Why We Love Reading Romance By Andrea Downing

Romance with romance?   Today, romance author, Andrea Downing, whose most recent romance, Dances of the Heart, was released last month, shares her views on why so many of us love to read romances. I suspect that quite a lot of us will see ourselves in at least some parts of this article and will agree with Andrea’s explanations as to why romance is so important to us. These same reasons may also explain why romance is the best-selling fiction genre.

Does Andrea cover all the reasons you read romances, or are there others you would like to share?

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Why We Love Reading Romance

by Andrea Downing

Ok, so I can hear half the population of these Untied States responding, ‘Well, who wouldn’t?’ But the question is, why? You love your significant other and so there should be no reason for a little escapism. Really?

You dash through your job, rush home to get dinner, plunk down in front of the television, get the kids to bed before collapsing yourself. Or maybe you’re a stay-at-home Mom who serves up the breakfast, loads the kids in the car for school, does the laundry and cleaning up at home before doing the afternoon round of play dates, music lessons and cheering your little cheerleader. Or perhaps you’re a woman OR man who’s currently unattached, dreaming of the fabulous specimen of humanity who’s going to stroll into your life. Romance novels offer us not only the escape we crave from our daily lives but serve as a reminder that, despite all the angst, all the nasty little ‘things to do’ on our list, love still exists in the form we remember it from ‘way back when.’

In a novel somewhere there’s a couple who are sleeping soundly wrapped in each other’s arms, snuggled up the way you always dreamt it would happen. Back in reality, you know darn well you could never get a good night’s sleep with your arm imprisoned under your hefty man while his none-too-gentle snores waft across your moisturizer-laden face. At least these days we don’t sleep with curlers. Escape to the world of perfect love! In a week where you may connect with your better half through numerous text messages and the odd phone call while one of you is away on a business trip, reading a romance novel reminds you there is the possibility of getting his full attention up close and personal. It offers us the sensation of intimacy that is frequently lacking in our normal lives. But is it an unattainable, unrealistic expectation? Will it make us dissatisfied? No: the average person can tell the difference between reality and fiction; we know that truly perfect lives don’t exist.

So what about werewolves, vampires and other worlds, oh help! Is that escapism too? Do we have a ‘vampire of our dreams’ we yearn for? Maybe not, but we certainly yearn for the caring, loving, giving that the hero puts out. We read romantic suspense and watch the hero and heroine overcome impossible odds to achieve their HEA, never caring that after we leave them, they’re going to have trouble paying their mortgage or discover his mother wants to move in with them.

Romance novels offer the flight, the release from the tawdry daily grind, and make us forget about the fight with your couch potato for the remote control, trying to get him away from five hours of sports on a Saturday and out for a hand-in-hand walk. In novels, the couple is giving each other the full emotional support they need and want. Not only that, but they teach us that good wins over evil, that if you soldier on, things will turn out the way you dreamed, that love conquers all. They brighten our lives by showing us that Happily Ever After can happen, that it is still lurking there behind the unmade bed and half-eaten dinner. In romance novels, nothing is expected of us as readers; we don’t have to dress better than the next gal, get a promotion over the other man or even dash to the gym and go on a 30 day diet.

Whether you’re the YA who yearns for the star football player to clutch you in his arms or the housewife who remembers a time before dirty diapers, romance novels remind you that it is all still possible. The cowboy will come in to save the day, the knight in shining armor will pledge his life for you, and your husband will become a billionaire by the merest stroke of luck. It’s all possible…in a romance novel.

Upper half of cover shows the tops of NY skyscrapers, the bottom half some wild horses running in a field.

Dances of the Heart

By Andrea Downing

From the back cover:

Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.

Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.

On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.

Dances of the Heart   Excerpt

Carrie let the screen door close quietly behind her and sat on the steps, the cool glass still in her hands. Peering up at the canopy of heaven, she suddenly experienced a sense of being so small, infinitesimal; it was as if the world loomed over her, spreading out from the one axis of her being. Rather than celestial entities in the infinity of space above her, to Carrie, the stars were holes in the fabric, entries to the endless expanse beyond, gateways to other worlds of which she would never be a part.

The lights inside switched off and, for a moment, it appeared as if Ray had gone to bed.

"I’m sorry." His voice came through the screen. The words were hoarse with drink and pain. "I… Can I join you?"

"Of course."

He came out and carefully lowered himself onto the step, the coffee in his hand slopping slightly over the side.

"Don’t burn yourself."

He set the mug down and stretched his legs forward, hands coming to rest on his thighs. "Robbie died in Afghanistan," he started. "He was my eldest. It was five years ago, you know, and the pain is as fresh now as it was then. You never expect…you never think your kids are gonna go before you and all. And then Jake went off to Iraq, well, see…" He hesitated. "I told them, I said you take, but you give back. That’s what we do, we give back to our country, we serve. Robbie, well, Robbie just wanted to breed his horses—those damn Arabs meant everything to him, but I told him he had the…" There was a gulp of tears fighting to come out, the assault on a man’s pride he tried to cover. "I told him he had the rest of his life to breed those horses. I said every man in this family has served his country, and he wasn’t going to shame me, he wasn’t going to be the exception."

"You served in Viet Nam, didn’t you?" Carrie lowered her voice to the whisper of a secret.

"Yeah. Right at the very end. I was lucky, I guess. Got over there just about in time to get out." Ray tapped his hat back, then must have thought better of it and took it off, laying it carefully on the step beside him. Strands of damp hair lay plastered down the side of his face, but he made no attempt to push them back.

"Do you know how… I mean…"

"He was on guard duty, him and another kid. Some truck driven by them suicide bombers came at them laden with bombs, trying to get into the compound where all his buddies were. ‘Course the two of them could’ve run away, could’ve stepped out of the way, but that’s not what you do, is it? They blasted the truck to stop it, blew it up outside to save the lives of the men inside that compound. Now, his mama has his Distinguished Service Cross and the flag that draped his coffin, as if that would make amends." Ray cleared his throat, a sob mixing with his speech and anger. "But you know," he went on, covering his mouth as if it would stop the tears, "you know it was my damn fault. I mean, what the hell difference would it have made if Robbie hadn’t gone, hadn’t of served? And what the hell are we doing there anyway? I mean, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, what the hell are we fighting in those countries for? It’s meaningless, it’s just dang foolishness is what it is, kids dying for nothing…nothing at all."

"Ray, you don’t believe that. Of course it made a difference, his serving. It made a big difference. You don’t believe that it was meaningless for one second."

"Well. Tell you the truth, I don’t know what the hell I believe anymore. I criticized you for wanting to do the right thing, that business ’bout the designated driver an’ all, but, well, I guess it’s me. I just always tried, you know, I tried to do the right thing, but it never seemed to come out straight."

"Of course it has," Carrie assured him. "If Robbie hadn’t gone you would—"

"Oh, I know. I would’ve been angry with him for the rest of my life, been thinking what son of mine could do that, stay back. I’d’ve been shamed." He sighed and glanced over as if noticing for the first time she was there. "I married Leigh Anne ’cause she was pregnant-that’s what you did, the right thing. You get a girl in the family way, you damn well married her. I’d been a kid when I went to Nam, and when I got back, I was quite a hell-raiser. Went all over the place, doing the rodeos, workin’ ranches. Then I got back here, and I was just taking over the ranch. Hardly had a dime to my name in those days, but you did the right thing. Well…" He ran a finger along the line of a crack in one of the steps. A hint of his earlier humor flashed on his face. "Is this when you New York folks say, ‘Thanks for sharing?’" he quipped.

Head shot of author with brown hair in front of some shrubbery.

Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming. Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some twenty ranches throughout the west. Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards. Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest. Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and was released 8 October 2014. Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, was released last month.

Contact Links:
Website & Blog: http://andreadowning.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerAndreaDowning
Twitter: @andidowning   https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6446229.Andrea_Downing
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=124888740&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Book Buy Links
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dances-Heart-Andrea-Downing-ebook/dp/B00S46BGY6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421510959&sr=8-2&keywords=Dances+of+the+Heart
The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=242_175_141&products_id=6060
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dances-of-the-heart-andrea-downing/1121151125?ean=2940149895397


15 thoughts on “Why We Love Reading Romance By Andrea Downing

  1. Hi Kathryn, Just want to say thanks again for having me here today. Hope to hear some comments from your readers–I’m sure there must be dozens more reasons than I’ve mentioned why we love romance!

    • I was glad to host your article, I think it gets at the heart of what romance means to all of us who enjoy it. Though often trivialized by those who do not understand or appreciate it, romance has done a great deal to make my life enjoyable, and in some cases, bearable. Without the lovely little escapes a romance novel can provide from time to time, I would find my life much less rich.

      Thank you for your article, and I wish you strong sales for your new book.



  2. As a writer I want to give a lonely person someone to love, a sad person something to laugh at, a bored person something intriguing to think about. Sure it only lasts for a few hundred pages, but now they know where to go for what they need.
    It’s a great power we have. I think we must qualify as superheroes.

    • Romance Authors as Superheroes! Absolutely! But now that you have said that, I want a cape which reads “Romance Author.” 😉

      On a more serious note, I think you are right about the power which romance authors have. I heard a report recently about a study done which shows that most people identify with fictional characters and situations, particularly those about which they read, just as strongly as they do people and events in real life. So, as romance authors, we have an opportunity to offer people a heartening respite from their daily life. The ability to lighten someone’s burden, even for a short period, can make such a difference to them.

      For a couple of real-life examples. Georgette Heyer’s favorite among her own novels became Friday’s Child when she learned that a woman who was a political prisoner in Romania had helped to maintain her own sanity and that of her fellow prisoners, for twelve years, by telling and retelling the story of Friday’s Child, a novel she had read before her imprisonment.

      In Britain, during and after World War I, many soldiers suffering from what we would now call PTSD were prescribed the novels of Jane Austen. In those stories, those men were able to escape into another place and time. They could go to a place in their heads where they were safe, where the world around them moved at a slower pace, while they were caught up in the lives of Jane Austen’s characters.

      So, you are quite right, romance author are superheroes!!

      Thanks for stopping by.



      • That’s a fabulous account, Kat. There is certainly a need in this modern age of rush & lack of intimacy & terrorist threat and so on to go to a gentler time or a happier place. It’s too bad that Romance novels are not considered in this light by the general public.

  3. I agree with you all. Stories of other places, other people, their trials, tragedies and successes open us all to others. At the very least, reading is an enjoyable, relaxing time. At the most, it may give us encouragement and help us find a way to navigate our own paths. All the best with your latest, Andrea.

    • One thing that is interesting me here reading these comments is the different voices I hear. Basically, we are all saying much the same thing in our own individual voice. It’s that wide span of individuality, I think, that makes Romance novels so accessible to so many people.
      Thanks for your good wishes, Barb!

  4. Great post Andrea. I started reading romance when my youngest was sick. They helped me get through nights spent in the ER, and then the surgeries. You’re right when you say romance is an escape, thank God.
    I have to admit I don’t have lofty goals when I write. I don’t even think about the reader. I’m just a woman who escapes into the stories I make up, except now I get to share them.

    • That pretty much describes me as well, Marlow, when you say you’re a woman who escapes into the stories you make up. One of the things that surprised me about writing Dances of the Heart is that I never saw myself as either of the two heroines. But when it came to Loveland, I was definitely right there on the scene as I have been for most of my writing.
      I’m sorry to read of the illness of your youngest and trust he/she is well now.

  5. Romance is indeed an escape, but who doesn’t like a “happily ever after” endings whether the stories are comedies, romance or mysteries? And with romance, we know everything will turn out A-OK in the end. (Sigh)

    • Judy, we do know that the HEA is a given and there’s something reassuring about that. There’s enough trouble in the world without seeking it in books; I know a number of readers who simply want a happy ending, whatever the romance sub genre.

      • I heartily second that! Knowing that there will be a HEA is one of the reasons I am so drawn to the genre. I want the assurance that the couple will find happiness in the end. The fun, for me, is watching them get there, and cheering them on through the rocky bits.


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