Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath… and imagine with me….
You’re snuggled up in your favorite reading spot with a brand new book from your favorite romance author. The prose is just as you’d come to expect from said author, and the story captures your interest from that very first sentence.
The heroine is AMAZING. Dynamic with lots of layers, some things to overcome but overall, you’d love to see her end up with prince charming.
And wow. Prince charming is QUITE the fellow. Oh, he isn’t perfect. He has a few flaws, especially in the eye of the heroine. But he is handsome, smells like sugar and spice and everything nice, his muscles ripple underneath his shirt as he’s doing his cowboy work or even in his office suit or whatever he’s wearing that day. He opens a door for his lady, he is a dream with children, and then just went the conflict edges higher, he wraps the heroine in his arms when she is distraught and angry at him, but he doesn’t care. He loves her and wants to do everything in his power to win her love, even if it means sacrificing his greatest dream. Their lips brush, then they melt into each others arms and oh. my. goodness. Your heart thuds in your chest. Yes, this is true love.
Then you blink your eyes as a door slams somewhere in the house.
You reply, realizing that you got caught up your book and lost track of time, “Uh, I thought maybe we could get some Chinese to go?”
He frowns and lets out a huff, then stomps to the fridge, opens it up, and takes a large swallow from the 2liter of Pepsi, straight out of the bottle.
Then follows it up with a belch loud enough to wake the dog that previously had been asleep at your feet.
And your dream vanishes…..
Now, your reality might be different than this. My own reality is my hubby coming home and occasionally falling asleep on the couch, followed with me having to spend 20 minutes trying to wake up him for the dinner that I made. (In his defense… half the time dinner is boxed mac & cheese, but what can I say, we have 4 kids and I am NOT the most fabulous cook…)
My point in all this?
Romance novels are FICTION. While as writers we try to infuse reality as much as possible (some of us more than others, depending on our writing style), if we highlighted ALL the day-to-day bad things in their fantastic glory all the time, they would be, well, not very fun to read. We read to “get away” from our ordinary lives, not to be set right back in them.
I’ve heard some Christians look down on romance, even in the CBA, for this reason. They say we are paining an unrealistic picture of what romance is. They set us up for dissatisfaction in our own relationships.
I disagree. For one, my own fiction carries quite a bit of realism. My characters are much less than perfect and have some very real flaws that are hard to overcome.
Fiction can also, for me, set a bar to attain. It reminds me that romance is something to be fought for, that doesn’t always just come easy. That through the highs and lows, true love CAN prevail if we let it.
But on the flip side, I encourage you as readers of romance to give your man a break.
Here is what I’ve always decided: I’ll expect my husband to be romance novel “hero” material on the same day that I bring my own self to be romance novel “heroine” material.
Yeah. Needless to say, I’ve decided to love him in ALL his glory… blenching, occasional body odor, and bad manners and all. (Besides… I’ve drunk Pepsi out of the bottle probably more times than my husband… I know you ALL want to come over to my house and have something to drink now!)
Discussion: Do you ever find yourself comparing your significant other to characters in a book? What life lessons have you learned through reading romance novels?