What makes a romance interesting? I know many people have different views, but one common thread to an interesting romance is strong lovable characters. But have you noticed that most characters in romance novels are financially secure? If they are not there already, they get there by the end of the story, or they marry someone who is.
I have noticed a little more diversity in the financial backgrounds of lead characters in romance novels recently. Some novelists make their characters rich and famous. They travel to exotic cities with nary a care for cost. Other characters represent the upper middle class. They are successful, educated, and financially independent and just need a partner to complete the fairy tale. This is supposed to inspire us into believing their lifestyle and their love is attainable to us. Then there are the characters who struggle financially. These characters almost invariably find love with someone more financially stable or out and out rich. It is rare for the hero and heroine to end up poor and broke at the end of the romance, even if they have each other.
I’ve always wondered why the characters in a romance are never a pair of losers who find love. Why don’t we see romance between two homeless people? Or two people who are just broke and struggling, living in subsidized housing and barely making ends meet? And I’m not talking about a back story where the person was struggling but has overcome the obstacles and now have their own business; or where the homeless wins a lottery when he finds a ticket on the park bench.
The answer: expectations. In a romance we expect a happy ending. Not just in finding love, but in all aspects of their lives. We are rooting for that poor girl to snag the tycoon. The readers really want that feel good Cinderella story. And the publishers know this. They outline set guidelines as to what constitute a romance novel. One publisher states in the guidelines, “The hero and heroine should be role models—upwardly mobile and educated individuals that our readers can admire.”
Don’t the uneducated fall in love? Shouldn’t we have characters that people from all walks of life can identify with? And when I write my romance stories, am I somehow perpetuating the myth that only the upward mobile, the successful and the rich find or even deserve true love? What are your thoughts on this?