As most of you will have heard, England has been experiencing some problems over the last few days. In the wake of so much unpleasant reality it’s been even more lovely than usual to walk through the doors of Romance HQ and retreat for a few hours into the world of romantic fantasy. This morning, as I settled down at my desk to read, I caught myself actually sighing with relief! I therefore started thinking about escapism – or more specifically – why I love escapism M&B style.
I don’t know about you, but I have some absolutely favourite romantic plotlines that I return to again and again when I want to get completely swept away. Don’t get me wrong, I love romances with their girl-next-door shoes set very firmly on the ground as well, however there are times when only sheer, castles-in-the-sky fantasy will do! For me, there’s something very special about the makeover theme – in real life I am a staunch supporter of the fact that beauty is more than skin deep, however I’m addicted to that moment when the quiet heroine appears at the top of the stairs looking so lovely that for one moment the hero stops breathing… (*sigh…might need to re-watch Pretty Woman again fairly soon…). After a quick office poll I’ve discovered that others have wildly varying favourites. One editor goes wobbly at the knees at the mere mention of ‘cowboy’, ‘rancher’ or even (to her shame) ‘stetson’, whilst another confesses that for her it’s the scarred, dangerous and brooding hero who’s experienced the dark side of life, while still remaining gorgeous and ultimately redeemable! Yet another is in love with the Cinderella story – the ordinary girl who becomes a Princess…
As you can see, we’ve all got our favourites, yet how do you keep a high-fantasy story feeling believable, even after your reluctant royal has accidentally married the wrong woman? As so often in romance stories, it’s all about the characters! The more fantastical the scenario, the more realistic your hero and heroine need to be. If you’re asking readers to enter a whole new world, give them characters to travel with who they can't help believing in. If your readers identify with your heroine and fall in love with your hero, they’ll follow them anywhere – you’ll have reached the ultimate goal: letting your audience live the fantasy.
And how about you? What do you think makes a fantastical scenario work? Would you prefer to gallop off into the sunset as a desert Princess, sail the seven seas with a wickedly irresistible pirate captain or glide into a multi-billionaire’s glittering world, draped in jewels? Or perhaps sheer fantasy leaves you cold – perhaps you’d be turning down the Prince’s proposal to stay at home with your true love, a log fire and rain lashing the windows outside? Are there any fantasies you’d like to see more of in our books? Let us know, and we’ll get thinking!
Next week Flo will be back in the saddle (*brief pause to calm down our cowboy-obsessed editor…), so here’s wishing you all well until I see you again!