Mar 10, 2014

The Times Short Romance Saved Me!

Today we have Destiny Romance author Leisl Leighton visiting LoveCats. She's dropped by to chat about her love of category romance (and we love her for it). Take it away Leisl...

I was writing a blog the other day about what I love about paranormal romance and romantic suspense (the 2 genres I write in). It was titled ‘When Romance Isn’t Enough’ and was about my need for that third character in a romance book – the world building or the evil mastermind or killer who gets a look in. However, within that blog, I mentioned there were times when the romance alone was very much enough and it made me think there was a blog in that. So, here I am at the Lovecats where romance is front and centre.

You hear all the time the put-downs people have about romance books, most especially short romance in what has been traditionally known as the category variety – what all the lovely and talented ladies here on Lovecats write. They often say those books are filled with predictable tropes, you already know the ending – they’re going to end up together – and the fact they are centred on two people falling in love sets unrealistic ideals for women.


Those people are talking out of their you-know-whats. They fail to understand that the people who write, read and love those novels (people like me and you and the Lovecats) actually want those things. We want to know the hero and heroine are going to get together at the end – the suspense is in how the author will get them there when there’s so many obstacles in the way. In regards to the tropes, it’s said there are only 7 true story types, so how can you write anything but a trope if this is true? But even if it isn’t, we still want the tropes. They are comforting and fun and not predictable at all in the hands of a clever writer who can twist and bend them into a pretzel and then say to their characters, ‘Get out of that one! Ha!’

And the fact that the books are centred on two people falling in love is not setting unrealistic ideals for women. Women aren’t stupid. We know they are the fantastical end of reality. But we want that fantastical end for just a little while in amongst the chaos that is the modern woman’s life. Those romances, the tropes, the predictable endings, they all saved my sanity time and again throughout my life.

I first really started to get into reading category romance when I was in VCE. I like to read before going to bed – it’s part of my ‘go to sleep’ routine. When my eyes were practically popping out of my head from the study grind and I was feeling more stressed than VCE alone was culpable for (my VCE year was filled with personal stresses I won’t go into here suffice to say, it was amazing I even turned up at times and got through the year). My Nanna gave me some of her favourite Nora Roberts category novels and a bunch of others too, because she thought they’d be good to read at the end of a hard day when my mind was too busy for my usual diet of fantasy books. Boy, was she right.

I inhaled those books like they were lollies – a special candy made up of whizz fizz and popping candy put together with a dollop of strawberry chuppa-chups and chocolate on the side. They were bright and sparkly and always made me feel special and cheery at the end (but kind of sad, in a good way, because I didn’t want to leave those characters there.) Those books got me through some very hard times during that year. They were the bright in the dark, and to this day, Nora Roberts is one of my favourite authors.

This trend continued throughout university when I was doing a double major in English and Drama and was reading great thick books from Chaucer, Thackery, Austen and Shakespeare through to Alice Munro and Margaret Attwood, not to mention plays like Hedder Gabler, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Waiting for Godot – heavy stuff. I would put down the heavy at the end of the day and sink into the delights of a romance, full of its twisty-turny pretzel-shaped tropes and delight in the triumph of both author and characters when they finally got their happy ever after. I continued with this trend after I finished uni – whenever the stresses of life were getting to me, I picked up a new category and off I went; an instant sanity refresher!

Years later when I began to write after giving up the theatre world to have a family, I tried my hand at these ‘simple’ romances I loved, only to find that they are not so simple to write. I failed at writing them (had some great ideas, but I just couldn’t manage to keep that third character out of the room!) and had to wave my career as a famous category writer good-bye. L

I turned instead to the other genres I love to read – paranormal and fantasy and romantic suspense – and have succeeded in starting to carve a little career for myself in these. But I tip my cap in awe to the authors who manage to wrestle their story into the pages of a category romance and manage to come up with an enticing, sparkly read with that ‘aahh’ feeling at the end. You ladies saved my sanity (you’re still doing it) and I thank you from the bottom of my filled-with-romance heart.

Dark Moon - Available 15 March
Lately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she's being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she's been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale. 
Jason claims to know things about Skye that can't be true, and it's obvious he's hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can't resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.

As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness? 

Leisl is giving away an ecopy (Amazon only) of Dark Moon. Leave a comment to go into the draw. She'd love to know what books 'saved' you at a difficult time in your life? 

Leisl writes paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense. Her romantic suspense, Killing Me Softly is out now:

You can follow Leisl and find out more about her and her books on her website: www.leislleighton.comFacebookGoodreadsFollow her on Twitter @LeislLeighton.


  1. Hi Leisl

    I too love my romance stories and have been reading them for many many years there was a time when I would only read historical but these days I read across all the genres and love them they take me away from the everyday life stresses and make me smile laugh cry and sit on the edge of my seat and I thank all of the authors that give me this break from normal life. I loved Killing Me Softley and am really looking forward to your new one :)

    Have Fun

    1. Hi Helen. I'm glad you related to my post and it's lovely to hear you loved Killing Me Softly. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about Dark Moon.

    2. Thanks for dropping by Helen. I really need to try some more historicals. Where does all the time go in a day?

  2. What a lovely post, Leisl! And it's fab to have you here visiting the LoveCats. :-)

    I'm only just discovering Nora -- and what a pleasure that's turning out to be! She once likened category romances to performing Swan Lake in a phone booth. I just love that quote. :-) I think category romances are pure escape in a bite-sized morsel that can help us feel capable of facing the real world again. We all need our forms of escape, don't we?

    P.S. LOVE the cover of Killing Me Softly

    1. Hi Michelle. I completely agree with you - and that quote is fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I love both my covers - I think the arty people at Destiny have done a fabulous job with them.

    2. That's such a great quote, Michelle!!

  3. Hey, Leisl, great to have you visit us at the LoveCats!

    Enjoyed your post and I know just what you mean about the confort of reading a romance novel. There have been times when diving into a lovely romance has felt like an absolute life saver for me too. I know the guy is going to get the girl, I know I'm not going to read 300 pages only to find that the hero and heroine go their separate ways, I know it's going to leave me with a lovely warm inner glow! it's comfort-food for my mind!

    Michelle - fab quote from Nora Roberts about "Swan Lake in a phone booth!"

    1. Hi Sharon. Comfort food for the mind is exactly what it is. And I agree with you about that quote of Nora's.

  4. That's a great quote too, Sharon. Comfort food for the mind!

  5. Hi Leisl! Great post! Killing Me Softly sounds very intriguing- I'll put it on my TBR list!

    Compared to many I was very late finding the romance genre, but as soon as I started reading it I totally fell in love- and now it's my absolute main go-to. I love sharing the journey of the H/h, if there's a few laughs along the way, even better and what could be more satisfying than having a couple looking forward to a great and happy future together. Isn't that what we all want in the end?

  6. Hello Leisl. Love your post. Great to have you with us. Your point about the critiques slamming the happy ending is so true. As a romance author it grates. Considering a thriller or suspense usually solves the murder or mystery at the end, isn't that predictable too?
    For me, books that saved my sanity were romance stories.

  7. Hi Leisl, thanks for visiting and writing such a fabulous post!

    I always think of longer romances as a slice of mud cake, and category romances as a truffle / bon-bon. Sometimes you're in the mood for a whole slice of yummy cake that will last longer and bring lots of emotion, and other times you're in the mood for something that's smaller with more intensity. I love them both (and chocolate, too, as you would have guessed from my analogy!).

    Love, love that cover for Killing Me Softly!

  8. Nice post; anything that sounded good

  9. Sometimes only a short romance will do, I agree. Thanks for a great post, Leisl.

  10. "I inhaled those books like they were lollies – a special candy made up of whizz fizz and popping candy put together with a dollop of strawberry chuppa-chups and chocolate on the side." Love this!!

    Nora is my absolute fave - I went mad in the US when we visited a few years ago and could buy her books so cheaply!

  11. Kerrie, you've quoted my favourite sentence from this fabulous post. As a lover of both lollies and category romance (not to mention Nora!) can I just say that this description rocks, Leisl, as does the entire post.

    Thank you for reminding as why we love these books and how important they can be at difficult times.