Others would disagree. They look for more crunch in their romance habit.
The emergence of sub-genres in romance points very clearly to a great desire across the board for love stories with other stuff going on to support it, to complement it. Sometimes to contrast it. Romantic Suspense layers a strong intrigue arc alongside the romantic one, Paranormal offers such high-stakes fantasy plots to support the romantic story, and Historical (in its many forms) offers such richness of setting and world-building. These are the literary peanut chunks that make it all so much more tasty for some readers.
Me? While I appreciate smooth, I love chunky. I like a book which has a strong romantic thread woven convincingly through a strong story arc. I definitely like something else going on. Not because I have anything against pure romance, just because—for me—I feel like I get value for money with a well-crafted, multi-layered story. And I like to have my cerebral self and my emotional self triggered at the same time.
With contemporary category romance and its super short wordcount it can be a challenge to properly tell the story of two people falling in love within a crunchy ‘something else going on’ plot inside twelve chapters. The risk is that one or the other gets compromised. That’s a very personal balance and two people reading the same book might declare it sitting in very different places on the see-saw.
So the best rule of thumb is to write the book I’d like to read.
My March (AU)/April (US) release ‘Friends to Forever’ has a lot going on. And not everyone has liked it. I have old high-school best-friends coming back together after a decade of not speaking and they’re stuck together over one agonising night in the shallow waters off south-western Australia keeping a stranded whale alive. On top of that the heroine is desperately trying to keep a secret. A big one. She’s living with alcohol addiction and addiction is the one thing in life that the easy-going hero can’t stomach having lived with it his whole life.
Crunchy-plus. And only time will tell whether I’ve got the balance right for most people.
So a question… How do you like your romance peanut butter? Smooth or crunchy? Do you know why? Are there things you don’t like to see in your romance sandwich? If you’ve read F2F already, where did it fall on the see-saw for you?