Monday, June 2, 2014

Double standard in romance?

How many romance novels have you read where the attraction was instant? 

How any times was it the woman who fell head over heels withing the first ten pages? How many times was it the guy who fell first? 

I'm going to make an educated guess based on my own reading and say, by far, its much more common for the female lead to get gooey-eyed over the debonair man she stumbled into while the guy remains aloof or even just a little bit antagonistic. 

Why? 

Is it realistic that only women feel that kind of instant attraction, or at least an instant interest in members of the opposite sex? Hardly. If we're talking about falling in lust, let's be honest. It's pretty equal for men and women to see someone attractive and stare just for a minute and maybe imagine what if... 

Let's get back to love, though, or at the very least, genuine romantic interest. Why is it perfectly acceptable for women for fall at first sight, but less so for men? Where did this double standard come from? Guys can be struck by that twitchy feeling that they just can't help wanting to get to know a women they met just as easily as a woman can. It doesn't even have to be that they ran into a supermodel at the grocery store. It could simply be someone who had an intriguing smile, or did something unexpected. What if the woman is simply not what they were expecting? 

Now, I know I'm fairly new to the world of romance novels, as my very first contemporary romance was just released last month, and I know there are a good deal of expectations and rules about HEA (happily ever after) and HFN (happy for now) endings and such, but I've always been the kind of writer who likes to bend the rules a bit. 

I don't like writing based on a set formula. If my books have a happy ending, it's not because I set out to write an HEA, but because that was where the characters took me. Not all my characters get their happily ever after. I'm not afraid to kill people off when I need to, and I'm not going to hold back a character's interest in someone because it doesn't follow the norm. 

In Date Shark, Eli doesn't instantly fall in love with Leila, but he is intrigued by her right from the start. He wants to get to know her because she's different. She catches his attention. When Eli spends his days piecing back together broken couples and trying his best to help socially crippled women, a woman who is sweet and charming and a little bit perplexing is going to stand out. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's pretty, but there's more to Leila than meets the eye and Eli wants to find out what that is. 

So, my question is, does it put readers off when an author breaks from the status quot? Or does a fresh twist keep them reading? Is it a different answer in romance than in other genres?