Love scenes

Love scenes

A Lesson by Kathleen Rowland

Even in mystery, there can be a hint of an attraction. I write romantic suspense where attraction is more important to the reader than the mystery


A Romance Novel encompasses all genre and subgenre from single title romantic suspense to traditional and/or historical.  The critical success factors are:

  1. A Couple, heterosexual or homosexual
  2. Conflict
  3. Happy Ending

Could you build a story from that? Absolutely, and we need to include love scenes.  The ending must be satisfying to the reader.   

Add the traditional hook, conflict between the hero and heroine.  They are attracted but have a reason at the beginning of the story not to think they should be together.  It has to make sense to them to make sense to your reader.   Some of you in the class are writing works-in-progress that you’ll submit to a specific publisher.  Read a book or two within your targeted line.  It is critical to know the criteria for the line.  Tweak with necessary changes to guarantee a successful fit.  Depending on setting and plot elements, RWA describes the following subgenres:

  • Contemporary Series Romance
    Series romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and typically set after 1945.
  • Contemporary-Single Title Romance
    Romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles, not as part of a series and set after 1945.
  • Historical Romance
    Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location.
  • Inspirational Romance
    Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship.
  • Novels with Strong Romantic Elements
    A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.
  • Paranormal Romance
    Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are an integral part of the plot.
  • Regency Romance
    Romance novels in which the majority of the story is set against the Regency period of the British Empire.
  • Romantic Suspense
    Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
  • Young Adult Romance
    Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward young adult readers.

A couple can be gay or straight.  A friend who writes Bromance, tells me she initially writes her story with a straight hero and heroine, and then does a rewrite making one character gay.  A happy ending is a definition for romance, but writing realistically, hopeful is fine.

Romantic Suspense (mystery combined with romance)

  1. Couple
  2. Conflict
  3. Suspense/Mystery Plot
  4. Exciting Climax
  5. Happy Ending

In a romantic suspense, the mystery side of the plot is interwoven with the hero and heroine’s relationship to guarantee an exciting climax.

Paranormal Romance

  1. Couple (humans, vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, psychics)
  2. Conflict beyond the range of scientific explanation
  3. Other worlds, future, or past
  4. Exciting Climax
  5. Happy Ending

According to Chicago style, characters with psychic abilities speak mind-to-mind in italics with quote marks around them.  Using consistency in text, readers know this is telekinesis or telepathy.

Hot Romance (from sensual to erotic)

  1. Couple
  2. Sexy Premise
  3. Conflict
  4. Happy Ending

Inspirational Romance (sweet)

  1. Couple
  2. Religious struggle
  3. Conflict
  4. Happy Ending

Sweet Romance (more difficult to sell these days)

  1. Couple
  2. Attraction
  3. Conflict
  4. Happy Ending

If you are writing a hot romance, the couple’s sexy premise is critical for success. Sex scenes are story dependent. Take the historical marriage of convenience, for instance.  Sex scenes come naturally.

Paranormal romance has its roots in Gothic fiction and is the fastest going trend in electronic publishing. 

Books on opposite ends of the spectrum, hot romance and inspirational, are selling well in today’s world.  Most authors, me included, recognize the value of writing believable and natural love scenes.  

For your assignment this week, identify your subgenre and write a blurb or short description to sell your book.  I will begin critiquing your blurbs on Monday.

For my romantic suspense, Deeds of Deceit, to be released in December 2011 from Eternal Press, here is my blurb:

A half tank up the mountains, Big Bear winters are isolating for heiress Bayliss Jones.  Circled by the same cult that murdered her parents fifteen years before, death awaits her around every corner. Her shirttail relative and trustee of her estate, Sheriff Byron McGill, never agreed with local hearsay that made her a suspect. Air crackles between two people who clash, but the spoiled princess needs his help.  Besides hers, the life of a young man, her secret baby, hangs in the balance.  There’s no time for error.


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Kathleen Rowland
Kathleen Rowland


Kathleen Rowland writes gritty romantic suspense set on crime-infested waterfronts that are sure to keep you up reading late, turning pages well past dark. On a larger-than-life scale, her heroes and..