I didn’t marry my high school sweetheart. I didn’t have one. I didn’t marry my college sweetheart either, for the same reason. I was well into being a single sophisticate, or so I thought, when I met my future husband.
I remember the night well–where we were, what I was wearing, how I flirted with him because I knew he was different from all the other guys I’d been dating (and it wasn’t just because he was a Yankee Irish Catholic). I didn’t automatically think, “he’s the one,” but I knew instantly he was someone I wanted to know better. And he felt the same because at the end of the night when I turned around to have one more look, I saw him looking back at me! An old song comes to mind. Go here to listen to Buck Owens sing it.
Our dating time wasn’t a smooth path, though. In fact, he gave me the let’s-be-friends speech a few months into our relationship. Can you believe that? When I began dating another man (a fellow southerner and Baptist so more suited to me, on paper at least), my future husband came to his senses, and in his words, filled up all my time so I couldn’t see anyone else.
Afer thirty-plus years, my intuition that first night has paid off. We’ve built a pretty sweet life with friends and family and four children and pets and projects. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Our romance has changed from the zinging pulses and accelerated heartbeats, though. Now he melts me when he says, “How can I help make your day better?”, when he tells me how proud of me he is, when he brings home flowers just because, or when he covers a task I hate like taking the dogs to the vet.
When I read romance, however, I like to read about that first tingle of interest, that first spark at the meet cute. It’s like a tiny seed waiting to sprout, with all the anticipation of what will be. The characters don’t have to be twenty-somethings; in fact, in Irish Encounter, they’re forty-somethings, but they still experience that first excitement. I love a swoonworthy male character who’s funny but capable and smart and a strong, feisty, intelligent female lead. I love quick-witted repartee between the two.
Although I don’t like conflict in real life, I know good fiction has to have it, so I want the conflict to be something real that the characters work through together, foreshadowing future conflicts they’ll have to navigate because, of course, those irritations and misunderstandings and fights will come. Then, finally, I want a real conclusion, not a happily-ever-after-tied-up-into-a-big-bow on the last page because that’s what happens in a romance story. I want natural steps and explanations leading to their future.
Jane Austen has a wonderful quotation, “Let other pens dwell in guilt and misery.” I agree. When I read romance, I prefer the fluttery heart, catch-your-breath, butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of story. That’s also the kind of story I try to write, and I hope you enjoy them!
What else do you like to see in romance novels?
Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW and RWA, she and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons. Her newest novel, Forever Music, releases in May.
Find her books on Amazon.com.
Mars…With Venus Rising
Visit Hope at www.hopetolerdougherty.com for more blog posts on writing, her family, and random thoughts, and for all her social media links.