Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is this really romance?

Posted by: Eleri Stone
I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal romance and fantasy romance lately.  I decided to try out a Kindle Unlimited subscription and got sucked into a few shifter serials. For those not familiar, a serial is one big story split into bite-sized pieces that usually ends with some kind of cliffhanger between installments. You know with those going in that you have to read more than one installment to get the full story, though you don’t always know upfront how many installments the author has planned. But, no surprises!

What did take me by surprise was the last traditionally published paranormal romance I read that ended with a cliffhanger. The catch-the-bad-guy plot was wrapped up but the romantic arc was completely unresolved. It was a great book, but I found it frustrating because I wasn’t ready to get involved with a whole new series.  Paranormal romance has always meant resolved romance/possibly unresolved overarching action plot to me. In one book. Romantic Urban Fantasy was where I went to for a series-long romantic arc. I like both. I just like to know what I’m getting into.

The last three fantasy romances I read were the same way. All of them were the first books in the series, all ended with the resolution of some action/conflict, but the romance wasn’t fully wrapped up in any of them. Looking forward, the hero/heroine are the main characters throughout each of the series. I can kind of see it more with fantasy romance because following the same characters through multiple books is pretty standard in fantasy.

The paranormal romance blindsided me. 

So my questions for you are: Are you seeing this same trend with spec-fic/romance crosses?  How do you feel about it?

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Eleri Stone is a RITA-nominated author of paranormal and fantasy romance. She was born in New Jersey, but now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children. All of her stories have some element of speculative fiction in them and they all end with a happily-ever-after.


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11 comments:

  1. Probably yes, if they are structured otherwise as romances and the romance arc is satisfying at the end of the planned series, though I don't know how I feel about that trend, either. Not even an HFN, huh?

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    1. One of the fantasy romances ended HFN. The rest, nope.

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  2. I had quite a negative reaction to book one of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, because I was expecting a romance like her other books. It wasn't until I read book two that the lightbulb went on and I realized it was urban fantasy. After that, I enjoyed it a lot more. I like both types of books, but I have a certain set of expectations going into a romance that just weren't met.(HEA, male & female POV)

    I can see why the publishers did it--so that her romance fans would be able to find and follow her books--but it annoys me to see them "misfiled" in romance.

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    1. That's interesting. I picked up the Fever series because I liked Moning's PNR and wanted to see how she'd do w/ UF. I knew going in that it was UF so the cliffhangers didn't bother me. But the Mac/Barrons arc was what made me love the series.

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  3. Hi Eleri. As an author who frequently colors outside the box, I'm sure I'm guilty of breaking a few genre rules. From personal (non author) experience, when I find an author I like, I buy all their work regardless of genre. For instance, I own all of your books because I love your voice and trust you to deliver a great plot regardless of the genre you're writing in.

    For myself, I write what I want to write and hope others will find my stories and enjoy my voice enough to return for another title. I'm sure this is a terrible marketing strategy, and don't recommend it to others. :) Romance is definitely at the heart of all my work.

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    1. Hi Gem! I'll follow a favorite author across genres. I just like to know what to expect. The first time I read a romance that ended with a cliffhanger it really bugged me, but I think I'm starting to get used to it. With fantasy romance, I almost expect it. At what point does a genre rule stop being a genre rule?

      (I love your work too:)

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  4. I've noticed it as well. I just read 3 books for FF&Ps Prism and none of them ended as far as I was concerned. The main plot was completely unresolved and in at least one case the heroine was abandoned and alone at the end. All well written, but it was hard to score. I prefer complete stories.

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    1. Oh, wow. That would be hard to score! Contest entry wasn't something I'd really considered.

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  5. I despise rules, and I'm pretty sure that shows in my writing. (#sorrynotsorry) but I really do believe that it's more important to be true to what the book needs rather than what the rules say. I'm on the fence with cliffhangers. As someone who typically writes long, I know there have been times when I've ended a story with a cliffier feel to it than I would have liked, but wrapping the story up in a more satisfying manner would have made the book waaaaay too long. Is it Romance? I'm going to shoot myself in the foot and say probably not, but maybe it's time for a broader definition of the genre?

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    1. I think so, and maybe more of an effort to alert readers? I don't think any of the books I read would fit in another genre category. Maybe UF for the PNR, BUT it was very romantic so there'd have been resistance there, too.

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    2. The problem with a "broader definition of romance" is there are plenty of other places in the bookstore for your book to go. As a romance reader, if I pick up a romance, I expect HFN/HEA. If I'm expecting that and dont get it, you, as an an author, are dead to me. You broke your contract me with and I don't read you again.
      If I find you other places in the bookstore, contract not broken, I continue to read (and buy) your books.
      I don't want to get to the end of a mystery and have no idea who did it either, so it's not just romance.

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