While they might not be considered romances as such, I grew up on Victoria Holt (I had to hide them away from my mom who didn't approve of romances). Then I read Scarlet Pimpernel, which I found very romantic (although I despised Marguerite and wanted to rewrite her for Sir Percy.) From there, Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Flame and the Flower -- I was about 18 at the time? That book got me hooked.

  2. Ah, good old Victoria Hold. And Phyllis Whitney, right? Gothic mysteries/romances. I saw the Scarlet Pimpernel along with Robin Hood on TV. Great stuff. I think I read Ashes in the Wind and glommed onto that one.

  3. When I was in grade nine I sneaked one of my mom's large collection of Harlequin Presents books. The Snow Leopard by Ann(e?) Mather. Nowadays that would be a shifter romance, but alas the leopard was symbolic only.

    I also read Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and Kathleen Woodiwiss. A kind librarian special ordered The Scarlet Pimpernel for me.I think he may be the first "superhero" with a secret identity.

  4. Really enjoyed this post! I read most of those ladies as well, and Andre Norton (and I kindly inserted more romance into her plots, in my head, LOL).

  5. Nicole, I'd love to read The Snow Leopard...if it was indeed a paranormal. LOL

    Veronica, I've heard of Andre Norton but never read her. I too would read anything and insert romance into the plots. So falling into writing romance was a natural fit. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...