The Great Escape

by Elizabeth Thornton

Critics of romances will tell you that romance novels and movies are a form of escape.

I agree.

I would go even further and say that all forms of popular fiction are fantasies. Readers expect a happy ending or, at the very least, a satisfying ending where the characters learn from their mistakes and where there is hope for their future. Sadly, real life is rarely like this.

In romances, not only do readers expect a happy ending, they expect, as fellow Canadian author, Jo Beverley, puts it, a triumphant ending. And there will be you-know-what to pay if we authors cheat them of it.

That won’t happen because we writers are just as caught up in the fantasy as our readers.

Let me tell you about my readers. They are not, as the critics seem to believe, love-starved housewives trapped in boring marriages. They come from all walks of life. Some of them have it hard and some of them have it easy. Many of them have it all – the caring husband, the kids, the high powered career. What they all have in common is that the demands on them are sometimes overwhelming.

Stress, for today’s woman, is a fact of life.

When readers immerse themselves in a romance, just for a little while, they step into the shoes of a woman, our “heroine,” with whom they can identify, a vulnerable woman who finds the inner resources to face her problems (and the hero is the major problem), and overcome them.

Yes, Virginia, romances are tales of female empowerment.

Give yourself a mental break. Lose yourself in a romance. Afterwards, you’ll feel a whole lot better.