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What is Romantic Women's Fiction?

I’m glad you asked.  Lately, I’ve been getting this question a lot.  Usually after a reader has read one of my books and is not sure exactly how to classify it.  So here’s my take:  Other than a growing trend in genre fiction, it’s what I write, and as the name implies, combines elements from both romance and women’s fiction.  To me, romance is all about the hero and heroine.  It’s about the romance and the multitude of reasons these two (who are otherwise hot for one another) cannot be together but why they should be.

The heroine is someone with whom you can identify, someone with whom you can sympathize throughout the story.  She’s flawed of course, but who isn’t? We all have issues but what keeps us reading is the delicious hero who keeps her pleading! (Most romances don’t rhyme as well as this–it’s a skill I’ve learned from hanging around my young kids. :)) Give me more!  Give me more!

Eh, hem.  But I digress.  In romance, we meet hero and heroine right from the start and become swept away in their tumultuous romance, culminating in a scrumptiously satisfying HEA.  Sounds divine, doesn’t it?  Which is why I personally adore romance. I like happy and fresh, snappy and sexy. Doom and gloom need not apply for my reading list. 

Yet while I enjoy being whisked away by a handsome fantasy, my feet remain firmly entrenched in the terra firma of real life (usually between the rows of my garden). While the “where” isn’t important, the concept of living and loving is—but it’s not without its blemishes.  Our lives are a landscape of colorful emotions.  We dance beneath rainbows, romance by sunset, laze in the sunshine and indulge in moonlight.  But our lives include rainy days and sleepless nights, tumultuous storms and lonesome shorelines.  From exuberant peaks to valleys of despair, life is a thrill ride for the senses—and sometimes this means hair-raising curves…hold on!

Which makes things more exciting, don’t you think? And I do love a good thrill ride.

Okay, that’s a lie. Those things swing up, they swing down, they twist sideways, turn upside down, then catapult you back upright—ugh.  No thank you.  Since my kids were born, I’ve discovered quite enough thrills and spills in my very own home.  I have no need to seek them elsewhere.  But attitude is everything when you’re talking life’s greatest challenges and I do like to keep it real. 

Which brings me to women’s fiction. This genre is issue-oriented.  It allows for friends and family to share the stage with said heroine. Their thoughts and opinions matter and—much of the time—it’s they who flush out the heroine’s flaws for all the world to see.  (Trust me—I have plenty of experience in this department.)  Where romance focuses solely on the budding relationship between the hero and heroine, women’s fiction probes deeper, thrashes through problems and reveals the weakness in character—which isn’t always pretty.

Imagine that—digging into deep dark secrets can get ugly.  Hmph.  But if you recall, I don’t do doom and gloom.  So where women’s fiction can leave you on a deserted road wondering what happened, mine won’t.  My novels may pull a tear from your eye, but rest assured they will leave you with a smile on your face.  It’s mandatory, in fact.  My imagination is way too active to be fed story lines that lend themselves to terrible dreams (or full-blown nightmares), so I certainly won’t write about them! The mere thought sends a shudder down my spine.

However, without life’s trials and tribulations, exactly how does an individual grow and mature? If everything is sunshine and candy, how can someone develop emotional endurance?  Flex their heart muscle with acts of unselfish love? Can we learn life’s lessons without struggle? 

I don’t know about you, but unless Mother Nature scatters a few hundred red ants around my corn—I may forget to check the moisture levels.  It’s just not on the forefront of my mind.  I’m busy living, laughing, enjoying the pole beans plucked fresh from the vine.  So what if I forgot to water the corn enough—it won’t kill me, right?

How about the loss of a friendship? Too focused on having a good time, I wasn’t paying attention to my friend’s needs until the one day I found myself alone.  I looked around and there was no one standing by my side…

…to share the bad news. I lost my job, I need somewhere to live. I could go hungry if something doesn’t change soon and since I forgot to water the corn, I may starve.  I look around and come to fin all the partygoers have gone. No one cares that I’m in trouble.  I slump into solitude.  Maybe next time I’ll cherish the people closest to me before I actually need them. (Yes, that’s a bit dramatic but I am an author—it’s what I do!) 

Perhaps Ill learn to give instead of take.  Or in my current heroine’s case, perhaps Sydney will learn to believe in herself, Sam will finally let a man inside her heart and Jennifer?  Perhaps she’ll get it through that stubborn skull of hers that first impressions are poor judgments of a man’s true character.

Ah…someone has issues, problems.  You see, romantic women’s fiction isn’t fluff and puff.  We’re talking real life issues that face women today.  And in reading about one woman’s journey, there may be a lesson we can take away for ourselves.  In contemplating one author’s premise, we may be inspired to question our own story, our own direction.

As a result of reading one good book, we may walk away with new perspective, one that will carry us forward and farther.  To me, romantic women’s fiction combines the depth of real life issues with the promise of happily ever after.  Life is tough, but can’t it be fun?

I say yes!  How about you?

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