50 Shades of Grey and the Ultimate Aim of a Romance Novel


So after giving it a lot of thought, I decided not to follow through my comments on 50 Shades of Grey. I admit that my books–most specifically The Wild Half–echoes too much of the rougher aspects of Ana and Christian’s romance. (not the love scenes, but the relationship).  I would rather not come across as hypocritical, so I’ll leave it at that.

At the same time I was thinking this through, I came across this, written by a father to his daughter. It occurred to me while reading it that it’s essentially what every romance novel should aim for. It certainly is what I aim for, and hope that readers come away feeling that the characters relationship will reflect this.

Father to Daughter about the kind of man he wants her to find:

I don’t care if he puts his elbows on the dinner table, as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile, and then can’t stop looking.

I don’t care if he can’t play a bit of golf, as long as he can play with the children you give him and revel in all the glorious and frustrating ways that they are just like you.

I don’t care if he doesn’t follow his wallet, as long as he follows his heart and it always leads him back to you.

I don’t care if he is strong as long as he gives you the space to exercise the strength in your heart.

I couldn’t care less how he votes, as long as he wakes up every morning and daily elects you to a place of honor in your home and a place of reverence in his heart.

I don’t care about the color of his skin as long as he paints the canvas of your lives with brushstrokes of patience and sacrifice and vulnerability and tenderness.

I don’t care if he was raised in this religion or that religion or no religion, as long as he was raised to value the sacred and to know every moment of life, and every moment of life with you is deeply sacred.

I don’t care if he puts his elbows on the dinner table, as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile, and then can’t stop looking.

To me, that is for both characters, the kind of love between them that not only accepts each other’s faults, but loves each other as much for the faults as for their best characteristics.

For Shadows of the Soul, this is probably best expressed by Luke to Beth at the very end of the book. We’re introduced to Beth in chapter one with:

Wiping her forehead, Beth Hartwell sat back on her heels and surveyed her work: a small hole about two inches deep in the middle of a plot of good, brown dirt. Part of her pitied that plot, for she knew exactly how it felt, cold and lonely, with a deep, dark hole in its center, aching, no doubt, to be filled by a baby, to hold and hug, to kiss and love—

Then again, she thought with a disgusted sigh, maybe it didn’t feel a thing. Maybe it was just a plot of dirt with a hole in its center, and maybe she was just a little bit mad imagining that she had anything in common with it. The Lord knew—and everybody else in Mayfield did, too—that her thinking went a little awry sometimes.

So we know that how the town views her as a little bit crazy is very upsetting to Beth–and the worst thing she sees in herself. At the end of the book, Luke answers all of that with.

“And you know what? You’re the craziest-thinking woman I’ve ever met, but somehow you always make sense to me.”

She smiled. “And you love me, anyhow.”

“I love you, anyhow. Hell, Beth, I love you because of it.” Not mad, really he thought as Jo entered the room. Magical, with magical thinking. But he’d tell her that later.

Yeah, I just gave away the ending. Anybody who reads romances regularly, though, know they always end happily. The point of the book is to find out how they get there.

This entry was posted in romance novels, Shadows of the Soul, Victorian Romance, writing romance novels and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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