"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
We querried the
listers and here is what they had to say!
June 2002 Issue
PNR Q.: This month's topic is hot and humorous romance. Do you feel that these two elements necessarily go hand in hand?
Brenna: Necessarily? No, but I love a romance with some good laughs in it. I just finished reading AMBER by Lauren Royal and I GOT YOU, BABE by Jane Graves (a few months ago on that one). I love a romance I can laugh at! The characters being able to laugh at themselves and their situations makes it all that much more real to me. After all, who has had a great love affair and not had in-jokes with the person?
Ann: No -- sometimes the humor is TOO humorous -- it disrupts the sensual tone of a good hot romance.
Rochelle: I prefer a little humor in romance. Then again, I love a man who can make me laugh out loud, while he wears a sexy grin on his face. I feel humor brings so much more to a relationship and helps the h and h become better aquainted when they may be nervous, seeing each other for the first time.
Judith G: Hot and humorous? Well, yes, but... perhaps not in the same scene. I love humor in love scenes, but not if it's farcical. And with a hot love scene, you walk such a narrow line if you add humor. I've read a few hot love scenes that were humorous, but a very few...
I think Amanda Quick's books probably come as close to putting humor in love scenes as I've encountered. The humor is subtle, but it's there, and it's the sort that says, "Look at this big strong man, putty in the hands of this delicate little woman."
Ann L: Sure...I think hot goes with any style romance...romance is all about the love story and what goes better with love than a little (or a lot) of heat! And if you're laughing while you're in the sauna...all the better.
No, but it certainly is a lot more fun. Of course the characters shouldn't
be laughing at each other, but a suggestive sense fo humor can be very
PNR Q.: This type of story generally features an alpha hero who knows he's goooooooood. He's handsome, he's sexy, he's totally obnoxious as far as the heroine is concerned. What is his saving grace?
Ann: He only acts that way to protect himself -- once he realizes that he loves her that will change.
Rochelle: The alpha hero may fight "LOVE" tooth and nail, but when he's caught, you can count on him to always be by your side and he'll never stray from the relationship. These hot men don't give their hearts easily, but they will treasure yours once they know your the one.
Ann L: I can only like the hero if he *has* a saving grace. And I think it varies with the story and may even be dependent on the story line/conflict itself. I really can't fall in love with the hero of a romance unless he has qualities that outweigh the obnoxious...and I don't mean the sexy, handsome qualities. I think the hero has to have character traits that balance the whole man...And I'm hoping some of the reason he's obnoxious has to do with his history...I love a guy with lots of baggage and I don't mean Louis Vuitton <g>
T: Actually I think the hero's "I'm confident
that you can't resist me act" is meant to keep the heroine at arm's
length. The women who fall for it aren't the kind he wants. He's a diamond
in the rough, generally nursing some kind of wound, and he's hoping
that he'll find someone who will see through all the bluster to the
real man inside. If the woman can say stop that and really talk to me,
she's well on the way to winning his heart.
PNR Q.: Do you think an alpha hero is vital to a steamy romance, or are there situations where a different type of hero might be sufficient, or even required?
I thought I'd answer this one. Seeking Single Superhero in A MOTHER'S
WAY, was one of the hottest, and funniest stories I have read in a long
time. The hero was far from the stereotypic "alpha male" and
that was part of the point of the whole story. He was so sexy he makes
my knees weak. I have to go read that one again. Wow.
Janet M: Few of my heroes are alphas. I tend more toward the tortured man who tends to get beat up by others, who rises above his limitations to win the heroine. He is a lover, rather than a fighter, but when push comes to shove, he'll fight. It's just not his first choice.
Absolutely different men for different matches/situations. In my book
FAIRY DREAMS, the hero is about as far as you can get from alpha! He
is a fairy living temporarily in the human realm who cannot understand
the posturing alphas he's surrounded by. He gives the heroine an order
to stay in bed after she is cornered by an intruder who threatens her,
but he prefaces it by apologizing and saying he knows he's being barbaric!
He is a fun hero. The funny thing is, few people cross him...not because
Ann: It depends on the book, and the plot. Sometimes you need a beta. Alpha's are just really good at being commanding and in control. Personally, that is what *I* like in a steamy romance, but I've been surprised by some betas, too. I *loved* Julie Orton's (I don't know her last name!?) Dear Cupid. That was so good!!!
Rochelle: I think you can have steamy romance between any type of lovers. I've read stories wear its an older couple, but there is so much love between the two, that is steamy in itself. Anyone can feel passion, some show it out in the open, and other's save it for behind closed doors. If it's a great romance, all things are possible.
L: I think every letter of the alphabet can find a home in
a steamy and humorous romance. I just did my most Beta hero in VIRTUAL
WARRIOR, and I think its a wonderfully steamy book. The steam, to me,
is the chemistry between the hero and heroine. If the mix is right,
the book works, the romance works, the love story works, and your glasses
will fog up just fine!
T: Alpha heroes a great but they sure aren't the majority
of men are they? Its fun to imagine being swept off one's feet by a
Tarzan type, but its even more precious when a man of quiet strength
can do so. Still waters run deep they say.
PNR Q.: Women are beating this guy's door down. What is different about the heroine? What is she missing? Or is it that she sees something that they don't?
She's special, she's real, she can reach through his walls and
Rochelle: Sometime you see this "perfect" hero, but the heroine may figure that he'llnever want her. She may feel ordinary or not as sexy as the other women, so she feels there is just no chance of a relationship. It can also be a "too good to be true" situation, and the heroine just can't imagine the hunky hero is all he's reported to be. I really enjoy both of these type of storylines.
Ann L: Maybe all three. The heroine has to be a match to the hero in every sense. She needs to be a complimentary being. Sometimes that's because the two characters fullfull needs in each other no one else has or can, or they see the qualities that make the person special, no matter what other baggage or conflicts are going on...or they will by the end of the book, I hope. If the hero doesn't have qualities that are admirable in some way, why would the heroine want him?
Leslie T: A combination of chemistry, insight, and confidence. Lets face it she's not going to bother digging into the psyche of a man who doesn't already appeal to her. She has to be confident enough not to be intimidated or overwhelmed by him. She has to be able to see past his facade and try to understand him, not try to fix him, but help him to heal.
PNR Q.: Can this hero be changed or must the heroine learn to accept him as is? Do you think that a strong hero necessarily requires a strong heroine?
Brenna: To the first half, that depends on the situation. To the second...no! Well, at least not one who is strong all the time. In my newest series, NIGHT WARRIORS, one of the heros is a vampire hunter...very alpha. His wife has bursts of strength (planting a weapon in a vampire who is trying to kill her husband...that type of thing), but for the most part, she is out of her element and knows it! She hides in the corner when she's in the middle of her first battle, she whines when she's pregnant like most of us in the last few weeks, and she panics when night is coming and her guards are missing. She has a few self-esteem problems that the hero tries to work her through, too.
Ann: I think that part of the "fun" of an Alpha is wrapping a powerful man around your finger. <g> A strong hero can be protective, or an equal -- as in Feehan's Dark books, the weak heroines (Dark Gold, Dark Magic) worked just as well as the strong ones. (Dark Legend, Dark Guardian)
Rochelle: I feel both the hero and heroine need to give a little. If all you want to do is change someone, then your not really in love with that person after all. Also, the more quiet heroine may just be what is needed to calm the tetosterone-overloaded hero; and bring the hero into a more level headed relationship.
Judith G: Oh, yes, a strong hero definitely needs a strong heroine. Otherwise, she's not much more than a floor mat. Of course, I've seen books where the heroine seemed weak, and used manipulation to win, but I didn't like them very much. On the other hand, I don't like the ones where the hero and heroine are at each other's throats all the time, either.
L: Every hero needs to be balanced with the heroine. If he's
strong, why would he want a mouse? I think the heroine should be an
equal partner in carrying the story, want the guy as much as he wants
her and so on. Change, to work or seem real to me, needs to come from
within the character through his own self-realization and not because
of the heroine. I think the story works better if change is nternal
and self realized... However, I also think the heroine needs to play
a vital role along the hero's path and may be the person who lets him
see what's really going on. They also should have fun and lots of heat
along the way!
Leslie T: No one is strong all the time. I think a strong hero wants a partner, someone who can be strong when he can't be, who lets him be strong when she needs to, and who can assist him when the task is more than he can take on alone.. A strong man is going to be a protector by nature, however he doesn't want to spend all his time rescuing his lover. He isn't going to respect a woman who can't take care of herself.
PNR Q.: In most cases the supremely confident hero has a. Achilles' heel. Not necessarily a flaw, or weakness, but perhaps a vulnerability in some area or another. Is this a necessary element to win over his heroine? Does she need to feel needed?
Brenna: I don't think so. Sometimes it's enough to feel wanted and loved.
It does help for the heroine to feel needed. I think authors
include the vulnerability to show that the Alpha is not a total bastard
-- which is very easy to do. Little glimpses of the soft underbelly
that an Alpha protects can do wonders for a reader's sympathy and a
Rochelle: Vulnerability is often very sexy. You picture a strong, well adjusted man, yet he has a little bit of weakness in himself and your the one who helps him deal with it. I also think everyone wants to be needed and feel that we offer that special something to someone, helping them through the troubled times in their life.
Judith G: Of course, the hero has to be flawed. If he's invulnerable, how's she gonna win? And win she must, or it's not a love story, it's conquest.
The flaws have to be real and convincing, though. I love Laura Kinsale's flawed heroes, although it's hard to find humor because their flaws are so major. Again I have to mention Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz, whose heroes' vulnerabilities are both convincing and surmountable. And there's almost always an element of humor about the surmounting.
L: Everyone needs to feel needed, but no, I don't think it's
necessary to win the heroine. I do think its necessary to win the reader.
I like to feel a character's humanity. What makes him less than perfect?
Or real...or vulnerable...and what's really fun, how does he hide it?
And can the heroine find out what it is. Will she make use of the knowledge,
play to it, or understand it? So many great characters are lovable or
memorable for their flaws or foibles or vulnerabilties.
No one is going to fall in love with a brick wall, there has to be a
little chink in the armour to let the heroine in. A man can be tender
as well as strong though, without being vulnerable. I don't think the
hero has to be nursing a hurt to in order for a woman to love him, but
she should feel necessary to existance nevertheless. Would he become
vulnerable without her, might be a better question.
PNR Q.: More often than not the humor is derived from the hero's attitude, his thoughts, and expressions, and of course his blunders with the heroine. An author must be cautious not to take this too far though. Too much and the reader would lose respect for the hero. Where do you draw the line?
Brenna: Is the hero being obnoxious for onnoxious sake or is he honestly trying toprotect the heroine? Are they being mean about it or is it in good fun? Have they gone completely off the charts for poor taste?
Rochelle: When humor borders on the idiotic or outright silliness, it really turns me off. A continous ooops from start to finish, just doesn't work for me. I'm a clutzy person, so a series of blunders and mishaps makes sense to me, because heck, that's how my life is everyday. <g>
L: Are there lines? If
the humor works, the line's just fine. If you're not laughing or enjoying
the humor, I guess it's too much. This is so much a function of the
author's abilities. I never know if my humor is working (and my humor
is secondary to my stories), but that's why I like my criqitue group.
They'll let me know. Also, humor is a bit individual. The humor needs
to fit the story and the situation. As long as it's not too contrived,
I'm willing to go along with just about anything! Make me smile and
I'll forgive the author any plot devices or the hero any blunders.
I would draw the line at cruelty, laughter at someone else's expense.
If the laughter hurts then its not really funny. But it is good to be
able to laugh at one's self, or to be playful with one's partner.
PNR Q.: Do you think that a major difference in attitude between the hero and heroine is necessary to achieve the kind of sexual tension that makes these stories so hot?
Brenna: Not at all. Sometimes they can be in prefect agreement on most issues and are kept apart by something outside their control. It is not necessary for the sexual tension to be caused by problems internal to the couple. In FAIRY DREAMS, they each have a strong wish to be intimate, but it is physically impossible while he is fairy and she is human...oops! Okay, there's lots of tension, but it's not the internal relationship between the two people messing them up as much as environment.
I think if the hero and heroine had similar attitudes, that the romance
wouldn't be that fun of a book to read -- the tension comes from their
clashes in attitude. Major versus minor? The clash doesn't have to be
major, but having distinct differences in their attitudes can make or
break a book. Characters that stand out for me are characters that have
strong beliefs and personalities which are confronted in the space of
the novel, and are forced to adapt to circumstances they never/rarely
considered. Again -- that's the kind of romance that *I* like. If there's
nothing, or too little, for the characters to clash over, I feel like
there's no depth to the romance. Again, I have been surprised by stories
in my time,
Rochelle: It's not necessary, but a difference in opinion always grabs my attention. H & H's that are so exactly alike seems rather fake and stale. They say opposites attract and I feel that is true in romance as well.
Judith G: Isn't a major difference in attitude what a romantic conflict is all about? If hero and heroine agree on page one, why bother to read the other 350? Of course, it's not just attitude, but total outlook on life. The difficult and often rocky process of discovery and adaptation to each other is what makes a romance work for me.
Ann L: Not necessarily. I think it can *seem* to be a major difference, but as time passes, the gap probably narrows. Tension is built so many ways, and often it is divergent personalities...but it can equally be from denying the similarities that will make the h/h end up together by the last page.
Leslie T: More often than not, both characters are covering vulnerable spots that make them seem diametrically opposed, when really what each of them needs is what the other has to offer to make their world right again.