I've decided to admit a potentially embarassing truth about my self. I read romance novels.
"But Joyce!" you say, "How can you read that stuff!?!?!"
I must stand in defense of the fluffy novel. You know, the ones that don't have an impact on your life and are just a fun diversion. Some people read fantasy (dragons and magic and swords, oh my). I read romance (dragons and magic and kissing, oh my).
The thing is I'm quite picky about the romance novels I read. I grew up reading Danielle Steel (with a heavy dose of Stephen King thrown in for balance. I'm nothing if not eclectic.) I was in my twenties before I realized that she doesn't really write what I consider to be romance. How can her books be considered romance when they generally include a tragedy that kills one (or more) of the romatic leads? And I really don't like it when that happens.
I'm also not fond of weak female leads that cannot take care of themselves. (Save me from milquetoast!) I love a strong female character that knows her own mind and has ways of her own to get out of difficult situations (but also knows that a little help never hurt.)
I also love a strong male lead character that loves the female for who she is.
I have been know to yell at the characters in the book I'm reading when they do something not so smart. Going into the dark room alone to investigate the noise, going outside to confront the crazy guy when the house is perfectly safe, you know, that sort of thing. (Ok, so you don't find those situations much in a romance, but...)
With a romance, what will make me yell at the characters (and sometimes toss the book across the room) is if the only conflict keeping the lead characters apart is a lack of communication or their own idiocy because they're "too afraid" to admit their feelings. Come on people, put it out there! Sure you might have your heart ripped out, but it's better than pining from afar and wishing you'd said something!
And last, but most certainly not least, no means no! There have been an unfortunate number of "romance" novels thrown away (As a side note, this almost never happens with any books in my house. Books that have been read and will not be read again are donated or given to a friend that might enjoy them. Most, however, are still on my bookshelves because some of my best friends are books.) or burned (I'm sorry, but that book had to die!) because the author thought that it was ok for the male lead (I will NOT say hero) to force himself on the female lead without her consent (and they later fall in love with hearts and rainbows?!?!? I don't think so!)
Plot holes (and sometimes plot absence) can be forgiven if the writing and romance are good.
Now where did I put that Julia Quinn novel?