What Makes Good Romance?

What makes good romance? We all have different answers because what counts as ‘romantic’ is different for different people. I write YA fantasy romance and that can be fun. Especially when it comes to figuring out what will set spines tingling. Hearts racing. Spark a smile on even the most unwilling of faces. I’m no expert, but here’s some things I’ve found to be true about romance…reflecting on some of the most romantic things that I’ve seen in my long (non) illustrious life?

* Romance = Spontaneity. The unexpected. Flowers help too. I was a high school senior walking down the road in Washington D.C with a friend when we noticed a car following us. Driven by a strange boy. A cute strange boy. A smiling cute strange boy. Hoping he wasnt a killer scoping out potential victims, we hurried back to school. He caught us there, hopped out of the car, told me I was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen and gave me a dozen red roses. *Cue mass swooning, giggling, fluttering hearts from all my school friends.* I never saw that boy again. Never got his name either. Maybe he drove around all day giving roses to random chicks all over D.C. Who knows? Either way, Im really old now and remembering that still makes me smile.

* Romance = Thoughtfulness. Poetry. Music.  When I was fourteen, a boy would write me notes. Written inside intricately folded origama ninja stars. Many times, they contained poetry or song lyrics. I loved those and saved them for years afterwards. (Even though that boy went on to be the very first to ever break my heart.)  And can I just say that in a world of instant messaging and texting – a boy who can take the time to WRITE a note on a piece of paper? Like Daniel does in the first book? A rare treasure. Grab that boy and tie him up. (ok, did that sound a little Fifty Shades to you? or was that just me….)

* Romance = Originality and creativity. Picnics. And blindfolds.  Dating in Varsity years usually consisted of lots of dancing in sweaty, crowded nightclubs. Which is why it was extra memorable when a young man went to all the trouble of preparing a packed picnic lunch AND blindfolding me while he took me to the picnic destination in the middle of nature reserve park. Reason for the blindfold there and back? (No, nothing Fifty Shades about it…I KNOW that’s what you were thinking!)  Because, “this way, it will always be a special place that you can only find again, with me. Because it will always live in your memory as a special place that we shared together.” No, I didnt marry that boy. He never asked me. But I’ve never stopped wondering – where in heck IS that nature reserve park anyway?!

*Romance = Food. Sorry, but this is me. And MY list. So of course, food plays a central role in everything. The boy who baked me a chocolate cake gets an honorable mention. As does the bestest dinner menu on a date. Ice cream dates. Dessert outings. All made for very sweet romance. And the moment when the Hot Man cooked us a steak dinner to perfection, could very well have been the moment I decided we should be together forever.

So yeah, romance is lots of things. My definition of romance though, has changed as I have gotten older. Wiser. (And more tireder.) All the flowers in the world can never equal the feeling when you get to sleep for six hours straight because the love of your life has taken the premature baby for not one but TWO night time feeds and changed disgusting diapers. Even though the man has exams the next day. You wake up to find him soothing that baby, singing to him softly in the gentle moonlight. That’s romance.

All the poetry of Shakespeare and Keats can’t surpass the compassion, kindness and love evident when – you’ve been cut to pieces for a c-section delivery, you’re bloated with two hundred pounds worth of toxaemia, utterly miserable – and he bathes you, helps you dress, brushes your hair, dries your tears and whispers, “You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.” That’s romance.

When he shows up at your workplace with a surprise gift – a desktop fan for your sweltering teacher’s cubicle. Because he was LISTENING when you complained endlessly about how miserably hot you were at work. When he brings you Diet Coke, champagne glasses AND ice in a mini-cooler as well? That’s romance.

When he goes to the Twilight movies with you, even though he hates them. When he agrees that you two will only spend ten dollars each other for Christmas gifts, so you buy him a pair of cheap shoes – and he gets that leather suite living room set that he saw you sighing over and has it delivered when you’re not home and then blindfolds you before you walk in the house. That’s romance.

When he forgives you of the worstest things. When he sees the nastiest sides of you. When he endures the saddest times with you. And loves you even more because of them.

When he gives up the most divisive vices.  Sees his weaknesses and strives to overcome them because he wants to love better. When he cheers you on  to pursue your dreams even if he doesn’t quite understand them.

That’s romance.

Which is why, my Fantasy Romance series is dedicated to the Hot Man. Always and forever.

What’s the most romantic experience YOU have had? Please share…and inspire us because I think everyone could use more romance, more love in their lives!