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Guest blogger: Jane Ellyson

19 September 2021

What do romance readers want?

I think about this question I lot. It’s a tough one, as there are many sub-genres within romance. However, regardless of genre, romance readers expect a HEA or a suitably resolved ending. But what type of journey do they want the protagonists to have experienced?

Darla Denton asked romance readers what they wanted more of. Responses included:

  • Depth of feeling and emotion
  • Great girl friendships
  • Crazy twists pulled off right
  • Something out of the ordinary
  • Great supporting characters
  • Strong underlying plot in addition to the romance. It keeps it from getting too one-dimensional.

These findings influenced the way I write and I’ve included many of these elements in my stories. For example, in the first book in the series called Over Byron Bay, I wanted to write a book that took the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Feeling the protagonists’ conflict and pain was a skill I was keen to master.

In Substitute Child, I wanted to explore the friendship between Charlotte and Miranda as revealed through their text messages, as a secondary story. I also wanted to build in unexpected story elements that would surprise and delight the reader. All great stories have conflict. Charlotte Wyatt knew her parents worried about her, and more specifically about losing her. This reality had given her an identity crisis as revealed in the title of the book. The plot starts with a journey to collect a bottle with a message inside to a brother who only lived a day. The conflict comes from getting home without revealing all the trouble she’s been in.

In Substitute Child, Charlotte has to respond to a deadly situation, whereas in Roman Roulette, Charlotte takes the lead and jumps feet first, into a bag of trouble, when she attends a party on a yacht. Captured while helping a friend to escape, she’s presented with several unbearable choices by her nemesis ‘The Monk’. She throws herself into her new role with an audacious plan to break everybody out, relying on great supporting characters. Not only does she maintain her subterfuge, she’s offered an intriguing opportunity for a career change, which all starts in Missing in Myanmar. Charlotte tentatively takes her first assignment as an occasional Intelligence Officer for ASIO. Seems easy enough. A bit of information gathering and then a speedy exit from the country before catching a flight home. If only …

And then we arrive at the final book in the series

In Nonsense in the North, Charlotte needs to find Scott, who’s gone missing after a one-day sailing gig from Hamilton Island. He’s now suspected by police of being an integral part of an international drug smuggling operation. There is danger everywhere, and Charlotte needs to find Scott and clear his name before his family discovers what they’ve been involved in. And this is all happening while she’s planning for her best friend Miranda’s wedding.

We all live vicariously through the lead protagonist’s experience. We all want to overcome obstacles and achieve our happy ever after. The common thread through my stories is that the heroine needs to make tough choices. These choices have consequences and inevitably lead to a chaotic situation from which they need to extract themselves. It’s a wonderful and bumpy journey with the reward being a safe arrival home for our protagonist, and a satisfied smile on the face of the romance reader.

You can find Jane here: Facebook | Twitter

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