Published December 31st 2013 by Soul Mate Publishing – Add it on Goodreads
All Haven Jameson ever wanted was to own a little piece of paradise. Now, she does, having established a successful luxury spa in St. Augustine, Florida. But when the property next door is sold to a mega developer and his pro-golf celebrity brother who design trendy, bustling playgrounds for the rich and famous, she fears her dream could slip away. Confronted by her late husband’s infidelity, Haven learns everything she believed about her marriage was a lie; so
she finally sets aside her grief and opens her heart to loving the widowed pro-golfer who is her biggest professional competition. In the end, Haven discovers that living a safe, loveless life is far worse than embracing passion and taking a chance on a man who’s vowed never to love again. And that, sometimes, no matter how high the risk, the best paradise of all can be found inside our own hearts.
6 Key Elements to Every Good Romance
Everyone might have their own opinion about what should or should not be in a good romance novel or novella. However, I find there are six key elements in every good romance story.
1. A Love Story That Drives the Plot
A romance must, at its core be a love story. And that love story must in some integral way, be in the drivers’ seat. While there are many subgenres in romance that tag-team with the love story, in all romances, the love story is the predominant story line. And according to RWA, and most of us who read and love the genre, a romance must end with a happy-ever-after (HEA) or a happyfor-
now (HFN) resolution for the main protagonists.
2. Good Characterization
I believe in any good romance, characterization is important. Your readers must fall in love with your hero and your heroine. Some say you want your readers to fall in love with the hero and want to be best friends with the heroine. You must find a way to make your characters empathetic, even if there is a large growth arc for them to overcome. You want your readers to feel sympathy for their plight and be rooting for them from the start.
3. Strong Emotional Tension
If you do your job creating empathetic characters, then you shouldn’t have far to go to nail the emotional tension and getting the emotional authenticity right for your characters. It’s imperative that you hit on some universal emotional notes for your readers to have that ah-ha moment with your characters, knowing that these men and women who populate your story are just like them in very real and important ways. If you can do that, then you will take your reader on an emotional journey that will have them laughing, crying, and shouting at the pages. And that’s what they really want--to escape life by entering into the lives of someone else and experiencing their joys and sorrows for just a little while.
4. Hot Sexual Tension & Attraction
No good romance is complete without lots of hot sexual tension, palpable attraction, or steamy sex scenes. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s a whole spectrum of heat in romance. From the very sweet to erotica. So you choose which suits you and your storytelling. But whatever it is, you need to learn to build in sexual tension and attraction between your main characters. Because without the back and forth tug of attraction, your romance characters will leave your readers cold. And that’s not what they come to romance to find. They want to experience love and sexual attraction. So give it to them. Even if it’s by using the unbuttoning of a glove as Loretta Chase did so well. Any scene can be innocent and yet very laden with sexual tension. Work hard to get it right, no
matter what your heat level.
5. Character Growth (Arc)
Every main character needs to show some kind of growth, or potential for growth, in a romance. Now there are characters who may choose not to grow, who remain static for the entire story. However, you need to build in a potential arc. The choices they make will either determine whether they grow or remain as they are--which in most cases is stagnant.
6. Conflict & A Story Problem
Without conflict, you have no story. I’d argue you also have no romance. There needs to be both internal and external conflict to most romance novels. The internal conflict will often deal with the love story and the barrier that keeps these two characters apart. But there must also be external conflict, or a story problem, that is solved by the end of the book for a reader to feel a certain
sense of satisfaction with your story. When there’s resolution in these two areas, a reader feels like--no matter how long or short--that they’ve been given a complete, whole story.
If you’re able to work these six elements into your romance, you’ll keep your readers happy and give them the romance they came to you looking for in the first place. You’ll provide a satisfying love story for your readers and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Pace Daniels lay on his belly on a massage table, naked except for a thin sheet covering his backside. He rested his cheek on his hands and closed his eyes, and breathed in the calming scent of the room.
Light music played from the overhead speakers, not too loud, but nice. It sounded like a mix of music from India and the Southwest—Burma to Santa Fe. Pan flutes and bowl singing. Interesting.
He breathed deep again, taking air deep into his lungs, and pushed through the pain in his shoulder, the achiness that seemed to stick with him no matter what he did.
It was time to retire. Leave the circuit.
He'd known for a while now. Hell, he was a fairly young man for his profession. But one mistake. One stupid mistake had cost him everything. And now at the age of almost forty, he was facing a blank future. Filled with a lot of nothing if he didn't make some changes soon.
He had no idea what to expect when he'd come to Essence. A pretty brunette had given him instructions today for the massage, showed him the transition room—a fancy name for a locker room—and where to store his clothes and belongings. Of course, he'd had massages before. Mostly by sports medicine doctors.
Essence surprised him. Pleasantly. The atmosphere was different than he’d imagined. He'd expected fru fru and had been bowled over at every turn. The place wasn't just a female Mecca, as he’d feared. He'd anticipated salon chairs and manicurists around every corner. Instead, the spa resort was a posh hotel.
A serene place. A spot he could see himself settling into to find some measure of peace in his own life.
He let out a deep sigh.
But, no. He wouldn't. He'd move on like he always did.
A knock sounded at the door and a moment later, the door opened on silent hinges. He opened his eyes to see the massage therapist.
The woman who entered wasn't the petite, curvy brunette who'd checked him in, but a tall, leggy blonde.
He stilled as he watched her.
Yes, she was beautiful. High cheekbones, wide, exotic pale green eyes, lush body. But there was something else. Something indefinable. Something more, he couldn’t explain. Maybe a sadness that clung to her that he recognized because the same sloe-eyed desolation dogged him, day after day for the past ten years.
He couldn’t be one-hundred percent certain to what extent, but on some level, he identified with her.
Then she spoke, and every cell in his body awoke at the husky tone of her voice. Sex liquefied.
He'd die and go to Heaven if he could just have her talk to him for the next hour in that sweet, sexy, soft voice.
“I'm sorry. I must be in the wrong room.” She turned to go.
He pushed up from the table. “No. Wait.”
Mackenzie Lucas is a lover of story in any form. She’s an avid reader of genre fiction, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance, and she listens to an eclectic mix of music that spans from pop/rock to country to gospel. She loves a good story whether it’s an erotic short, a full length romance novel, or the narrative slice-of-life found in country music. In any story, emotional integrity and authenticity are most important to her as well as a big dose of romping hot sexual tension. She enjoys smart-mouthed, sexy heroines, hunky alpha heroes who know how to take care of their women, and plot twists that surprise her, but most of all, she just wants to experience a satisfying emotional arc of a character falling in love and finding what he or she needs most in life.
Mac is a small-town country girl with a world-traveler’s soul. She grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and she’s lived in Dublin, Ireland, within spitting distance of New York City in Long Island, and now in the Washington, D.C. area. She obtained her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Dickinson College and received her M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She’s currently an author, writing coach, a mother, and a wife.
With Mackenzie Lucas--whether you’re reading her light paranormal romance, her small-town based contemporary romance, or her steamin’ hawt erotica--you’ll always get a story about connectedness, community, and emotional authenticity, and, at its core, love. No, and it doesn’t hurt that all her heroes are panty-melting gorgeous alphas and all their sexy, sensually aware heroines know how to stand up to them, give no quarter, and love them just as they are.
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