Why Romance? And What We Prefer

It’s time for our first Three Gals Talking event and we’re starting with the star of AudioGals – the romance genre. Why do all three Gals love romance to the point of writing about it exclusively? And what about each Gal’s preferences?


Lea: Although we all have our preferred listening tastes, there’s one thing the Gals agree on wholeheartedly and that is our love of romance audio. So, let’s start with a simple question – why do we listen to romance?

Brenda: I listen to romance for the escape it provides, the interesting places it takes me past, present, or future where love conquers all. Most books can do this, projecting you to another time or place but with romance you know it will be an exhilarating “I feel good trip” by the time you’re done. You come back with a sigh and a smile on your face; nothing equals a good Happily Ever After (HEA) to leave you in an upbeat state of mind.

Melinda: Why do I listen to romance? Ahhhhh, the perennial question. I listen to romance for the romance! The relationships – the meet – the rocky parts – the funny parts – the sexy parts and, of course, the HEA. When the book is over, no matter the emotional roller coaster, I want to feel satisfied they are happy and going to make a go of it.

Lea: Romance is my first choice for reading and a well-delivered audio makes it all the sweeter. Talk about variety, the romance genre delivers in spades with that all-important guarantee of a happy ending. Add to that the fact that I can carry those romantic tales with me as I go about my day. I’m laughing as I clean the kitchen, sighing as I drive the car, or shedding a tear as I garden. I’m reading an ultimately “feel good” story whenever I want and don’t have to sit still to do so! 

My romance tastes have changed over the years and where I couldn’t get enough of historical romance in those first years, contemporary romance is now, without a doubt, my first choice. I can better identify with the heroine – she doesn’t have to be young, a spinster, or a virgin widow as with the majority of historicals. The same with the hero – no title required here. Give me any respectable occupation and I’m good to go. I never tire of the former bad boy/good girl pairing (Karen Robards’ One Summer), the cop protecting his headstrong woman (Linda Howard’s To Die For), or the slightly crazy yet laugh-out-loud funny ones such as a sports attorney falling for his backup matchmaker (Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Match Me If You Can).

How about you Brenda, what is your first choice for romance listening?

Brenda: While I enjoy a good romance in any genre, my favorite sub-genres are now romantic suspense, paranormal romance (PNR) and urban fantasy. After many years of reading and listening to romance, I’ve found that I need something besides the ups and downs of romance to focus on whether it is a mystery, lots of action and intrigue, or unique world building. I prefer strong heroines who can go toe to toe with an alpha hero, no matter the genre, and I want to laugh so humor or at least small bursts of it are usually involved in my choices as well.

Lea: I have to admit that I now enjoy urban fantasy due to your efforts in walking me through a few series including Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series (loved our joint listen of this series) Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, and Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.

Brenda: Do you realize it’s already been two years since that joint obsession – er listen? I still look at my Barron’s Books and Baubles coffee mug (it holds pens on my desk) with a happy grin remembering our amazing trip listening to those five books back-to-back. Now that we know the ultimate ending, I’m sure we would catch a lot of the subtler hints given along the way if we relistened and that’s something that draws me to both PNR and urban fantasy. There are so many angles in each story that can be expanded on or brought back around in a fascinating way that keeps me involved and wanting more. I’ll never get enough of Ilona Andrews’ Kate and Curran or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson and crew, especially in audio, as the voices Renee Raudman and Lorelie King have provided for these characters are now an integral part of the draw.

I’m a devotee of series or connected books as I like reconnecting with the same characters and watching their solidarity grow while they tackle new obstacles whether the main protagonists change with each book or not. I know these aren’t the only genres to connect books.

Melinda, what’s your favorite sub-genre?

Melinda: My absolute favorite subgenre is contemporary romance, and if it’s light-hearted it’s better and if it’s laugh out loud funny, I’m the happiest. It can be small town, grew-up-together pals; it can be Big City Professionals and Millionaires; it can be Vegas showgirls (Susan Andersen/Johanna Parker Skintight); it can be Navy SEALS (Suzanne Brockmann’s Tall, Dark and Dangerous and Troubleshooters series, Patrick Lawlor/Melanie Ewbank/Renee Raudmann and others) and FBI Super-agents (Julie James/Karen White A Lot Like Love); it can be county sheriffs with nothing more dangerous than a couple of kids with some firecrackers (Rachel Gibson/Not Recorded!! True Confessions). When the author makes it real, I’m all over it; when the narrator makes it better, I’m in heaven.

Lea: Although I now prefer contemporaries, I still love historicals – just about any time or location. I once read history books for entertainment so give me a well-written historical romance that is true to its time (sorry, no twentieth century heroines in Medieval tales) and leads I can care about and I’m happy. Unfortunately I wore myself out in those early days reading a rehash of the same ol’, same ol’ historical backdrops (wallpaper), the titled hero, and the virgin heroine-widow-courtesan (choose).  I find Diana Gabaldon, Elizabeth Hoyt, Mary Balogh, Jennifer Ashley, Sherry Thomas, and Judith Ivory (more of her Cuevas titles please) all consistently deliver historicals I enjoy.

How about you Melinda? I know you share my love of historicals.

Melinda: Yes, after contemporary, I would go with historical romance. I like a good Western romance about as much as other historical romances, including a Highlander romance or even a medieval. Shoot, I even like Regency romance! For Westerns (and since I don’t actually tag my audiobook list by genre, I’m just jumping around here!), I like Elizabeth Lowell/Richard Ferrone Only His. There’s a series, but even in print, Only His is the only keeper for me, and while I wouldn’t call Ferrone my favorite narrator, his treatment of this book worked for me. For early 20th century historicals, I like LaVyrle Spencer/David Dukes That Camden Summer and Spencer/Kate Forbes Morning Glory – two tales that really captured my imagination and my heart both in print and in audio (both unabridged). One of my all-time favorite audiobooks is Judith Ivory/Barbara Rosenblat The Indiscretion – the story is a hoot and Rosenblat is a genius at portraying all the characters. It’s set in England at the turn of the 19th century, with a Texas cowboy and an English viscount’s daughter.

Lea: Brenda, you mentioned romantic suspense as one of your favorite sub-genres. I know we share many RS favorites. My interest has greatly increased over the past few years as I discovered authors who keep my interest even if the romance receives less time than the suspense (Sandra Brown). My first RS love was Linda Howard – she wrote the book for me. But I also find myself greatly looking forward to upcoming RS releases such as Pamela Clare’s I-Team series – now that woman can deliver.

What do you find especially enjoyable about RS?

Brenda: I’m looking forward to the I-Team and hearing Kaleo Griffith’s delivery as well. I’d call myself a RS light fan as Linda Howard and Nora Roberts are among my favorite authors of the genre.

Also shelved with Nora is J.D. Robb’s In Death series containing subject matter that goes from light to brutal or anywhere in between with each story. My love of the characters brings me back every time – I know I’ll laugh out loud more than once. The insulting barbs that Somerset and Eve exchange provides a guaranteed laugh which balances things for me. To be honest, at this point I think I could skip over the police procedural aspects of each book and still love the series for the interactions between what has grown to be a large cast of very entertaining individuals. Susan Erickson’s knockout performance of each and every series’ entry adds the finishing touch in making every outing a pleasure to hear.

Now that I’ve gushed, Melinda, don’t you enjoy your share of RS as well?

Melinda: While I prefer light-hearted, I also like the drama of suspense – and that includes the Brockmann Troubleshooters. Other romantic suspense books I’ve enjoyed: Linda Howard/Joyce Bean Death Angel – a true keeper for me; Linda Howard/Joyce Bean Cry No More; Linda Howard/Natalie Ross After the Night; well, just put all the Linda Howard books here!

Lea: You have named three of my favorite Howards, although I’ll admit that there are a good number of other Howards that make my favorites list as well. Death Angel touched me as few other books and After the Night…well more about that particular book in our next Three Gals Talking event next week where we talk about those Three Gal Favorites – those romance audios all three of the gals give an A. After the Night starts that discussion!

As you can see we have most of the bases covered when it comes to romance audio listening – contemporary romance, romantic suspense, historicals (all settings), paranormal romance, and fantasy romance.

As mentioned, we’ll be talking about Three Gal Favorites next week and in two weeks we’ll take a look at books favored by two of the Gals as well as individual favorites.

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