MFRW wants to know my most romantic memory. Yowzah. That's difficult, because my life hasn't delivered much in the way of romance, at least not of the storybook variety. And what little there is I prefer to keep to myself. Some things are private, you know.
Being a romance writer, though, I have developed a keen sense of what's romantic and what ain't. Or at least what I think is romantic.
Romance need not drown in hearts and flowers and fulsome compliments. It is however, tempered with gentleness and kindness. Hot lust and strong libidos spice up romance, but don't characterize it as the most important component. Romance always--at least in my mind--imbues admiration and affection. In successful romance, the characters not only need a strong attraction to each other, but they need to like each other. After all, a relationship built upon wild monkey sex and no conversation isn't a relationship at all. A romance involves a strong, enduring element of conversation.
To take that further, conversation goes beyond bedroom commands and office orders. Conversation encompasses sharing thoughts, ideas, observations, feelings, and humor. Romance novels the manufacture conflict because the main characters don't take a page or two for an honest conversation infuriate me. Jumping to conclusions is the most used literary device for contrived conflict. In other words, characters who can't be honest with each other can't have a genuine romance.
This June, my husband and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. One sigh at the expectation of romance, but ours has been a more prosaic relationship. We're best friends before anything else. We argue and bicker and, yes, sometimes misunderstand each other. We support one another, although we sometimes fail. I admire his intelligence and skill, especially when it comes to fixing and building just about anything. He admires my creativity, even if he doesn't necessarily understand it.
In my books, it's important that my romantic leads care for each other. They need to like one another, even if they begin as antagonists. Their relationship must include mutual respect and affection. And, of course, desire.
Hey, it's romance.