When A Romance Is Not A Romance

I'm a girl with strong opinions, and those opinions include the kind of books I read. I'm a romance writer, and a romance devourer. Because of that I have very specific things I want in a romance. The most important is hers and HIS point of view.

I've never been fond of first person point-of-view. It usually locks me into the head of the person I care the least about. I gravitate to books with strong male leads, and I prefer for the male lead to have the majority of the POV scenes. I know I'm in a minority on this and I deal with it. But I feel cheated when I start on something billed as a romance and I find out his POV isn't there.

This happened to me a couple weeks ago, and I'll name the book. Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair. Intriguing set-up, loved the plot blurb, right up my alley, conspiracies aplenty, telepaths. And first person POV. For some reason I didn't bother to look at the first page when I left the library with it. Linnea's one of the queens of SFR so I thought I'd give it a fair shake.

Couldn't do it. The further I got into it the more cheated I felt. I didn't finish it. It was easy to abandon when The Darkest Kiss arrived at the library, and easy to abandon again when The Darkest Whisper arrived Monday morning. I flipped to the last chapter and read it. The revelation there made me really wish Sully's POV had been in it. But it wasn't. I probably won't read the second one, because it's the same MC in first person. I didn't connect with her at all. Honestly, she got on my nerves. I wanted to be in Sully's head and Ren's head. Not Chaz's. The third one is in third person, so I may give it a try.

Now, to contrast this with two third person series with one POV that I did enjoy. First up is Sara Creasy's Scarabaeus books. I knew they had a romantic sub-plot, but it was by no means a romance. The feelings Edie has for Finn could be removed and it's still a great book. I inhaled both books back to back. I bought them, in fact, and they will be read again.

I devoured The Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells and they were 100% his POV. There was a nice romance subplot and I stayed up too late for two weeks inhaling these. I finished the second one at 10:30 one night, hopped on Baen and was reading the third one in less than 10 minutes.

There are two important differences here. One, they're not billed as equal parts SF and romance, or with the Raksura books equal parts romance and fantasy. It's romantic SF and romantic fantasy. Two, it's third person. I adore third person. It's my favorite and it's what I write.

But I'm calling this When A Romance Isn't A Romance. For me it boils down to this: If you're telling me a book is a romance and all I get is her POV, it's not a romance to me. A romance is about two people falling in love. I want to see BOTH of them on that journey. Not just her. My bias toward the male POV is more fine with a romance subplot being told entirely through his POV than hers. Edie and Finn have begun to fade from my memory, but not Moon of the Raksura. Never once in any of those did I find myself wishing for Jade's POV (Moon's love interest).

When I started writing My Name Is A'yen I decided I was going to write it exactly how *I* wanted to read a romance. A'yen dominates the story. If I go by just his and Fae's POV scenes it's something like three to one in his favor. My secondary POV's are also male characters. Ditto for the second book. I'm in the third one now and, again, it's majority him. I have six POV characters. Only two are women.

Don't try and sell me something as a romance if it's only her POV. I couldn't care less about seeing it through her eyes. Even when reading a traditionally structured romance I miss his POV if I go too long without it and I'll start skimming hers so I can hurry up and savor his.

Call me weird, but there it is.


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