I have become a lot more tolerant of children in my romances, to the point I do really enjoy many books with children, and before I say anything else, I have to stress some of my favourite books have children in them.
HOWEVER… In the past few months almost every single romance I have read (in any subgenre) has been about a parent – or parents.
In recent years people have been expressing their joy that romance no longer has to have that compulsory baby-filled epilogue. However, it seems that instead of that, now the babies are in the whole book! I’d rather have the babylogue back than suffer through chapter after chapter of giggling quadruplets and heroines pining for more!
Yesterday, of all the Harlequin books – in all the lines – up for review, I could only find one that wasn’t about a parent. Seriously, even the Amish romances coming up for review now are about parents! Historical romance heroines from other publishers are getting older and older and older, and now it seems half of them are widows, and the whole book is about the hero bonding with the widow’s son. All the big contemporary romance publishers are putting out more books about single parents than books about people without children. Half of the romantic suspense books are about women whose children have been kidnapped.
I keep going to sites like NetGalley to find something new to read, and I can’t find anything I’m interested in. I’m down to five review books at the moment (three of them are probably going to end up as DNFs); I usually have more like thirty.
Why? Because of this new trend. Almost every blurb I read begins with one of these:
Divorced single mother so-and-so…
Widowed mother of a teenage son…
New foster father so-and-so…
Cowboy so-and-so has just discovered he’s the father of twins…
Even the erotic romance blurbs are all like this.
Here’s the thing about the romance genre: it’s supposed to be about two people falling in love, and how their relationship turns out. The occasional single parent or accidental guardian of a child? Fine. However, there is nothing available to read anymore other than books about parents.
I’m tired of reading about a couple getting together because the hero bonded with the heroine’s troubled teenaged son, or how the hero bonded with the twenty-two year old widowed heroine’s multiple children (just read that one). Authors are bending over backwards to make their twenty-eight year old heroines mothers of teenagers, in order to introduce the teenage melodrama and issues most parents that age are nowhere near old enough to be facing.
The book I finished yesterday was about a nineteen-year-old raising three children!!
I get that most authors are significantly older than the characters they’re writing, and that many readers are also significantly older. I get that many romance authors are stay at homes mums – or grandmothers – who are writing what they experience day to day.
However, you need to think about who you’re writing about. It’s no wonder the massively misogynistic New Adult genre is growing in popularity; because readers are looking for characters at a younger stage in their lives, and authors are making all their twenty and early thirty-something heroines middle-aged!
Is it now illegal (or really that unpopular?) to write a relationship about two young people who haven’t already been married, divorced, widowed, and produced children? I just want a book about a couple for once. Not a book about hero and heroine bonding over the raising of half a dozen kids. I want a relationship based on two people, not a childcare centre.