WHAT MAKES IT A ROMANCE NOVEL?
In my What’s My Genre post, I mentioned the elements of various genres. Here was my example of the generic romance novel:
PENELOPE AND GUY
Penelope Marysue is a dimple-chinned, brainy, and kickass detective who practices in the mean conservative streets of suburban Seattle. Her life is going nowhere until she meets Guy Hero, a delicate, sophisticated man with a passion for growing orchids.
Penelope takes an instant dislike to Guy and his selfish take-the-last-cookie ways he learnt during his years on Great Granny Fanny’s wholesome but hardworking farm.
However, when a conservative banker tries to take calls on his mobile in the theater AND posts spoilers online framing Penelope, Guy springs to the rescue. Penelope begins to notice that Guy is actually rather a liberal at heart.
But the pressures of Guy’s job as a bitter, scarred IRS tax auditor leave him blind to Penelope’s affections and Penelope takes up couch surfing to try and distract herself.
Finally, when puppy-kicking international man of mystery, Cliff Overthetop, threatens to come between them, Guy has to act fast. But will they ever find the passionate love they deserve?
ROMANCE GENRE NOTES:
- Don’t be ridiculous—of COURSE they will find love and their HEA (Happily Ever After). That’s the single essential element to a romance. If not, the reader is obligated to demand a refund and troll-post one-star reviews all over the web. Duh.
- If Penelope wears a bustle, crinoline, or shift and talks to actual historical figures, it’s a historical novel. If she goes to bed with them and neither of them gets beheaded and/or castrated, it’s a historical romance.
- If Penelope wears goggles and a corset, carries a spyglass, and rides on anything powered by steam, it is steampunk. (Guy might be a sky pirate if he’s lucky, but either way she will probably shoot him at least once.)
- If Penelope is a wacky, sexy professional woman with extremely high stilettos who is fighting for her big break in the City, Guy is a smoking hot iBanker, and one of them has a gay friend with a small dog who gives good advice on clothes and relationships (the gay friend, not the small dog—otherwise it’s a paranormal cozy chick lit) while the other one has a sister who just wants them to find The One and move to Brooklyn and make babies, but there are multiple triangles involving the Heartless Bitch and the Deceptively Perfect Potential Love Interest then it’s Chick Lit. (If one or both have chucked their meaningless City life, gay friend, and stilettos for post-recession life in the country because they’ve discovered What Really Matters, it’s Farm Lit. Brace yourself: there will be overalls.)
Take, for example, Knee Deep by D. E. Haggerty**, which I review today for Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
**[NOTE from Barb: As part of Throwback Thursday, I’m repeating the intro to my review of an earlier DE Haggerty novel, and applying similar trope checklist.]
Knee Deep by D.E. Haggerty
Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out – BOOM! – in walks trouble.
It’s taken me years, but my life is finally back on track – new job, new friends, a complete new Violet! I don’t even cry myself to sleep every night anymore. But then he walks through the front door of my new workplace. How dare he come in here and ruin everything for me – again!
Luke Freaking Bauer. Not the boy who got away. Nuh-uh. Not even close. The boy who tossed me aside when I needed him the most.
But when I look deep into those hurt eyes, I forget I’m the one who was wronged. Oh boy. I’m knee-deep in trouble and sinking fast.
Knee Deep is book 4 of the Love in the Suburbs series but can be read as a standalone.
When you’re looking for a great, funny, chick lit book that embraces almost every romance trope out there, you can count on author D. E. Haggerty to nail it every time.
- Heroine with high-powered job but crap love-life? Check. Violet enjoys her job as an event planner. She thinks she’s moving on with her life after finally getting over her disastrous breakup with Luke. But Luke is friends with her boss and colleagues, and openly hostile to her. When she realizes she can’t avoid him or live with his antagonism, Violet decides her only option is to leave the job, friendships, and new life she loves.
- Tries the Wrong Guy first? Check. The only problem is that she’s never gotten over the wrong guy. So she’s never gotten around to finding the right one.
- Thinks she’s ugly (but every guy she meets falls madly in love with her)? Check. Well, kinda… Violet hasn’t allowed herself to feel anything since the disastrous end to her relationship with Luke.
- Thinks she’s smart, but has the people-judging skills of the disposable blonde teen in a slasher movie? Sadly, Check. Violet has conquered her depression, finished her degree, and made a successful career with her best friends. Both she and Luke have jobs where their success depends on their ability to communicate with a variety of people. But somehow, they just can’t tell each other the most basic things.
- Parent issues? Check. After his single mother dies, Luke is raised by his grandmother, who has also died. Violet’s parents have moved away, so she doesn’t have family nearby either. But both Luke and Violet have been adopted by “Grandma”—the hilarious, sex-obsessed grandmother whose (other) hobby is epic-fail matchmaking.
- Posse? Check. Not only does Violet have her three best friends, but she has also inherited their partners—not to mention one extremely eccentric Grandma.
‘I had to ask the bartender for change,’ Grandma continues talking as if I hadn’t spoken.’
‘Change for what?’ I’m probably going to regret asking, but I have to know.
‘A vibrating penis ring. Never tried one of those.’
- Funny? Okay, Check! Both Violet and Luke’s observations at the start of each chapter are occasionally laugh out loud funny and often painfully amusing.
Stay in your lane? What kind of bs is that? Get over to the right and get out of my way. ~Violet’s Secret Thoughts she might have accidentally on purpose yelled out the car window.
When I’m reviewing a book, I often go down a little list of things to consider. In Knee Deep, the pacing is sure, a brisk march to an obvious finish. The writing is terrific, often funny and entertaining, and with a great balance between dialog, the snarky comments in Violet’s head, and Luke’s total bafflement with his feelings.
‘To my horror, she starts crying. ‘Stop being sweet to me.’
‘You want me to be mean?’ Women are the most confusing creatures on earth.
The problem is one shared by Luke and Violet. While each might have grown into a career and friendships, they are emotionally frozen in time as two high school students who can NOT tell each other the most fundamental, basic things. I remember thinking when I rewatched Die Hard, that if Bruce Willis had a cellphone, the movie would have been about ten minutes long. “Hello, 911-operator? I’m in the bathroom of the Nakatomi Plaza and Snape has my wife, well actually I’m not sure she’s still my wife because she’s gone back to using her maiden name and all, but I’m sure we can work on that and have a swell Christmas with our adorable children as soon as you have a few snipers pick off the terrorists who are conveniently sitting with their backs to large windows. Ciao.” Roll credits.
Ditto for Violet and Luke’s relationship. They claim to have been in love, but are incapable of telling each other the things they seem to have no problem sharing with friends, partners of friends, and Grandma. Of course, if everyone told the truth, the fields of romance, politics, and used car sales would collapse entirely. But even so, you have to suspend the urge to send both Violet and Luke to timeout until they pull on their big kid panties and just fess up.
But overall, I do recommend Knee Deep as a humorous, entertaining, and fast-paced if predictable romantic comedy. The amusing and entertaining banter—and the completely entertaining Grandma—makes it the perfect escape from pandemics and problems. I’d happily reach for another book by this author.
**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**